TOP BAR - Fixtures

Protecting Aviva Premiership Rugby

Nigel Felton may not be a household name but the former professional cricketer is one of the many unsung heroes who play a massive role in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Felton’s company, Sports and Stadia Services Ltd, is responsible for ensuring that the pitches for all 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs are protected and that no matches are called off due to the weather.

And as the season enters its coldest and wettest months, Felton is focused on being prepared for whatever Mother Nature may throw at him.

“Last winter was our busiest ever in terms of the work we did for Aviva Premiership Rugby with 22 call-outs,” he said. “But that was the wettest winter on record for a long, long time.
 
“This winter has been a bit quieter, but there is no pattern and no two winters are the same. You never quite know what’s going to happen.
 
“I’m sure at some stage we’ll get some frost and a more normal winter. We might get some snow and if that happens we’ll be ready.
 
“We’ve only had one call so far this season and that was at Gloucester a few weeks ago before their Friday night game with Harlequins.
 
“There was an international friendly between USA and Tonga on the Saturday and the rainfall was looking a bit heavy, so we went over and covered the pitch to prevent it from being trashed on both days, and then being unplayable later in the season.

“We are always trying to get better at what we do. Now in Premiership Rugby all of the clubs have got permanent pitch protection fixings after we upgraded at Bath Rugby earlier this year.”

All 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs now employ the MacLeod cover – a huge pitch cover with a central inflatable tube which allows warm air to be blown underneath to protect a pitch from freezing or, in some circumstances, defrost the ground.

The system costs all 12 clubs a substantial sum but it repays the investment in terms of lack of postponements.
 
The six systems travel the country heading where they are most needed, being deployed under the management of Phil Winstanley, Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby.
 
With no Aviva Premiership Rugby matches called off since 2010, Felton is proud of what his team have achieved in recent years.

He added: “It goes to show that as long as you’re ahead of the game and organised you can prevent cancellations in almost all conditions.

“Even at the likes of Saracens and Newcastle with their artificial grass pitches, snowfall is something that needs to be protected against.
 
“I don’t call artificial grass pitches all-weather because they’re not all-weather. We still work on to protect them against snow using our systems.

“The last game to be called off was four years ago at Newcastle Falcons, where due to the snow and ice we could not get our protection systems around the country very easily.

“But since then we have increased the number of systems we use with Aviva Premiership Rugby and, touch wood, have not had any problems.”
 

Latest News

Joe Launchbury named as Wasps captain for 2017/18

England lock Joe Launchbury continues as Wasps’ captain for the 2017/18 season, having led the side to the Aviva Premiership…

Joe Launchbury

Wasps name team for Connacht clash

Dai Young has named a 27-man squad to take on Connacht Rugby at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday evening, kick-off…

Defensive display pleases Kennedy

London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy was pleased with his side’s defensive display during Friday’s 29-6 victory over Ealing…

Three charities to benefit from Wasps 150th anniversary season

Wasps are proving that charity begins at home as they gear up to mark the club’s 150th anniversary. Dai Young’s…

Wasps celebrate

Temporary replacement period for off-field HIA now fixed at ten minutes

World Rugby has approved an amendment to law making it mandatory for players who undertake an off-field screening under the…

Toby Flood starts for Newcastle Falcons against Rotherham Titans

Toby Flood makes the first start of his second spell at Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Rotherham Titans…

Joe Marler commits to Harlequins until 2021

Harlequins is thrilled to announce today, Friday 18th August, that England and British and Irish Lions prop, Joe Marler, has…

Joe Marler

European fixtures to be released on Tuesday

The fixtures for the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season will be announced on Tuesday, 22 August at 3.00pm…

Rokoduguni starts for Bath Rugby against Ospreys

Semesa Rokoduguni will make his first appearance of pre-season when Bath Rugby take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on…

Harlequins team to play Jersey Reds

Harlequins has announced the squad to play Jersey Reds in the final match of the 2017/18 pre-season campaign, at The…

Francis Saili

Stringer starts for Worcester Warriors at Birmingham Moseley

Summer signing Peter Stringer will get his first start for Warriors on Friday night as his side take on Birmingham…

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

Thirty American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg