• First three RFU Rugby 365 artificial grass pitches now complete in Lancashire, Buckinghamshire and Somerset
• Pitches officially unveiled by England Head Coach Eddie Jones, RFU President Peter Baines and RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie
• Pitch for a Pound promotion launched at each site offering the community the opportunity to try the new surface for just £1 an hour (+VAT) this January and February
Preston Grasshoppers RFC, Aylesbury RFC and Hornets RFC are the first three locations to host a RFU Rugby 365 floodlit artificial grass pitch (AGP). The pitches are part of the RFU's Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £47m investment over four year into the development of 100 AGPs across England.
The new AGPs will provide the communities with year-round rugby through the durability of the all-weather surface, which will enable additional training sessions and more flexibility in playing times due to the floodlights. As a result, the pitches are expected to increase rugby participation across clubs and community groups, further growing the sport.
On Saturday RFU CEO Ian Ritchie opened the new pitch at Aylesbury RFC as the club took on local rivals Beaconsfield RFC.
RFU chief executive, Ian Ritchie, said "It is expected that each AGP pitch will create between 1,500 and 2,000 hours of additional access to play per year and so we hope that the flexibility and enhanced opportunities they provide across the regions will open up the sport for a wider audience to enjoy the benefits of rugby."
On Sunday, RFU President Peter Baines opened the artificial grass pitch at Hornets RFC in between two matches; Hornets RFC Colts v Weston Super Mare RFC and Hornettes RFC v Cullompton Ladies, showing the variety of games already taking place on the pitches.
Eddie Jones launched Lancashire's Artificial Grass Pitch last night with a training session made up of 40 young players from clubs across the community in front of a 700-strong crowd.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones, said "I'm delighted to officially launch one of the RFU's first floodlit artificial grass pitches at Preston Grasshoppers RFC. It's been great to see the whole community come out in force to celebrate the launch and I hope to see clubs, schools and organisations all using and benefitting from this great facility."
As part of the official launches the RFU has introduced a "Pitch for a Pound" promotion, giving the local communities the chance to book an hour on the pitch for just £1 (+ VAT), this January and February, with half a pitch only 5op (+VAT). To book time on the Buckinghamshire, Lancashire or Somerset pitch, go to englandrugby.com/rugby365
The RFU has invested £47m into the Rugby 365 artificial grass pitch programme, with a commitment to build 60 artificial grass pitches on rugby club sites across England over four years.
Feasibility has started on phase two sites across the country, with construction due to start on 17 more pitches this summer.
Alongside the Rugby 365 programme the RFU is investing into partner organisations to part-fund 40 pitches on community sites. Three educational sites are currently in development and will be announced in due course.
For more information on Artificial Grass Pitches, and to book a pitch near you, go to www.englandrugby.com/rugby365