A Millennium makeover has signalled the arrival of summer rugby in Wales, as a brand new pitch is installed for the nation’s World Cup warm-up games against England (August 13) and Argentina (August 20) at the Millennium Stadium.
Up to 125 trucks are already making their way to the iconic city centre venue to deliver 7,412 pallets, so that Wales can test themselves against the old enemy and the mighty Pumas ahead of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
As Warren Gatland’s squad prepares for the sizzling summer encounters, Millennium Stadium head groundsman, Lee Evans, and his team will be working hard to assemble Wales’ biggest turf jigsaw which completes the perfect 120m x 79m rugby stage at the home of Welsh sport.
"It is vitally important that my team works especially hard over the coming months to ensure that the pitch is kept in optimum condition with Wales’ upcoming summer rugby fixtures against England and Argentina," said Evans.
"The Wales squad favour a firm surface of short grass conducive for running rugby and, while I’m confident that the turf has been classified as excellent by experts, we must work hard to maintain the condition in the weeks ahead."
Over 25 pitches have been laid since the stadium first opened its retractable roof in 1999 – with Mr Evans previously calling for a new pitch per sporting competition if necessary – yet due to the round-the-clock vigil of Evans’ team and the introduction of the lighting rigs, results have shown that the highest standards of pitch quality will remain all season.
He added: "The design and nature of the Millennium Stadium is not conducive to growing grass and we have had our problems in the past because of this. The steep sided bowl, which creates such excellent sight lines for fans, has the side-effect of producing hostile conditions for the pitch; preventing sufficient light or air movement from reaching it.
"Over the years we have adopted various measures to circumvent this problem such as the additional lighting on the pitch which helps the grass to photosynthesise and by controlling our fully retractable roof to combat inclement weather."
The Millennium Stadium’s palletised pitch system, retractable roof and city centre location has contributed to its reputation as a must-visit multi-event venue, attracting 129,000 concert-goers and 43,000 motorsports fans to Cardiff for Take That’s Progress Live Tour and Speedway Grand Prix respectively in less than two weeks.
After Wales faced the mighty Barbarians at the iconic stadium on Saturday 4 June, the 40mm thick ryegrass turf was removed for recycling while the root zone (sand/soil) has remained at the home of Welsh sport for re-use – as the Millennium Stadium continues to its quest to become the UK’s first certifiably sustainable event venue.


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