Wales Touch Association applauded for use of Welsh language

Wales Touch Association broke the sporting mould when they launched the six brand new regions that competed at the inaugural National Championships in April 2013…each of the regions were given a bilingual name.
Wales Touch Nationals Logo

 

 

Bilingual Branding

When Wales Touch Association (WTA) presented the names and branding for the Wales Touch Nationals held for the first time in April 2013, they created history by being the first sporting body in Wales to create sporting franchises with bilingual names.

Welsh-language television broadcasters, S4C use the translated version of many teams in the British Isles, for example, Caeredin when referring to Edinburgh Rugby, Caerloyw for Gloucester and Gweilch when discussing the Ospreys.  Many Welsh language publications or TV and radio programmes would also use direct translations when describing Cardiff City FC’s Bluebirds as Adar Gleision or Swansea City’s Elyrch (Swans). 

However, this is the first time that the owners of a brand, in this case a regional representative team, have proactively named the regions in both English and Welsh and reflected this in all of the branding.

Cyclones – Seiclonau
Rangers – Ceidwaid
Rebels – Gwrthryfelwyr
Red Kites – Barcutiaid Coch
Titans – Titaniaid
Warriors – Rhyfelwyr

A Living Language?

So why have the WTA done this and why is it important?

In Wales, around 1 in 5 people speak Welsh but the 2011 census shows that the traditional Welsh-language ‘hot beds’ where the language is the predominant language are reducing.  There are many varied and complex reasons for this which won’t be covered here.

% of Welsh Speakers in Wales, 2011 Census

Despite the fact that approximately a quarter of school children in Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh and all children in Wales are taught Welsh as a second language in school, there are precious few opportunities for youngsters to use and develop their Welsh in their recreation time.

There are excellent organisations such as the Urdd who exist to give people opportunities to use their Welsh.  However, once young people grow up and leave school, they may have limited opportunities to use their Welsh skills.

Some young people will simply stop speaking the language, seeing it as something belonging to the classroom or even worse, an embarrassment.

If the language is to survive – and the fact that it may not is a scary reality, then it’s use must extend beyond the classroom and into everyday life.  It needs to be seen and heard on the street, in shops, on TV, on the radio, in gigs.  In short, it needs to be normal for Welsh to be heard everywhere in Wales.  Even in the areas where it’s a tiny minority, those that chose to use it should not face an uphill struggle or have to protest in order to do so.

Welsh in the Mainstream

There is some truly excellent work being done to ensure that public services and to a lesser degree, large private companies act responsibly and offer some or all services in Welsh.  Some organisations such as HM Customs & Revenue have outstanding Welsh-speaking staff and it is possible to phone the Welsh help line to deal with tax matters in either language equally.

However, many of Wales’ sporting bodies have not truly embraced bilingualism and it is they that can really lead by example and encourage youngsters to not only use their unique language, but to be proud of it.

Poor Support for Welsh from NGBs

The Welsh rugby team is crammed with Welsh speakers, such as George North, Rhys Priestland, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies,  Mike Phillips and Ken Owens to name but a few.  Imagine a ‘Use Your Welsh’ campaign featuring these players.  This could truly hit home with youngsters who idolize their heroes.

In fact, of the 11 National Governing Bodies (NGB) in Wales that receive over £400,000 of public funding, only three of them have a Welsh language policy.  Of the 42 NGBs that received public funding in Wales, 37 of them operate English-only websites.

In fact, it is sad to note that there is currently a campaign against the Welsh Rugby Union.  The WRU have been criticised for failing to provide supporters with the ability to access their services in their native language and pressure is mounting on them to communicate with their customers equally in both languages.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (Welsh Language Society) are calling on the WRU to not only update their Welsh-language policy, but to operate their social media and websites bilingually, develop Welsh-medium courses and make all promotional materials bilingual.

The predicted costs for doing so are minimal but it does take some extra time, effort and patience to do so.

Amateurs Leading the Way

Compare this to the WTA; an amateur organisation that is completely self-funded and does not receive any outside grants or sponsorship.  It creates very little revenue and does not employ any staff.  It is run purely by volunteers whose love for the game is what keeps them putting in the hours behind the scenes.

The WTA have been posting to their Facebook page for the last 18 months

The WTA have been posting bilingually to their Facebook page for the last 18 months

 

So to decide to not only create Welsh names for the new regions, but to display them equally on the team logos is impressive and should be applauded.  The WTA does not yet have a Welsh-language policy, but it’s social media streams have been posting bilingually and the will is there for the organisation to operate bilingually.  The WTA’s new website is also being developed to be available in both Welsh and English.

A Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg spokesperson said:

“Sports can play an important role in promoting the use of the Welsh language and the Wales Touch Association deserves praise for this positive step. Hopefully this will set an example for other sporting bodies.”

