What started out in Llanelli in 2010 has now spread to further west to two more towns. This summer, Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn will be joining in with the fun. With a round of the Wales Touch Series to be held in Llandysul too, this is going to be an exciting summer of Touch in the Wild West.
In summer 2010, the first ever touch league came to west Wales. It was formed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s Sports Development Unit and was held on the school fields at Ysgol Gyfun Y Strade with the intention of getting more adults back into some sort of physical exercise.
9 men’s open teams and 4 mixed open teams contested the first ever league in which The Orangutans were the inaugural men’s champions and the Sports Development Unit’s team, All The Gear came out on top in the mixed division.
Fast forward to 2013 and things have developed rapidly in west Wales. Not only has the general standard of the Llanelli league improved, the region has already produced two players that have played for Wales representational teams in both a World Cup and European Championships. With the formation of the Wales Nationals, there is now a regional team in the form of the Barcutiaid Coch | Red Kites (pictured in action at this year’s Nationals, right).
In 2012, the WRU formed an agreement with Wales Touch Association and appointed 14 Participation Officers (PO) across Wales. Part of their remit was to offer the general public the chance to play Touch. With training and support from the WTA, the POs have began to establish leagues all across Wales.
In 2012, Sports Development passed on the administration of the Llanelli league to Carmarthenshire’s PO, Daryl ‘Chaz’ Richards. In 2013, Chaz will not only continue with the Llanelli league – now running on the field Coleg Sir Gar fields, adjacent to Ysgol Y Strade, but he has also added a brand new module in Carmarthen, which will take place on Trinity College | Coleg Y Drindod playing fields.
This is an exciting development for the area as Chaz explains;
There has been a lot of interest in Carmarthen and hopefully there will be a good number of teams entering. Try Touch nights are in Carmarthen on May 8th and 15th with Try Touch in Llanelli taking place on Monday 13th May. Both leagues commence the week beginning the 20th May.
Furthermore, a brand new league starts in the north of Carmarthenshire, Newcastle Emlyn. This will be a mixed open league and is being formed by three of the youngest members of the Barcutiaid Coch | Red Kites, with assistance of their regional coach, Matt Adams, who explains;
With the help of a Sport Wales Community Chest grant we have been able to put together everything needed to make this mixed league a reality. At the moment, the Federation of International Touch (FIT) version of touch is almost completely unknown in the town, but I’m hoping that the enthusiasm of our regional players can help persuade some of their friends and school colleagues to give the game a go when we run our Try Touch night on Friday 24 May at Newcastle Emlyn RFC. We’re welcoming anyone over the age of 14 that would like to come along.
Finally, the region will also host what will now be the first round of the inaugural Wales Touch Series in Llandysul on Saturday 8 May. This tournament forms part of a series of club tournaments being hosted around the country. Categories available in the Llandysul round will be for men’s open and women’s open club teams. Contact the WTA for more information on the WTS through their website www.walestouch.co.uk.