England Touch Association leading the way with injury research

  • National governing body for Touch undertakes groundbreaking research into injury rates
  • Study part of increased support for England national players and regional representative players
  • Injury rate sustained during Touch tournaments comparable to Rugby Sevens
  • Research to be expanded to national club tournaments in 2017
  • Eighty-one percent of players surveyed rated medical provision and the overall standard of care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’
  • Study was undertaken in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan, Huddersfield, Chester and Bath universities throughout the research, working in partnership with Perform Better

The England Touch Association’s medical department is leading the way in research into injury rates within the sport of Touch.

Twelve months ago there was no published data describing the type and incidence of injuries sustained in the sport among European Touch players. But as part of the England Touch Association’s (ETA) medical and sports science teams’ commitment to ensuring excellent injury management during events the national governing body has undertaken work to better understand the demands of the sport in order to ensure that players are adequately prepared in the future.

The ETA medical and sports science team conducted an injury surveillance study during the 2016 European Touch Championships in Jersey. The early results showed an injury incidence in Touch comparable to Rugby Sevens but higher than either Rugby Union or Rugby League, something the ETA has attributed to the faster pace of Touch and increased demands in gross movement patterns.

That said, 90 percent of injuries were either transient or minor, with just over two-thirds occurring in the lower limbs and the majority coming in the second half of matches, both of which are consistent with other codes of rugby.

As time goes on the ETA medical and sports science teams will be able to design more specific prehabilitation and conditioning programmes for players and to share best practice among affiliate clubs, thereby reducing injury risk, preparing participants for the demands of tournaments, and providing appropriate medical cover.

Along with the injury surveillance study, the ETA medical team partnered with Perform Better, who kindly provided over 20 Catapult GPS units to continue with the research and understanding of the demands of this high intensity sport. The ETA’s sports scientists were able to monitor workload as well as identify other areas which could aid performance levels, allowing coaching staff to modify their teams regularly.

Head of medical services Cari Thorpe says that such research is essential if the ETA is to continue to be the leading association in Europe and to challenge Australia and New Zealand on the world stage.

“Touch is now a significant participation sport here in England with tens of thousands of people playing regularly,” she said. “It’s the ETA’s responsibility to provide our players and teams with the best practice regarding specific information tailored to the needs of our sport. With no existing information available we undertook our own study, which has produced some interesting results, especially when you compare them with other codes of rugby.

“Needless to say, we want to reduce injury occurrences in the future, both to ensure a duty of care to our players as well as increase availability of squads and achieve success within tournaments.”

England Touch Association sets sights on continued growth

  • Touch is one of England’s fastest growing participation sports with nearly 20,000 people playing regularly
  • England Touch Association setting targets for continued growth ahead of 2018 European Touch Championship in Nottingham
  • England Touch Association developing sponsorships and partnerships to help achieve its goals
  • England Touch Association developing programmes for delivery among all ages, from schools to senior citizens

The England Touch Association has set out its goals for the continued expansion of one of the country’s fastest growing participation sports.

Over the past five years the England Touch Association (ETA) has grown rapidly and now has nearly 70 affiliated clubs across the country. And after a 2016 in which England won the overall gold medal at the European Touch Championships (ETC) the ETA management is setting its sights on using this achievement as a springboard for the future and emulate this result when the ETC is hosted in Nottingham in summer 2018.

The ETA is expanding its work across a wide spectrum, including:

  • Developing its programmes for introducing the sport in schools
  • Expanding the association’s national tournaments for affiliated clubs and universities and formally launching England Touch Leagues to establish competitions in new areas of the country
  • Working with current sponsors and exploring new opportunities
  • Continuing its groundbreaking research into the specific medical and sports science requirements of elite and club Touch players
  • Spearheading the development of players, coaches and referees
  • Celebrate the sport with the ETA’s first annual national awards evening

Chief executive Gregg Cropper says that he is excited about the future of Touch in England.

“We’ve grown rapidly over the past few years but at the ETA we believe that there’s plenty more to come in the future,” he said. “We’re continually striving to improve the experience of participating in Touch and ensuring that our players enjoy the moment, the games they’ve played in and then tell others about our great sport, too.

