First ever hybrid pitch construction at a UK independent school for Whitgift School

“The aim of this project was to provide resilient playing surfaces for high-intensity use. So far the pitches are delivering, and the feedback has been excellent.”

– Daniel Ratling, BSc Hons. PCert TSC, Grounds & Estates Manager, Whitgift School

Key Achievements

  • White Horse Contractors construct full-size rugby pitch

  • Completed project to school timescale

  • Bepoke design and installation of comprehensive sports drainage

  • Making hybrid history; this pitch is the first of it's kind within the education sector

The Challenge

To alleviate pressures of weather constraints, increase usage times and resiliency of limited space on Whitgift’s Haling Park site, the independent school required a hybrid pitch that would benefit all students.

The pitch will be in use consistently through the school week, to fit in with the prestigious schools’ intense sporting schedule. Whitgift’s Grounds and Estates Manager Daniel Ratling sums up the independent schools’ requirements for the new full-size hybrid rugby pitch:

“Installing a hybrid system in an independent school is a first and it was important that our decision-making process guaranteed optimum return on investment, significantly increasing achievable hours of pitch use and ensuring longevity of the installed product for years to come.”

Daniel Ratling, BSc Hons. PCert TSC, Grounds & Estates Manager, Whitgift School

The Solution

Following a rigorous tender process and discussions with both specialist sports consultants TGMS and White Horse Contractors, Whitgift School selected the UK based contractor to construct their new full-size hybrid pitch.

Whitgift’s awareness of White Horse’s sports construction abilities and key partnership with global hybrid system installers GrassMaster Solutions meant that they felt this comprehensive project team were the perfect fit for this landmark pitch construction:

The hybrid pitches have transformed the way in which we have utilised our grass pitches this winter. The increased resilience and drainage of the new surfaces have meant that cancelling sessions due to being waterlogged is a thing of the past. The quality of the surfaces are outstanding and the feedback we have received from oppositions has been nothing other than glowing.

Stuart Litchfield, Director of Sport, Whitgift School
To achieve a perfectly flat and stable subbase prior to GrassMaster Solutions arrival, White Horse Contractors completed necessary earthworks including shaping and laser grading of the existing grounds. This was followed by the installation of a new bespoke irrigation system to Whitgift’s specification.

Utilising our flagship Mastenbroek 20/15 trencher, we installed an effective lateral sports drainage system, meaning the new rugby pitch will perform perfectly through excessively wet conditions.

"Whitgift carried out a thorough tender process within which we considered a variety of hybrid turf systems. Whitgift decided to go with the White Horse and GrassMaster Solutions combination due to the proven expertise in both pitch construction and hybrid surface installation. GrassMaster Solutions are internationally renowned with proven product quality and longevity.”

Daniel Ratling BSc Hons. PCert TSC, Grounds & Estates Manager, Whitgift School
GrassMaster Solutions’ Dennis Pennings joined our Technical Director and in-house agronomist Dr James Welsh and Contracts Manager Colin McBeth at the Haling Park site.

This historic installation is the first GrassMaster hybrid installation at an independent school. Using their trusted Gen-S machinery, the GrassMaster Solutions team was extremely pleased to join us on site. The GrassMaster monofilament fibres will intertwine with White Horse’s specialist sports seed mix, ensuring a flat and stable surface for the independent school. The installation took 10 days across multiple areas and was completed to the school's strict schedule.

“White Horse have constructed a high-quality and consistent subbase, which has been a key starting point to build on and create a first-class hybrid pitch.”

Dennis Pennings, GrassMaster Solutions

High quality technology that is now accessible to all

Being the first independent school in the country to action the installation of a hybrid pitch is monumental not only for the sports construction industry but the sporting world itself.

With pre-tender talks beginning in 2020, White Horse's ability to guarantee a cost-effective, high-quality solution to Whitgift's Director of Sport Stuart Lichfield, has been key to the hybrid rugby pitch being constructed at the site. The same hybrid stitching system with GrassMaster machinery has been constructed for elite clubs, as those at the independent school for boys.

Want to know how we can make your hybrid pitch a reality? Call us on 01865 736272 or email


Whitgift School are achieving more hours of play through the Winter, with significant increases of playtime week to week, we are pleased to see the pitch performing to the standard required of this prestigious independent school.

The pitches growth is evident in such a short space of time. This is a testament to our cultivation and seeding team and our trusted seed suppliers. White Horse Contractors have delivered a GrassMaster hybrid pitch into a UK independent school, for the first time.

The Whitgift School team are delighted with the results of the project so far:

“The aim of this project was to provide resilient playing surfaces for high-intensity use. So far the pitches are delivering, and the feedback has been excellent.”

Daniel Ratling, Grounds & Estates Manager, Whitgift School
Whilst maintenance will be carried out by Daniel and his grounds team, both GrassMaster Solutions and White Horse Contractors will be on hand should they require any assistance in the future.

This has been a truly historic project for all involved and White Horse would like to thank Stuart Litchfield (DoS), James Stremes (DoF), Daniel Ratling (G&EM), and the team at Whitgift School for their consistent communication throughout.

For more information call 01865 736272 or email