England open their rugby campaign in New Zealand, next Saturday against Argentina at the world’s first covered stadium incorporating a natural grass pitch

England will kick off their tournament campaign in the new Otago Stadium in Dunedin, the first stadium in the world to have both a fixed roof and natural grass pitch.

Desso Sports Systems, known for their experience in installing pitches in state-of-the-art venues, have completed their Desso GrassMaster system, a hybrid natural grass pitch reinforced by artificial fibres.

State of the art stadium

One of the unique aspects of the stadium is its roof, which entirely covers the pitch and stands. The all-weather transparent ETFE roof will keep the 30,500 fans protected from the weather while still letting sunlight through.

High Tech pitch

The hybrid grass system (100% natural grass reinforced with 20 million artificial fibres), offers stability and reinforcement, ensuring a surface in perfect condition at all times.

Computer-controlled machinery injected artificial fibres every 2cm, 20 cm deep into the soil. The roots of the natural grass then grow around the artificial fibres, providing a highly-stable and even surface.

Sustainable solution

Thanks to the stability of the artificial fibres, the natural grass can recover faster, an important benefit during tournaments, when the pitch is used intensively for training sessions and matches over a short period.

Otago Stadium will continue to serve as a multipurpose venue. In addition to rugby and football competitions, Otago Stadium will play host for events such as concerts. During such events, the pitch will be protected by a covering system, similar to the one used at Wembley stadium which installed Desso GrassMaster in 2010.

Desso and other major venues

Desso’s grass system is in place at some 450 stadia and training centers worldwide, including ten Premier League football clubs in the UK – among them, Arsenal, Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

London Irish, Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and Huddersfield Giants in England and the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues in Wales also play or train on a Desso GrassMaster pitch. As regards international rugby union, the first Desso GrassMaster pitch was laid at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, followed by the Beaujoire Stadium in France, and more recently the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.