“Touch is a truly mixed sport where women and men play alongside each other at all levels, and our membership base has grown significantly over the past 12 months. We’ve done an enormous amount of work on governance, ensuring that we are both compliant with best practice from Sport England and are future-proofing the association while guaranteeing we’re as transparent as possible.

“At all levels of the game we are committed to staying at the cutting edge, from medical and coaching to sponsorship and referee development. We have some great sponsors and with more and more people wanting to take up a code of rugby than ever before we believe we are well set to make sure that Touch is the sport they choose, one that is accessible, exciting and fun to be a part of.”

CLICK HERE to download the 2016 England Touch Association Annual Report.

Loughborough make most of home advantage

By Harry Grocott

A 04:15 alarm could only mean one thing, Loughborough away. Despite Touch being well known as a summer sport the midlands is yet to accept this fact and presented sides with cold conditions and snow to kick the day off.

The group stages saw teams warming up very quickly, with notable scores going to Loughborough Lions who opened the day with an 8-0 win over UEA, clearly laying down the challenge as hosts. Exeter Dragons replied in their group with a very respectable 6-0 win over Loughborough Legends, after which Bath demonstrated how they have been the team to beat so far this series with an 8-1 victory over Loughborugh Legends. The grou stages were finished with another large win from the hosts, Loughborough Lions, with a 7-0 win over Bristol Badgers, a 5-0 victory for Exeter Titans vs Southampton, and 4-1 win for Bristol Honeys over Exeter Pumas.

The knockout stages saw the largest points margin over the day with Exeter Titans finally finding the rhythm with a 9-0 victory over Bristol Badgers, equaling the combined scores of two of the other Cup Quarters games combined, and were joined by Bath, Loughborough Lions and Bristol Honeys in the Cup Semis.

In the Bowl quarters Surrey progressed to the semis with a tight 2-1  win over Southampton Stags, and were joined by Oxford, Lougborough Legends and Exeter Rhinos.

The Bowl semi-finals saw 4-0 victories to both Loughborough Legends and Oxford, seeing off Surrey and Exeter Rhinos in the process. The Spoon Semis saw the first victory for debutants Birmingham, with a 3-1 victory over Southampton Stags, who would meet UEA in the Spoon Finals.

The Plate semis saw the only drop offs of the day with Exeter Pumas scoring in their first set and withstanding Bristol Badgers’ right of reply to win 4-3, and would meet fellow team Exeter Dragons who beat Loughborough Legends 5-1.

The Cup semis saw two fantastically high quality games with Loughborough Lions continuing their unbeaten record in the tournament with a 4-1 victory over Bristol Honeys. The other Semi Final saw the result of the day with Exeter Titans beating Bath Hawks 3-1, ending Bath’s unbeaten record so far this season and cementing a Loughborough vs Exeter final.

The finals saw the first piece of silverware for Birmingham on their debut, as they won the Spoon Final 3-2 over UEA. The Bowl Final was won in emphatic style by Oxford who thumped Loughborough Legends 8-0, making up for their loss in the previous tournament at the same stage.

The Plate Final was a rather selfish all-Exeter affair, with Exeter Dragons beating compatriots Exeter Pumas 4-1 to take home the plate. The third-place playoff was won by a vengeful Bath Hawks team in a tight 5-4 game against Bristol Honeys, the hosts of UTS 4.

The Cup final saw the culmination of the day’s events with host’s Loughborough Lions defending home soil, and last year’s Cup victory, against Exeter Titans. Exeter Titans went down to an early score and never really recovered their confidence from this early set back, and ended up going down 2-1 in a very high paced end to the day.

A big thank you should go to both Mike Green who helped to bring together the highest number of full-time referees to date, to Stephen Dubreuil for coaching the referees and assessing George Thorpe (UEA Club Captain) to become yet another UTS qualified Level 1 Referee, and lastly to Loughborough and Rhys Jones for hosting!

We look forward to being hosted in Bristol for UTS 4.

CLICK HERE to check out pictures on our Facebook page!

