SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Sydney Cricket Ground is to have 3,000 square metres of turf replaced after concerns were raised when significant parts of the playing surface were ripped apart during a Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Referee Glen Jackson had to halt play in the second half of the New South Wales Waratahs’ 28-17 victory over the Queensland Reds to allow groundstaff to temporarily repair the pitch after a scrum had created huge divots that made footing unsafe.
The pitch was pocked with scars at the end of the game, calling into question whether the iconic venue would be able to host any further Super Rugby games or a high profile rugby league match on Friday.
The Sydney Cricket Ground Trust said on Sunday, however, that they would resurface parts of the ground in preparation for the National Rugby League match between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“Turf at the eastern and western ends of the field was compromised during Saturday night’s Super Rugby match,” it said in a statement.
“A combination of late rain before kick-off in areas of the field dominated by the winter rye grass contributed to damage at scrum time.
“The SCG will replace 3,000 square metres of turf today (Sunday) in preparation for Friday night’s … match.”
The SCG is being used by the Waratahs and Roosters until at least 2022 because the neighbouring Sydney Football Stadium is being rebuilt as part of an overhaul of sports facilities in Australia’s largest city.
The Waratahs, who have also played home games at Manly’s Brookvale Oval and will play three matches in Western Sydney Stadium, next host the Canterbury Crusaders at the SCG on March 23.
“The SCG is confident that the surface will be ready for the Waratahs’ match against the Crusaders on March 23,” it added.
“The new turf is of the ready-to-play variety and will be available for a Roosters training session on Wednesday.
“The SCG will continue to work with its sports partners to ensure the field of play is presented to the highest standards.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he felt comfortable playing at the ground, but conceded the issue would need to be addressed before they hosted the Crusaders.
The nine-times Super Rugby champion Crusaders were not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
Their All Blacks laden-pack will be hoping they do not face the same problem as the Reds, whose coach Brad Thorn said the surface had taken away the possibility of them using the scrum as an attacking weapon.
“It just shut it down didn’t it?” Thorn said.
“Its professional sport. Rugby grounds, there is a lot of running around but with the mauling and the scrummaging, the ground is pretty important. That was disappointing.
“It just didn’t have any strength to it.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney