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Jack Nowell posts photo of knees after game on Gloucester's new 3G pitch

By Ian Cameron

Trending on RugbyPass

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Exeter Chiefs star and critic of artificial pitches Jack Nowell has posted fresh images of his knees after injuring them playing on the Gallagher Premiership’s newest synthetic surface.


Exeter were playing on Gloucester’s new 3G pitch, which the club had installed over the summer. While the Devon-based side brought the Cherry and Whites run of wins to an end with a narrow 16 – 13 victory, it didn’t come without a cost to the Nowell’s knees.

The England winger – a vocal critic of the technology – took to Twitter on the matter, posting a photo of some nasty looking abrasion to his knees, with the caption: “Vaseline and plasters for the rest of the season it is then”.

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Former Bath and England prop David Flatman pointed out that you rarely hear of the negative effects of surfaces from players at clubs that the use them, suggesting it’s for PR purposes.

“Nobody at a club with a plastic pitch ever says a word against a plastic pitch. Always quick to list the (legitimate) benefits, they often go quiet when it comes to the drawbacks. It’s PR, basically,” wrote Flatman.

Newcastle Falcons communications manager – Mark Smith – defended the use of the pitches, replying to Flatman by saying: “I’d also say the media reporting on them only ever seems to focus on the perceived negatives, and largely ignores fact-based research like the RFU injury audit. Bath recently had 2 ACLs on grass. If that’d been on 3G there’d be an outcry.”


Severe abrasions and knee ligament injuries have been associated with the surfaces, with professional players from clubs with grass pitches regularly taking to social media to showcase horrific-looking cuts after playing on artificial pitches.

With more and more clubs opting for artificial turf, the online debate is increasing regarding the player welfare aspect of their use, with more and more pro-players criticising them. World Rugby have recently made the wearing of tights by players during matches legal, partly as a response to the issue.

Speaking to RugbyPass recently, Nowell says that he can’t stand the pitches and says he feels ‘like death’ the week after having to compete on the surfaces.

“I can’t stand them,” Nowell told The Offload podcast. “I’m in a position now that I can play on them but when I was younger I struggled quite a bit with patellar tendonitis. I had that op [operation] done eventually.


“When you get through the game, you feel alright, then your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday sessions are horrendous.

“I can’t run. I feel very, very sore, worse than I normally would after a game. I don’t know if you become robust to them or used to playing on them.”

Nowell concedes that Desso pitches [mixed grass and artificial] are excellent, but that the cheaper, multi-purpose fully artificial alternatives are not up to scratch – if you’ll excuse the pun.

“It’s all about cuts. Anyone who doesn’t like them puts pictures of their cuts up. The cuts are brutal. It’s crazy. You get boys having skin grafts.

“Players aren’t able to train because their wounds are so badly opened and they’re not healing and they’re infected. It’s horrible.”

“You can promise until you are blue in the face how good artificial pitches and how won’t get cut. No matter what you do, you’re always going to get cuts on it, unless it’s grass.”


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