Following the ground-breaking success of the inaugural All Schools Touch Championships (ASTC) held in July 2015, a new partnership has been announced to ensure that pupils throughout Wales are able to play in high-quality Touch events.
Wales Touch Association Programme Manager, Matt Adams explains: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with the Urdd and the Welsh Rugby Union to help deliver a series of Touch regional festivals and tournaments in 2016, culminating in the Urdd’s Touch tournament for July in Aberystwyth.
“We’re seeing a rapidly increasing demand for Touch programmes and events from schools. The participation and teacher feedback gathered at ASTC this year was extremely positive and complimentary and the partnership with the Urdd and WRU will ensure that more boys and girls than ever before are able to access this highly exciting, minimal contact version of the game.”
The planned roll-out of Touch across Welsh schools will be primarily delivered by School Club Hub Officers during the spring and summer terms. There are now 80 full time rugby officers working in secondary schools throughout Wales following the launch of the initiative a year ago. The officers are tasked with increasing participation and strengthening links with local clubs.
A priority area of the scheme is ensuring that more females enter into the game – be it via rugby 7s, XVs or Touch versions of the game.
The WRU’s Caroline Spanton (National Manager Women's Rugby) commented:
''Touch rugby has significant potential to capture new audiences into the national game, whether it be boys, girls only or mixed formats for both juniors and adults. I am excited about the partnership and we will work together to ensure we capture and foster the potential, to increase participation across the board in schools and community settings. We know adults are also looking for more ways to play sport in shortened formats and with a social aspect, touch has the opportunity to reach this audience and engage many into or back into the sport.''
WTA will provide specific Touch training courses for WRU Rugby Coordinators, School Club Hub officers and Urdd Officers who will be organising and officiating at regional Touch events which are being planned in each of the five regions.
WTA will also present opportunities for young leaders in schools to access the officiating pathway by completing the Level 1 Touch Referee Award which can contribute to students’ Welsh Baccalaureate work.
Furthermore, Wales Touch Association will be on hand to provide advice and support to the WRU Rugby Coordinators and School Club Hub officers organising the regional schools events.