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'It's a different kind of pitch, and to be honest I'm not a fan'

By Paul Smith
Jake White has slammed 4G pitches (Getty Images)

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World Cup winning coach Jake White has become the latest big name to attack the use of 4G pitches in professional rugby.

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England prop Joe Marler won plenty of support from prominent players including recently-retired James Haskell, Jack Nowell, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Henry Slade when calling for artificial surfaces to be banned following Harlequins’ visit to Newcastle last month.

White, who is now at the helm of Pretoria-based franchise Bulls, saw his fly half Johan Goosen suffer a knee injury during their 29-19 United Rugby Championship win over Cardiff on the Arms Park’s 4G surface.

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Jake White previews Bulls v Cardiff
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Jake White previews Bulls v Cardiff

The fly-half went down after attempting a sidestep during the first half of the Friday night clash.

He joins a growing list of players who have suffered knee and ankle injuries while appearing on the 4G surfaces where the likes of Saracens, Newcastle, Worcester and now Gloucester play their home games.

“It’s a different kind of pitch, and to be honest I’m not a fan,” White said.

“Having coached in the north and seen these 4G pitches, I’m not a fan. I understand why they do it – the weather and water tables, freezing and all that.

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“But I wonder if Goosen’s injury could’ve been prohibited (prevented) if we had played on grass, because it’s such a different surface.

“Hardly anything happened there – he just turned his leg to change direction, and I think the fact that his foot got stuck in the turf and it doesn’t give as much as grass is obviously the reason why you can get a lot of knee and ankle injuries.

“It’s circumstance, it’s weather. I spoke to (Cardiff boss) Dai Young about it before the game, and there is obviously a lot more to it – the community game, and they need to keep numbers… I’m talking about generally.

“In South Africa we’re very fortunate with our temperatures and our fields that we don’t really need synthetic pitches. Our outdoors and our rugby season are generally mild enough for us to have grass.

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“It’s an adaptation. I’m not a believer in it. I actually prefer grass and I prefer playing on pitches that we are used to.”

 

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