The burned lawns of the sports grounds, a blow for the finances of the municipalities of Haute-Vienne

This summer, the drought hit the department hard. On July 16, Haute-Vienne went into yellow vigilance following episodes of heat waves. Twelve days later, the prefecture placed the department in a state of heightened crisis. Since then, the municipalities have not been able to water their sports grounds


A measure that has not been without consequences for some municipalities. After having invested in this equipment, they can no longer incur new costs while the fear of energy bills that are impossible to anticipate rises. To do this, they try to preserve what can still be preserved on their land.

Investments almost lost

In the majority of the municipalities of the department, the observation is the same: the lawns have yellowed, burned. In Saint-Genest-sur-Roselle, if for the moment, no decree has declared the ground impassable, Jacqueline Lhomme-Leoment confirms.

After investing 10,000 euros in lawn maintenance, Jacqueline Lhomme-Leoment is impatiently awaiting the arrival of autumn and especially the return of the rain. “We sowed the lawn in the spring, at the end of the season for Foot Sud 87, which trains here three times a week. However, everything was linked: it was immediately very hot, with very little rain and the restrictions arrived. As a result, the majority of the seeds sown could not germinate,” laments Jacqueline Lhomme-Leoment.

All is not lost, but we need rain.

A blow for the municipality whose budget is not large enough to think of repeating the operation: « All is not lost, but we need rain… ».

On the Nexon side, football teams benefit from two pitches, the first sanded and the second grass. However, the lawn has literally « burnt, between 50 and 70% » according to the mayor, Fabrice Gerville Réache. “All that remains are weeds and if we remove the little green that remains, the damage will get worse”, notes the chosen one.

Preserve what’s left

With a first football team trying to move up to Regional 3, a U19 team, and a football school, 200 members walk the lawn. “The first team has resumed training since August 1 and school is due to resume this week. Monday evening, I had the president of the football association to convince her to use the sanded ground for the moment so that the players do not get injured, ”says Fabrice Gerville Réache.

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A « kind request » before coming to the final decision: to put in place a municipal decree to declare the land impassable. A decision taken by the AS Saint-Junien rugby club, whose land has been declared impassable by the municipality.

I already have to pay the electricity bill. Fabrice Gerville Reache

(Mayor of Nexon)

“If we don’t spare the ground, we will end up destroying it. However, for the ground to remain practicable, three conditions are required: the rain, the sun and not to trample it and for the moment I prefer not to think of redoing this one, I already have to pay the electricity bill. “, confesses the mayor.

Indeed, regrassing a field costs between 5 and 7 euros per square meter, or between 55,000 and 65,000 euros to redo an entire stadium. A cost that is added to all the other bills and that many small municipalities, like Nexon, cannot afford. Even if the sports ground is one of the important places of communal life.

At Palais-sur-Vienne, four pitches are available to football and rugby clubs. “For several years, we have carried out work to collect spring water so that we no longer have to water the land with drinking water,” says Anthony Tessier, director of the city’s technical services.

Watering a stadium means pouring the equivalent of 100 cubic meters of water.

However, the town has not escaped prefectural measures. “As soon as the watering ban fell, we left the land as it was. As communities, we must lead by example. Watering a stadium means pouring the equivalent of 100 cubic meters of water, which is what a household consumes for a year”, assures the director.

According to him, the solution lies in good communication with the clubs regarding the use of the pitches: “Training resumed this week on the pitch dedicated to this purpose. The field used for the matches is always closed in order to preserve it and let the grass rest before the season starts. We are therefore betting not to water”.

Would artificial pitch be the right solution?

“A synthetic pitch costs 1.2 million euros to build. We have already asked the municipality the question, but the problem is that it has to be watered before each match in order to keep the fibers of the lawn straight, so is it better? The only advantage is that if you close it because it’s too hot, you can close it and as soon as you open it, it’s functional. If ever at the Palais-sur-Vienne, we come to install them, the added value would reside in the fact of no longer having two fields, but only one for training and matches. »

For the time being, many municipalities cannot bring themselves to install this type of infrastructure, the cost of which exceeds the budget. However, everyone is aware that the periods of heat wave and drought will only increase in the years to come. Like the director of technical services at Palais-sur-Vienne: “We are going to have to deal with this problem more and more regularly. We will therefore have to think about which investments we prefer”. All to keep finances green.

This rainfall deficit has led to numerous restrictions on the use of water, including that prohibiting the watering of public or private spaces such as lawns and sports grounds of all kinds.
“I have never seen such hard terrain”

The hardness of the terrain disrupted the training of several Upper Viennese clubs from different disciplines.

“We can’t complain. “There are those who, like Franck Varoqueaux, coach of JA Isle rugby, consider themselves varnished: “We are lucky that our training ground is in the shade at the end of the day so we were able to train under acceptable conditions.

And there are those who have had to adapt and deal with more complicated training conditions. “The grounds are very hard and difficult to use, admits Sébastien Danovaro, coach of the Saint-Yrieix rugby team. In seventeen years of training, I have never experienced lands like this. Looks like tar. »


« It’s complicated for the tendons, the joints, etc. With a failed tackle, a guy can break his shoulder, ”observes the Limousin technician. So, for his first off-season at the head of the RCPSY, the coach modified his preparation: “We favor the safety and health of the players. Thus, we are behind on the collective work because we have carried out very few training sessions with opposition”.

Even those who do not train on grass have suffered from the weather conditions, like the Limoges Beaubreuil football club, which mainly prepared on stabilized ground (mixed sand) this summer. “With the dust, the heat and the hardness of the ground, we had to shift our preparation and what we wanted to put in place, notes coach Youssef Oukattou. It even caused tendonitis in some players. »

A disturbed preparation can often have repercussions on the season…
Do not neglect the protections.

Who says municipal grounds as hard as concrete, says increased risk of injury for amateur footballers and rugby players.

According to René Cahen, medical adviser to the regional academic directorate for youth, commitment and sports in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, confirms: « They are likely to generate more macrotraumas, such as sprains, fractures and cranial traumatisms, or microtraumas, such as tendinopathies or muscle accidents. When grass is scarce, obviously, there is also an increased risk of more pronounced sores and abrasions. Wearing protection such as elbow pads, knee pads, or long-sleeved shirts may be recommended. Finally, in rugby, wearing a helmet is strongly recommended to absorb shocks to the head”.

Emilie Montalban, Kevin Cao and Hélène Pommier

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