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

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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!

VIDEO – Part 1 An Interview With Dennis Coffey (Fed. Int. Touch)

Please note – this is a ‘Prezi’.  It allows the viewer to navigate around the presentation in his/her own time.  There are several parts to this show.  Simply use the arrows to move to the next section.  You can also use the zoom keys to get in closer to the action!

Dennis talks to Wild West Touch about his role with the Federation of International Touch, potential new FIT members including Afghanistan and U.A.E. and gives his good luck message to Wild West Touch.

The next instalment will look into the origins of Touch and how the game has developed, particularly in Australia.

VIDEO – Dennis Coffey Interview INTRO

Dennis Coffey is one of the most respected figures in Touch.  He is accredited with codifying the rules of Touch and has played and coached for national Australian teams in Touch World Cups.  He is currently Secretary General of the Federation of International Touch.  See another post about Dennis.

This video is a short introduction to the main interview film which will be available shortly.

Preview clip – Dennis discusses the merits of Touch and gives a mention to Wild West Touch in Wales!

The All Blacks Secret Is In The Wild West

Delwedd

Sonny Bill Williams - flick master

How does a small country on the other side of the world with a population similar to Wales manage to produce such outstanding rugby players?

Nearly every time New Zealand play rugby, something exceptional and exciting happens – and they usually win too.  How often have you heard commentators gushing over the seemingly miraculous off loads trademarked by Sonny Bill Williams?  S4C and the BBC commentators also seem surprised that a giant lock such as Ali Williams can not only smash into a ruck, scrummage and jump in the line but can actually run a great angle and pass the ball too!

So what is the All Blacks big secret?  The answer is a game started in 1960s Australia by a group of ex-rugby league players – Touch (more often known here as Touch Rugby). Touch is a great way to learn basic skills of rugby such as how to avoid an opponent with a good pass or run and how to find the open spaces on the field.  Over 230,000 play the sport in New Zealand, including 70,000 children.  Surprisingly, only 147,000 Kiwis play traditional rugby.

In Wales, there are currently only about 3,000 people (mostly adults) playing Touch and the vast majority of them play in the Cardiff leagues.  However, this is set to change.

There is now a chance for everyone in west Wales to try the sport in a new tournament called Gorllewin Gwyllt’ (‘Wild West’ in English) in early May.  The tournament is the vision of Matthew Adams from Pencarreg, Carmarthenshire.  Matthew works as a sports officer and saw potential in the game whilst playing Touch in a league in Cardiff.  In 2010, through his work, Matthew established a Touch league in Llanelli.  The first season saw around 150 men and women compete each week.  The league returns in May and it is hoped that there will be even more interest.  Following the success of that league, he has now decided to establish the Gorllewin Gwyllt tournament on the fields in Llandysul in the hope of kick starting regular games of Touch there too.

The tournament is part of the impending revolution in Wales. The Welsh Rugby Union has just appointed 14 new participation officers (POs) who will be responsible for the development of Touch in the community and schools.  Plaudits must go to the Wales Touch Association (WTA) for pushing this through having pressurised the WRU for some time about the virtues of Touch.

Also part of the PO role is to engage adults in what the WRU term leisure rugby which encompasses Touch (indoor and outdoor versions).  What is interesting is that this represents a new market for the WRU.  Up until now, they have only supported traditional rugby union through clubs and schools.  Through the POs, the WRU is now hoping to break into a number of new areas such as coaching 3-5 year olds, with their Little Stars programme.  The WRU Leisure Rugby programme will incorporate Touch through a partnership with the WTA.  Furthermore, they are hoping to draw adults back into sport by playing an indoor hybrid of rugby and netball as part of the Back to Sport initiative, this time in partnership with Welsh Netball.  This could be a fantastic way of encouraging more adults to take a sport again.  In Wales, we see an alarming drop off from sport which results in many teenagers and adults becoming almost completely inactive.  In Carmarthenshire, for example, only a third of adults do enough physical activity to see any health benefit.  This could be about to change.

Why is the WRU’s adoption of Touch significant?  It means that Wales will now join New Zealand and Australia by using Touch as a stepping stone into rugby union.  Young children will be initially introduced to Touch in schools and in the community.  The game is simple, the rules are easy to learn and there is very little physical contact.  This means that both boys and girls can safely play together – good news for primary school teachers with 30 boys and girls in one class.

It also means that in order to successfully play the game, children will need to develop excellent passing, dodging and running skills.  Since physical strength and power are not the primary skills of Touch, it doesn’t favour children whose growth spurts have made them much taller and more powerful than their peers and can therefore literally run through their opponents.  Who remembers the kid that crosses the try line in a wake of destruction with three or four other kids hanging off him unable to tackle him?!  See You Can Play Rugby But You Can’t Play Touch post

For those of you not familiar with the sport, there are 6 players in a team.  Due to the minimal physical contact, men and women or children and adults can play in the same team.  See What is Touch? post.

