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?

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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 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.

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!