There is currently a huge emphasis on improving the pace of rugby. Ruck speed and the quality of the pitches, in particular, have seen major improvements in recent times.
The introduction of 4G pitches is one such innovation that has allowed the speed of ball to increase dramatically over recent seasons, with many premiership sides adopting the new surface. The synthetic grass is not only a dream for groundskeepers due to the minimal maintenance required, but also for rugby speedsters as they make use of the spongy ground and the cleanness of ball.
The 4G surface is generally a 50-65mm long pile, non-abrasive carpet system, carefully in-filled with recycled rubber to replicate natural turf. Underneath is a pad designed for firmness, yet capable of absorbing impact when a player falls under a heavy tackle.
The problem that many professional and amateur players face when playing on this new surface, however, are the severe burns that can appear after playing. Caused by scraping bare and lightly covered skin along the surface during a tackle or in the act of scoring a try, these burns can take weeks to heal.
Love 4g pitches said no rugby player ever 😂😂😂🤦🏾🤦🏾 pic.twitter.com/2BRl2g6rBf
— Lima Sopoaga (@LimaSopoaga) March 26, 2023
Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton has stressed the importance of looking after players on these surfaces:
“4G pitches need to go or we have to have fully covered protection for the players. And not just leggings. The best premiership pitch is Franklin’s gardens. (Grass)”