12 Dec 2014
New pitch to increase sporting provision and support academic research
A brand new Third Generation (3G) rubber crumb pitch, situated next to Holywell Fitness Centre on the West end on campus, is now in operation.
The facility, an investment by the University of £700,000, has created a dedicated pitch for American Football, Rugby and Football with the aim of supporting recreational use, Intra Mural Sport (IMS) and training sessions for clubs.
The development has also created a unique collaboration between the University’s Sports Development Centre, Facilities Management department and academics in the Sports Surfaces Research group - alongside consultant MUGA UK and contractors Charles Lawrence and Polytan UK - to create an ‘outdoor laboratory’ at the new pitch.
Dr Paul Fleming and Dr Steph Forrester are currently collaborating on several projects to further understanding of how users interact with surfaces and how the surfaces can provide the optimum response for performance and safety.
The new rubber crumb pitch is a timely opportunity for the research group who have been monitoring the design and construction in detail from the excavated soil level up to the artificial carpet surface.
Now complete, the research group will monitor the in-play performance and carry out bespoke player-surface testing and assessment of the facility during its lifetime.
The long-term pitch monitoring includes drainage performance – feeding into a current industry sponsored research project to develop more sustainable drainage design guidance and inform planning policy for new build sports fields.
In addition, a suite of thermocouples have been installed throughout the many layers of the pitch during installation to inform the development and validation of novel pitch-ground heat transfer models and pitch–user thermal comfort models.
This work will add to the debate over concerns of increased physiological stress for players when summer temperatures on these artificial surfaces can exceed ambient temperatures by as much as 30-40 degrees Celsius.
Four PhD students will directly benefit from the outdoor laboratory including: the assessment of artificial turf for rugby movements; enhancing understanding of shoe-surface traction; player skin-surface abrasion mechanisms; and numerical modelling of artificial turf to better predict surface system designs of the future.
In addition the outdoor sports facilities across campus are being monitored and evaluated by the research team through two engineering doctorates:
- one aimed at enhancing surface maintenance practice to prolong in-service life in collaboration with Technical Surfaces Ltd.
- one aimed to develop new test methods for the industry, for example turf stability for rugby and indoor surfaces for wheelchair sports, in collaboration with Labosport.