Welsh Rugby Union Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis today announced that a Desso pitch system is the preferred option to be installed at the Millennium Stadium a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.
The CEO confirmed that a new surface is due to be installed at the iconic multi-event stadium during the summer of 2014 to replace the current palletised turf surface for next season’s Dove Men Series.
Desso is a hybrid system which intertwines grass turf with millions of artificial fibres to reinforce the quality of a playing surface.
Desso pitches now feature at stadia around the world and have featured major games from a cross section of sports including American football, soccer and rugby.
The potential £3.3million investment would also include a Terraplas cover to protect the new surface when major non-rugby events such as rock concerts take place.
The cover system will allow the Stadium to continue to be a multi-event venue attracting fans and followers from around the world.
Speaking at today’s Event Wales International Conference where it was revealed by First Minister Carwyn Jones that the Millennium Stadium contributes £130million per year to the economy in Wales, Mr Lewis said:
“I can reveal that the Desso pitch system is the preferred option to replace the current palletised system at the Millennium Stadium.
“Desso is a tried and tested pitch system which we expect would answer all our requirements for international rugby including the 2015 Rugby World Cup which brings eight games to the Millennium Stadium.
“The new system would also include the purchase of a Terraplas cover to ensure that non-sporting events can continue to feature in our calendar of major events.
“The Desso would take us to another level as a world-class rugby stadium and multi-event arena.”
The WRU has recently carried out a major review of pitch system alternatives to replace the palletised system which was installed to host Rugby World Cup 1999.
He added: “In our search for the best possible surface we took advice from a range of experts and ensured we listened to the voices of our players, coaches and conditioners before deciding which option to choose.”
The WRU also continues to liaise closely with the Welsh Government to ensure any new system is fully aligned with their strategy of attracting as many major events to Wales as possible in the years ahead.
The WRU Board has supported the preferred option stance as the Union now seeks the financial support to achieve its aim.
Chairman of the WRU, David Pickering, added: “The installation of a Desso pitch would ensure the Millennium Stadium can protect its reputation as one of the best rugby venues in the world.
“Hundreds of thousands of fans watch Wales play here every year and we have a duty to deliver the best spectacle of rugby we can.
“The players are prepared to deliver their best and they deserve the best possible surface on which to play.
“I want to thank the board of the WRU for their diligence and hard work in considering the findings of our thorough review of all options before making this decision in the best interests of Welsh rugby and for Wales.”
Mr Lewis also confirmed that a new grass pitch was installed on the existing palletised system after following the Wales v Australia international on Saturday 30 November.
The new pitch will provide a quality surface for the start of the RBS 6 Nations tournament in 2014. This pitch will be removed at the end of the 2013/14 playing season and the pallet system will be placed in storage.