The International Rugby Board has launched a groundbreaking initiative that will redefine the use of artificial turf as a playing surface for Rugby and boost global Rugby participation.
The One Turf programme will, for the first time, regulate and standardise the development, performance and maintenance of artificial turf worldwide through the appointment of Preferred Producers and Accredited Test Institutes to ensure that the highest possible player welfare and performance standards are achieved.
The programme now opens the way for Unions and clubs to install a surface produced to a global specification that satisfies all IRB Regulatory aspects and can be used for competition, training and community activity in a Rugby and multi-sport environment. The new regulated surfaces would yield at least 30 hours playing time per week.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The One Turf programme is a significant step forward for our sport with far reaching benefits. The IRB's vision is to grow the Game in developed and emerging Rugby markets around the world over the next 10 years and we have a tremendous opportunity to do so with three Rugby World Cups and two Olympic Games within the period. There is little doubt that this programme will boost participation while having distinct benefits for other sports."
"The One Turf programme will deliver a unified framework for standards of production, installation and maintenance of artificial turf that will pave the way for Rugby matches from the community level up to the Test arena to be played on the surface, which has numerous benefits in countries where there are challenges with growing conditions or access to facilities is difficult."
The launch comes after an exhaustive IRB review of artificial turf usage and performance around the world. Prior to the comprehensive programme being launched there was no global regulation of artificial turf production and maintenance, while teams or individual players could decline to play on the surface under IRB Regulations.
In order to ensure the highest possible player welfare, performance and durability standards, extensive development and testing was undertaken by IRB Accredited Test Institutes under a number of climatic conditions ensuring that the surface has no adverse player welfare implications. This was supplemented by extensive injury surveillance studies which determined that there is no additional risk of injury.
A Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed with FIFA, who initiated the Quality Turf Concept, ensuring that all research and development is beneficial to both Rugby and Football. The Rugby Football Union in England has worked very closely with the Football Association and the Football Foundation in driving forward and delivering dual purpose installations.
With the programme in place the process of appointing IRB Preferred Turf Producers is underway and leading artificial turf expert Limonta Sport has become the first IRB Preferred Turf Producer. Based in Italy, Limonta Sport has a long history and proven track record in providing artificial sports surfaces successfully across the world. The IRB will continue to work with other organisations in order to appoint further Preferred Turf Producers.
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