Why Union and League players should play Touch Rugby?
Firstly a good place to look is why the game was developed. Touch started in Australia in the early 1960’s as a social or “park” game and as a training technique for rugby league.
It was not then viewed as a sport in its own right. It was formalised into a sport proper by the “Founders of Touch”, Bob Dyke and Ray Vawdon of the South Sydney Junior Rugby League Club. On 13 July 1968 the “South Sydney Touch Football Club” was formed and the sport of Touch Football was born. The first official game of Touch was played in late 1968 and the first official competition, organised by Dyke & Vawdon, was held at Snape Park, Sydney in 1969. From these humble beginnings the game quickly became a fully regulated and codified sport. It was first played in Brisbane in 1973 and had spread to New Zealand by 1975.
The establishment of the first national body, the Australian Touch Football Association came in 1976. A highlight came after the drawn Sydney Rugby League Grand Final of 1977 when the rematch needed a curtain-raiser and rugby league officials asked the newly formed ATFA to provide the prelude game. With a crowd of 40,000+ this game helped to raise the profile of Touch in Australia and was nothing short of spectacular according to Bob Dyke in the book “The Story of Touch”. Another profile raiser came in 1978 when the Sydney Metropolitan Touch Football side played the touring Great Britain national rugby league team in a high-scoring match, with the local team winning with a disputed touchdown on the siren. As more people began to play Touch more organised competitions developed.
Most Rugby clubs, League or Union generally turn their nose up at Touch Rugby as a sport in its own entity and fail to see what this sport can do to develop their players. Running into space and not people, creating space, reading and manipulating defence. It is a truly great sport in its infancy in the UK and the opportunities are huge.
The skill levels involved in this game is high and is considered in many countries a High-performance Sport. Touch Rugby is an internationally recognised sport that has a worldwide governing body and is enjoyed by adults and children all over the world. It is a minimum contact game that can be played by all ages. International fully capped competitions and World Cup events at junior, senior and masters exist, and it is a particularly good time to get involved in this fast-growing sport.
Currently England is ranked 3rd in the World under New Zealand (2nd) and Australia (1st). Our Ambition as an academy is to upskill younger players and develop them so that we can be the largest feeder of players into the England Junior Elite program, which will enable us to compete and win as the players develop into adults with the knowledge and experience you can only develop from playing at a young age.
At Wolves, players that started with us that played third team club rugby, are now being selected for Surrey County 15's squads, 7's academy positions and Quins academy. Some have gone on to represent England.
At the Junior Touch Championships 2018, Wolves had 4 representations and in 2019 we had 6 children representing their country all coming home with a gold medal. for the kids......and something to put on CV's
In Australia, they have 400,000+ Junior players running through schools and rugby clubs. New Zealand has 60,000 Juniors playing Touch. Singapore and other Asian countries have a Touch Rugby as a compulsory sport in schools.
As a relative newcomer to the sport, the MOST frustrating thing for me when I started, this is echoed by a lot of Rugby converts, was the frustration in running through gaps and the frustration of having to go back to where you were touched. Normally you break the line and you're through. No, not in touch. As I played more and more I started to realise that the tactics behind the game were so relative to other disciplines of rugby but included a steep learning curve of positional awareness exploiting and creating overlaps and reading defence. Defensively you need to adjust to what the attack is doing and try not to let them exploit you.
Discipline Sticking to a game plan
Reading plays Understanding positional awareness
Passing/Catching reading and exploiting space
Setting Set piece taking the contact for positional gain