Dual International | Orla McCallion 

It’s not every day you can say that you’ve been selected to represent your country in a sport that you love, but for Orla McCallion, she has done just that… not just in one sport, but double the honours!

A dual international at the tender age of 16 Orla took to the stage at the Junior Touch Championships in Holland as a player in the England Touch Girls 18s squad. Orla has also been named as one of the 49 youngsters to be selected in to the National Talent Development Group (TDG) for England Women’s Rugby.

Divisional Talent Development Officer and Programme Lead Alex Austerberry said: “The TDG programme has a strong history of developing players. We aim to help them understand the demands of the game, developing all areas, on and off the field. We want to develop future senior players who are not only confident and competent, but have the skills required to flourish on the international stage.”

Orla was part of one of four England Touch junior squads that headed to the 2016 Junior Touch Championships.

Orla is in a fantastic position to be experiencing both these sports at an elite level at such an early age.

Starting playing Touch at the tender age of just six, following in her mothers (Lesley) footsteps, the skills she’s developed in Touch are clearly one of the reasons she’s standing out in both the 7’s and 15’s game too.

These assets are easily transferable to full-contact rugby, for example ball handling, drawing and passing, agility, speed, fitness and spacial/game awareness to name just a few.

Representing England Touch at the 2016 Junior Touch Championships

Playing 7s in the School Games Loughborough Sept 2016

Speaking to Orla, she quoted:

” I love playing Touch as I get to play with my whole family and have done since being little. Now I’ve grown up, being able to represent my country at Touch has been a great honour!

I’ve always loved Rugby too and have learnt lots of skills from Touch that’s made it possible for me to hopefully pull on an England Rugby Jersey too. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities and to my family for supporting me throughout”

Girl’s 18s Head Coach, Marnie Wills had this to say about the talented youngster:

“Orla is a great young athlete who consistently shows commitment and dedication to all her sports. Her level of sportsmanship and ability to play with everyone in her team is of the highest level I have seen from a 16 year old. Orla is a fantastic touch player with natural ball handling skills with killer long ball. She has natural vision for holes on the touch pitch and a knack for taking space off any attacker. This girl is a superstar, one to watch, follow and even aspire to if you are a youth touch or rugby player”

Orla’s 2016 has been pretty jam packed:

-U15s Northumberland County Rugby Union 2015
-U18s Northumberland County Rugby Union 2016

-U18s North, 7s Tournament Birmingham
-U18s North, 7s School Games Loughborough Sept 2016

-U18s England Talent Development Group England Women’s Rugby Union

-CTS Mixed Squad Pirates Touch

-U18s Mixed Touch Northern Stars, England Touch Nationals

-U18s Girls Touch England, Junior Touch Championships, Papendall Sports Centre, Arnhem

-Northern Permit Women’s Open Age Touch training squad


We wish her and her team all the very best at the tournament and fingers crossed Orla makes the final team for the England Women’s Rugby team too.


Related links:

• Sport for all. McCallion Family – Read on! 

• Mother daughter make history.  Read on!

Hello to Wandsworth Touch!

A brand new Touch club has been started in Wandsworth, south London, by Andy Penniceard and Ian Priest. Here’s Andy’s update as to how their first session went…

The fundamental reason for doing this club is that both Ian and I are passionate about inclusion and keeping and encouraging kids to stay involved in sport. Sport builds them up as individuals and teaches them leadership, Integrity, professionalism, diversity anda lot about themselves and how to deal with others. There are way too many kids spending too much time in front of screens,which can’t be healthy (mine included), this sport gives themand their parents an opportunity to get outside. 

At Wandsworth Touch our aim is to promote the sport, develop a community and open it up to other younger and older age groups. Provide equal opportunities for children regardless of their gender, race, ability, cultural background, religion and encourage and actively cater for the development of talented children. We would like to develop pathways for children for them to develop skills in refereeing, coaching, selecting, managing and administration and try to develop programs in both the school and the community.

