Historic Announcement for Touch

Wales Touch Association announce that the inaugural National Championships will be held in April 2013.  Six regions are to be formed and will compete in Mens, Womens and Mixed open categories.  The West Wales squad will be made up of players residing in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

So why is this announcement so important for the development of Touch in Wales?

Cymru Rhanbarthau Cyffwrdd | Wales Touch Regions

It’s A Numbers Game

In Wales in 2012, there were less than 3,000 men and women playing Touch (WTA figures).  The overwhelming majority of Touch is played in Cardiff and therefore the national teams are little more than Cardiff regional teams, peppered with a handful of players from Swansea, Wrexham, Llanelli and some of the main English cities.

Compare this to England where there are already national club competitions (National Touch Series and Challenge Touch Series) as well as an inter-regional competition in which regional franchises compete.  The best regional players are then chosen to represent at national level.  There are more Touch players in England (approximately 5,500 according to ETA)  and with the regional structure, it is little wonder that they are the current European Champions.

Considering the low number of participants, Wales has been punching above it’s weight at international level for some time, even winning the 2010 European Championships.  However, the current model is not sustainable and Wales badly needs to encourage more people to play the game or it is in danger of being left behind. 

Spreading the Word

Although Touch was introduced to Cardiff in 1991 by Dave Swain and Paul Nepia, as recently as 2011 the only places you could play regular competitive Touch outside of Cardiff were Llanelli, Pontyclun, Swansea and Wrexham.  However, this is set to change with the 2012 partnership agreement between the WTA and Welsh Rugby Union which has seen Touch being introduced to new territories via the WRU’s 14 Participation Officers (PO).  Part of the PO remit is to run Touch leagues for adults and this has resulted in leagues starting out in Bridgend, Newport and Neath amongst others.  It won’t be long before some of these players are filtered through to regional teams and then national teams.  Since the formation of the Llanelli league in 2010, it has already produced two players that have played in the Touch World Cup and Touch European Championships.

In order for Touch to grow and flourish in Wales it is essential that the game is played in all areas of the country.  Obviously, Wales is a small country with a small population and we are not quite ready to target reaching the 500,000 registered members as Touch Football Australia is planning in their latest strategic plan.  The National Championships is a huge step in the right direction.  Coaching positions have been advertised for each of the six regions and it is hoped that there will be a men’s, women’s and mixed open team for each region.  The biggest challenge is that there will have to be active recruitment of players in regions that have little or no history of Touch being played competitively.  However, this is precisely why the championships are so important.  Once social league players realise that they could play at regional or even international level, the profile and status attached to the game will undoubtedly rise.  It stands to reason that the more people playing the game, the better standards will become, resulting in more competition for places in national teams.

West Wales

The west Wales region encompasses Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire and it is fair to say that the men’s open team will be made up almost entirely of Llanelli based players considering that is still the only active league in the region.

Finding women to make up the women’s and mixed west Wales regional team could prove to be difficult since there was no Llanelli mixed or women’s league in 2012.  However, attendance at the recent Wales national trials was extremely encouraging with a large female contigent.  Even more encouragingly, a number of them were selected for the Welsh prelim squads for the 2013 Home Nations Tournament in Dublin.  It just goes to show that there is great talent across the country, it’s just a matter of getting the structure right in order to develop it further.

The new regions will compete over the weekend of the 6th and 7th April (location will be announced soon).  Players are eligible to participate if they live in Wales or are otherwise eligible to represent Wales, and must be WTA members.  All current national squad members are to participate.

Regional qualification is primarily determined by residential address. For players not living in Wales, qualification is determined by birthplace.

Get Involved

Interested players and referees should complete the registration form and return it to gareth.revell@hotmail.co.uk.

Download – WTA Nationals Registration Form

The regions are as follows:

Regional Team Name Regional Boundaries
Bridgend/Neath/Swansea Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot & Swansea
Cardiff South & The Vale South Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan
Cardiff North & The Valleys Merthyr Tydfil, North Cardiff*, Powys (part – up to Welshpool) & RCT
Newport/Gwent Caerphilly, Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent
North Wales Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Powys (Part – down to Welshpool), Wrexham
West Wales Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion

*The A48 will act as the boundary in Cardiff

FILM – Wales Touch Trials

Wales Touch Association are holding trials during November.  11th Wrexham, 18th Llanelli, 25th Cardiff

Here’s a short presentation with some action pictures taking during the recent European Touch Championships in Treviso, Italy.  Wales sent over 200 players and officials in seven different playing categories to Italy; Mens, Women, Mixed, Mens 30+, Mens 35+, Mens 40+ and Senior Mixed.

