Rodney Parade: Dragons board consider pitch upgrade

Rodney Parade
Newport RFC played their first game at Rodney Parade in 1879
Pro14: Dragons v Benetton
Date: Friday 6 March Kick-off: 19:35 GMT Venue: Rodney Parade, Newport
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Wales; report on BBC Sport website

The Dragons board will consider a pitch upgrade at Rodney Parade because of problems with the current surface.

They are set to discuss versions with a higher percentage of artificial material at a stadium which also hosts Newport RFC and Newport County AFC.

Heavy rain has left the pitch with large muddy areas.

The existing hybrid pitch was installed in 2017, when the WRU took over the Dragons, and is coming to the end of its scheduled life-time.

The board will consider the type of hybrid pitch used at the Liberty Stadium, which hosts Swansea City and most of the Ospreys' fixtures.

Newport County manager Mike Flynn said he would be keen for discussions over improvements.

"And I'd like to know sooner rather than later as it affects my recruitment in the summer," Flynn said, claiming the current conditions do have an impact on games.

"It's out of my remit. The board have been on the front foot, they do the work behind the scenes and I'm sure they'll have those discussions and I'll be find out as soon as I'm told."

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan, who is also a board member, is warning against opting for a completely artificial surface like that at Cardiff Arms Park.

Such a playing surface would also prevent Newport County from playing there under Football League rules.

County have a lease to use the ground - and have primacy of fixtures on the venue if they remain in the Football League - until 2023.

"I don't believe artificial surfaces are the way forward for rugby, there are a lot better surfaces between those two (extremes)," Ryan said.

"I know the board are very keen to look at the options to develop and support renewing the pitch.

"In 10 years' time we might be looking back and saying 'why did we go down that (route)'.

"There was a significant fall-out between myself and Worcester at the time when they implemented a pitch which I don't believe in. Further efforts to sanitise the game don't impress me."

Backs coach Barry Maddocks is also keen to see a change after weeks of torrential rain produced a slog in the mud in Dragons' Pro14 win over South African side Cheetahs.

"It was very difficult, I was talking to the Cheetahs' coaching team and they said it was the hardest of the three games (on their European visit), not just because of the poor weather but because the pitch was difficult," Maddocks said.

"It was just hard for them (Cheetahs players) to change direction (running), particularly with the style of rugby they play."

Dragons will play Benetton in a re-arranged fixture on Friday, 6 March while Newport County host Morecambe in League Two the following day.

Flynn added that the state of the pitch was "no surprise" but would not be using the conditions as an excuse for their fixture.

"We know what to expect and what it will be like and if you don't you must be living on the moon."

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