A new international-standard artificial grass (AGP) rugby pitch has been officially opened at the University of Hull by former England international and British and Irish Lions Tour manager, John Spencer.
The pitch is the latest facility to be opened in as part of a £16-million investment in sport at the University.
Already opened is a £3.5-million community football hub, featuring changing rooms, classrooms and a physiotherapy room, alongside three 3G pitches.
The RFU has invested £250,000 in the new pitch, as part of its Rugby Share programme, with a commitment to investing £10million over four years into partner organisations to part-fund 40 AGP pitches on community sites.
The University is the first to benefit from the programme. Currently just 1 in 10 artificial grass pitches in the country are up to international rugby regulations.
Steve Curtis, Partnership and Project Manager (Sport) at the University of Hull, said: “The standard of this pitch is second to none and we are grateful to the RFU for the funding to allow us to have a pitch which will allow us to host matches on this great facility.
“We are investing a huge amount to create first-class sporting facilities for our students, staff and the local community. The University’s sports facilities receive around 2,000 visits a week, including from the local community, youth sports clubs and regional and national amateur and professional sports teams. Facilities like this will make a huge difference.”
The RFU is increasingly favouring artificial pitches because of their durability. They are able to be used year-round at a consistent standard, increasing access to the sport.
There is also growing pressure on natural turf pitches from overuse and bad weather.
The new facilities will boost the quality and size of facilities on offer at the University to meet a rising level of demand among students, as well as offer high-quality sporting provision for visiting teams and the wider community.
The overall investment includes a new sports centre, which will house a 12-court sports facility, including international-standard netball courts and bleacher-style seating for 700 spectators. The aim is to make the University the regional hub for netball.
The facility, being built adjacent to the current sports hall, will also house a strength and conditioning suite plus enhanced changing facilities.
The existing sports hall, which is a listed building, will be refurbished to a high standard. It is being turned into a 120-station fitness suite with state-of-the-art equipment and free weights. There will also be a dance studio which can also host fitness classes.
Already the investment has seen resurfacing of all the existing artificial pitches, which include a sand-based hockey pitch and two 3G football pitches.