Meet Andrew Beattie

What is your sporting background?

I’ve been really fortunate to have played professional Rugby League and Rugby Union in three countries over a 14-year time span. I was able to play for my favourite club, the North Sydney Bears in Australia, be a member of the New South Wales Waratahs Rugby Union franchise and play for AS Carcassonne XIII in the French Elite competition. I am also one of a select group of foreign players to have been privileged to play for all three professional Cumbrian Rugby League teams, being Workington Town, Barrow and Whitehaven.

How did you discover Touch?

I played Touch at school in Australia as part of PE lessons. I also played socially with my mates in Brisbane competitions for extra fitness and for fun.  I hadn’t played any formal Touch since 1998 until taking it up again in 2015 with the Manchester Chargers team in England Touch leagues. July 2016 I made my international debut as a member of the England Men’s 30s team at the European Touch Championships in Jersey. Not a bad result after a 17 year hiatus from the sport! This was really big achievement for me and one I am extremely proud of.

What skills do you need for Touch?

 Touch isn’t Rugby League or Rugby Union. It is a game that has earned the right to be considered a stand-alone sport. The game has been marketed poorly in the past by players claiming to play touch when really they were just playing a 13 and 15-a-side game with no tackling. There are some cross over aspects that are the same, but people need to appreciate that you are NOT playing League or Union.

Coming from a Rugby League and Rugby Union background myself, I found that I already had the fundamental skills required to play. Catching, passing and ball handling skills are essentials. Speed, agility and reaction time are components of fitness that are advantageous for those looking to exploit their opponents more easily. You also need to have a cool head and make decisions fairly quickly. The biggest thing for me was learning to move a defender so they get in situations where they can’t stop you scoring. It’s about creating space and working the defence to where you want them to be – it’s almost like playing chess. With only six players on either team at one time it’s a lot harder than it seems.

What is your current involvement in Touch?

 As previously mentioned I play for a club in the England Touch national set up and I am a member of an England squad. I also have my own Cumbria based club, the West Cumbria Cyclones. We play socially during the week at Whitehaven Rugby Union where players can drop in and play when they are available. I try to allow people to play games to get used to it first and give some coaching points on how they can make best use of the skills they have. There is no need to have a team to come down and join us and we have had a number of local rugby players, netballers, tradesmen, office workers, teachers and many others drop in with friends to play games. I also do some coaching sessions with the Cumbria Lakers regional team for those wishing to play at higher levels.

Where would you like to see Touch head in Cumbria?

Our club has worked to try and bring in more players to teach them the basics first so they can play well. Cumbria has such a massive pool of male and female Rugby players as well as mass participation in other sports and recreational activities. People would really enjoy Touch if they came down and tried it. We have entered in some tournaments and hope to enter in some more this year.

There are pockets of places that play Touch or variations of the game in Cumbria. We have reached out to try and establish links with them in order to increase participation and play in some cross club leagues which will take some time. I believe that people need to look at the bigger picture and share the resources they have to improve the game in the area rather than try to keep those insular pockets together. I’d really like to see a West Cumbria league with a Cumbria Touch Cup competition in the future. I’d also like to see our regional side do well at the England Touch Nationals again this year.

Why do you like Touch?

It’s fun, friendly and keeps you fit. The social aspect is great to meet some new people and build some team working skills. It’s not boring and it’s also a way to use the skills I had in a different way.  I can play in teams with people of any age, any gender and any ability and everyone is equal on the field. I can play games with and against my own family and if I want to push myself to higher levels of competition, including international level, I can do that. I can travel across the county, country, continent or across continents if I really wanted to for a game. The best thing is that it’s not just for me – it’s for ANYONE!

2017 Touch Season – Dates and Venues confirmed


All England Touch ran events have now had their dates and venues confirmed. Further information will be sent to club contacts soon.

Note: A new registration process will be implemented in the coming months.



