RFL pitch in to widen Odsal surface

The RFL is hoping that the Odsal pitch will have been widened sufficiently to meet their guidelines by the time Bradford host Featherstone in a Championship clash on Sunday, July 25.

With work to enable Rugby League to take place alongside stock car racing still ongoing, four matches have been played on a surface which is three metres narrower than the minimum laid down.

In order to facilitate May’s return of the Bulls to their historic home after a spell ground sharing at Dewsbury, the governing body, who have owned the stadium since 2012, gave special dispensation for games against York on May 30 and Newcastle on June 6 to be played on a pitch measuring 96 metres x 52 metres. The minimum regulation size is 88 metres x 55 metres.

After a delay in the widening work, which is being carried out by the RFL and which they have put down to contractors being engaged on other mostly football-related projects, that dispensation was extended to cover Bradford’s matches against Widnes on June 27 and Batley on Sunday (July 4).

The Bulls, who vacated Odsal in 2019, citing rising maintenance costs, returned after signing an 18-month tenancy agreement with the RFL, who paid an undisclosed sum to purchase the stadium from the club nine years ago.

Bradford first played at Odsal in 1934, and twenty years later, it held a British-record Rugby League crowd of 102,569 for the Challenge Cup final replay between Warrington and Halifax.

The club’s highest attendance a the stadium is 69,429 for a Challenge Cup third-round tie against Huddersfield in 1953.

It was also the scene of title triumphs twice in the early Eighties and four times between 1997 and 2005.

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