So to the Wales Touch Association executive board, I thank you for leading the way and long may this continue so that young people can see that Welsh is part and parcel of life in Wales and is something to be proud of.

Perhaps some of the other sports bodies in Wales which receive £400,000+ a year of public funding will soon follow suit.

What about you?  Tell us about your experiences (good and bad) of dealing with sporting organisations in Welsh.  Use the comment box below

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FILM Pendine 2012 Highlights

Another fantastic weekend of Touch on the beach at Pendine, with Durka Durkas picking up the Women’s and Mixed titles and Cardiff Raptors securing the Men’s trophy.

Below is the highlights video from the weekend.  Enjoy!

WTA have also just announced that next year’s tournament will take place on 24 / 25 August Bank Holiday Weekend 2013.

Wales Touch Association’s annual tournament on Pendine Sands took place over three days with 17 teams and 200 participants competing in U16 Mixed, Mens, Womens and Senior Mixed categories.U16 winners – Ysgol Dyffryn Taf were eventually victorious over Ysgol Bro Myrddin in a thrilling contest which went to extra time and a ‘drop off’. Full report In the Mens competition, Cardiff Raptors were victorious over Durka Durkas with Captain, Gareth Revell (also Wales Mixed Open Captain) explaining;

“We’ve had a great day, we found it difficult with a small squad and teams drove at us hard, but our defence held up so we’re really pleased.”

In the Womens comp, Durka Durkas, featuring a number of women international players who have just returned from the European Touch Championships in Treviso, Italy, took the spoils eventually outclassing Varsity Vandals and the Raptors women.

On Sunday, the mixed comp took place in the wind and rain and it was the combination of the Durkas mens and womens teams that managed to adapt to the elements and beat the Raptors, Varsity and Warwick Knights in the mixed tournament.

Tournament official, Matthew Adams;

“Another fantastic tournament at Pendine. Although it was a scaled down tournament this year with many players on international duty at the Euros, we still had some top quality Touch on display. We’re particularly pleased to add the 5×60 school tournament for the first time and we’re hoping a number of boys and girls have got a taste for the game. “

Touch Comes to West Wales in May

On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May 2012 (May Bank Holiday weekend), Wild West Touch will take place for the first time on the playing fields in Llandysul, Ceredigion, Wales.
Wild West Touch Competition

Click here to find out more and to register

Saturday’s competition will see families battling out to win the Cwpan Teulu / Family Cup.  Tournament Director, Matthew Adams explains;
“The Family Cup is unique.  As Touch is a minimal contact game, males and females of all ages can play together on the same team, making Touch the ideal sport for families and friends to come together and do something really enjoyable, not to mention the health benefits of running around playing Touch for a few hours!  The Family Cup is the first of its kind in Wales so it’s going to be an exciting competition!”
The following day, Sunday 6th May, the adult competition takes place with Men’s, Women’s, Mixed (Men & Women) and over 35 divisions all competing to win the Cwpan Gorllewin Gwyllt / Wild West Cup.  Again, Touch is unique in that men and women can compete together in mixed teams.  Because of its low impact and low risk of injury, Touch attracts people that may have retired from playing competitive sports or those that wish to play in order to keep fit.  Once they have caught the bug, many players continue to play Touch into their 50s and 60s making it one of the few sports that has a genuine life time participation cycle.
Wild West Touch is calling on groups to form teams and register for the event taking place in May.  Teams could be made up of family or friends, a group of work colleagues, an existing rugby team or any other sports club or organisation, as Matthew illustrates;
“I’ve played for a mixed team and many of the ladies that play came into the game for a bit of a laugh, having never played any kind of rugby – most of them are netball or hockey players.  But they now play every summer and some of them have even gone on to represent Wales in the Touch Euros and World Cups!

We are expecting entries from Touch teams that compete in the leagues in Llanelli, Swansea, Cardiff and beyond, but most of all I want to encourage local men, women and children to sign up a team with their family or mates and give it a go – I guarantee that they will enjoy it!  The event website has lots of useful videos and other hints and tips to help understand the game.  We’re being well supported by WTA with qualified referees and officials, so this promises to be a first-class experience.”


