Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Cornish rugby players plagued by insects swarm

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BBC Spotlight's Matt Pengelly went to the ground to investigate.

Players at a Cornish rugby club have complained they are being plagued by insect bites.

St Columba and Torpoint Rugby Club said its players were being bitten by flies hidden in the pitch.

One needed hospital treatment for a bite and others have been given antibiotics.

It is believed a water-logged pitch may be offering the flies a good breeding area. The club said it was monitoring the condition of the ground.

Prop forward Mike Grieve said he was bitten three times on the legs and ankles.

The leg swelled up. After about a week the bruising was still there
Mike Grieve, bitten prop forward

He was given antibiotics on two occasions, but a third encounter with the hungry insects resulted in him having to go to hospital.

He said: "It was just like a normal bite, and then the leg swelled up. After about a week the bruising was still there."

The club's director of rugby, Chris Goodman, said players were fine when they were moving, it was only if anybody was standing around that the insects began "nibbling away".

He said: "They tend to bite during coaching time, when players are standing around for two or three hours.

"People on a Saturday playing, or spectators are not bitten because they are moving around."

The club rents the pitch from Cornwall Council, which does treat and weed it periodically.

However, the bugs have meant the club has restricted who can use it.

Club chairman Dave Oakley said: "At the beginning of the season we did have the pitch treated, but we probably need to be done a little more frequently.

"But at the moment we're reticent to bring in youngsters while we have this problem because the bites can be very irritating."

Cornwall Council said it was close to an agreement with the club for a long-term lease.

When it is finalised, the council said it would allow the club to improve the drainage and take action to deal with the bugs more thoroughly.



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