The immediate future of a leading Bristol rugby club is in doubt after a flash flood covered the pitch, car park and ground with a mix of raw sewage, mud and water.
The deluges of this week prompted a flood at Clifton Rugby Club, whose ground at Cribbs Causeway is currently almost surrounded by building sites. Now staff at the club say they do not know when the pitch will be playable again, and there are fears are the situation will get worse before it gets better with more storms on the way this week.
Heavy rain over the weekend, yesterday and today caused scenes that one official at the National League 2 side described as ‘horrendous’. Just before lunch time, a river of muddy water began to flow down the bank from the neighbouring site, straight onto one end of the pitch, which was soon completely waterlogged.
Within an hour, raw sewage began bubbling up from the drains in the car park and around the ground, with the mix meeting and flooding many parts of the ground. The club’s honorary secretary Pete Mitchell said it was an ‘absolute disaster’ as he witnessed the scenes.
“We’ve been here at this ground since 1974 and spent a fortune on getting great drainage in for the pitch, and nothing like this has ever happened before,” he said from the scene this afternoon (Tuesday, February 15).
“Everyone is diving for cover at the moment. It’s never flooded in the past, but today we got a call saying that raw sewage was coming up in the car park, and there was a deluge coming over the hill side on to the pitch. It’s horrendous. We’re going to be out of action for the foreseeable with this.”
Clifton’s first XV play in the National League 2 South division, and are having a good season, currently sitting in third position just four points off the top of the table. Promotion would see them into the National League 1 division – the third level on the Rugby Union pyramid and only two divisions below Bristol Bears and the Premiership.
The first team’s next two games are away and the next home game is not until March 5, but Mr Mitchell said the pitch and the club was well-used by a host of other junior teams within the Clifton RFC family.
“I don’t know when we are going to be able to play again, if the pitch is out of action for a long time, I don’t know where we could go – there’s a standard of pitches and facilities required in the National League,” he said.
Mr Mitchell said he feared extensive building and development work in the Cribbs Causeway area may have contributed to what has happened. “First of all the sewers backed up, the rain continued and mud and water engulfed our pitches – worse, mixing with the sewage in the middle of our grounds.
“The club has spent a fortune on basic sports pitch drainage over the years, to create one of the best playing surfaces in the National Leagues. The pitches may dry out, but the mud will remain.
“And add to this, the club have commercial tenants, office rentals that right now they can’t access. I’ve been involved with the club for more than 50 years – they have never flooded to this extent,” he added.
Two named storms are forecast to sweep over Bristol this week too, so the Clifton RFC ground will not be drying out any time soon.
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