Eden Rugby gets historic hybrid pitch
Eden Rugby Club started its 2017 season with a brand new $850,000 field never before seen in community rugby.
Gribblehirst Park in Sandringham received a makeover during the off-season, with Albert-Eden local board transforming it from a sand-based pitch into a hybrid grass and synthetic turf.
The new field will allow for 35 hours of field use per week - compared to around 20 hours a week on the old pitch.
Nixon Park in Kingsland is also getting the same treatment, costing $1.2m.
Albert-Eden Local Board funded the field refurbishments.
Eden Rugby head coach David Bateman said the improvements were a welcome relief for the club which started its season on Saturday.
‘‘We’ve had to do our preseason training down at Mt Roskill primary which has been annoying,’’ Bateman said.
Most community parks that are not natural grass are fully synthetic, so the mix of the two will be the first of its kind in community parks throughout Australasia.
The type of turf is normally used in European sports stadiums, and is used in Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium where Super Rugby’s Highlanders play.
For Bateman, it means less games and trainings cancelled during the rainy season.
‘‘Sometimes in winter, the council would close the grounds which would create a bit of havoc,’’ he said.
‘‘Now we have an all weather pitch where we don’t have to worry about the environment.’’
Albert-Eden Local Board chair Peter Haynes said the upgrades were fantastic news for the community.
‘‘Both Nixon and Gribblehirst Parks are heavily-used, popular and centrally located parks that now have a better surface and are easier to maintain,’’ he said.
Eden Rugby will hope the new fields help them continue what has been a very successful preseason.
Despite losing to College Rifles on the weekend, they won the national sevens competition earlier this year, as well as the Pollard pre-season Cup.
‘‘Winning five trophies over the last six months has just given us a winning culture,’’ Bateman said.
‘‘It’s installed a belief in the team that we can achieve the Gallaher Shield this year.’’