Wales

'Sewing machines' stitch a new Millennium Stadium pitch

Lee Evans in front of the specialist sewing machines Image copyright Huw Evans picture agency
Image caption Lee Evans, pictured in front of the sewing machines, said the special turf was used by the world's best stadia

It takes a battering from burly rugby players and nimble footballers - and now the Millennium Stadium pitch is getting a well deserved make-over, using giant "sewing machines".

Up to 21 million artificial turf fibres are being stitched into the natural grass roots at the Cardiff venue.

Two specialist machines will create a tough hybrid surface ready for November's rugby internationals.

Stadium bosses say it will "greatly improve" the playing surface.

After a fortnight of sowing grass seed at the iconic venue, the sewing together of natural grass and the artificial turf is expected to be finished by the end of the week.

In total, the number of fibres used will equate to 86,400km - or 53,700 miles of twine, more than twice the circumference of the earth.

One month later the transformed turf will be ready for the autumn rugby internationals, when Wales takes on Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa.

'Tried-and-tested'

In 2015 it will also be used when the Rugby World Cup brings eight games to Cardiff.

The Millennium Stadium is the latest in a number of major sports stadia to use the "pitch sewing" method to improve their turf, including Wembley Stadium, Twickenham, Aviva Stadium and the home of Real Madrid.

The Welsh Rugby Union announced earlier in the year that it planned to replace the controversial pallet system used at the stadium with a new mixed pitch.

"This is a tried-and-tested system that features all over the sporting world," said head groundsman Lee Evan.

"To see the Millennium Stadium up there with the some of the greatest venues is just fantastic for me and my team, for Welsh rugby and the Millennium Stadium."

The renovation project at the stadium also includes a special covering to protect the surface during events such as rock concerts and motorsports.

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