Women That Play Touch, Interview with Miriam Evans

With the game finally spreading out of the Cardiff stronghold with new leagues forming in Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, there has never been a better time to get involved in touch.  This is one of the few sports in which men and women can compete together on the same field, creating a truly unique playing atmosphere.

Gorllewin Gwyllt taks to Miriam Evans, one of the Wales Women’s  most experienced players.  Originally from Tumble in west Wales but based in London for the last few years, she recently represented west Wales at the inaugural Wales Touch Nationals.  Here she discusses how and why she started to play touch and why she thinks more women should take up the game.
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If you like throwing a ball around, you should take up touch.  If you like running, you should take up touch.  If you like team sports, you should take up touch.

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Miriam

School Sports

I played hockey and netball whilst in school but then didn’t continue either once I left.  Later when I was 21 I started to play rugby by accident really after being persuaded to go along for one training session to see what it was like.  The rest as they say is history as I haven’t stopped playing since.  What I rediscovered was how much fun playing a team sport is and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started earlier or continued with another sport after leaving school.  It is something I have always regretted.  Rugby then led me to touch and recently I’ve gone back to hockey, after 16 years away from it (I have to do something when I retire from rugby!). 

First Impressions of Touch

I got into touch because of the boys at my rugby club.  A touch league had started locally and they realised if they found a couple of girls, willing enough to play with them, they would get two games a night (one mixed and one men’s).  So that’s where I started one summer with the aim to keep fit out of season, improve on my handling skills ready for the start of the rugby season and to socialise.  My first impressions was that it was very different to rugby tactically (even to sevens), it was fast paced, very competitive and also those from the southern hemisphere were a lot, LOT better than us as they had been playing since they were kids! 
 
I loved the competitive element of it and also the fact that it can be mixed sides.  In addition it’s an honest sport – which is very important to understand as it is so fast paced.  I quickly moved from playing one to two games a night (the rugby girls set up a women’s team in the social mixed league in my second year so that we could also play two games a night!), and progressed to two nights a week then three!

The Game for Life

What keeps me playing touch?  I love it!  The beauty of touch is you can play it at any age at any level.  I intend to play until I can’t play anymore.  It is likely to go beyond my rugby playing days.  Competitive wise I hope that in the future the women’s side of the sport will grow so that we could also have an over 35’s and 40’s side like the men do.  I can see me always playing social touch.  

A Game for Men and Women

Touch is both an exciting game to watch and play.  It’s end to end action a bit like basketball in that respect.  It’s got a great social/community feeling about it.  It’s a great way of meeting people from all over the world not just locally.  For girls/women there are not many sports that you can have men and women playing together at the same level together.  It’s great for fitness too.
 
If you like throwing a ball around, you should take up touch.  If you like running, you should take up touch.  If you like team sports, you should take up touch.  If you like competitive sports, you should take up touch.  If you like social sports, you should take up touch.

Representing the Barcutiaid Coch (West Wales Regional Team)

I thought the set-up in west Wales was excellent.  Very well run and organised with great training venues.  I was impressed with the coaching levels and also the team spirit that was built up in a relatively short period of time.  But what I loved the most was the amount of young people in the squad keen to learn and get involved.  It was great seeing new talent coming through and maturing during the competition.  

Barcutiaid Coch Red_Kites_Logo

Everyone knows that west Wales was very much a developing team, with the most newcomers to the sport compared to the “internationally” stacked Cardiff and east Wales squads, yet I believe it was the squad that showed most improvement during the tournament and we certainly did not let ourselves down.  I therefore think that 2014 is going to be even better for the west Wales team as they grow and develop even further through attracting new players and continued training, ready for next year’s tournament.  2014+ the Barcitiaid Coch/Red Kites will be a team to reckon with! 
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If you’re interested in starting to play touch, there are now a number of opportunities to do so across west Wales.  In summer 2013, there are league modules in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, plus the newly-formed Wales Touch Series comes to Llandysul on Saturday 8th June.   For more information, get in touch!

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Further reading:

Brand New League Starts in Newcastle Emlyn
Why Women Should Play Touch
Touch Spread Further West This Summer

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What about you, are you looking to get involved in touch for the first time this year?  Are you in a team that wants to attract more female players?  Leave your comments below.

 
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Barcutiaid yn Barod | Red Kites Ready

The Red Kites regional team, representing west Wales, recently held a team building training day for squad members in preparation for the inaugural Wales Touch Nationals on the 6th & 7th April.

Barcutiaid Coch, Pentywyn | Red Kites in Pendine OEC

Members of the Barcutiaid Coch | Red Kites team enjoying the team-building at Pendine

Wales Touch Nationals Logo

Despite only coming together for their first session at the end of January, the team has made a lot of progress.  It is fair to say that this is an inexperienced squad – a large number of the team are either completely new to Touch or have only been playing for a relatively short time.  There is also a large contingent of young players with seven players still in school.

The fact that the region has had to recruit inexperienced players is one of the reasons that the Nationals are so important to the development of the game in Wales.  (See the ‘Historic Announcement for Touch’ post for more on this).

Taking One for the Team at Pendine

But what the team makes up for in lack of experience, they certainly make up for in enthusiasm and commitment.  All of the training sessions held at Parc y Scarlets’ training barn were well attended and the recent team-building day at Pendine Outdoors, saw a strong bond begin to form between the players which will stand them in good stead when the going gets tough during the Nationals, which are being held at Swansea University Sports Centre.