Playing Fields at Llandysul

Caeau Chwarae Llandysul Playing Fields

Wild West Touch is taking place in the beautiful Teifi Valley, on the playing fields in Llandysul, Ceredigion in west Wales.  The location is right next to the River Teifi – famous for its fishing and kayaking.  Accommodation for visiting teams is available at various B&Bs and hotels nearby, with bunkhouse accommodation and camping available through local outdoor sports adventurers, Llandysul Paddlers,whose centre is located just two minutes away from the action.
Visit the Wild West Touch website for more information or to register a team; www.gorllewingwyllt.com 

Try Touch With The Welsh Team

Cyffwrdd Sir Gar Touch - Parc y Scarlets

Ysgubor Ymarfer Dan Do - Parc y Scarlets - Indoor Training Barn

Scroll down for English version

Mae’n bleser gan Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch, Cymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru a URC gyhoeddi y cynhelir sesiynau hyfforddiant agored ar y dyddiau canlynol:

 

 

Dydd Sul 29ain o Ionawr, 3 – 5pm

Dydd Sul 4ydd o Fawrth, 3 – 5pm

Dydd Sul 25ain o Fawrth, 3 – 5pm

Dydd Sul 29ain o Ebrill, 3 – 5pm

Lleoliad: – Yr Ysgubor Hyfforddi Dan Do, Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli

Pwy – gwrywod a benywod 16+ oed

Cost –  sesiynau am ddim!

Bydd hyfforddwyr Cymdeithas Cyffwrdd Cymru a chwaraewyr rhyngwladol presennol, gwrywaidd a benywaidd, yn cynnal sesiwn ar gyfer chwaraewyr ar bob lefel sy’n dymuno datblygu eu sgiliau Cyffwrdd.  Nid oes angen dim profiad blaenorol o Cyffwrdd ac mae hwn yn gyfle cyffrous i dderbyn hyfforddiant arbenigol gan rai o hyfforddwyr gorau’r gêm.

Bydd Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch 2012 yn dechrau ym mis Mai, felly mae hon yn ffordd wych o gael eich tîm at ei gilydd yn y misoedd oer i chwarae Cyffwrdd!  D.S. – nid oes rhaid bod yn aelod o dîm i fynychu – croeso i bawb!

Os hoffech archebu lle/llefydd, cwblhewch y ffurflen isod neu ffoniwch 01554 744 354

Cyffwrdd Sir Gar Touch - Carmarthenshire Touch Logo

Cyffwrdd Sir Gar Touch - 2012

Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr TouchWales Touch Association (WTA) and the WRU are delighted to announce open training sessions to take place on the following dates:

Sunday 29th January, 3 – 5pm

Sunday 4th March, 3 – 5pm

Sunday 25th March, 3 – 5pm

Sunday 29th April, 3 – 5pm

Venue –  Indoor Training Barn, Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli

Who – males and females aged 16 plus

Cost – free sessions!

WTA coaches and current international players, male and female, will be running sessions for players of all level that wish to develop their Touch skills.  No previous experience of Touch is needed and this is an exciting opportunity to receive expert coaching from some of the top coaches in the game.

Cyffwrdd Sir Gâr Touch 2012 will be starting in May, so this is a fantastic way of getting your team together in the colder months to play some Touch!  NB – you do not need to be a member of a team to attend – all are welcome!

If you would like to reserve place(s), please complete the form below or phone 01554 744 354

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Playing Touch in Llanelli 2011

Cyffwrdd Sir Gar Touch, Haf / Summer 2011, Ysgol Y Strade, Llanelli

You Can Play Rugby, But You Can’t Play Touch

In Wales, a great proportion of Touch players either play or have previously played Rugby.  But does this give you a divine right to be good at Touch?  Usually not.  Touch is a different game, with it’s own subtleties and nuances.  It requires a different approach to full contact rugby.  Fortunately though, good habits can be learnt.

Rugby Retirees

A good number of men come into Touch when they can no longer sustain a full 80 minutes of tackling, rucking and scrummaging.  They hit their 30s and other priorities start to take over  – family, work, not ending up with a black eye or torn ham-string – the list goes on!

But if you have played rugby all of your life, possibly at a high standard, does that automatically mean that you can run the show on the Touch field?

Taking The Hit

In Wales, many of us have an instinct to run into on-coming defenders.  We love mixing it up with a bit of physical confrontation and there’s nothing better than trying to ‘Maori Side-Step’ an 18-stone prop, is there?  Many ex rugby players who have relied on physical dominance throughout their rugby careers are suddenly ‘found out’.  When they have to rely purely on skill, it becomes a different proposition to their previous life as a rugby warrior.

We would all love to be like Jonah Lomu (see him in action below – any excuse to watch Jonah literally run over Tony Underwood again!).  Sadly, most of us are not built like Goliath and able to run 100 metres in less than 12 seconds.

Budding Lomus aside,  junior rugby players are now coached to run at the branches and not the trunk of the tree.  However, many of the older generations still run at defenders. Attacking players look to accelerate into contact in order to either, in the best-case-scenario, burst through the tackle or, worst-case-scenario, manage the situation and keep possession for supporting players.

In Touch this tactic is counter-productive. Firstly, attackers initially want to avoid all defenders if possible. If this is not possible, attackers will look to take a Touch, but on their terms. There is little point in accelerating into contact when you are penalised for over-stepping the mark.  If a supporting player is able to pick up the ball immediately following a touch, ground can be made very quickly.

