New 3G pitch begins to take shape

The stone base for the 3G pitch being laid down

WORK on Ripon Grammar School's new £1m world-class all-weather floodlit pitch is well underway, with students looking forward to playing on the highly durable artificial grass surface in the autumn term.

The development of the 3G ‘third generation’ sports ground is set to give the school's reputation for sporting excellence a massive boost and will also benefit the wider community of the city

Construction workers from sports turf technology company Greenfields UK - which has had three diggers and two tractors on site - have now dug out and levelled the 3G pitch area and are currently laying the stone base. 

With all the drainage, as well as a stormwater tank, installed and a new natural grass rugby pitch seeded, Greenfields is now five weeks into the 16-20-week project and on schedule to complete by the autumn term deadline. 

Alongside the newly-laid grass pitch and a long jump, the exciting new development is being fully-funded by the property developer Persimmon Homes.

Headmaster Jonathan Webb said this latest extension to the school’s first-class sports facilities was an amazing asset which would help further enhance the development of the next generation of sporting stars.

Ripon Grammar School has built a regional reputation for sporting success, with girls’ hockey and netball teams recently winning national titles and two rugby teams being crowned Yorkshire champions.

Mr Webb added: “The new 3G pitch will make a huge difference to the amount of time students get to train and play outdoors in future as the top-quality playing surface performs well even in the most challenging weather conditions in the muddy depths of winter.”

The new pitch will be used for a wide variety of sports including lacrosse, rounders and athletics training, as well as for girls’ and boys’ rugby and football.

“It is a major and exciting addition to the school’s sporting facilities and estate and its community use will also make it a major addition for the city of Ripon,” said Mr Webb.

The development encompasses a full-size FIFA-compliant football pitch and three cross-width seven-a-side football pitches, all with markings and goals on wheels.

It will also provide a full-size World Rugby-compliant artificial pitch, with markings and rugby posts. As part of the new works, contractors are re-levelling and re-siting the running track and 1st XV grass rugby pitch, as well as installing drainage.

Mr Webb added that discussions with all those involved in developing the final plans had been long and complex, due to the size and nature of the construction: “The school has endeavoured to ensure that what we end up with is the best possible outcome for students.”

The 3G pitch’s durable, all-weather surface, with porous layers which let water drain through easily, can be played on for 80 hours a week, as opposed to the five hours a week natural grass pitches can withstand.

It will be used solely by the school up to 5.30pm but will be available for public hire in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The new facility will also serve three partner clubs, Ripon RUFC, Ripon City AFC and Ripon City Panthers JFC, and two illuminated footpaths will link the 3G pitch with the sports hall and car park for student, parent and public access.

Persimmon agreed to fund the sporting facility - which will be part-constructed on the Memorial Field owned by the school’s Old Riponians alumni society - as part of the planning requirements for a new housing development in the city.

Above: surveying the site: Headmaster Jonathan Webb with some of RGS’s sporting stars, including (back row, l-r) Yorkshire Carnegie Academy rugby players Ollie Williams and Ted Wainwright and front (centre, l-r) Kathryn Barrett, who plays for Ripon Rugby Club, and Niamh Frost, who has represented Yorkshire and plays for Harrogate Ladies. Front (l-r): keen first form sporting students Charlie Ryder and Edie Cooper, who are looking forward to playing on the new pitch in the autumn term)

The natural grass pitch is being seeded