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Melbourne at risk of losing future Tests



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Australian Rugby Union Boss Bill Pulver has threatened to take future Wallabies Tests away from AAMI Park if the standard of pitch is not improved.

Australia will host England ar the venue latr this month and the playing surface a “source of concern” for the ARU after it ripped up in last week’s Rebels-Force clash durin the scrums.

Pulver has issued the stern warning and also called on stadiums to invest in “hybrid” grass systems that use a mix of synthetic turf and natural grass.

The AAMI Stadium turf has regularly been ripped up in the scrums this season and it’s instability is a danger to the players so the ARU, RUPA and the Rebels have all asked AAMI Park authorities to fix the problem.

AAMI Park says that unfriendly weather over summer and less use would see the root systems repaired in time for the June 18 Test.

But after seeing the turf rip up on Sunday Pulver and even English rugby boss Ian Ritchie is worried.

“I am still concerned about it. I think it is better than what is was, they are making some progress, but they have some way to go,” Pulver told the Daily Telegraph.

“I have been in discussion with the CEO of the RFU, who has also seen it from the other side of the earth. So it is an issue. We do want an appropriate playing surface that is safe for all the players.

“I am hoping in the next couple of weeks they do a great job of getting it back.”

Pulver said that it was too late in the day for the ARU to move the match to a different venue but if the turf is bad in the Test match they would struggle to hold Wallabies tests there again.

“We are committed to playing on the ground. It is too close to make a change,” Pulver said.

“But frankly, if there is an unsatisfactory outcome we would have to seriously review where we play next time we go to Melbourne. There are clearly plenty of options down there.

“We really like AAMI Park, because we are focused on giving the fans the best possibly viewing experience. It is a great rectangular stadium. I am hopeful they will fix it.”

Pulver said that Australian stadiums should be looking at hybrid grass systems as used in some of the best stadiums in the world.

“To be quite frank, the investment these grounds should be making is to put a hybrid surface in,” Pulver said.

“Twickenham has a hybrid surface. Twenty per cent synthetic and eighty per cent grass, and it survived a massive six weeks of rugby during the World Cup.”

“These grounds, if they want to be state of the art, they should be putting hybrid surfaces down.”

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