Welsh Rugby
WRU to lay artificial pitch in Cardiff?
ESPN Staff
December 16, 2012
The Welsh and English forwards lock down in Cardiff, Wales v England, World Cup warm-up Test, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, August 13, 2011
Could the Millennium Stadium have an artificial pitch in the future? © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Roger Lewis | Conor O'Shea

The Welsh Rugby Union is reportedly considering switching the turf on the Millennium Stadium to an artificial surface.

Aviva Premiership side Saracens have opted to lay a 3G surface at their new Barnet home and will play all of their home matches on the artificial pitch. Reports in the Sunday Times claim that the surface is much cheaper to run than your traditional grass pitch and the WRU, according to reports in the same newspaper, is considering turning to a similar turf.

The WRU's CEO Roger Lewis said an artificial pitch "is being given serious consideration. We are looking at the implications". The Millennium Stadium is in the frame to host some games during the 2015 World Cup so matches in the global gathering could be played on the 3G surface.

A layer of stone, a thick black rubber shock pad and a covering of artificial green yarn 5cm deep with an in-fill of black rubber crumb make up the surface, which has been approved by the International Rugby Board. The only concern the WRU has is whether the pitch will be able to take hosting music shows, which regularly occur at the Stadium.

"They use some very serious trucks for their equipment," Lewis said. "We'd need to be satisfied that the new surface can take it."

Saracens will play their January Anglo-Welsh Cup clash against the Cardiff Blues on their new pitch, which has cost the club almost £500,000 according to the Independent on Sunday. And elsewhere in the Premiership, Quins boss Conor O'Shea has revealed that he is keeping a watchful eye on how the new pitch holds up.

"I like our pitch [at The Stoop] the way it is, I like the old surface," O'Shea told the Independent on Sunday. "But you don't know how technology will take it on. It's not trail-blazing. There is an artificial pitch at Maidenhead Rugby Club and one in Newcastle. It's just new to the Premiership.

"There's the ability to take the wear and tear. I live close to Maidenhead and they have hundreds of people on the pitch, match after match, with no wear. That can only be a positive."

Quins will play Sarries at their new home in March and O'Shea admits that they will do their homework before running out on the new pitch. "We'll look to train on a similar surface before we play on it in March," O'Shea added. "The way the ball bounces and skids will be slightly different, not hugely. I am sure there will be some elements of home advantage to it, like any ground."

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