touch comes to WALES
Touch was introduced to Wales in 1990 by the arrival of David Swain (left) and Paul Nepia (below, left) - two individuals who had developed a passion for the game in their native New Zealand.
1st touch league in wales
A league was initially set up in Cardiff involving 24 male teams at Cardiff HSOB, running for 10 weeks in May to July 1990. The league quickly became popular in particular with male rugby players looking to improve skill levels and retain fitness levels through the summer months.
The next few years saw continued and steady increases in participation levels, particularly among women with the tournament re-located to the Canton RFC ground.
Elite competition in the early days comprised of the winners of the main competition entering as club teams into the UK National Championships, competing against the best National, Regional and Club sides from all over the world. Welsh success at these tournaments was commonplace via the Kiwi Dragons team of Cardiff coached by Paul Nepia, great nephew of all black legend George Nepia
wales touch association formed
The Wales Touch Association (WTA) was established in 1999 to promote the development of Touch in Wales, and to enable Welsh players to represent their country at an international level at FIT sanctioned events. The efforts of the members of the WTA, and in particular Neil Perkins, Dave Swain and Ali Eves in the early years, has seen participation levels and awareness of the sport increase steadily since that time.
A number of affiliated league modules and tournaments run in Wales with the number continuously expanding. This extends from Touch’s traditional heartland in Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taff to Wrexham in the North, Llanelli and Pendine in the West and Ebbw Vale in the East. Primarily events are held throughout the spring and summer months although some opportunities to play exist during the autumn and winter in some areas.
There are currently 2000 registered players in Wales of varying ages and skill levels competing in the various league and tournament modules, with playing numbers growing steadily.
Opportunities exist to compete in Men, Women and Mixed competitions at a senior level. The WTA also organises primary and secondary school tournaments for schools.
Wales have had success at an international level and are currently ranked No.1 in Europe and No.8 in the world standings. Wales have sent teams to the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups and at every bi-annual European Championships since 1997. Wales also successfully hosted the 2002 European Touch Championships, involving teams from Europe and the finest teams from the Southern Hemisphere.
Wales operate seven squads to compete in major championships. Mens, Womens & Mixed Open categories, Senior O30 & O35 Mens & Mixed as well as Masters (O40) Mens.
In 2006, the WTA was recognised as the Governing Organisation for Touch in Wales by the Wales Sports Association (WSA), the body which provides advisory, advocacy, consultative and training services to the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport and physical recreation in Wales.
The WTA are currently working alongside the WSA and Sport Wales as well as the Touch Associations of England, Scotland and Jersey to have Touch recognised as a sport in its own right, as is the case in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The game of Touch had very humble beginings indeed. Used as a training technique for Rugby League teams during the 1950s and 60s it was never seen as a sport in its own right. Eventually more and more people turned to Touch for a safe social game to play and it soon became inevitable that an official competition would be held.
The first official game of touch was held in the traditionally strong rugby league area of South Sydney. The South Sydney Touch football association was founded in 1968 and ran a competition in that year. The matches were held at the aptly named Pioneer Park. Very soon after this other associations were formed and interdistrict competition began in 1978.
In 1979 the Queensland Touch association was formed, with the four initial districts of North Queensland, Central Queensland, South East Queensland and Wide Bay. The game soon blossomed in New South Wales as well and in 1980 the inaugral National Championships were held. Only three divisions were contested in that year, being the men's and women's open, and the men's over 35s. By 2005 the National Touch League (NTL) catered for Open, Under 20's and Senior Divisions.
touch in australia today
There are currently 250,000 registered Touch players with approximately 500,000 school children playing the sport.
Australia have won every Touch World Cup since hosting the first one in 1988. They recently defeated close rivals, New Zealand yet again to win TWC2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Read more about the evolution of Touch in this article by Dennis Coffey (FIT)
touch world cup
The Touch World Cup is held every four years. In 2011 the event was staged in Edinburgh, Scotland. Australia maintained their perfect record by winning against their main rivals, New Zealand in almost every category. Australia won five out of the seven categories with New Zealand winning two (Mens 40+ & Senior Mixed). Full competition results available here.
Below is a highlights video of the Women's Final between Australia and New Zealand.
The Federation of International Touch was formed at a meeting held in conjunction with the Australian National championships that were held in Melbourne in 1985. The meeting discussed rules, Touch Balls, Technical Programs, Merchandise and Development.
It was determined that the International Board be formed and that Australia act as the secretariat and bear the costs of running the international body for twelve months.
FIT - The Early Years
The next activity undertaken by the Federation as a group was a meeting held in Adelaide, Australia on 14th March 1986. At this meeting The meeting delegates resolved to form the Federation of International Touch (F.I.T.)
The member nations recognised were, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Fiji. Resolutions from that meeting included, development of a Federation of International Touch constitution, Staging of the inaugural World Cup for 1988, Logo identification, Australian Touch Association tour of New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
Australia toured New Zealand and played a three test match series in Auckland after a national tour that included playing Touch in Christchurch, Wellington, Rotorua and Auckland. This was in reciprocation of the New Zealand visit to Australia in 1985 where they played Australia Mens Open and Mens 30 years the day after the completion of the Australian National Championships. These matches took place in Melbourne.
The last meeting for the 1986 period was staged in Auckland on the 15th December, at this meeting disucssions were held on the following matters: International Playing Rules & Constitution. Both matters were refered to the member nations for input prior to the next meeting.
Read more here