Wales Touch are very keen to locate new players who could make the grade at the representative level.  2013 sees the Home Nations tournament in Dublin, in 2014 it’s the European Touch Championships and in 2015 the Touch World Cup will  be held in Sydney, Australia.

The trials are open, for trialists over the age of 15.  If you think that you might have what it takes, you can register and get further details from the WTA website – www.walestouch.co.uk

Wales Touch On Look Out For Future Internationals

Guest post by Gwion Kennard, Technical Director, Wales Touch Association

The Wales team at the European Championships 2012 Opening Ceremony in Treviso

The WTA will be holding trials during November 2012 for the Mixed, Men’s and Women’s Open and all of the Over 30s squads as we build towards the 2013 Home Nations, the 2014 European Championships and the 2015 World Cup.

The selectors will be looking for athletes who demonstrate the following:
1. Responsiveness to on-field and off-field instructions and feedback
2. Ball retention
3. Defensive workrate and communication
4. Yardage
5. Followship
6. Leadership
7. Skills & decision making – 2v1 & 3v2 proficiency, planting proficiency, etc.
8. Attacking skills – Set-up play / 1v1 skills / running lines

The trial will be primarily drills through use of grids with a small amount of game-time at the end rather than mostly-game based. We are looking for potential in players rather than those who are closer to the finished article.

The trials will be held on the following dates:

11th November – Wrexham Details TBA
18th November – Llanelli, Barn at Parc y Scarlets from 1pm to 5pm
25th November – Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, Outdoor 4G pitch at The Vale Resort from 1pm to 5pm

Please send any expressions of interest to gwion@walestouch.co.uk to help our planning and so we can gauge the viability of the Wrexham trial in particular.
Please note, all current Touch internationals are expected to participate in the trial process if they wish to be considered for selection for the open and Over 30 squads in the 2013 Home Nations in Dublin. If you are unable to trial due to injury or unavailability for an extended period of time, please advise Gareth Revell at gareth.revell@hotmail.co.uk as the trials co-ordinator BEFORE THE TRIAL PROCESS BEGINS.

Those wishing to be considered for selection for the Over 35 & Over 40 squads are welcome to attend the trials as there is no age restriction, However an alternative selection process will be implemented for Masters players details of which will be provided soon.

Touch Euros Get Underway in Treviso

Tomorrow sees the first round of games in the 8th biannual European Touch Championships (ETC2012) which are taking place in the Lancenigo Sports Complex, in Treviso, Italy.  Wales are the reigning champions and will again be represented in force.

After an excellent showing at the Touch World Cup 2011 (TWC2011) – Wales’ Open teams (men’s, women’s and mixed) finished in the overall fifth position and the senior teams (M30, M35, M40 and Senior Mixed) finished in joint third, confidence is high.  Let’s assess Wales’ chances at the Euros this year…

Wales are the reigning overall European champions having won the 2010 competition in Bristol.  Wales entered teams in all six 2010 categories and despite only winning one outright title (Mens Over 35s), by reaching the final in five categories, they gained enough points to snatch the overall title from the previous champions, England.

European Touch Championships 2010 – Total Rugby Highlights Video

In 2012, Wales are again hedging their bets by entering all available categories (England is the only other team present to do so) and will be confident of bringing home the title from northern Italy.

So in which categories do Wales pose the biggest threat?

Men’s Over 40 (M40), Ranked 1 : 7

The Mens over 40 (M40) team are ranked number one in the over 40s category and will be favourites to take the title having finished fourth in TWC2011 – the highest placed European team.  Ireland and England are their closest rivals and the Wales team will fancy their chances following a 4-2 victory over Ireland and a 3-3 draw against England in TWC2011.

Mixed Open (MXO), Ranked 1 : 13

Wales’ best hope of a medal is the MXO team who are ranked number one and were the highest placed European team in TWC2011.  The team feel that the title is theirs to lose and will be going all out to make sure they bring home the spoils.  In their quest to do so, they have even recruited a TWC2011 winner in order to realise this aim. Ryan Pollock captained the Australian MXO team to World Cup success last year (picking up the Most Valuable Player in six out of ten games) and has been working closely with his Welsh counterparts in the month leading up to the Euros – no doubt instilling the winning confidence needed to go the whole way in a major tournament.  They will need this strength of mind having narrowly lost 7 – 6 to Ireland in 2010 and will be seeking revenge.

