Newcastle move to allay fears over St James’s Park pitch after Rugby World Cup matches

Scotland players celebrate victory after the World Cup Match at St James's Park, Newcastle
Scotland players celebrate victory after the World Cup Match at St James's Park, Newcastle

Newcastle have moved to allay any worries about the pitch at St James’ Park, declaring it will be in “fantastic” condition for Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich.

Since the Magpies’ last home fixture on September 26, the stadium has been used for three rugby union matches as part of the World Cup, including two in two days last week.

But Newcastle have stressed that deputy head groundsman Andrew Tully and his colleagues have been working since the final one of those - Scotland’s victory over Samoa on Saturday - to get the surface back in shape.

And Tully told on Monday: “It’s good, considering everything we expected from the rugby.

“At the end of the day it’s a football pitch - not a rugby one - and we are in the process of a quick turnaround to get it ready for football again at the weekend.

“The pitch hasn’t gone anywhere - it’s still there. You’ve got the rugby markings and a bit of damage from the games, which is what we knew would happen and we will tend to throughout the week.

“We worked pretty late through the double-header - that was always going to be the case. Two games in two days of any sport is a lot for a pitch to take. It’s just general wear in high-traffic areas that we really have to tend to.

“By Sunday it will be looking fantastic.”

Some onlookers expressed concern at seeing Tully and fellow staff on the pitch during breaks in play in the trio of rugby fixtures.

But he added: “That’s just what you’ve got to do.

“It’s best that we were going on during the games, instead of rugby players stamping on divots, putting them back in upside down or anything like that.

“We were going on, tending to them properly and putting them back in the right way up, so they had more of a chance to recover.”