The instructors at Pendine did a great job of getting the group to work together on challenges such as the Spiders Web (pictured below) where each member of the team had to pass through the web without touching either the ropes or the trees – not as easy as it sounds!  There were plenty of other tasks too – one of the other  favourites was completing an assault course whilst transporting cups full of water, balancing a ball on a plate and carrying a bell which wasn’t allowed to ring!

Her 'The Spiders Web' Challenge

The ‘Spiders Web’ Challenge

The team then took to the field at local club Laugharne RFC to recap on some of the techniques that they have been working on over the last couple of months and were able to run a Men’s Open v Mixed Open game, lead by Wales MXO international and Carmarthenshire girl, Jade Phillips.

An Unknown Entity

The Barcutiaid will go into the Nationals as rank outsiders and with players almost completely unknown to the other regions.  The majority of the squad are not on the radar when it comes to national teams or Cardiff-based clubs such as Phoenix, Durkas or Raptors (Welsh clubs that compete in England’s top level National Touch Series).  The sport is very much in it’s infancy in west Wales (the first Touch league only arrived in 2010 in Llanelli) and so far the Llanelli league has only produced two players that have competed on the international stage (Barcutiaid Assistant Coaches, Jade Phillips and Christen Rees-Jones – unfortunately both injured for the Nationals).  However, this element of surprise may gave them an edge in games against the more experienced teams such as the Cyclones and Warriors who may be expecting a straight forward victory over the Kites.

The west Wales players have the opportunity to put down a marker at the 2013 Nationals.  This will be a chance to measure themselves against current international players and see if they have got what it takes to pull on the red vest in the future.

International Ambitions

Ymarfer Barcutiaid | Kites Training, Laugharne | Talacharn RFC

Kites MO take on the Kites MXO in a training game

Since it’s inception in 1991, Touch in Wales has been centred around Cardiff but this has been detrimental to the development of the game.  Is it realistic to expect a country in which only 2,000 people play Touch in two or three leagues to produce the 112 top-class players required to field seven international Touch teams?

Up until recently, around 5% of the people that play Touch in Wales, played for one of the international teams.  There was no regional structure and the overwhelming majority of Wales players came through the Cardiff system.  Compare that to the Wales national rugby teams where you have nearly 80,000 participants that eventually filter into the five national sides (Wales, Wales Women, Wales Sevens, Wales U20, Wales U18).  In other words, less than 0.2% of rugby players in Wales will play on the international stage.

In order to win Grand Slams and reach the final four of a World Cup, a large player base is required in which the most talented players are filtered from the club to the regional level and then on to international honours.  International sport is about the cream of the crop representing their country.  This years Wales Touch Nationals are the first step forward towards realising this goal.

The Nationals will ensure that the game becomes more widespread across Wales and whilst initially there may well be a discrepancy between the emerging regions and the Cardiff heartland, it is unlikely that this will be the case for long.  The Red Kites are a prime example of a group of players that may not have played Touch for a long period of time but are willing to put in the hard work and commitment needed to play at the regional and possibly international level.  Who knows, perhaps the Nationals will uncover some hidden gems for next years Euros.

The inaugural Wales Touch Association Nationals are being held at Swansea University Sports Centre on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April.  Games tap off at 10.00am and culminate with the Mixed Open final at 3.30pm on Sunday and the Mens Open final at 4.25pm.  More information available here

Dyfrig, Adam - Barcutiaid

Barcutiaid | Kites; Dyfrig Gibbs (left) and Adam Lopez

All photos copyright, Lleucu Meinir

Cyhoeddir Barcuitiad | Kites Announced

Cyhoeddir carfanau Barcuitiaid Coch ar gyfer y Pencampwriaethau Cenedlaethol.   Barcutiaid Coch squads are announced for the National Championships in April.

Carfan Barcutiaid Squad 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(BILINGUAL MESSAGE – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH)

Barcutiaid Coch yw’r enw rhoddodd i’r tîm rhanbarth gorllewin Cymru newydd.  Dyna’r fframwaith sydd newydd cael ei ffurfio gan Gymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru er mwyn darparu cyfle i bawb ar draws Gymru i gynrychioli eu rhanbarth yn erbyn y chwaraewyr gorau yng Nghymru.

Ar ôl y sesiynau ymarfer cychwynnol, mae prif hyfforddwr Barcutiaid, Matt Adams wedi cyhoeddi ei garfan ar gyfer y Pencampwriaethau Cenedlaethol. Dywedodd, Matt;

Ar y cyfan, carfan ifanc, ddibrofiad yw hi ond mae pawb yn frwdfrydig a barod i ddysgu sgiliau a thactegau newydd sy’n berthnasol i rygbi cyffwrdd. Rydw i’n wrth fy mod gydag ymdrechion pawb hyd yn hyn ac rwy’n edrych ‘mlaen yn fawr at y Bencampwriaeth.

Fe fydd y Bencampwriaeth Genedlaethol yn cael eu cynnal ym mis Ebrill gyda’r chwe rhanbarth newydd yn brwydro yn erbyn i gilydd. Rhagor o fanylion ar wefan Cymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru.

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Barcutiaid Coch (Red Kites) is the name given to the new west Wales region. This is the new framework formed by the Wales Touch Association to provide an opportunity for everyone across Wales to represent their region against the best players in Wales.

Barcutiaid Coch Red_Kites_Logo

After the initial practice sessions, Barcutiaid head coach, Matt Adams has announced his squad for the National Championships. Matt said;

On the whole, it’s a young, inexperienced squad, but everyone is enthusiastic and willing to learn the new skills and tactics that apply to touch rugby. I’m really pleased with everyone’s efforts so far and I’m looking forward to the Nationals.

The National Championships will be held in April with six new regions to battle it out. Further details available from Wales Touch Association.