England Coaching Appointments for 2016 Finalised

All National coaches for the forthcoming 2016 international Touch campaign in are now in place.

The senior squads head coaches are:

Men’s Open:​Ben Smith
Men’s 30s:​Nathan Bourke
Men’s 35s:​Jason Logan​
Men’s 40s:​Lon Lovell
Men’s 45s:​Ian Moody
Mixed Open:​Justin Conway and Phil Adams (co-coaches)
Mixed Senior:​Martin Wright
Women’s Open:​Simon Clare
Women’s 27s:​Gary Lambert

The junior squads head coaches are:

Boys 18s:​Doug Benzie
Girls 18s:​Marnie Wills
Mixed 15s:​Ben Powell
Mixed 18s:​Leah Cuthbertson

We wish the coaches and their respective teams all the very best as they commence preparations for the European Touch Championships and the Junior Touch Championships.

UTS Round 1 – Exeter – Report

Exeter played host to the inaugural University Touch Series tournament on Saturday 14th November.

The first fixture of the season, and for many their first ever tournament, saw over 300 players from Bath, Bristol, Southampton, Loughborough and Exeter Universities, as well as invitational teams from Truro, Exeter City and Thames Valley Vikings descend on Duckes Meadows.

UTS 1b UTS 1a

The tournament is somewhat unique as many of the players are complete beginners having learned Touch from the beginning of September 2015, as well as having teams with numerous England and other international caps. All of the new players and teams demonstrated just how much they have learnt with some fantastic attacking displays, a notable performance from Exeter Pink v Exeter Red which ended 6-6 in the Plate Semi final. It provided all of the new players with their first experience of drop offs, with Red’s taking the win 7-6.

Bath, Exeter Green, Loughborough and Thames Valley Vikings came out on top in the group stages, with Bristol Honey’s, Truro, Exeter Red and Pink coming in second in their respective groups. The plate final was eventually won by Bristol Honeys.

The Cup Semi final saw Exeter Green beat Bath in 6-1 and Loughborough beat Vikings 4-2, which saw the hosts vs Loughborough in the cup final. It proved to be a great spectacle with a large and supportive crowd, showcasing what University sport is about. The game was preceded with a minute’s silence in respect of the recent attack’s in Paris.

The game was played at high intensity with Loughborough going 2 tries up in the first half, however Exeter replied early on in the second half to level it to 2-2. Loughborough showed their class and scored 3 more without reply, before a last gasp come back from Exeter made it a nervy end, but the game finished 5-4 to Loughborough University.


  • Cup = Loughborough
  • Plate = Bristol Honeys
  • Shield = Bristol Badgers
  • Bowl = Southampton 
  • Spoon = Exeter Silver

A massive thank you should go to Bruce Lockie, James Brown and Sam Cutler who stepped up and refereed throughout the day, and Thames Valley Vikings for supplying numerous highly qualified player refs to complement many of the University players.

Round 2 – Entry Open

We now look to February when Bristol hold round 2 of the series!
Entry is now open via this link.

Results following Round 1

Hot topic: Involving young people in mixed age sport activity

Sport plays a positive role in the lives of many people. As well as the obvious health benefits, participants can also gain important social and life skills. That is why it is important that everyone who provides sport does as much as possible to create and maintain an enjoyable and safe environment.

Touch is a sport promoted for all abilities and ages. It is therefore common for some adult teams to have several children / young people under the age of 18 years old play with them for experience and development.

The ETA have recently had many members inquire about a minimum player age for touch activity. Whilst there is no definitive answer to this, different sports make different decisions on mixed ages taking part in their sport.

The key principles to be considered are to ensure;

  • The young person has reached a level of maturity and skill which enable them to participate in a mixed age group safely
  • Over 18 participants set a positive example to the younger members of the team
  • The presence of more than one coach/volunteer/helper is available for the duration of the activity
  • All individuals are aware of and comply with the organisation’s safeguarding policy and procedures and their own safeguarding role and responsibilities.

It is a question that is being asked more often particularly as we develop pathways for U18’s to play Touch. Although many national governing bodies recommend players under 13 years of age play in a separate group, ultimately the decision is to be made by your organisation’s committee.

In the interests of good practice, safeguarding and welfare the ETA request parental consent for all children/young people.
For more specific advice from the ETA please refer to key documents on our website:

New mixed U15s division

For the Junior Touch Championships in 2016 there will be a new division – Mixed 15s.

England Touch are currently in the process of building our number of eligible athletes to play in this division in 2016. If you are 15 or under by 01 January 2016, please complete the following form.

Or click the GoogleForm Icon to open in new window/tab: GoogleForm

Any questions, get in contact with the junior development lead, Ben Powell: ben@englandtouch.org.uk

We hope to also link up with the excellence centre for Junior Touch supported by the Wembley National Stadium Trust in the development pathways for the Mixed 15s squad. See recent announcement.

Refereeing Updates

Recently, the 16th Level 1 referee course of the year was held in Exeter, alongside a coaching course. We are looking forward to see those 17 new referees officiate!

We also have three more courses lined up: please keep an eye on referees website page where the courses will appear as soon as registration opens. Alternatively, you can register your general interest on our brand new EOI form and you’ll be the first to know when there is a course in your region.

Level 3 and RRRC courses in 2016

England is looking at hosting in 2016 both a Level 3 course and a Referee Recruitment and Retention Course (to become a presenter/coach). If you are interested or would like more information, please get in touch with refcourses@englandtouch.org.uk.