Women’s Open (WO), Ranked 2 : 7

Wales Women (WO) are ranked second only behind England so will be confident of making the final and with a fifth placed TWC11  finish (just behind England) there is no reason why they can’t push their arch rivals all the way.  England ladies, however, are the reigning champions, having overcome Wales 2-1 in the 2010 final, but there is very little to choose between the teams, as a four-all draw in their TWC2011 game proves.    In fact, Wales didn’t lose to European opposition in TWC2011, so the ETC2012 title is there for the taking.

Senior Mixed (SMX), Ranked 2 : 5

Ranked behind number one seeds, England, Wales Senior Mixed team finished TWC2011 in seventh place out of eight, but were still the second highest placed European team.  They found the going tough in Edinburgh, only winning one game (against Italy) and losing 7 – 1 to England.  However, they will be very confident of reaching the final in Treviso and could surprise favourites England if they meet in the predicted Cup Final clash between the two nations.

Men’s Over 35 (M35), Ranked 2 : 4

The M35 team finished TWC2011 in fourth placed, behind third placed, England.  They are ranked second only behind England although they suffered a convincing defeat, 7 – 2 during their last competitive game in TWC2011.  They’ll be confident of making the final and are the reigning champions, so they have a very good chance of retaining their title.

Men’s Open (MO), Ranked 3 : 8

The Mens Open (MO) team lost 8 – 3 to Scotland in the 2010 final, but will come back stronger and may fancy their chances, although a ninth place World Cup finish behind their major European rivals, Scotland, England and France, means a tough ask to collect the MO title.  Many of the team remain the same and the squad has been training hard in preparation for the Euros.  They are seeded third behind Scotland and England so it’s well within their capabilities.

ETC2010 MO Final – Scotland v Wales

Men’s Over 30 (M30), Ranked 3 : 4

The Mens over 30s (M30) also go into the tournament with confidence having had an excellent run in of preparation games – even running the Wales MO team close in a final training game at the Vale Hotel last weekend, losing 7-5 despite being without several strike players.  They will be underdogs in ETC2012, seeded third out of four teams and finished in seventh place in TWC2011, but they could be an outside bet for success.

European Touch Champions 2012?

Wales can be very confident of picking up another ETC overall title.  In 2010, they did so by reaching five out of the six available finals and only picking up one final victory.  In 2012, they should pick up the Mixed Open and M40 titles and have a good chance of making the final in several of the other categories.  However, it is England that start the tournament as favourites – ranked number one in four categories and second in two others.  They should provide the sternest test for the reigning champions and it is going to be a closely fought battle between the two nations.  We wish all the Welsh players, coaches, managers, referees and support staff the best of luck!

Canlyniadau Rownd 3 / Results Round 3 CSGT12

 Orangutans storm to the top of the table with a close-fought win against much improved, Friendly Rivals. 

Both teams have been competing in the Llanelli league since the CSGT10 and whilst Orangutans have won two titles and are very much in the running for a third, the Friendly Rivals have made a disappointing start to this year’s campaign losing their opening two games.  Despite suffering a third consecutive loss, they remain hopeful that their weekly training sessions will pay off and look to record their first victory in Round 4 against CSGT newcomers Hyrddod yr Hendy.

One advantage that the Friendly Rivals have is that one of the team has been training with Wales Men 30+ squad since January. 

Christen Rees-Jones, could be the first CSGT produced player to win an international Touch cap having only started playing the game in 2010.  Chris is training hard each week with the national Mens Over 30s team and is hopeful of cementing a place in the squad which travels to Italy in September to participate in the Touch Euros

Wales are the reigning overall champions having taken the title in Bristol in 2010 and hope to defend the title in one of the Federation of International Touch’s showcase events.  CSGT wish Chris every success! Pob lwc!

Christen Rees-Jones – the first international player produced by CSGT?

Elsewhere, Gower Dragons, another team with a number of representative Touch players, move up the table into second spot with their third consecutive victory, winning 7 – 4 against Once Were Athletic.  No Dropped Balls improve on their two losses so far, with a draw against Lookilikies and Hyrddod yr Hendy record their first win in 2012 with a 9 – 2 victory against Charlie’s Angels.

The game between Y Mellt and Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf had to be postponed and will be played at a later date.