Football, rugby… With the drought, should we postpone the season of amateur championships?

The lawns of the football pitches, like here in Neubourg, have suffered a lot from the heat and the lack of rain.
The lawns of the football pitches, like here in Neubourg, have suffered a lot from the heat and the lack of rain. (©Aurelien Delavaud)

The lawns are grilled and the municipal stadiums have not had the derogations that the professional infrastructures may have had to water the lawns. With the drought, and as the resumption of amateur football and rugby seasons looms, the issue of player safety deserves to be addressed.

It goes without saying that one does not play in the same way on a field with a beautiful green lawn as on a field where the land is arid, without grass, which looks more like concrete.

But while the green rectangles necessary for the good practice of football or rugby are sometimes in a bad state, thethe question of a season postponement was asked for a moment, then quickly swept away. Despite existing risks.

Lots of impassable terrain

With the drought, the ground of Saint-Servant (Morbihan) “ doesn’t look like a football field at all anymore“, indicated the president of the football club, Yoann Dano, to our colleagues from the Ploermelais. The club was even considering not playing at home until winter.

In the Eure, the situation is similar with land  » hard as a rock  » according The Courier of Eure, from there to even consider a postponement of the championship.

The surface is so hard it’s dangerous!

Yves BreitenbachPresident of FC Pays du Neubourg at Courrier de l’Eure

And for those who play anyway, the practice becomes unpleasant, as illustrated The Weekly of Sèvre et Maine.

Our colleagues thus questioned a coach of FC Coteaux du Vignoble: “It is impossible to train correctly. We hardly ever play ball, because it jumps. I avoid doing group sessions because of the risk of injury. »

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The seniors of FC Coteaux du Vignoble resumed at the beginning of August on the Saint-Fiacre pitch, the only one that can be used.
The seniors of FC Coteaux du Vignoble resumed at the beginning of August on the Saint-Fiacre pitch, the only one that can be used. (©FC Coteaux du Vignoble)

Increased risk of injury

Because yes, it is a logical cause and effect, but not negligible: « The harder the ground, the more difficult the fall », explains Doctor Denys Barrault, sports doctor and former president of the French Society of Medicine. exercise and sport (SFMES).

The risk of fracture is increasedespecially in rugby, where the players will hurt themselves « more badly ».

You have to avoid dives and try to adapt your game, because all the shots will be difficult.

Doctor Denys BarraultSports physician and former president of the French Society of Exercise and Sports Medicine

Whether for the round ball or the oval, fractures, of the spine, but also of the arms during falls, or even  » head trauma » are accentuated.

Also, with dry ground, the crampons penetrate the ground less well, and « the tendons and the supports risk suffering », estimates Jean-Jacques Gazeau, president of the Vendée football district.

According to Dr. Barrault, “climate change implies that we adapt our behavior, including in sports practice”. He believes that it is better to shift the season.

« In good intelligence »

In fact, some football matches have already taken place last week, those of the Coupe de France at least (2112 meetings), but also all those of preparation before the resumption of the various championships.

In Ille-et-Vilaine, assures Philippe Le Yondre to, “there was no problem”. On a case-by-case basis, the clubs have arranged among themselves, to « play two matches on the same synthetic (which by definition does not need water, Editor’s note), one at 3 p.m., the other at 5 p.m. for example. »

“The clubs have managed to exchange the places of the matches to be able to play on a synthetic. They did it smartly“, abounds Jean-Jacques Gazeau, president of the Vendée football district.

Players want to play.

Jean Jacques GazeauPresident of the Vendée football district.

However, the two presidents, whose departments have been affected by the drought, are a little worried, because “there have been few meetings so far”.

 » It can become problematic if ever it does not rain with the resumption of the championships, ”notes Philippe Le Yondre. Jean-Jacques Gazeau “pray for it to rain”.

“You have to adapt to the situation, with different training for example. But the difficulty is the return of young people, ”assures the Vendée president. And the multiplication of training sessions could further worsen the situation on the pitch, with as many risks of injury.

But for now, a postponement of the season is not considered anywhere. “We are very attentive, we are watching. »

On the rugby side, the returns are still meager. The Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Rugby League tells us that it has only had the return of one club and is thinking about the terms of support.

The main ground of La Haye-Fouassière has not been watered for several weeks.  Here it is on August 11th.
Some lands have no green grass at all. (©HSM)

What solutions?

But while global warming is not going to get better, episodes of drought, like that of the summer of 2022, could become frequent, what solutions are on the table to continue practicing outdoor sports?

Change the dates of the season to start a little later? “In winter, it rains, the grounds are soggy, and orders are issued to ban matches,” replies Philippe Le Yondre.

Infrastructure such as rainwater reserves, non-potable or boreholes, could be another response to continue to water the land, considers Jean-Jacques Gazeau.

No, everyone agrees that, for the practice of football, synthetic is the best solution, although it requires a significant initial investment. « Between 600 and 800,000 euros », estimates Philippe Le Yondre. “Not all municipalities have the means to have one. »

Once the investment, you simply have to change the carpet every 10/12 years. It’s interesting when the water will be difficult to find and it is not too virtuous to water a football field.

Philippe LeYondrePresident of the Ille-et-Vilaine football district

With the phenomenon of desertification of clubs, the time has come to group them together. It might be easier that way to opt for this kind of necessary investment.

Doctor Denys Barrault explains, however, that for the practice of rugby, it is more difficult to adapt with diving and tackles.

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