Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Is this the best groundsman story ever? by David Clarke
January 26, 2009, 11:56 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Training

On Saturday morning I turned up to a national squad training session to find that we were not allowed on the pitch until the frost had cleared. I can understand this, but the ground was not hard. The Head Coach enquired further. The reply? If we trained now, then “the grass might break”.

It has been said that groundsmen (or parkies) would prefer that rugby would not ever be played on their surfaces. They take great pride in producing an excellent surface and this is constantly frustrated by the vagaries of the weather and the desire of teams to train on the pitches.

The groundsman is actually in a difficult position because he (and she) knows that there is balance between provision and training and playing. The field is there to be played on, but it needs to be ready to be played on not just this week but next week, next month and next year. Some coaches are poor at realising this. They will flout the obvious rules of when to “keep off the grass”, invoking the “I must train somewhere” law.

There is an uneasy alliance between the grounds and coaching staff at times. Both sides can get tetchy. And sometimes it is an unequal one versus fifteen plus in terms of opinion.

Do we give the grounds staff the credit they deserve, what do you think?

1 Comment so far
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As a ex player current rugby coach and past groundsman and parks manager i see both sides of the coin. However, as a player i would like to play on the best quality playing surfaces. Like wise the groundsman wants to produce and maintain the best playing surface. The Key is good communication between both parties. Often the owner, players and often some coaches do not understand what it takes to produce good surfaces. It not just a case of mowing and marking out. There is a cost for appropriate annual maintenance of a pitch. Based on contractor rates for carrying out the right cultural practices (Mowing aeration, marking out and end of season renovations ) plus the supply of materials seed, top dressing and fertilisers you should be looking to spend between 5-8k per pitch.

How many clubs spend any where near that amount?

The key is better communication between players, coaches and groundstaff.

Laurence Gale

Comment by Laurence

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