Moving out West

Rugby teams will move to West campus for the 2011 season

Kingston Field will be replaced by a turf field by the summer of 2012. Athletics and Recreation is adding an additional field on West Campus.
Kingston Field will be replaced by a turf field by the summer of 2012. Athletics and Recreation is adding an additional field on West Campus.

Kingston Field is the latest site on campus affected by the university’s ambitious development projects. With construction beginning last November, a combination of a deteriorating Stuart Street underground parking garage and a push for the West Campus development project has led Athletics and Recreation to announce the building of two turf fields: one which will replace Kingston Field and another to be laid on West Campus.

The West Campus development project is estimated at $2.5 million with the majority of money coming from fundraising. Athletics contributed a smaller portion, funds which were diverted from a reserved amount for a video screen to be placed in the main ARC gym. The goal of Athletics and Recreations is to have the west campus turf field completed by September 2011.The fundraising target for the turf field replacing Kingston Field has yet to be reached but athletics is hoping to finish construction by summer 2012.

Leslie Dal Cin, Director of Athletics and Recreation, said there will be tremendous opportunities for athletes, students and members of the Kingston community with the introduction of a turf field on main campus.

“From an athletics and recs standpoint moving from one artificial turf field, we’ve seen what Tindall has done to our world,” she said. “We’ve moved from 300 hours of programming to 2300 hours of programming, [there’s] tremendous community relationship improvement [and] more free time and ability for our casual users.”

The benefits of Tindall field, which opened in October 2008, have impressed the Athletics department. There is less down time, as a turf field doesn’t require as much maintenance as grass, opening up the field to the more people.

“The fact that people have really seen the benefits of Tindall field have really kind of opened up a new way of thinking about an artificial turf field and the benefits you get from it,” she said.

With letters of support from both the men’s and women’s rugby teams, the West campus project will alleviate the stress on the field from its constant use by the rugby programs. Dal Cin said that recommended use of a grass field is 20 hours a week while athletics and recreation was putting between 35 and 40 hours of use on their fields a week. Without additional or improved fields, there was a threat of program cuts or a reduction in practice times.

“From our [rugby] program standpoint right now, the guys had 10 programs and the women had two … that field pretty much looked like a mud pit at the end of the season,” she said. “So the fact that they now can play, practice and prepare for games on a surface that is going to be 100 per cent safe [and] consistent is tremendous.”

Women’s rugby head coach Beth Barz said the team is on board with the change in the location of their field and its change to turf.

“It’s fantastic moving ahead we’re going to have a revitalized field,” she said. “It gives us ample opportunity to practice on it ... It’ll be an adjustment because we won’t be playing our home games on Kingston Field.”

Barz said it’s a short term change for a long term gain. The Gaels will be back on main campus next year once the field is completed.

Turf fields have been implemented at other universities including the University of British Columbia who hosted the first National Invitational University championship for rugby sevens this month.

“When you look at the [International Rugby Board] standards, IRB has approved turf as a playing surface for both test matches and practices,” Barz said. “If the IRB says it’s okay, than clearly they’ve done the studies, they’ve got the medical expertise to back that up, it’s not a problem.”

Turf’s resilience against weather and overuse may also affect the game itself.

“It does make the game a little bit quicker,” she said. “When you have a muddy field versus a turf field there is a pretty big difference in your speed game. If you’ve got speedy people you want them to be able to be speedy, if they’re on a muddy field they can’t be. In a lot of ways, it’s actually an advantage.”

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