ARU slams state of AAMI Park pitch


The Australian Rugby Union has made known its "deep disappointment" with the state of AAMI Park for Saturday's 23-7 series-sealing loss to England in Melbourne.

The turf at AAMI Park tore up from the first scrum but that did not stop England from putting in a dominant display as they sealed the three-Test series with their second straight win.

The ARU labelled the quality of the pitch as "not good enough".

"We have expressed our extreme disappointment to the Melbourne and Olympic Trust (MOPT) following last night's Test at AAMI Park," ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement issued on Sunday.

"The playing surface was clearly not up to the standards required for international rugby.

"The issue with the stability of the turf during scrums has existed throughout the Super Rugby season and despite the work done on the surface by MOPT prior to last night's Test, the end result was simply not good enough."

AAMI Park was hosting its first rugby Test and while Pulver was less than impressed with the quality of the pitch, he said the atmosphere provided by the 30,000-seater was incredible.

ARU has an agreement in place to play a Test in 2017, but Pulver said that would now be subject to the venue proving it can provide a suitable pitch.

"While we haven't yet announced the fixture, we have an agreement with the venue and VMEC [Victorian Major Events Company] to play a Test match at AAMI Park in 2017," he said.

"The venue is obligated to provide a playing surface which is safe for the playing of international rugby and clearly this was not delivered upon last night.

"Prior to making any decision about 2017, the stadium must put specific measures in place, including an independent turf expert providing regular reports back to the ARU.

"I have suggested previously that the stadium should investigate a hybrid playing surface, similar to the one used at Twickenham, which is 90 per cent grass and 10 per cent synthetic and stood up superbly to the rigours of the Rugby World Cup.

"AAMI Park must investigate all technology available to improve the surface. If we don't have satisfactory progress in the coming months, we'll need to revisit our agreement with them for 2017.

"We want to work with the venue to ensure the stadium is suitable to host rugby matches moving forward."