England team could train at Maidenhead RFC's new pitch

England team could train at Maidenhead RFC's new pitch

Reporter:

Glenn Mitchell

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England team could train at Maidenhead RFC's new pitch

England's senior squad could be among the high-profile teams to use Maidenhead Rugby Club's state-of-the-art £575,000 pitch.

The option of providing the Braywick facilities for the national team to train on was part of a gentlemen's agreement with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) which funded the project along with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

No formal arrangement is in place but the Maidenhead site could be a viable alternative for the national team if grass pitches in Bagshot, its traditional training base, become unplayable.

The squad had to travel into London to find suitable alternatives last winter.

Maidenhead RFC chairman John Wanklyn said: "Nothing is in place at the moment and we would need to see how it would work.

"But we would be delighted if we could help out."

He is meeting England RFU team operations manager Tom Stokes next week to discuss how and when the pitch might be used.

A number of Premiership clubs are also expected to train at Braywick ahead of games against Saracens after the club's revamped Barnet Copthall Stadium is opened in 2013.

The stadium will have a similar surface to Maidenhead and Mr Wanklyn said he would be surprised if there wasn't interest from teams keen to familiarise themselves with a 3G pitch before stepping out against The Sarries.

The Russian and Italian national rugby teams also want to Maidenhead as a training venue before internationals.

The new pitch was officially opened on Saturday and makes Maidenhead the first amateur club in the country to have an artificial pitch for training and league fixtures.

It meets the combined standard required by FIFA and International Rugby Board to international level.

* Saturday's match also marked the start of a new link between the club and the Advertiser, with the newspaper's logo emblazoned on the players' shorts.

Advertiser sport editor Graeme Copas said: "The Advertiser and Maidenhead RFC have always enjoyed a close relationship and this cements it.

"The club is a town institution and we deliver the most comprehensive and in-depth coverage of its progress both online and in print."

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