The value World Rugby sees in ESTC

World Rugby has become the latest ESTC affiliate. Marc Douglas of World Rugby explains the value they see in joining the governing body for the synthetic turf industry.

With all the major suppliers in the synthetic turf value chain, as well as all the major sports governing bodies already being members, it makes logical sense that World Rugby would join ESTC.  Marc Douglas : ‘We will now have unrestricted access to the industry. As synthetic turf systems are made up of a variety of individual components of which the alignment and collective cooperation determines the final performance, the interaction we can now have with companies further down the value chain will certainly add value to the relationship we already have with our Preferred Turf Producers partnerships and our Accredited Test Institutes. These partnerships are very important to us and we have very good relationships with each of them. ESTC events will provide a perfect opportunity to catch up and engage with all areas of the industry.’

‘Fields must be Regulation 22-compliant if they are to be used for any form of contact rugby so we rely on the industry in general to help get that message out. We look forward to, through membership of ESTC, having more input from the entire synthetic turf value chain. This will further add value to the honest feedback we try to collect from our Preferred Turf Producers and our Accredited Test Institutes.’

Working Groups contribution

ESTC Working Groups are at the heart of ESTC activities. As a member, World Rugby can now participate in discussions and contribute to ESTC publications. ‘In the past our interaction with these working groups was limited. Now we can join the table and participate in the discussions taking place in the Shockpad, Yarn, Infill, as well as the Environmental Legislation Working Group meetings. The latter has become particularly important as it covers current issues like recycling or appropriate field design to mitigate infill dispersion. These are issues we take very seriously. The various publications and standards produced by ESTC are relevant to all owners and users of synthetic turf fields. Most compliant rugby fields are in Europe, so any outcome from the microplastics discussion has a material effect on what we do. However, rugby is also growing in popularity, so the fact that ESTC represents the industry within the EMEA region, has an extra added value. At the same time, we are also an Associate Member of the Synthetic Turf Council in North America as we recognise the challenges that being a minority sport pose to the work our member Unions in the area do in complying with Regulation 22. That membership and partnership is also important to us to further improve the game and the surfaces on which it is played. Being able to participate in drafting new documentation will enable us to further help educate end users about synthetic turf for rugby and how it can benefit other sports and athletes. We know from experience how difficult it is to get relevant information out.’

Adding value to members

Earlier this year, Marc hosted a webinar to update ESTC members about the latest developments regarding synthetic turf within World Rugby. ESTC members can certainly look forward to more of these exclusive opportunities. ‘The annual ESTC Congress and Working Group meeting will provide us with another opportunity to meet and listen to the industry, as well as to provide feedback from the rugby community. The webinars ESTC hosts will also provide us with a platform to interact with the industry. Last but not least, I also foresee that our membership will add value to the One-Turf vision that reflects best practice in the areas of player welfare, performance, sustainability, and longevity as developed by FIFA, World Rugby, and FIH. As FIFA and FIH are already members of ESTC, we are now able to collectively engage with the industry and take this concept to another level.’

ESTC and STC join FIFA’s Technical Advisory Group

The EMEA Synthetic Turf Council (ESTC), Synthetic Turf Council (STC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the ESTC and STC joining FIFA’s all-important Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

The FIFA TAG reports directly to the International Football Association Board (IFAB). This board determines the Laws of the Game of association football.

Currently the TAG consists of representatives of the various FIFA Preferred Producers and FIFA Approved Laboratory Test Institutes, as well as representatives from FIFA licensees and member associations.

It has been agreed that the ESTC and STC will be bestowed the Observer Status. This status is currently only reserved for World Rugby and Dr. Eric Harrison, an independent consultant with a long track record in synthetic turf.

ESTC Director General Stefan Diderich is very pleased to join the table where all important developments, research and ambitions regarding synthetic turf for football are being discussed and considered. “The STC and ESTC represent the entire value chain in synthetic turf for football. Our presence will allow us to better represent the voice and interest of all companies and organisations within the entire industry.

“It will also allow us to add value to the debate about the future of synthetic turf. The advantages synthetic turf offers proof that the game cannot do without this surface. However, we do acknowledge that synthetic turf, the maintenance thereof as well as the general perception of this type of surface can be improved. The possibility to discuss matters directly with representatives of all interest groups will, without a doubt, speed up processes and allow us to become more effective.”

Katharina Wistel, Manager FIFA Quality Programme, said: “For FIFA the cooperation with ESTC and STC is an opportunity for a continuous exchange between the industry stakeholders and the football community. It is also a pledge to engage in an open dialogue about the existing challenges, technical innovations and the performance standard for Football Turf as defined by FIFA.”