The information below sets out Scottish Rugby’s requirements in relation to the use of artificial rugby turf surfaces in Scotland. Please note there are a variety of sports turf surfaces in use and that not all of these are suitable for rugby. The key consideration in relation to any surface used is whether it is safe and appropriate for the activity proposed. The welfare of the player must be the key concern of all those organising rugby based activities.
Within the World Rugby Laws of the Game,Law 1 sets out the playing surfaces which may be used for rugby union:
Law 1: Surface of the Playing Enclosure
(a) Requirement: The surface must be safe to play on at all times.
(b) Type of Surface: The surface should be grass but may also be sand, clay, snow or artificial grass. The game may be played on snow, provided the snow and underlying surface are safe to play on. It shall not be a permanently hard surface such as concrete or asphalt. In the case of artificial grass surfaces, they must conform to World Rugby Regulation 22.
Please note that contact training and matches are not allowed on any surface which does not comply with Law 1.
World Rugby has issued a Regulation on the technical standards and approval process for artificial rugby turf, World Rugby Regulation 22: Standard Relating to the use of Artificial Rugby Turf (WR Regulation 22).
Scottish Rugby has adopted WR Regulation 22 and incorporated it into our own domestic regulation, Scottish Domestic Regulation 22: Artificial Rugby Turf (SDR 22).
All those within the Scottish Rugby Union’s jurisdiction are required to comply with World Rugby Regulation 22 and Scottish Domestic Regulation 22.
Any artificial pitch which is to be used for either Contact Training (1) or for Matches must be approved in writing by Scottish Rugby. Approval will only be granted following receipt of a satisfactory Field Test Report from an independent, World Rugby accredited test institute. Any approval provided will be “conditional” on:
Please remember that Scottish Rugby’s conditional approval only signifies that the surface has been independently tested for compliance with WR Regulation 22. It does not replace any duty of care by the site operator in relation to the activities it permits to take place on the surface, nor the users’ ultimate responsibility to appropriately risk assess any rugby related activities it plans to undertake.
Note 1: Please note that “contact” activities specifically include tackling, scrummaging and lineout practice.
To apply to have an artificial rugby turf surface conditionally approved for rugby use please complete and return the application form below:
Please remember to enclose a copy of the independent Field Test Report with your application.
Scottish Rugby maintains a register of those artificial rugby turf surfaces it has conditionally approved for use.
Please note that any venue not on the list is not “approved” and must not be used for contact rugby (whether training or playing).
Scottish Rugby is obliged to report to World Rugby on injuries which occur on artificial turf surfaces. We collate injury statistics in relation to all but the most trivial injuries (such as minor cuts and abrasions). Injuries occurring on any artificial turf surface (approved or otherwise) should where possible be reported within 72 hours of the incident occurring using the form below:
A Serious Injury Report Form must also be completed where a player either attends hospital or requires medical follow up as a result of an injury sustained through rugby.
Artificial Rugby Turf: Cancer Risk
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has evaluated the risk of substances in recycled rubber used on artificial sports pitches. Based on the evidence, the ECHA has concluded that the concern for players on these pitches, including children, and for workers who maintain them is very low.
In June 2016, the European Commission asked ECHA to evaluate the risk to the general population, including children, professional players and workers installing or maintaining the pitches. The ECHA has concluded (in a report dated 28 February 2017), that there is, at most, a very low level of concern from exposure to recycled rubber granules.
The ECHA has, however, made a number of recommendations including:
For further information please see the ECHA website: https://echa.europa.eu/-/recycled-rubber-infill-causes-a-very-low-level-of-concern
The primary concern of Scottish Rugby remains the health and well-being of the participants in our sport. We will continue to liaise with World Rugby on this issue and, should World Rugby’s guidance change, we will review our own guidance at that time.
To assist those with queries in relation to the use of artificial turf in rugby union we have prepared a summary of Frequently Asked Questions.
If you can't find the information you're looking for, have a specific query or require assistance in relation to Scottish Rugby’s approval of artificial grass surfaces for rugby use please contact Graham Ireland at [email protected] or phone 0131 346 5004.