Our History

Touch Rugby began in Sydney in the 1960’s but it didn’t come to Wales until the 1990’s when New Zealander David Swain set up a tournament at Cardiff High School Old Boys RFC. A total of 24 male teams separated through three divisions played in the 10-week tournament in 1991 and that was the birth of touch in Wales. The Cardiff tournament is still going strong and has grown since that first iteration.

 

Dave, along with Paul Nepia, also set up a Swansea tournament that ran for two years at the Swansea Uplands RFC, welcoming 16 different teams. Paul and another New Zealander, Moro Smith also established the top men’s touch team in Britain, Kiwi Dragons.

 

Sadly, Paul suffered an early tragic death in 1998 due to an asthma attack, leaving behind a wife Joanne and two children Kowhai and Rhiannon.

 

From the beginning, Dave Swain organised representative teams from Wales to play in tournaments in London alongside teams from England, Scotland, Ireland, France and expatriates from New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa. In these early tournaments, Wales were the leading European nation at both mixed and men’s open divisions.

 

The Welsh Touch Association (WTA) was formally constituted by Neil Perkins, Gwion Kennard, Matthew Enoch, Dave Swain and Dean Kidd. Neil also help to establish the European Touch Association, now known as the European Federation of Touch (EFT) and has since served as the Welsh representative within the organisation.

 

It was in 1999 that the WTA attended it’s first Touch World Cup, sending a men’s and mixed open team to the event in Sydney. The WTA have been represented at all of the subsequent Touch World Cups.

 

Lifetime Members

  • Dave Swain
    Awarded 16th October 2010

     

  • Paul Nepia
    Awarded Posthumously 16th October 2010

     

  • Moro Smith
    Awarded 16th October 2010

     

  • Neil Perkins
    Awarded 16th October 2010
     

  • Owen Smith
    Awarded 8th June 2021

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Upon returning from the World Cup, Neil Perkins established the WTA international honours database and has since been recording and documenting the international games played by all its members.

 

The WTA have also participated in every European Touch Championships since it’s inception in Nottingham 1997, and they successfully organised and hosted the championships in 2002 at Cardiff University Sports Fields. As well as expected European nations, the event was complimented by the inclusion of Australian and New Zealand guest teams. Neil Perkins lead the group of willing volunteers: Clive Thomas, Sue Willis, Matthew Enoch, Rachel Kennard, Gwion Kennard, Pip Thornhill, Huw Laugharne, Steve Riddlestone-Holmes and the late Dai Price.

 

Neil established Beach Touch, inviting elite squads from across the UK to compete at Pendine Sands in Pembrokeshire. He also helped Scotland Touch’s Gordan McEwen create the Home Nations event took, which first took place in June 2004 at the Welsh Rugby Union’s indoor facility in Miskin, Pontyclun. On the day, Wales won the men’s and mixed category and Scotland won the women’s.

 

Following an initiative by Heineken, the sponsors of the European Rugby Cup, a touch game was played on the grass of the Millenium Stadium. The game was the final for the Heineken Pub Challenge, a challenger where over 1000 team competed throughout the UK. The Ynyscynon Arms from Trealaw, a team made up entirely of Kiwi Dragons players, played the London Based Putney Walkabout. The game was a tight, but it was Putney Walkabout who came out as overall winners. This prestigious event was referred by Kevin Hobbs and Neil Perkins of the WTA, and Chris Wheeler of the English Touch Association.

 

In 2008, the WTA were formally recognised as a sport by the Welsh Sports Association (WSA). The WTA board members Gwion Kennard, Matthew Enoch, Kevin Hobbs and Neil Perkins all worked tirelessly to establish touch as a sport in it’s own right within Wales. 2008 also saw the WTA board formally constitute the Wales Touch Association as a private limited company by guarantee, with the non-profit making status developing the association as one for the members.

 

Wales once again hosted the European Touch Championships in 2014. The championships were held at Swansea University. Gwion Kennard, Matthew Enoch and Rachel Kennard organised the event and also organised the first ever Junior Touch Championship, which was also held Swansea that year.

 

Touch continues to grow positively in Wales, and Dave Swain is still leading that growth and development through his “Touch Rugby Wales” module. Over the years, the WTA has also developed a highly beneficial relationship with the WRU.

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Past & Present Board Members

  • Alex Welch

  • Alison Eves

  • Anthony Waite

  • Chris Corcoran

  • Dean Kidd

  • Gareth Revell

  • Gwion Kennard

  • Helen Thomas-Evans

  • Jonathan Francis

  • Julian Davies

  • Karen Rowley

  • Kevin Hobbs

  • Marco Gil-Cervantes

  • Matthew Enoch

  • Neil Perkins

  • Owen Smith

  • Phil Williams

  • Rachel Stevens

  • Rhiannon Wade

  • Steve Higgs

  • Sue Willis