Gorllewin Gwyllt is the first opportunity to take part in a touch family competition in Wales. This is an opportunity to try this exciting sport and to see how the Touch can improve your skills.

Visit the website for more information www.gorllewingwyllt.com, like on www.facebook.com/WildWestTouch and follow www.twitter.com/WildWestTouch

Why Women Should Play Touch…

There are a great many reasons why anyone should play Touch, but especially women and girls.

Video promoting a women’s Touch league in Victoria, Australia where Touch is a sport with one of the highest participation rates amongst children and adults

As the video above shows, the main reasons why women should play can be broken down as:

  • It’s fun
  • It’s a good work-out
  • It’s great for your legs and bum
  • It’s good socially
  • You meet new mates
  • It’s better than Netball (!)

Touch for Women - Fun & Fitness

Many of the Touch skills are transferable from other sports, such as netball, rugby, football, basketball and athletics.

  • Catching and passing effectively are essential to netball
  • Running quickly for short and long distances, sometimes over prolonged periods is related to many athletic disciplines such as sprinting or cross country
  • Basketball players will be able to relate to running up and down in attack and defence at high speed whilst handling the ball
  • Football and rugby players will recognise defensive strategies, communication, as well as dynamic movements such as dodging, cutting down space and support play

So Ladies, if you are yet to give Touch a go, maybe it’s time you did…?

Is Sport Only for the Time Rich?

I played rugby union throughout my teenage years and 20s and on the whole really enjoyed it. I love the physical challenge of rugby, working as a like-minded group to overcome challenges, pitting your wits against your opposite number and winning games was always a great bonus. But what happens when external and internal factors force you to re-prioritise your recreation time and you can no longer afford the time to play?

Family Priorities

I am a step-dad to a 13 year old girl and dad to two boys under 2, I commute 40 miles each way to my full time job Monday to Friday, my wife is a free-lancer who has to balance childcare with taking on work and therefore usually works at least one day on the weekend. I have just moved house and have a quickly growing jungle in the garden, rooms full to bursting with still unpacked boxes and scores of odd jobs that need doing. Where does sport fit into this?

I don’t think I appreciated this at the time, but I invested more than 20 hours a week in rugby and it’s peripheral activities! That’s almost a full day each week!

At the moment it is a struggle to grab an hour or two to do any kind of sport. I now live 10 minutes drive away from Brechfa Forest, one of Wales’ prime mountain bike trail hubs. In six months of living here I have managed one 2 hour ride! I have been for plenty of walks with the dog and my sons, but until the invent a kiddies protective bike trailer that can withstand the berms, table tops and drop-offs on the Gorlech trail I’ll have to stick to walking!

There is evidence to suggest that I am not the only one. Many people with young families are in exactly situation. One of the fastest growing sports in the UK is five-a-side football. Purpose built football centres such as Gôl in Cardiff are packed every night of the week with hundreds of punters playing games of 15 minutes each way.

Regular 5-a-side footballer, Dai John, noted;
I play five a side with a few mates in the Tuesday league. It’s great fun, competitive, well organised and a good sweat – I love it!

Purpose built 5-a-side centres are becoming more popular

Dai’s not the only one, I have played in a similar league and the fact that you were done and dusted in the hour was very appealing. It certainly beat going to the gym – working as a team trying your best to win a game forces you to put in far more effort than running on a treadmill will ever do.

When it comes to small versions of sports though, my personal favourite is Touch (Rugby). Closely related to both rugby codes, the game was developed in Australia in the 60s by a group of ex-rugby league players that wanted to keep fit and play competitive rugby into their 40s and 50s.

Touch can be played together by men and women

Roll on 50 years and the game has spread to over 40 countries and has it’s own World Cup showcase every 4 years. It is played by both men and women, often playing on the same team. The worldwide governing body is the Federation of International Touch (FIT) and in Wales, Wales Touch Association (WTA) is the NGB.

For me the beauty of the game is that it is very fast (lung-bustingly so!), skill-full, competitive and has very few player injuries associated with it (therefore a small risk of missing work).  As opposed to rugby, I directly contribute to the game with ball possession for far longer and I don’t have to roll about wrestling fat blokes in the mud!  Bonus!

Perhaps playing the full versions of sports is only for the time rich, but a new generation of adapted games is helping those with that competitive bug to continue to play their chosen game, even if time is at a premium.

Do you have a similar experience to share? Add comments below

Other versions of popular sports:

20/20 Cricket, Rugby 7s, 5-a-side football, beach volleyball