The No. 1 field - where the All Blacks haven't lost a game since 1994

Eden Park No.1 Field

Eden Park’s No. 1 Field is 1.6 hectares of ‘hallowed turf’.  Centurion Rye grass is used within a Motz stabilised turf system to provide a robust, all-weather playing field which can be used year round. 

Motz Stabilised Turf

Motz-stabilised-grassThis patented system has natural grass grown in a synthetic mat.  The roots system develops extra stability as it is grown in a tough plastic mesh, backed by a biodegradable fabric. The stability increases as the roots of the grass entwine with the synthetic matrix and root-zone below.  Turf for the playing field is grown in a nursery at a turf farm in Karaka, Auckland, before it is used on the field.

Being a multisport playing field, the No. 1 field needs to be changed out for each different type of sport whether it is cricket, rugby, league or football.  In the summer cricket season the field has a portable wicket tray and for all other sports this is wicket is replaced with a StrathAyr portable sand tray to be similar to the rest of the playing surface. 

Explore what it takes to get the No. 1 field changed over from football to cricket in this video.

Watch the time lapse video for changing the pitch at Eden Park

Rainbird Irrigation System

The irrigation system is a Rainbird individual head control with 7005 sprinklers (98 in total) and is managed by a computerized Rainbird site control system. Also as an all-weather playing surface the field has exceptional drainage up to 75mm of rain per hour.

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What is the definition good turf for sport?

In our particular situation good quality turf has to be fit for the sport that is being played and also has t have the ability to perform for other events in a short space of time. During February and March we often have Rugby, Cricket, Rugby League and Football games all played within days of each other. The turf needs to be resilient and capable of recovering from wear quickly.

How do you prepare the turf for professional games?

At Eden Park all games are played by professional players (except school and club rugby finals). The field is managed to be available for events at any time of the year. We do try and renovate the field twice a year in spring and autumn. The exact timing is always relative to our when all the games are going to be played that year. It's never quite as long as we hope for.

Is the turf prepared differently for professional games compared to training?

The quality of the turf regarding grass cover and mowing height is the same for professional games and training. However the appearance of the ground for a game can be different tor training. We tend bring the field up to an even higher standard closer to game day. This will include more frequent mowing and brighter line marking. It can also involve spraying fertilisers to help make the field a little greener.

What condition does the turf need to be in before professional players can play on it?

First the field needs to be safe for players to be confident they can perform all of their skills in a way that won’t leave them injured. This involves many different treatments to the field profile to ensure stability, drainage and density of turf cover. At Eden Park we strive to have the best quality surface for any sports team to play on. Unfortunately sometimes the quality of the turf is directly related to the amount of games that have been recently played and the weather.

What effect does the quality of the turf have on the game? Why?

The quality of the turf has a direct effect on the way any sport is played. For winter sports such as rugby or football a heavy, soft, wet and slow field dictates what type of game will be played and what type of players will be chosen to play.

The way any cricket pitch is prepared can also have a direct effect on the way a game is played and even the result. Different teams may be more suited to low slow pitches and others better suited to fast bouncy pitches. Pitches that produce a balance between bat and ball are more interesting to watch and are usually high scoring.

How durable is the turf?

The grass type at Eden Park is a combination of three different turf types of perennial rye grasses. At certain times of the year rye grass grows really well (spring, summer and autumn) and if maintained well can sustain a lot of games being played. It also recovers quickly from damage. At other times such as mid-winter when all grasses struggle to actively grow, very careful usage of the field is needed to minimise damage to the grass.