A Writtle College Sports Turf student has visited Georgia with the Rugby Football Union to help assess the country’s pitches.
Stuart Facey, a Writtle College Apprentice, visited the country for a week to help develop a plan to bring the pitches up to world-class standard.
The work was part of the Unity Project, a key element of the RFU’s legacy commitment, as hosts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, to develop other rugby nations. It is building links between its constituent bodies and other nations through partnerships with World Rugby, Rugby Europe and UK Sport to grow and develop the game in over 15 of Europe's key developing rugby nations. Counties in the UK have been twinned with the identified nations, with Kent and Essex being given Georgia, where rugby is the second most popular sport.
Stuart, from Witham, explained: “Last year the RFU went out to Georgia and conducted a survey which identified coaching and pitches as areas that needed improvement. I went out on their second visit to assess the pitches and to help create a plan of how to develop them.
“It came about as the RFU contacted the College when they needed someone to help with this work, due to the College’s reputation in training in Sports Turf. A lot of past students have worked with major football clubs, like Arsenal. I met the criteria and ended up going out to Georgia with Keith Kent, who is the head groundsman at Twickenham, and it was fantastic to learn from him. I’m hoping to work at Twickenham for the World Cup.”
While in Georgia, the 23-year-old visited the British Ambassador’s residence for the Queen’s birthday celebrations – but this was a far cry from the everyday life he saw in the country: “It was a really interesting cultural experience to go out to Georgia. There’s been such political upheaval and civil war recently and there are still signs of that, such as derelict buildings.”
Stuart is currently working at New Hall School in Chelmsford on its grounds while studying one day a month at Writtle College for his Level 3 Diploma in Work-based Horticulture (Sports Turf - Groundsman). He has already completed his Level 2 at the College and is studying alongside his twin brother, who is also employed as an Apprentice groundsman while studying Sports Turf.
Sports Turf Lecturer Nigel Beckford said: “I feel privileged to be able to facilitate students in furthering their careers. The number of students that have gone out from Writtle to take up positions of responsibility in prestigious clubs and golf courses is now racking up. Some have gone on to win national competitions and become recognised and respected Turf Managers in the Sports Turf industry. This year’s crop of Level 3 Apprentices are looking equally promising.”