National Award for Bath Rugby Grounds Team

Bath Rugby bagged a handsome trophy recently as its pitch management team were voted 2023 Professional Rugby Union Grounds Team of the Year at a glittering Oscar-style awards dinner at Headingley Stadium.

Wiltshire-based Ecosol Turfcare, who provide the grounds management for Bath Rugby, were commended by the industry body, Grounds Management Association (GMA), for the excellence of the Rec pitch and Farleigh House training surfaces in what are often very testing circumstances. Grounds manager Bretton King, head groundsman Nigel Harvey and assistant groundsman Steven Barber, travelled to Leeds for the event and were naturally delighted to be announced as the winners by Premiership Rugby’s Head of Operations, Catherine Hall, who presented the award.

“We are honoured to have had this recognition from industry colleagues and the GMA,” said Bretton  “and we are proud to receive acknowledgement for the consistent quality to industry standards that we produce, especially at The Rec where the proximity to the River Avon, soil type and climate present us with so many challenges. We know that the Blue, Black and White fans, coaching staff and players appreciate the diligent efforts of the grounds team, so it is wonderful for the team’s dedication, knowledge and energy to be recognised by our industry peers.”  The full-time grounds staff are ably assisted each match day by a team of skilled local volunteer grounds people, who turn up whatever the conditions, to do final pre-match preparations, tend to the surface after the warm-up, at half-time and after the final whistle and then tidy up, as well as returning pitch furniture, machinery and frost protection equipment back into the stadium.

The team also looks after the Club’s training facility at Farleigh House where there are two full sized natural grass pitches and a training grid, together with a half-size synthetic 3G pitch.

Bretton adds, “Sadly, there is still the perception out there that grounds men and women do nothing other than cut grass and paint white lines – this could not be further from reality. Nowadays, there is so much science involved with new technology being introduced annually as Clubs strive to host professional sport, pop concerts, community sport, charity functions and more besides to maximise income streams from stadia. The planning of agronomic and nutrition programmes, producing maintenance schedules, getting to grips with new legislation – all these things feature in pitch management nowadays so there is a lot more to it than just mowing and line-marking” he concluded wryly.

As part of the judging for this national award, Bath’s pitches were visited and inspected in autumn 2023 by Daniel Bradley, a GMA Senior Pitch Advisor,  formerly of Wembley Stadium, whilst the technical records and papers were pored over by a panel of grounds management industry luminaries, so a rigorous and thorough assessment was made of how the Bath grounds team manage and maintain the surfaces.

Following his visit, Mr Bradley said, “I have to say the team here do an outstanding job considering the challenges that are faced at both sites - the surfaces that they provide really are outstanding!”  He added, “The grounds team are an absolute asset to the organisation and their meticulous management of the pitches allows for training sessions and high-intensity warm-ups on top of the matches themselves. This award reflects the high standards that they have produced.”

“Not only does this attention to detail serve the needs of Bath men’s rugby, but increasingly, for Youth teams, women’s fixtures and community use,” Mr Bradley concluded.




Ecosolve Ltd
Armyn Cross
SN16 9RJ

Tel: 01666 861250