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.’’

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