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

Barcutiaid yn Barod | Red Kites Ready

The Red Kites regional team, representing west Wales, recently held a team building training day for squad members in preparation for the inaugural Wales Touch Nationals on the 6th & 7th April.

Barcutiaid Coch, Pentywyn | Red Kites in Pendine OEC

Members of the Barcutiaid Coch | Red Kites team enjoying the team-building at Pendine

Wales Touch Nationals Logo

Despite only coming together for their first session at the end of January, the team has made a lot of progress.  It is fair to say that this is an inexperienced squad – a large number of the team are either completely new to Touch or have only been playing for a relatively short time.  There is also a large contingent of young players with seven players still in school.

The fact that the region has had to recruit inexperienced players is one of the reasons that the Nationals are so important to the development of the game in Wales.  (See the ‘Historic Announcement for Touch’ post for more on this).

Taking One for the Team at Pendine

But what the team makes up for in lack of experience, they certainly make up for in enthusiasm and commitment.  All of the training sessions held at Parc y Scarlets’ training barn were well attended and the recent team-building day at Pendine Outdoors, saw a strong bond begin to form between the players which will stand them in good stead when the going gets tough during the Nationals, which are being held at Swansea University Sports Centre.

The instructors at Pendine did a great job of getting the group to work together on challenges such as the Spiders Web (pictured below) where each member of the team had to pass through the web without touching either the ropes or the trees – not as easy as it sounds!  There were plenty of other tasks too – one of the other  favourites was completing an assault course whilst transporting cups full of water, balancing a ball on a plate and carrying a bell which wasn’t allowed to ring!

Her 'The Spiders Web' Challenge

The ‘Spiders Web’ Challenge

The team then took to the field at local club Laugharne RFC to recap on some of the techniques that they have been working on over the last couple of months and were able to run a Men’s Open v Mixed Open game, lead by Wales MXO international and Carmarthenshire girl, Jade Phillips.

An Unknown Entity

The Barcutiaid will go into the Nationals as rank outsiders and with players almost completely unknown to the other regions.  The majority of the squad are not on the radar when it comes to national teams or Cardiff-based clubs such as Phoenix, Durkas or Raptors (Welsh clubs that compete in England’s top level National Touch Series).  The sport is very much in it’s infancy in west Wales (the first Touch league only arrived in 2010 in Llanelli) and so far the Llanelli league has only produced two players that have competed on the international stage (Barcutiaid Assistant Coaches, Jade Phillips and Christen Rees-Jones – unfortunately both injured for the Nationals).  However, this element of surprise may gave them an edge in games against the more experienced teams such as the Cyclones and Warriors who may be expecting a straight forward victory over the Kites.

The west Wales players have the opportunity to put down a marker at the 2013 Nationals.  This will be a chance to measure themselves against current international players and see if they have got what it takes to pull on the red vest in the future.

International Ambitions

Ymarfer Barcutiaid | Kites Training, Laugharne | Talacharn RFC

Kites MO take on the Kites MXO in a training game

Since it’s inception in 1991, Touch in Wales has been centred around Cardiff but this has been detrimental to the development of the game.  Is it realistic to expect a country in which only 2,000 people play Touch in two or three leagues to produce the 112 top-class players required to field seven international Touch teams?

Up until recently, around 5% of the people that play Touch in Wales, played for one of the international teams.  There was no regional structure and the overwhelming majority of Wales players came through the Cardiff system.  Compare that to the Wales national rugby teams where you have nearly 80,000 participants that eventually filter into the five national sides (Wales, Wales Women, Wales Sevens, Wales U20, Wales U18).  In other words, less than 0.2% of rugby players in Wales will play on the international stage.

In order to win Grand Slams and reach the final four of a World Cup, a large player base is required in which the most talented players are filtered from the club to the regional level and then on to international honours.  International sport is about the cream of the crop representing their country.  This years Wales Touch Nationals are the first step forward towards realising this goal.

The Nationals will ensure that the game becomes more widespread across Wales and whilst initially there may well be a discrepancy between the emerging regions and the Cardiff heartland, it is unlikely that this will be the case for long.  The Red Kites are a prime example of a group of players that may not have played Touch for a long period of time but are willing to put in the hard work and commitment needed to play at the regional and possibly international level.  Who knows, perhaps the Nationals will uncover some hidden gems for next years Euros.

The inaugural Wales Touch Association Nationals are being held at Swansea University Sports Centre on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April.  Games tap off at 10.00am and culminate with the Mixed Open final at 3.30pm on Sunday and the Mens Open final at 4.25pm.  More information available here

Dyfrig, Adam - Barcutiaid

Barcutiaid | Kites; Dyfrig Gibbs (left) and Adam Lopez

All photos copyright, Lleucu Meinir

How Much is Touch Worth?

Our leisure time is precious and we demand that our recreational experiences are not only fulfilling but value for money.  So how much are you prepared to pay in order to play Touch and what do you expect in return?  Answer the poll and comment below

Orangutans - ail salfe / second place 2012

Touch requires minimum equipment; a ball, an area to play on and that’s about it.  However, there is a whole sliding scale of optional extras which can have a huge impact on the player’s ‘experience’ and therefore the price.

The Price of Yoga

When you look at organised fitness activities such as Spinning classes or Yoga, you would expect to pay around £5 for 45-60 minute sessions.  What you are paying for is the knowledge that you are lead by a trained instructor, using suitable, safe equipment in a suitable venue, where you can have a shower and change afterwards.

