Are Sarries onto a winner?
I recently paid my first visit to Saracens’ new home at Allianz Park to see the boys from Barnet experience a comfortable 47-17 win against Worcester Warriors.
Much has been made of the artificial pitch at the Allianz, and that the synthetic surface suited Sarries was clear. Opposition coach Richard Hill was not in favour, as “it creates a different type of game and I’m definitely a grass man” which is ironic in a way as he was put out to grass a few days later by Worcester, though no doubt due in large part his team hadn’t won away from home this year.
As someone who can remember Queens Park Rangers artificial pitch of the 1980‘s and the chorus of damnation heaped upon it from everyone outside W12, here in N4 the ball’s bounce seemed unaffected and the purchase given to players must be infinitely preferable to that witnessed in the Home Internationals at the Stade de France and Aviva Stadium.
How much would a team like Harlequins not benefit from playing on such a surface on a regular basis? It was clear from the TV coverage of the Heineken Cup quarter final against Munster that a pitch severely affected by recent prolonged snow and rain was having a material effect.
How many years before most premiership grounds have some sort of artificial surface? Already Cardiff Blues have confirmed that they are looking at installing an artificial surface at their Arms Park base, and that it would be the same 4G (isn’t that a phone network?) installed by Saracens.Their chief executive Richard Holland told the South Wales Echo:”the way the Arms Park pitch is in the winter months, we are aware of the quality of the spectacle for our paying public who don’t want to see 30 blokes rolling around in the mud.” The Blues were Saracen’s first opponents on the Allianz Park pitch in January for an LV= pool game.
Mud is fine for many levels of the game of rugby, but not at the top level, and not at the prices being charged to watch rugby.