HENLEY Hawks have used the extended suspension of rugby to install a trailblazing new facility.

The National League 2 South outfit now lay claim to what is believed to be the first blue 4G pitch in the country after laying the surface during lockdown.

The £150,000 facility is

part-funded by Henley-based investment management company Invesco and goes by the name of Invesco Turf.

And with Henley’s previous artificial pitch dating back to 2004, the club knew it was time for an upgrade.

The club’s commercial manager, Alistair Beynon, said: “We knew it had to happen as otherwise we wouldn’t get the accreditation to use it from the RFU.

“We thought, ‘why not use it to make a bit of a statement?’.”

Along with the money from Invesco, the pitch was paid for through a South Oxfordshire District Council grant, donations and a fundraising raffle.

Work began last month and is now ready to be used by

five-a-side football teams, plus school hockey and netball clubs.

Meanwhile, the all-new Henley Hawks netball side will play home matches there.

It is another source of income at a difficult time for community rugby, with the season not set to start until at least October.

Hawks have benefitted from their on-site facilities during lockdown, including gym and physio facilities and the Menza cafe & bar.

Benyon said: “Lockdown has obviously been tough, but we wanted to use that time as best as we possibly can.

“It’s opened up another revenue stream – all these things are crucial to the future of Henley Hawks.”