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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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

Could You Play Regional Touch for West Wales?

The West Wales regional team is now a reality with the announcement of the first ever regional training camp on Sunday 27th January from 2 – 5pm in Parc y Scarlets Training Barn.  The Regional Coaches will be Gorllewin Gwyllt’s, Matt Adams and Wales Mens Over 30 player, Christen Jones.

Since this is a brand new regional format, the question is who is going to make up the team – so do you think that you have got what it takes to play at the regional level?

Delwedd

Ysgubor Ymarfer Parc y Scarlets Training Barn

Wales Touch Association (WTA) has just announced the inaugural Welsh Nationals Tournament in April 2013.  The country is to be divided into six brand new regions who will compete over the weekend of the 6th and 7th April (location TBC).  The West Wales region will include men and women that reside in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire and will be coached by Matt Adams and Christen Jones – supported by WTA’s new Elite Performance Director, Simon Williams.

Christen Jones

Christen Jones

The aim is for each region to field a men’s, women’s and mixed team in the Nationals and we will be doing the best we can to ensure that West Wales fulfils each category.

Anyone that is interested in playing regional Touch is called upon to come along to the first session at Parc y Scarlets at the end of January to show what they can do.  The session will include training drills as well as game time.

So What Are The Main Attributes That The Coaches Will Be Looking For?

  • A commitment to the team and training sessions
  • A positive attitude
  • Players that want to work hard
  • The ability to follow instructions and accept feedback
  • Tactical knowledge or a willingness to learn more about the game

Anyone that is interested should be aged 15 years or older as of 1st January 2013 and should register with Nationals co-ordinator, Gareth Revell.  All players that have been selected for Wales’ national preliminary squads are to participate and will be contacted directly in due course.  We also hope that those players that were not offered a squad place for Wales, following the recent Wales trials, will come to the regional sessions.

A series of training sessions in various locations across the region will take place in preparation for the April tournament.  Costs will be kept to an absolute minimum, but players should be aware that contributions towards kit, facility hire, tournament fees etc will be requested.

We’re really looking forward to taking on the best of Wales and immensely proud to be involved in this exciting new chapter of Welsh Touch.

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.

Wales Champions League Announced

Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch and Wales Touch Association announce a brand new invitational tournament for the best teams from Wales’ emerging leagues to take place in Llanelli on Sunday 19th August 2012. 

The top teams from Llanelli, Swansea, North Wales, Rhondda Cynon Tâf , plus two invitational Cardiff teams will battle it out to become the Wales Champions League winners.

The traditional base of Touch in Wales has very much been centred around Cardiff, with a Touch league established in 1991, still going strong.  But that’s set to change with the arrival of the game in some new territories in recent times.

North Wales Touch in Wrexham and RCT Touch in Pontyclun have been playing the game for the last few years, but it was only in 2010 that the game arrived in Llanelli with the establishing of Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch by the Carmarthenshire County Council Sport Development Unit.  This was quickly followed in 2011 by a league held at South Gower RFC and in 2012 by leagues started by the Ospreys Participation Officers in Neath and on the Swansea University playing fields.

Read more about playing Touch in west Wales

In 2012, the time was right to hold a tournament to allow the best teams from each of the five areas to compete against each other.  As it turns out, this will be a major turning point for the development of the game in Wales.  There has never been a inter-regional championship tournament in Wales, so this will be a first.

The pick of Wales’ premier teams are based around the Cardiff Touch stronghold and some of them travel outside of Wales in order to play at an elite level, including teams such as the Durkas and Raptors.

Cardiff Raptors – playing at Lilleshall in the NTS Finals 2012

Across the border, England Touch has already established a national competition with a series of tournaments in various venues across England, such as Cambridge, Nottingham, Newcastle and London with teams such as Manchester Chargers, Hot Custard and Galaxy London competing.  There are two tiers to the series; the elite, National Touch Series and the Challenge Touch Series for second-tier teams.  The aim in Wales would be to create a similar series of ranking tournaments to ensure that the standard of the game improves.  This is something that Wales Touch Association is working towards, but Wales is still way behind in it’s development of the game in comparison to the number 1 ranked nation, Australia.

The National Touch League (NTL) is a major event on the Australian sporting calendar.

In Australia, the National Touch League, is the premier national tournament which allows the best teams from across the country to compete against each other to find national champions in 12 different categories.

It is this bringing together of the elite teams from across the country to compete which makes Australian national teams so strong.  There are approximately 250,000 registered Touch players, plus another 100,000 social players in Australia.  Not to mention the 500,000 school players that regularly compete in the game!

In Wales around 90-95% of national players play in the Cardiff leagues meaning that there is not a truly representative national team – more like a Cardiff regional team. Considering Wales is the reigning European overall champions, imagine what could be possible if more people started playing the game in other areas!

The Wales Champions League is undoubtedly a step in the right direction with the opportunity for teams to compete at a higher level, as well as the status and bragging rights and an opportunity to shine in front of national coaches and WTA officials.

The Llanelli contingent will be made up of the top four teams in this year’s competition; Gower Dragons, Y Mellt, Orangutans and Y Genhedlaeth Nesaf.  Other invited teams have not yet be revealed, but it is likely to include four teams from Ospreys Touch, one team from North Wales Touch, two from RCT Touch and two from Cardiff’s Touch Rugby Wales league.

It all takes place at the home of Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch, Ysgol Gyfun Y Strade, Sandy Road, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, SA15 4DL on Sunday 19th August 2012.  Whilst it is only open to invited teams, spectators are welcome to come and cheer the teams on.  Please contact should you require further details.