The going rate for playing 5-a-side football is similar.  To play a weekly 30-40 minute match with 5-a-side national operators Leisure Leagues, costs from £22 -£35 per team.  In other words, it’s at least £4.50 per player, per game.  For this you get trained referees, good playing facilities, weekly programmes and an excellent website with fixtures and results for your league regularly updated.

The Price of Touch Poll

Touch leagues usually charge a season fee per team rather than per head.  To keep the maths simple, let’s assume that the costs are based on 10 players playing a 10 week season.   For example, if your team fee is £250, each player pays £25 per season, which is £2.50 each per game.

Based on this, I’ve come up with pricing options and what I think are reasonable expectations based on each price.

  • Free – let’s have a chuck around on the park, no refs, no score-keeping, just for fun
  • £1 per game – let’s all chuck in a quid to pay a mate to referee games for us, games are friendlies and not part of an accredited league
  • £2-3 per game – games officiated by one qualified referee, there is a league website with fixtures and results, plus trophies at the end of the season for winning teams
  • £3-4 per game – all the above, but I want games dual or triple refereed with level 2 or above qualified refs and free playing shirt for everyone in the team
  • £5+ per game – all of the above, plus access to changing and shower facilities and maybe even a nice bar

The (Actual) Price of Touch

I’ve done a quick check of prices to play Touch in three random locations.  These are all well established leagues with many teams already competing each summer.  This is based on the most up to date prices on league websites (either 2012 or 2013).  The price is the fee per team, per season (8-10 games per season).

London (Regent’s Park) £495 per team

Summer 2013, 8 week season, playing t-shirts supplied, 40 minute games

Nottingham £375 per team

Summer 2012, 10 week season, playing t-shirts supplied, 40 minute games

Cardiff £250 per team

Summer 2012, 8 week season, no shirts supplied, 30 minute games

An interesting comparison between playing in the capital of Wales and our English counterpart.  It costs almost double the amount to play Touch in London’s Regent Park, although you do get a snazzy t-shirt, slightly longer match time and the honour of playing in the Queen’s back yard.

Priced out of the game?

To pay a few pounds to play 40 minutes of Touch in an affiliated league seems reasonable in comparison to similar activities, but it can be a barrier to some.  Recent statistics show that adults in the most deprived areas of Wales were more likely to report no physically active days each week.  Can it be true that less well off people are less inclined to take part in physical activity in their leisure time?  Is the cost of many activities the reason for this trend?

The WRU will soon be announcing their fees for 2013 Touch leagues around the country.  If they are to hit their ambitious participation targets for what they are terming ‘Leisure Rugby’, i.e. Touch, then they are going to have to consider their season fees very carefully so as not to exclude large proportions of the Welsh community – the majority of which are not currently participating in sport.

WRU Participation Officers

After all, what is preferable, a large number of people playing the game, but paying less money, or a small, elite group paying a premium?  When Sport Wales is funding the WRU to employ 14 full time Participation Officers to the tune of £400,000 over the next three years in order to bring the game to masses, surely the former is the case.

Let’s hope the 2013 pricing structure is more Hailey Park than Regent’s Park.

What about you?  What are you prepared to pay and what do you expect in return?  Answer the poll and leave your comments below

Cyhoeddir Barcuitiad | Kites Announced

Cyhoeddir carfanau Barcuitiaid Coch ar gyfer y Pencampwriaethau Cenedlaethol.   Barcutiaid Coch squads are announced for the National Championships in April.

Carfan Barcutiaid Squad 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(BILINGUAL MESSAGE – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH)

Barcutiaid Coch yw’r enw rhoddodd i’r tîm rhanbarth gorllewin Cymru newydd.  Dyna’r fframwaith sydd newydd cael ei ffurfio gan Gymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru er mwyn darparu cyfle i bawb ar draws Gymru i gynrychioli eu rhanbarth yn erbyn y chwaraewyr gorau yng Nghymru.

Ar ôl y sesiynau ymarfer cychwynnol, mae prif hyfforddwr Barcutiaid, Matt Adams wedi cyhoeddi ei garfan ar gyfer y Pencampwriaethau Cenedlaethol. Dywedodd, Matt;

Ar y cyfan, carfan ifanc, ddibrofiad yw hi ond mae pawb yn frwdfrydig a barod i ddysgu sgiliau a thactegau newydd sy’n berthnasol i rygbi cyffwrdd. Rydw i’n wrth fy mod gydag ymdrechion pawb hyd yn hyn ac rwy’n edrych ‘mlaen yn fawr at y Bencampwriaeth.

Fe fydd y Bencampwriaeth Genedlaethol yn cael eu cynnal ym mis Ebrill gyda’r chwe rhanbarth newydd yn brwydro yn erbyn i gilydd. Rhagor o fanylion ar wefan Cymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru.

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Barcutiaid Coch (Red Kites) is the name given to the new west Wales region. This is the new framework formed by the Wales Touch Association to provide an opportunity for everyone across Wales to represent their region against the best players in Wales.

Barcutiaid Coch Red_Kites_Logo

After the initial practice sessions, Barcutiaid head coach, Matt Adams has announced his squad for the National Championships. Matt said;

On the whole, it’s a young, inexperienced squad, but everyone is enthusiastic and willing to learn the new skills and tactics that apply to touch rugby. I’m really pleased with everyone’s efforts so far and I’m looking forward to the Nationals.

The National Championships will be held in April with six new regions to battle it out. Further details available from Wales Touch Association.

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.