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Artificial Grass Pitch Regulations

IRB Regulation 22

In 2003 the International Rugby Board (IRB) produced the ‘Performance Specification for Artificial Grass Pitches for Rugby’, more commonly known as ‘Regulation 22’ that provides the game – and suppliers – with the necessary technical detail to produce pitch systems that are appropriate for rugby union.

The artificial surface standards identified in Regulation 22 allows matches to be played on surfaces that meet the standard. Full contact activity, including tackling, rucking and mauling, scrummaging and lineouts can take place. The standards are designed to provide an artificial surface that mimics a good natural turf pitch.

An artificial surface at a community rugby club

Photo: RFU Archive

It also sets out the testing protocols required for suppliers and clubs/operators to ensure the pitches meet – and continue to meet – the required criteria.

IRB Regulation 22 (PDF 1.42MB) is available to download in full for reference purposes. There is also a particular guidance in Regulation 22 on the Technical Requirement for Critical Fall Height and Head Injury Criteria (PDF 58kB).

RFU Game Regulation Changes

Following amendments to Regulation 22 in January 2008, the RFU has amended its own regulations for September 2008 to clarify the use of artificial pitches for competitive matches.

The RFU Game Regulation 17.1.2 for 2008 will therefore state that:

Where an artificial pitch is to be used, the club where the pitch is situated must:

  • comply with IRB Regulation 22 and ensure that permission has been obtained from the RFU and that such permission has not expired or be invalidated; and
  • if it proposes to use the artificial pitch in any match in a RFU Competition, inform the RFU in writing at least 30 days before the start of the season or if during the season at least 30 days (or such shorter period as the RFU may agree in an emergency) prior to such artificial Pitch being used in any RFU Competition.

No distinction is therefore made between artificial grass pitches and natural turf in terms of the ability to play competitive matches. No player or team will be required to provide voluntarily consent to play. If a player decides that he does not wish to play on an artificial surface it becomes a matter for his club and not the club at which the artificial surface is situated. A team will no longer be able to cite home advantage as a reason not to play.


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