First Ever Junior Regional Touch Series

Another first for Touch in Wales (and possibly Europe) – the Junior Challenge Series

On Friday 26th July 2013, a West Wales regional select team will take on an East Wales squad in the first ever Junior Challenge Series (JCS) for players aged 15 years and below.  The teams will face off for two games featuring the brightest young talent south Wales has to offer.  Click here for the full team line ups.

Rachel Wasserman - playing regional Touch at age 14

Rachel Wasserman, aged 14 (left) Playing regional Touch in the WTA Nationals and will now represent West Wales in the Junior Series

This time the young talent gets a chance to shine on their own stage

The game will be played in the mixed category meaning that boys and girls will play on the same teams.  Players will be in years 9 or 10 in school and for most of them it will be the first time they have played Touch in a game exclusively for their own age group.  Let’s take a look at the two teams.

East Wales

The East Wales squad is mainly made up of players currently playing for teams in the Touch Rugby Wales league in Cardiff and are coached by Cyclones coach, Owen Smith and Cyclones Mixed Open player, Khal Salim.  The coaching staff have excellent pedigree with the Cyclones having recently swept the board in all divisions at the inaugural Wales Touch Nationals in April.

The Cyclones | Seiclonau (South Cardiff & the Vale) won the Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Mixed Open divisions featuring a multitude of internationally-experienced players.  However, they also had one eye on the future by blooding youngster, Lucy Pattison in the tournament.  The experience of playing in Wales’ premier tournament will no doubt stand Lucy in good stead whilst playing for East Wales in the JCS.

Most of the East team play together for Ysgol Plasmawr in the TRW league under the guidance of seasoned international Touch player, Sion Wyn Davies, Plasmawr’s Head of PE and also a current Wales 40 player.  Expect the team to be well-drilled and possibly a little more knowledgeable of Touch tactics than their west Walian counterparts.

West Wales

However, Lucy will not be the only player on the pitch that has regional experience.  Another talented young female, Rachel Wasserman, will be looking to capitalise on her Nationals experience in the JCS this Friday.  Rachel was a late addition to the Red Kites | Barcutiaid Coch (West Wales) squad having only attended one training session prior to the tournament.  Despite only being 14 years old she greatly impressed and has already been invited to play for Cardiff Raptors in the club-based, Wales Touch Series following her performances at the Nationals.

Many of the West Wales team were identified at a recent Carmarthenshire 5×60 Touch tournament at Pembrey Country Park where nine teams competed to find an under 15s county champion.  The day was a great success and it was Ammanford’s Ysgol Dyffryn Aman team that eventually won.  Three of the victorious team, Jac Isaac, Steffan Pryce-Griffiths and  Cathryn Jones have made the West Wales team and will be keen to continue their success.

Also playing for the West are two players that have impressed in the newly-formed Newcastle Emlyn module.  Ysgol Bro Pedr (Lampeter) pupils, Iwan Evans and Caryl Jacob came along to the Emlyn Try-Touch Night in May and decided to form their own team with their friends.  The fact that they are only 14 years old didn’t put them off and they have been competing against other teams with much older players.  Despite finding it tough going in the early part of the season, the team has been steadily improving each week.  In fact, Iwan has already picked up a hatful of MVPs so far this season and he is definitely one to watch at JCS.

So why is this series so important?

In much of Europe, it is fair to say that many people’s first experience of playing Touch does not come until later in life, with many only taking up the game once their rugby playing days are over.  Even those that start relatively early are usually well into their teens or twenties before they take up Touch.

Whilst it’s great for people to continue to be active as they get older, if the gap is ever to close between Wales and top class Touch nations such as Australia and New Zealand, players need to be developed from the youngest possible age.  They need to play age-grade Touch before working their way up to national senior teams.  The current model of trying to develop players that have come to Touch from other sports will only take Wales so far in the world of Touch.

Take a look at this video of some Under 10s Touch from Australia – these kids have grown up playing Touch and it shows – they have running, evasion and handling skills in abundance as well as tactical knowledge of what moves to use and when.  Let’s hope that we’ll see Touch of this quality in Wales one day – the JCS could be an important piece in this jigsaw.

The Junior Challenge Series takes place on Friday 26 July 2013 at Swansea University Sports Centre.  Game 1 taps off at 12 noon with game 2 starting at 1.15pm.  Admission is free although parking charges do apply.

What about you?  What do you think about this focus on juniors?  When did you start to play Touch?

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.

 

Touch Spreads Further West This Summer

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.

Cyffwrdd Gorllewin 2013 West TouchIn 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.

Lopez Touch9 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.

Below is a timetable which displays all the information needed by prospective teams.  All enquiries for the Llanelli and Carmarthen leagues should go to Daryl Richards (WRU) – drichards@wru.co.uk.

For further information about the Newcastle Emlyn league, contact Matt Adams – matt@gorllewingwyllt.com.  There is also a sign up form available here at the Gorllewin Gwyllt website.

What about you?  Where are you going to play this summer?  Comment below

Amserlen Cyffwrdd Haf 13 Summer Touch TImetable