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SRU getting to grips with parasites

The Scottish Rugby Union says it is winning its battle with parasites that have carved up the Murrayfield pitch - but Edinburgh Rugby may have to temporarily move out of the stadium.

The governing body announced back in September that the Edinburgh playing surface had been damaged by nematodes.

It was badly churned up during the November Tests with Japan, South Africa and Australia but the SRU now says the problem is "manageable" and insists that the two home RBS 6 Nations against England on Saturday, February 8 and France on Saturday, March 8 are not under threat.

But Edinburgh have now announced their RaboDirect PRO12 match against the Ospreys on Friday, February 28 may have to be moved to another venue in order to preserve the damaged turf.

A spokesman for the club said: " Continued concerns over the current condition of the Murrayfield pitch have prompted Edinburgh Rugby to explore alternative venues in which to hold their next home game.

"The club are scheduled to host Ospreys on Friday February 28, with a preferred alternative being sought in the city should the match be required to move."

The SRU admits it may have to let down young players hoping to play at Murrayfield in the National Youth League Finals on Sunday, February 16, and the Brewin Dolphin Girls' Finals on Saturday, March 28.

But it insist the Dark Blues' Six Nations fixtures will go ahead as planned.

A spokesman said: " Scottish Rugby continues to monitor carefully the international pitch at Murray field Stadium.

"The playing surface at the home of Scottish rugby has been regarded with justifiable pride for many years; therefore its current condition is a matter of understandable concern.

"Scottish Rugby appreciates the esteem in which Murrayfield is held and how inspiring it is for many young Scots to be able to fulfil their childhood ambitions of playing on the international pitch.

"This season, however, a parasitic infection, which affected the roots of the reseeded grass pitch, coupled with the wintry weather, has placed considerable stress on the playing surface, in spite of the tireless work of the Murrayfield groundstaff.

"The latest testing of the pitch shows that the problem with the nematodes is now 'manageable' and that the treatment being used to eliminate the worm - which includes spraying the pitch with garlic, then plant sugars to stimulate growth - is beginning to take effect.

"Longer-term we are considering a number of potential solutions to return the pitch to its much-lauded status.

"In the short term, we are doing everything we can to support the efforts of our groundstaff to ensure the pitch is in sufficiently robust health to host our two home fixtures in the 2014 RBS 6 Nations Championship.

"As a result, we seek the understanding of players and spectators, who may find that their opportunity to play on/spectate at the international pitch is restricted while we do our utmost to rehabilitate the playing surface.

"Alternative venues are being considered for the National Youth League Finals and the Brewin Dolphin Girls' Finals. We may also have to move other fixtures from the international pitch.

"We thank players, referees and spectators in advance for their support of these decisions, which we have not taken lightly."


From Belfast Telegraph