With heavy rain continuing to fall in the Dublin area, and mindful of the condition of the Lansdowne Road pitch last Saturday, the IRFU has issued a statement about the state of the pitch
As a consequence of the current and recent excessive rainfall in the Dublin area, work is on-going, under the supervision of consultant agronomist Eddie Connaughton B.Sc., to clear surface water from the new pitch at Lansdowne Road.
The playing of the permanent tsb international between Ireland and Fiji on Sunday next is not, however, in doubt.
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: “Taking into account the fact that the month of October was one of the wettest on record in the Dublin area (180 mm, average 30 year mean 70mm), and given the continuance of rainfall in November, the new pitch is not able to percolate the volumes of water quickly enough to avoid water logging.”
“This issue will, however, be rectified. At present the first phase of the two-phased drainage system being installed allows only for the first phase main drainage being laid on a five-metre grid across the pitch and without the secondary stage gravel slits, the current volumes of water cannot discharge quickly enough. When the secondary gravel drainage slits are installed in 2003, on a one-metre grid pattern; the pitch will then be capable of removing any excess volumes of rainfall that occurs.”
When the current schedule of matches is finished and the pitch is rested, and allowed to dry-down naturally, further deep aeration works will be effected to ensure playability in spring 2003 for scheduled games. It is only 12 months ago the planning of a new pitch for Lansdowne Road was accelerated, after a physical break up of the old pitch. The new pitch was designed to take place in two phases:
1 – Initial reconstruction and primary drainage – 2002;
2 – Secondary surface drainage slits – 2003.
The main reason for this scheduling was because of the commitments the IRFU had undertaken for pitch usage in 2002 and the long-term benefit of installing the surface drainage slits a season after reconstruction.
This process, after initial difficulties also caused by excessive rainfall, has now been seen to be very successful at Thomond Park, where the pitch is acknowledged as one of the best on the Provincial / Celtic League / Heineken Cup circuit.