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Props and ploughers a rugby groundsman’s tale

by TurfCareBlog

Hi everyone, l am thrilled to be publishing my first blog and my years of  being Head Groundsman at Sutton Valance School, will l hope be helpful in helping and encouraging you.

To start l am going to write a few notes on the currant situation in the world of rugby grounds I hope your find these useful. This is the 28th year of me preparing pitches in club and school rugby and looking back it’s amazing how the standard all over has improved so take a moment to pat yourselves on the back.

As we are in the middle of one of the wettest autumns in decades, it can be very tempting to get on the pitches to do maintenance operations as either we have not been able to get on for weeks or “I’m so bored I will just run the spiker across the pitch.”

Don’t just Don’t or……….


The ploughed field you will end up with will not be hosting any matches for a long while.
This happened when a staff member decided he would ignore what I said about if it is too wet stop immediately and did not want to get out of the nice warm tractor seat.
We are nearly twelve months from this happening and with over £6500 spent on renovations I can still see where the damage is.


Also had a marquee and summer ball on the pitch for 2 weeks in July.

Just in case you are under pressure from a committee, captain or Bursar just show them the top picture and say so far that it has taken 12 months and seven grand to repair.
So what can you do?

First walk the pitch get to know its current condition pick up any rubbish, have a fork with you and repair manually any divots you see, although a tedious task can make a real difference over a season. If you have drainage ditches check that they are clear of debris and no beavers have set up a lodge nearby. Over mark the lines hopefully you’re have a spray marker and it’s amazing what a difference freshly marked lines can have on a players/spectators enjoyment of the game.

Next as soon as ground conditions allow get on and aerate this is the most important maintenance operation this time of year as compaction is at it’s highest in these conditions, for healthy grass plants we need air to the roots especially after a period of extreme weather and high rainfall and the possibility of anaerobic conditions in the root zone.

You may see a yellowing of the grass plant especially for Dwarf rye grass mixes, as these tend to be more hungry if you can fertilise do so.Use an autumn/winter fertiliser without too high a nitrogen content as this can produce long week growth that can be susceptible to fungal disease something with 5% iron will help with greening up and hardening the plant to fight disease and poor growing conditions.

Remember the most important part of any grounds maintenance operation is you!
It’s easy to pile pressure on yourself because the pitch isn’t up to its usual standard. Step back look around you and say I have done everything I can but the weather is beyond my control and we all know it will go back the other way soon.
Hold in there everyone and look at the first picture.

Tasks for the next month.

Aeration but only if conditions allow.
Aeration again see above.
Clear leafs if possible.
Check Drainage if you are lucky to have some.
Clean the liner machine.
Check post protectors and flag poles etc. for damage.
Do a dry weather dance.
Check your own health take time for yourself.

Thank you so much for reading ,please share or retweet so others can also see this.


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Andrew Palmer December 2, 2019 - 10:34 am

Superb – thank you for all your help

groundsman620467822 December 2, 2019 - 10:39 am

Thanks on behalf of Ian Avery

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