Scotland v England
Concerns remain over Murrayfield 'pudding'
ESPN Staff
February 4, 2014
A general view of Murrayfield, Scotland v France, Six Nations, Murrayfield, Edinburgh, February 26, 2012
Pitch imperfect in Edinburgh © PA Photos

The state of the Murrayfield pitch is "not in the pristine condition we enjoy normally" admitted the Scottish Rugby Union just four days before the Calcutta Cup match is due to be played there.

The dreadful quality of the playing surface has been of concern since September when the authorities admitted there were problems caused by "an excessive build-up of nematodes which have caused significant root damage".

The extent of the issue became abundantly clear during the autumn internationals when the surface was ripped apart during scrums which chunks of it being dug up at every exchange. Players struggled for grip even in normal play and one report compared the robustness of the ground to that of "the skin of a rice pudding".

Pitch battles

  • The RFU invested in a new hydrid grass pitch at Twickenham in the summer of 2012 as well as laying more than 20 miles of undersoil heating and drainage. The DESSO pitch is 40% fibre interwoven with 60% grass and has been described by Stuart Lancaster as "a great surface to play on". The same type of surface is in place in Dublin as well at Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool.

    The WRU remains undecided as to the best solution for the Millennium Stadium which has also been blighted by problems over the quality of the surface, and there have also been criticisms over the Stade de France with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen unhappy of his side played there in November. "It's frustrating when you're trying to scrum and the ground rolls up like a carpet," he said. "This a magnificent stadium, one of the greats, yet the ground let it down."

Experts used a variety of treatments - the most publicised being spraying the pitch with garlic - but three weeks ago the SRU was forced to concede little progress had been made. Edinburgh's club games were moved to another ground, so the England match will be the first time the ground has been put to the test.

An soil expert told the Daily Mail that while the infestation was not something that could have been prevented. "The key is how you treat them and I'd question some of the advice they might have had up at Murrayfield … they've been using lights on the pitch and that does promote grass growth. But, and I have to say I don't know what kind of nematode they have, lights can also create a warm, bright environment that enable these pests to flourish.

"There are different solutions but in 2014 you can see that the way forward is to introduce a mix of natural grass with artificial. England did that at Twickenham, as have the Irish at the Aviva."

An SRU statement last month said: "Scottish Rugby remains committed to Murrayfield being the most widely-accessible international rugby ground in the northern hemisphere. In the short term, however, we are doing everything we can to support the efforts of our groundstaff to ensure the pitch is in sufficiently robust health to host our two home fixtures in the 2014 Six Nations Championship."

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