Rugby League World Cup venue implements urgent plan to repair pitch

The owners of one of this year’s World Cup venues have implemented an urgent plan to repair a damaged pitch.

The Coventry Building Society Arena is to host holders Australia’s group match against Scotland on Friday, October 21.

The venue is owned by rugby union club Wasps and used by Coventry City Football Club, whose recent home Championship game against Rotherham United had to be postponed because the pitch, which had missing patches of turf throughout, was ruled unplayable.

The follow-up Carabao (League) Cup tie against Bristol City was moved 40 miles to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium while the scheduled home Championship clash with Wigan Athletic tomorrow (Tuesday, August 16) has been postponed.

According to Coventry City, planned investment in the pitch had not gone ahead this summer when the stadium hosted concerts and the Commonwealth Games rugby union sevens.

After the postponement of the Rotherham match, Coventry City chief executive Dave Boddy said of the surface: “When you walk on it, there are craters and divots, which they put an awful lot of sand on. But that’s all it is, it’s a sand surface.”

Wasps said in a statement: “Unfortunately, it has not been possible to prepare the pitch to the standard required.

“The decision to schedule the Rotherham fixture at the arena was taken after talks with the English Football League and Coventry City.

“Coventry City were understandably keen to play at home despite the extremely short turnaround following the Commonwealth Games, and Birmingham 2022 (the Commonwealth Games organisers) agreed to accommodate the request, despite having an exclusive tenancy agreement until August 14.

“We are implementing an action plan to ensure the pitch is repaired and available as soon as possible.”

Wasps’ first home game of the Premiership season is against Bristol Bears on Saturday, September 17.

Originally a London club, Wasps relocated from High Wycombe to the CBS (then Ricoh) Arena, of which they had become owners, in December 2014.

The stadium was opened in 2005 and staged three Rugby League matches in 2016 – a League One clash between Coventry Bears (now Midlands Hurricanes) and Keighley Cougars, then a Four Nations double header, with England defeating Scotland and Australia beating New Zealand before 21,009 spectators.

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