ARU unhappy with AAMI Park pitch

Date published: June 19 2016

AAMI Park in Melbourne could lose the chance to host any more Wallabies Tests after the Australian Rugby Union expressed their disappointment at the state of its turf.

After months of criticism of the pitch during Super Rugby, the turf capitulated again in Saturday’s second Test between Australia and England, with resets being moved as major divots were dislodged during the game.

While a record crowed turned out for the match, the turf couldn’t stand up to the challenge.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver admitted on Sunday that the turf was not up to Test standard and if it did not improve, the Wallabies wouldn’t be returning, despite an agreement to play there in 2017.

“The playing surface was clearly not up to the standards required for international rugby,” he told the Australian Rugby Union’s website.

“The issue with the stability of the turf during scrums has existed throughout the Super Rugby season and despite the work done on the surface by Melbourne Olympic Park Trust prior to last night’s Test, the end result was simply not good enough.

“The venue is obligated to provide a playing surface which is safe for the playing of international Rugby and clearly this was not delivered upon last night.

Pulver said the ARU would bring in an independent assessor before making a call and floated the idea of a hybrid surface, similar to Twickenham.

“I have suggested previously that the stadium should investigate a hybrid playing surface, similar to the one used at Twickenham, which is 90 per cent grass and 10 per cent synthetic and stood up superbly to the rigours of the Rugby World Cup,” he added.

“AAMI Park must investigate all technology available to improve the surface. If we don’t have satisfactory progress in the coming months, we’ll need to revisit our agreement with them for 2017.

“We want to work with the venue to ensure the stadium is suitable to host Rugby matches moving forward.”