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Ulster rugby stadium out of action

Ravenhill pitch detroyed by weedkiller

By Jim Stokes

Published 05/08/1999

This is the incredible picture of Ulster's premier rugby ground as it looks today, with barely a blade of green grass visible.

This is the incredible picture of Ulster's premier rugby ground as it looks today, with barely a blade of green grass visible.

The grass on the pitch at Ravenhill, the home of the European champions, was competely destroyed after it was accidentally coated with weed killer, it can be revealed.

The famous turf, which is set to host Australia v Romania in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup,was killed off after an erroneous mixture was applied on July 24.

However, the full extent of the damamge to the Belfast ground was not realised unitl last Monday when ground-staff arrived to find a yellow sea of dead grass.

Initially, rugby chiefs though the entire pitch would have to be dug up and replaced, forcing Ulster to give up home advantage in European Cup matches. However, it is now likely that only one or two home games may have to be switched. The World Cup game on Ocotber 3 is not thought to be under threat.

The scheduled game agianst Munster on September 3 may be switched to Ocotober 29.

The Ulster branch is still optimistic that the World Cup warm-up game will go ahead as arranged.

"The contractors were to apply weedkiller to the pitch. But it appears that too strong a solution was used," said Ulster Branch Chief Executive Michael Reid.

"The grass had been completely killed off. We brought in a number of horticultural experts and they advised us that the weed killer had evaporated and that the ground would be safe to re-seed.

"The pitch was re-seeded yesterday , and although a thick covering of grass is anticipated within the next two weeks, we have been advised not to play or train on the pitch for at least four weeks in order to allow the root sytem to be stronger," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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