Following an initial enquiry by Rugby school in 2021, Agripower were requested to complete a full survey and design of the prestigious fields. The brief was simple, perfect levels across the site, fully automated irrigation system with below ground storage, capable of covering 2 rugby and 1 cricket and an intensive drainage scheme.
After a full digital survey was completed, the site was re-modelled to give consistent grades across the playing surfaces, and after consultation with the school, works commenced in early Feb 2022 on the full irrigation of the cricket area. On completion of this area which retained the existing turf, our attentions were focussed to the Webb Ellis fields.
Works to the main pitches got underway in mid-March 2022, the existing sward was removed from site and the topsoil was stripped in 2 layers; the upper being largely stone free and the underlying having increased stone content were set aside for re-use. Cut and fill techniques were used to balance the site on grade with this element of the works being completed with a TPS controlled modelling dozer.
Irrigation mains, water supply mains and drainage outlets were installed, and the majority of the underground water storage tanks were excavated and the resultant subsoil/spoil was lost on site to minimise the environmental impact of the works. It was at this stage, with the excavations for the storage tanks at 3.6m below ground level that we encountered our first issue. The rest level of the groundwater was set at 2.8m below ground and there after we had encountered running sand, a problem on any site, but especially when trying to stabilise an excavation of 7.5 m wide x 15m long.
After design loading calculations were made large steel bracing and sheet piles were installed to form a coffer dam. Pumps were installed to de-water the excavation and finally a concrete raft was poured ready to receive the tanks and concrete surrounds. This element sounds simple, but credit must be given to the site team and their tenacity to overcome a major issue.
The site was then drained at 4m centres incorporating a harvesting system to allow winter rainfall to be captured for use in the summer months. Secondary drainage was then installed using a Koro Topdrain and a 50mm layer of graded sand ameliorated into the top 15mm of soil to further enhance the drainage potential. As each pitch reached completion, we than applied pre-seeding fertiliser and seeded with Barenbrug RPR elite coated in mycorrhizal growth stimulant to further reduce the germination period and encourage a strong rooting system.
In a year that will be remembered as the hottest and driest on record, there will only be a few that can remember how many days that were lost due the home of rugby being underwater, or being largely unstable due to the moisture content and days of waiting for the soil to become workable, but again the patience and tenacity of the site team paid off and resulted in the home of rugby receiving a well-earned facelift.“Nothing could have pleased me more than receiving the order for this project. As a lifelong player, coach, and now supporter of rugby, I couldn't be prouder than to have completed this prestigious project for Rugby school” Graham Longdin general manager of Agripower commented. “After visiting site in July, the School's ground staff had grown in the pitches to a very high standard and helped create a real asset for the school and a fantastic facility to continue to play the best game in the world.”