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Joe Marler calls for 4G pitch ban

By Paul Smith
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Joe Marler has reignited the debate surrounding artificial pitches following Harlequins’ season opener at Newcastle.


In recent seasons a number of pundits, current and former players have pointed the finger of suspicion when players have suffered knee injuries while performing on 3G and 4G surfaces.

Perhaps the highest profile of these injuries hit Wasps and England flanker Jack Willis during a 2018 Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Saracens at Barnet’s Allianz Park.

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And the veteran England prop has now weighed into the debate with the simplest possible Twitter post that reads: “Ban 4G pitches.”

Marler’s tweet soon drew a range of responses, many of which supported his viewpoint. One of these came from Exeter and England centre Henry Slade.


Another Exeter Chief, Jack Nowell, retweeted Marler’s post as did Aussie star Adam Ashley-Cooper.

And former Scotland second row Jim Hamilton, for whom the artificial pitch at Saracens was home between 2014 and 2017, endorsed Marler’s view.

Marler also received support from the swimming world when former Olympian Sharron Davies waded in on behalf of her rugby-playing son.


Kingston Park is one of four grounds in the Gallagher Premiership where top flight rugby is played on an artificial surface.

Worcester Warriors’ Sixways home and Saracens’ recently-renamed StoneX Stadium both replaced their grass pitches some time ago, while Gloucester this summer laid a 4G surface to supercede the traditionally boggy Kingsholm playing surface.

Championship clubs Ealing Trailfinders and Coventry also both play on 4G pitches while a number of other grounds – including Wasps’ Coventry Building Society Arena – have a hybrid surface which combines grass with artificial fibres.

The RFU have also installed synthetic surfaces in a range of community clubs across England with the objective of getting more rugby played in all weathers.

These are also important revenue generators for clubs where floodlights allow seven-day use throughout the year.
Few of the critics of 4G pitches believe there are injury issues below elite level, and Hamilton went on to call for wider availability of pitches in Scotland and within age-group rugby.

“Minis and Juniors is a completely different situation,” he tweeted. “They absolutely need more. Scotland need a load more.”


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