Sarries admit plastic pitch is a "risk"
October 15, 2012
Sarries chief executive Ed Griffiths has defended his side's decision to install a plastic pitch at their new Allianz Park © Getty Images
Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths has admitted that the Premiership side's decision to install a plastic pitch at their new Allianz Park home is a risk but it is a gamble he is willing to take.
Construction at the ground in Hendon, north London continues ahead of their first scheduled match against Exeter Chiefs on February 16 with the installation of an artificial surface a headline-grabbing aspect of the development of what was previously known as the Barnet Copthall Stadium.
The use of such pitches is common place in terms of training facilities and Hong Kong are among those countries to have played Test rugby on an artificial turf but Saracens will be the first Premiership side to embrace the technology.
"Of course there is a risk of being first," Griffiths told the Watford Observer. "The general reaction of other clubs has been OK it's interesting but let's wait and see how it turns out, but at Saracens we want to be first and we want to be taking the club forward. In two years time either everyone in rugby will have moved to what we have or we will have moved back to grass."
Speaking at a fans' forum last week, Griffiths added: "The great thing is that because it is plastic underneath, fathers and sons can go on the pitch and play on it until the end of the night as far as I'm concerned. And we won't have a game called off until it's below -8 degrees celsius - so I've already drawn up the rental costs for when the winter months draw in!"
Griffiths is also confident that the matchday experience offered at the 10,000-capacity Allianz Park will rival any other ground in the Premiership. "I think it will look spectacular and I know there will be a great atmosphere," he said. "I want people to be able to turn up two hours before the game and hopefully just enjoy the experience."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament