KEIGHLEY Rugby Union Club have ambitious plans to play on an artificial grass pitch next season as part of a £750,000 investment from the Rugby Football Union.

The project, which will include floodlights powerful enough to allow night games, has been well received by club members at a recent meeting.

Providing the scheme gets the go-ahead, Keighley’s first-team pitch will be ripped up at the end of the current season in May. It will be replaced by a 3G surface, which has a shock layer beneath it similar to European champions Saracens’ Allianz Park pitch in Hendon, which has been used with success.

Planning permission for the Rose Cottage project will be lodged with both the RFU and Bradford Council shortly.

It will be one of 100 artificial grass pitches (AGPs) across the country which the game’s governing body plan to install in a £50million investment over four years as part of the 2015 World Cup legacy.

They aim to develop 60 pitches at host clubs – such as Keighley – while 40 will be located on community sites.

The RFU want to grow participation in rugby union and see the new pitches, which won’t be affected by adverse weather in the same way as natural turf, as key to achieving their goal.

Having registered their interest, Keighley’s ground at Utley has been chosen as a selected site, with size, location and the fact they own their own ground helping their cause.

The development will see the RFU take out a 30-year lease on the land and Keighley in return will pay a peppercorn rent to use the facilities.

The new pitch will be made of plastic grass infilled with rubber crumb, which hold up the stems and provide bounce.

The pitch, which can be used in practically all weathers, will be available for hire to outside groups, such as other clubs and schools, at a cost of £30 per hour, with funds going to the RFU to help maintain the scheme.

An additional feature of the plan is a 40-foot garage which will house a tractor that will be used to maintain the playing surface. The 3G pitch has a ten-year lifespan, meaning that the RFU will relay the surface twice during its 30-year lease.

Details of the scheme at Keighley were published in Saturday’s matchday programme, though the club did not wish to comment further until the RFU officially announce the project.

However, the news has been welcomed by Keighley RUFC’s junior committee, who see it is an opportunity to be embraced and one that will provide a legacy for the future.

The first-team squad, represented by fly half Alex Brown, and the club’s older members are also reported to be in favour of the development.

Providing that planning permission is granted, work will begin in May and be completed by August, ready for the 2017-18 season.

The first three AGPs at Aylesbury, Preston and Weston-super-Mare have already been installed, with England coach Eddie Jones visiting National Two North club Preston Grasshoppers to officially open their pitch last month.