Since deciding to stop doing contact rugby I have been involved in playing touch at a social levelSixmonths ago, I got introduced to CSSC touch who have shown me what an amazing sport and how diverse and skilful it is and I wanted to share it with my kids who I knew would love to playLooking around London there were no clubs offering Touch for kidsI decided to set up a club and approached Ian who had been having issues keeping Edie playing with the boys. My three boys play rugby and my daughter has always been keen if a game involved a rugby ball being thrown aroundAfter speaking to other parents this seemed like a no brainer.

Ian comes from a rugby family – his grandfather played for the Barbarians, trialled for England and then became an international referee and his father played for Surrey and the Army. He played for the Old Whitgiftians after a brief spell at London Scottish before retiring at the age of 40. Edie, his daughter, was a keen rugby player but due to the changes brought in by Surrey RFU this season, she was not allowed to play with the boys (which she has done for years) as she is now in the Under 12’s. Girls rugby didn’t appeal to her but Touch did as both boys and girls play together. So, after chatting with Andy he agreed to join him in helping to start Wandsworth Touch Club to help organise and coach a group of local youngsters and help develop their interest in the game and keep his active interest in it too.

We had our first ever training session on January 11th and there was a great turnout of 14 kids, 6 were girls. There was a slight lack of space due to not being able to use the main pitch due to the weather, but we made good use of what light and space we had. The kids were not bothered by the cold or the light.

The ability of all the kids was really very good and they picked the basics of the game up very quickly. We started with a basic introduction to the rules (for those who did not already know). The players then did drills looking at these basic drills, passing, catching and the roll ball.

For the last 30 mins we split the group into two teams and proceeded with their first game, introducing the rules one at a time and slowly. Considering there was little experience on the field the game ran very smoothly and they picked up the rules really quickly. A really good effort, long may it continue. We are also very fortunate to have Chris Wall come down and help which was amazing.

Between lots of laughter everyone had great fun. Why would anyone else not do this…?!

Email wandsworthtouch@gmail.com to find out more about this new club!

England Touch reshaping marketing and PR in 2017

England Touch will be changing its marketing and PR operations going in 2017 with a view of increasing the sport’s growth ahead of the 2018 European Touch Championships, which are being held in England.

Touch is already one of the country’s fastest growing participation sports, with nearly 20,000 people playing on a regular basis at either England Touch affiliated clubs or O2 Touch Centres. The new marketing and PR team will enable England Touch to work in this area more effectively, working with clubs, regions and national teams and helping to market tournaments to teams and the sport as a whole to new players, referees and coaches.

England Touch’s marketing and PR will be led by Chris Wearmouth, head of communications at Aviva Premiership club Northampton Saints and an active member of COYS Northampton Touch club, and over coming weeks he will be putting together a team of marketing officers and regional press officers that will help achieve the organisation’s overall aims.

“England Touch has grown massively as an association, with more clubs and more people playing the sport, and we want our marketing and PR to reflect this,” said Gregg Cropper, England Touch CEO. “We want the sport to continue to grow, which means that we need the wherewithal to tell the stories that are at every club across England, to ensure that all of our tournaments receive the coverage they deserve, and that we can build up towards hosting the European Touch Championships in 2018.

“The regional press officers will work to develop relationships with clubs, regional coaches and players, as well as relevant media outlets, while the marketing officers will work with tournament organisers and venues to promote competitions throughout the year, as well as give support to clubs as they look to expand themselves.

“What we’re doing with marketing and PR is just part of our wider development throughout England Touch, and we will be discussing this with our membership at February’s Annual General Meeting, which we encourage all of our clubs to attend.”

Anyone who would like to be a part of the marketing and PR team, especially as a regional press officer, can see the job outline and specification in the Vacancies section of the England Touch website.

South-East Renegades – new region training sessions announced

Are you in south-east England and want to try out for a brand new regional team? Then put your hand up to be a Renegade!

South-East Renegades will be holding their first training session on Saturday, January 14th, so if you are in Kent, Sussex or Surrey and can get to Canterbury between 9:45am and 1pm head to https://goo.gl/forms/jZAh78F2E8XwgJ7S2 to register.

Further sessions will be held in Guildford (Feb 18th) and Horsham (Mar 11th), and the Renegades intend on entering a mixed squad into the 2017 Nationals later in the summer.

For more information email southeastrenegades@outlook.com and check the Renegades out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/southeasttouch/