Not making ground

Many Union players have traditionally used Touch to warm up and throw the ball around for a bit – plenty of extravagant flicks, running sideways and ‘Allez!’ moments.  Instead of accepting or even initiating touches, the ball is kept alive. Unfortunately this is only done laterally and little or no ground is made because every time they do get touched, the ball is invariably on the ground for too long and supporting players receive passes too late, making it very easy to defend.

Defence

Perhaps Rugby League players are better at this than Union players as they are used to returning 10 metres. However, most union players are not used to retreating at the ruck (it’s all about the Gain Line‘ and as a result are often caught offside when they first start Touch.  This takes some getting used to – particularly for forwards who maybe have little experience of defensive lines in open play.  Good Touch players will just play through them.

All is not lost though.  Once you accept that the game is different and grow to appreciate Touch for what it is – a fast, dynamic, skill-focused, fun and addictive game, rugby players really can make great Touch players.

What are your experiences of playing Rugby and moving to Touch?

 

Dennis Coffey – Secretary General of Federation of International Touch (FIT)

When you think of Touch, you should think of Dennis Coffey.  Dennis literally co-wrote the rule book way back when and has been involved in the game for over 30 years.  He developed many of the manuals and coaching resources and was Australia’s first Touch Coaching Director.

Dennis teaching the Level 1 Touch Course in Wales, 2010

For the last few years he has been involved with FIT and has been travelling around the world promoting the sport.  I was lucky enough to meet Dennis at an event I organised at Parc y Scarlets for Sports Development professionals with WTA in May 2011.  Dennis told us about how the game started and developed in Australia and the potential for development here in Wales.  Carmarthenshire has already done a lot of work, particularly with girl’s Touch and that looks set to continue with Dennis helping to identify what could be done to develop the game further.

I then attended the Level 1 Touch coaching course in summer 2011 and you could not have a more knowledgable and experienced tutor for a Touch coaching course in Dennis!  It was a pleasure to work with him and I look forward to the Level 2 course in 2012!

It’s an exciting time for Touch in Wales with WTA and the WRU coming together to put Touch right at the forefront of not just junior rugby, but also at adult level with the news that 14 Participation Officers have just been appointed across Wales.  A strong focus for these officers will be Touch and the setting up of leagues and competitions for juniors and adults.  I think we’re going to see an astronomical rise in the number of registered players, which currently sits at less than 3000!  It’s quite amazing that Wales have previously competed so well in World Cups and Euros with such a small player base, so the future looks very good indeed!

Here’s a short clip of Dennis talking about his involvement in Touch and another video of Dennis speaking at the opening of TWC2011 during a highlights video from TWC2011 hosted by Scotland in June.

Johnny or Shane – Which Retired International Would Make the Best Touch Player?

Johnny Wilkinson - 91 England Caps (1,179 pts 6 tries)

Shane Williams - 87 Wales Caps, 58 tries

Now that an end has come to two glittering international careers, I’m sure Johnny and Shane will both be looking for new challenges in the forthcoming years.  Representing your country at the highest level is the pinnacle for any sportsman.  Once a player retires, for most, the only way is down.    How can that regular high be recreated elsewhere?

Richard Parks and his 737 Challenge proved that hanging up the rugby boots after a career-ending injury does not mean an end to testing your mind and body against the odds.   Unfortunately, not all ex-pros react in a positive way to the end of their career.  Many suffer from depression, alcoholism or addictions to drugs or gambling.

I imagine that both players are ultra-competitive and would be keen to keep sport on their agenda.  I would suggest that both Johnny and Shane would find Touch to be the perfect pastime.  A huge amount of Touch players have come to the sport following cessation of playing full contact rugby and with the possibility of competing on the international stage, perhaps they could be attracted into the game.  There are differences tactically, but tactics can be learnt – natural ability cannot.  Both players have this in abundance.

I have often wondered how players such as Shane would fare on the Touch pitch.  My guess is, extremely well!  He has the speed, ability and downright genius to twist anyone into a knot whilst trying to close him down, so I am sure Touch would greatly suit his style.

Johnny has such good distribution, organisation and leadership qualities, he would be an outstanding Touch player, likely to direct play from the middle position.  Although, his trusty left boot would be of no use to him in Touch!

How about a ‘Top Trumps’ type comparison?  I have tried to include characteristics that are relevant to both Rugby and Touch

Johnny Wilkinson, Fly-Half and Captain

  • Defence – 10
  • Distribution – 10
  • Finishing – 7
  • Leadership – 10
  • Speed – 7
  • X-factor – 7
  • Total = 51/60

Shane Williams, Wing

  • Defence – 7
  • Distribution – 8
  • Finishing – 10
  • Leadership – 8
  • Speed – 10
  • X-factor – 10
  • Total = 53/60
So, Shane just pips it for me then!

What do you think?  Answer the poll and leave comments below