Everyone Loves Kit

We’ve got a lot on the list for the new season…

  • New Playing Kit Designs
  • New Items for the England Touch Catalogue
  • Online shop for Kit Purchases

All the current England Touch (Off Field) Kit will still be available but we are looking for a more expansive catalogue and more streamlined process for obtaining your much loved kit.

What items would YOU like to see in the online store? 

Stay tuned, more updates to come…
Photo credit: Joelene Hughes

England Men’s 45’s squad

Just in case it has escaped your notice, the ETA has added another age bracket at the senior end of the age range.

There is now an England Men’s 45s squad, and we have been welcoming many new players (and some old hands) into the squad.

If there is anyone who would like to be considered please contact us ASAP, as there is only a limited time before the window for joining in time for the Euros in July 2016 closes.

The planned training session is on December 6th and details can be obtained from Jo Whitehead at jo.whitehead@ashridge.org.uk

Medical Team – Update

Reflection on the year

The ETA medical team had a busy year culminating in the medical support for the World Cup in Australia, back in May.

We had a successful year in collaboration with our university partners and the sports scientists from Chester University, led by Craig Twist and Nick Dobbin. The testing of the squads enabled them to provide training programmes that were specific for our World cup campaign to ensure that the players were ready for the challenges in Australia.

In fact our anecdotal evidence suggested that we had a much lower injury incidence in terms of intrinsic (controllable) factors, those associated with poor technique, fatigue and poor muscle control. Most of the injuries documented were extrinsic (external) and related to collisions such as fractures, concussion etc.

What we are doing next

The ETA will now provide medical cover for all NTS/CTS events and therefore it is envisaged that there will be another recruitment drive to ensure that we have a team of physiotherapists to cover all the completions. The core ETA team will continue to cover the elite events/camps. Watch this space for the advertisements!

Following on from this the ETA medical team is going to start running first aid courses for national coaches/referees so that there is a designated first aider at all training sessions.

We have a partnership with a nutritionist from Manchester Metropolitan University in order to provide nutritional support for the elite squads, especially during completion times. We look forward to working with Emilia Thompson and introducing her to the ETA squads.

The research strand of the medical team has been undergoing some development and there are plans to continue looking at the injury surveillance and testing of players including profiling players to look at informing training programmes. There will also be a formalising of partnerships between Manchester Metropolitan, Chester and Bath Universities to ensure good quality research to help develop our players and the sport of touch.

Exciting and busy times ahead!

Junior Touch Excellence Centre

Do you live in or around London? Would you love to excel at Touch and go on to represent your country?

The ETA have successfully secured funding to develop an excellence centre for Junior Touch from the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST).

Wembley Cheque - Gregg and Matt

Schools Touch Liaison officer and England Touch President, Gregg Cropper, seen receiving the cheque on behalf of the Association.

WNST is an independent grant-maker funding charities and community organisations delivering sports activities. They receive income from Wembley Stadium based on their total ticket sales and other income.

The ETA School Liaison Officer Mr Matthew Thomas has teamed up with fellow coach Mr Daryl Owens and will begin drop in sessions around Brent from January 2016. This will lead to 8 structured Saturday morning development sessions in the summer from 9am-11am culminating into a youth tournament being held at Wembley Stadium’s Power League. (Pending Interest).

Register NOW for Excellence Centre

More details to follow, however if you would like to register your interest on behalf of your child please complete the following form.

Any questions, email Mr Thomas on: schools@englandtouch.org.uk

Matthew Thomas Daryl Owens


Other options

For the Junior Touch Championships in 2016 there will be a new division – Mixed 15s.



Touch stirring up a storm at the Rugby World Cup

The 2015 Rugby World Cup reached its pinnacle stage recently, with the all mighty All Blacks emerging victorious over its ‘big brother’ of Green and Gold. The bronze medal match was also an all-Southern Hemisphere affair, with the Springboks outshining the Pumas for a place on the podium. So why is it that the Southern Hemisphere countries did so well in the RWC compared to its Northern Hemisphere counterparts? All 4 semi finalists were from south of the equator.

Both the mainstream media and social networking sites have picked up on this fact, with various reasons being brought to the table. In several quarters, Touch has been mentioned as a contributing factor.

Touch is played widely throughout New Zealand and Australia, often from a very young age. The skills developed in Touch are easily transferable to full-contact rugby. For example ball handling, drawing and passing, agility, speed, fitness, and game awareness. Shane Williams MBE, a record try scorer for Wales, posted a video on his Facebook page where he mentions Touch being a difference between the two hemispheres.

Sensational steppers Nehe Milner Skudder and Shaun Johnson, both come from a Touch background, gaining international rep honours for NZ before taking over the Rugby and Rugby League worlds, with their skills learnt on the Touch field as kids.

Sir Graham Henry, the 2011 RWC winning coach with the All Blacks, cited that starting young is key to developing the skills required. He encourages all nations to introduce kids to Rugby (or Touch) so that they can very early on become comfortable with handling a rugby ball, develop an instinctive ability to pass and catch, and gain invaluable experience of reading the game.

daviesJonathan Davis OBE, Welsh International Rugby Union and League player, echoed these sentiments. He recently spoke on the BBC about how by playing Touch, everyone in the team feels comfortable playing with the ball in hand and not just the backlines players.

One of the key assets of Touch is that it is a sport for all. Anyone, young or old, male and female, can play Touch. Anywhere and anytime. So why not grab a ball, get family or friends together, and get involved. There are many clubs and leagues throughout England, find your closest on the England Touch Association website, under ‘where to play‘.