It started with a question, “What can we do to make a better synthetic turf pitch for football and rugby”? This set our minds racing.

For years, R&D departments at synthetic turf companies have focussed on improving the shape of the fibre, how many fibres there are per square metre, even how rows of fibres are spaced differently, but these have not really changed the fundamental performance for the player.

At CCGrass we produce a lot of artificial grass for the landscape market; back gardens and other open spaces, and have perfected the use of what we call, “thatch”, to help make the turf more natural looking and to improve the feel. “Thatch” consists of a lighter, curly yarn, that is tufted alongside the straighter yarn and helps bulk out the turf. This added yarn is a different shade of green and sometimes even straw colour, to replicate the dying or dead grass you see in lawns.

Superb EX2
Close up of Superb EX2

It made so much sense to try the same approach with our 3G surfaces. Instead of the light weight “thatch” we use in the landscape range, we took the same, high quality yarn we use in our FIH tested hockey systems, and added this to our top selling Stemgrass surface. The playing results were astounding.

“The first pitch we installed with this system was at Woodhouse Grove School in Yorkshire, England, and it really did raise the performance of the pitch,”

comments Bryn Lee, CEO for CCGrass Europe.

“The pitch is used by the school for rugby and Bradford City for its football academy, and you can feel the improvement over regular synthetic turf when you walk on the surface”.

The extra yarn has three primary functions; to add bulk to the surface, to support the longer fibres and to help hold the infill in place. This last function was a surprise benefit, that has proven the most important of the three.

Stemgrass EX2-60
Stemgrass EX2-60

Former professional footballer, and now CCGrass UK Business Development Manager, Jamie Forrester explains,

“A common criticism of footballers is that turning on synthetic turf is different from a high quality natural turf pitch. This is caused by the freedom the rubber infill material has to move around within the surface. When I first played on a pitch with the extra “thatch” yarn, I could feel greater stability underfoot. In fact, the absence of rubber near the surface and when the ball bounced, was also noticeable”.

The impact of pitches with a “thatch” layer is appreciated even more by a section of the rugby fraternity. Feedback from front row forwards is that they get much better grip when they scrum. This allows them to “pack” down lower, and leads to less stoppages through collapsed scrums.

This greater stability offered by the “thatch” fibres is one reason why Munster Rugby chose the CCGrass Superb EX2 surface for their stadium pitch at Irish Independent Park.
Facility Manager, Ian Dunne, comments,

“The feedback on how the pitch performs is very positive and we are told by players that it plays better than other 3G surfaces”.
Under-20 Six Nations Championship Round 4, Irish Independent Park, Co. Cork 8/3/2019 Ireland Under 20's vs France U20's Ireland's Sean French makes a break. Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

CCGrass Testing Manager, Coleen Sun explains further,

“We have several FIFA and World Rugby tested systems in our Stemgrass and Superb ranges, that have the “thatch” fibre included. These results show that the added yarn improves ball roll, rotational resistance, shock absorption and vertical deformation in comparison to the same turf without the ‘thatch” layer”.

Despite, player feedback, FIFA and World Rugby tested pitches and technical evidence on the benefits of a “thatch” layer and performance increase, some industry consultants are being persuaded not to accept the curly support yarn in their tenders. Colin Teahon, CEO of specialist pitch builder, PST Sports, is concerned with this development,

“Our Munster pitch, using the Superb EX2 surface, is regarded as the best synthetic turf rugby pitch by Munster players, who have played on several in England, Scotland, Wales and France, yet, through the influence of competitors, who cannot offer this type of turf, we have seen tenders specifically block us from offering the best quality turf”.
Under-20 Six Nations Championship Round 4, Irish Independent Park, Co. Cork 8/3/2019 Ireland Under 20's vs France U20's. Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

By imitating nature, you can improve the quality of your synthetic turf pitch so for increased performance, ensure you ask for CCGrass.

For technical information or if you would like to see a CCGrass “thatch” pitch,
please contact Jamie Forrester on
07825 368059