Lichfield head coach Dan Hemingway has spoken of his opposition to the use of 3G pitches in semi-professional rugby.
Hemingway’s men travel to strugglers Derby tonight in the Midlands Premier, with their opponents using an artificial surface since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
But Hemingway, who took over at Lichfield in the summer following a short playing career spent at Leicester Tigers, Nottingham and Leeds Carnegie, said he prefers the traditional mud-bath pitches of old.
“They’re an interesting concept, although I don’t really see the future of our game being on 3G if I’m perfectly honest,” he added.
“In terms of the way we want to play and the rugby we want to play, we feel like it suits us, it excites us and we feel like we’ll be able to move the ball around on it.
“A Friday night away at Derby on a boggy, muddy pitch would have a different feel for us so, we’re excited by it and what it brings and we want to play our best rugby which we feel we’ll be able to do.”
Opponents to the use of 3G pitches highlight the higher rate of injuries sustained on these surface, with Wasps and England flanker Jack Willis the biggest casualty when he tore his ACL on Saracens’ artificial pitch in May.
And Hemingway also revealed his concern at the increased chance of major injury.
“Having spoken to a few people who have played on them, I’ll be interested to see how the injury rates go up in the next few years” he said.
“With the burns that they boys get off them, I don’t know whether I’d like to play if I still could.
“You look at Racing 92 with an indoor, artificial pitch and I just don’t know whether that’s rugby.
“I think part of the game is the skill and how we play in all conditions and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of mud sometimes, maybe not as coach of Lichfield.”
Hemingway’s side currently lie eighth in the fifth tier of English rugby, although they go into the Derby game on the back of two heavy defeats.Their next three fixtures are however against three of the bottom four and the Lichfield boss sees this block as key to their season.
“The next three games are big for us, we’re playing against the bottom three sides in the league,” he said.
“That puts its own pressure on the game but we very much want to commit to what we’re about and the way we want to play and we know if we do that, we’ll be in the right place.
“I think it’s exciting, Friday night lights on an artificial pitch is exciting and something different, we set ourselves with a Saturday routine.
“Guys have spent a whole day at work and that in itself is tough, they’d have been out since early in the morning, can they set themselves up in the right way physically, mentally, nutritionally to get themselves in the right place to perform.
“Everyone enjoys playing on Friday nights under the lights, you know the surface is perfect, so we’re excited by it, we take every game as it comes but it’s certainly one we’re looking forward to.”