The International Rugby Board’s One Turf programme has been further boosted this week with the hosting of a ground-breaking conference attended by representatives of many of the world’s major field sports.
The two-day conference, which concluded today, heard presentations from several sporting federations, including the IRB, FIFA, National Football League (NFL), Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and International Hockey Federation (FIH), as well as test institutes, university researchers and manufacturers of sports turf, on the benefits and challenges of devising an artificial surface that can be used across a range of sports and codes.
The IRB has taken the lead in this key area of sports development that, through regulated production and installation, will be able to revolutionise the Game in elite and community Rugby where growing conditions are challenging and promote mass participation through greater use.
IRB Head of Technical Services Steve Griffiths said: “We are delighted to have been able to welcome so many industry experts and representatives of sports federations to what has been an extremely useful conference. Ultimately, we want to develop the very best surfaces for players of all ages and abilities to enjoy Rugby and other sports safely, whatever the conditions.”
“We have already seen remarkable progress in this area over recent years and the co-operation and collaboration that has been strengthened by this conference will ensure that trend continues for the good of all sports, particularly at community and grass-roots level.”
Prof. Richard Kent, who attended on behalf of the NFL, said: “Player safety must drive the decision-making processes of any sport’s governing body. Fundamental research and understanding of the mechanisms of injury are at the heart of this issue and international collaborations like the IRB One Turf Conference are an important way for us to share this knowledge.
The conference heard presentations from each attending sports federation on how artificial surfaces relate to their sport in terms of strategies, growth, regulation and future developments. That was followed by a review of the differences and similarities in criteria for artificial turf for each sport and a presentation by a major clothing manufacturer on what sort of footwear is best suited to artificial turf.
There were discussions on injury data relating to artificial turf and a significant proportion of the conference was given over to a collaborative process of drafting a working document based on existing performance criteria and requirements for each sport.
Launched in December 2010, the One Turf programme is benefiting the global Game by providing a regulated, one-stop solution for organisations seeking to install artificial surfaces. The landmark programme means that the same producer will manufacture, install and maintain IRB Regulation 22-compliant surfaces, opening the way for elite and community level matches to be played on artificial surfaces and promoting player welfare best practice.
The IRB Regulation 22 Performance Specification governing the artificial turf installation process is available to download here.
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