FieldTurf makes history! Never before has a European final of a professional major sport like rugby been played on synthetic turf. On Friday 23rd May, Cardiff Arms Park, equipped with FieldTurf’s state-of-the-art Optimum 65 RGF surface, will host the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Bath Rugby and the Northampton Saints face off in one of the most prestigious European championship, with the amicable consent of the Heineken Cup, both organised by the ERC (European Rugby Cup). It took several years for such a high-level competition to be played on synthetic grass, but performance and security of the surface, supported by several tests certified by the the world governing body for the Game of Rugby Union, the IRB, have convinced both organisers and professional players.
IRB Head of Technical Services, Steve Griffiths, said: “It is very clear in this modern age that the quality of third-generation turf produced and installed by reliable and experienced manufacturers like the IRB preferred turf producers, and in this case FieldTurf, provides a safe and consistent playing surface in all weather conditions.”
The rivals (that are also competing in the Aviva Premiership League, the highest category of the English professional Rugby Football Union) know very well the quality advantages provided by FieldTurf’s synthetic grass system they’ll play on, thanks to the Cardiff Blues players, the tittle defenders.
“I don’t think the players from Northampton Saints or Bath Rugby will have any problems with adapting to the surface and, after all, they will both have played at the Saracens’ home at Allianz Park. I think they’ll enjoy it and everyone can look forward to a very fast and open final […] It is much easier to run on than a grass surface and it is great for the kickers. The ball bounces a little differently, but you soon get used to that”, said Dafydd Hewitt, a Cardiff Blues club player.
So far, only a handful of European championships qualifying matches have been played on synthetic turf. For example, Champions League football matches such as CSKA Moscow against Real Madrid and Spartak Moscow against FC Barcelona, both in 2012, went ahead on the most innovative FieldTurf surfaces.
On Friday, FieldTurf’s synthetic grass will make history once again at Cardiff Arms Park, as one of the top elite professional sports surfaces worldwide. The stage is set for a superb final. Now all we can hope is that the best team wins!