Date Venue
6th May 2017 Nottingham
20th May 2017 Cambridge
10th June 2017 Coventry
29th July 2017 London
16th Sept 2017 Nottingham

National DTS

Date Venue Division Enter here
13th May 2017 Newbold Mixed  https://goo.gl/O3mgoj
27th May 2017 Manchester Mixed  https://goo.gl/COqe2n
15th July 2017 Northampton Mixed  https://goo.gl/YwEcbC
5th August 2017 Canterbury Mixed  https://goo.gl/kRymDj
16th Sept 2017 Nottingham Mixed Top 8 Teams


Date Venue Divisions Enter here
22nd April 2017 London Men’s and Women’s https://goo.gl/WyJgMt
3rd June 2017 Manchester Men’s and Women’s https://goo.gl/tz1Mdp
30th Sept 2017 Oxford Men’s and Women’s https://goo.gl/bKHGqZ

Touch Nationals

Date Venue Division
26th – 28th August 2017 One Leisure St Ives, California Road, St Ives, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6SJ Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Mixed Open,
Men’s Masters, 
Women’s Masters, Boy’s 18s,
Girl’s 18s, Mixed 18’s, Mixed 15’s

Entry Requirements:

  • Open to all clubs with ‘Full Club’ membership. (NTS/CTS are the teams for the current season have been decided by previous seasons results).
  • All players looking to take part in any series (inc MWTC) are required to be an individual ETA member.
  • Touch Nationals Entry is via regional franchises. More details here.

Details on how to purchase membership are on the membership pages.


Regional DTS

These will be run by affiliated clubs, around the country. More info here.

England’s Men’s 45s Training Squad Finalised

Following a successful Masters tournament in London in late 2016 and a series of trials held across the country, England Touch would like to congratulate the players listed below who have been included in the 2017 England Men’s 45s training squad.

England Men’s 45s Training Squad

Paul Ainscough, James Barnett, Robert Byrne, Mark Carlyon, Gavin Crowley, Neil Davies, Eddie French, Iain Grisewood, Stephan Guder, Gerard Hargreaves, Lance Hetherington, Simon Ince, Mark Jensen, John Kearsley, Geoff Kempt, Ray Macfarlane, Steve Madden, Duncan Mascarenhas, Ian Moody, Paul Morris, Paul Nolan, Spencer Nye, Theo Oberholzer, Soul Phoenix, Salvatore Ponzio, Adrian Riggs, Anthony Riley, Ian Rowberry, Mark Scott, Tim Shields, John Tate, Steven Teasdale, Lee Thompson, Piula Tuiono, Andy Verney, Julian Wilson, Stuart Yorke-Brooks

Coach: Ian Moody

Walking Touch strolls into Bournemouth

Bournemouth Touch Centre has launched its Walking Touch sessions to expand the sport to new players.

The initiative was sparked in November when a newcomer to Touch attended a session at Bournemouth Touch Centre and asked if the club would consider introducing Walking Touch into its sessions.

Six weeks later this became a reality, and 14 players attended the first session in early 2017, which was run by Allan Reed, co-founder of Bournemouth Touch Centre, along with England Touch Regional Development Officer Jason Cunningham, Titans manager Colin Slater and England squad player Nicholas Best.

“The idea is to engage older and injured individuals wanting to try and start a new team sport without the contact you have in football and rugby,” Allan explained.

“We have a great team of operators at Bournemouth Touch Centre and we’re passionate about the game and sharing it with our community.

“It’s great to get people up and active, and as it is minimal contact at a walking pace it is ideal for those returning to sport in later life or after injuries – it’s a small step in the right direction!

“From the feedback we received it looks like Walking Touch will be very popular, especially in a retirement town like Bournemouth.”

Walking Touch has several variants compared to the full version of the sport. Mixed teams of five players – rolling subs are allowed – play at a walking pace, making two-handed touches and having three touches before having to turn the ball over.

For more information head to www.bournemouthtouchcentre.co.uk or call 07795 417873.

“Challenge on” at Bournemouth Touch Centre

The Touch season has tapped off in Bournemouth with a four-team challenge hosted by Jason Cunningham, ETA Regional Development Officer for Dorset and Hampshire.

The challenge, held on February 4th, was aimed at developing knowledge and skills for four local Touch teams in a tournament environment with qualified referees, subs, and half-a-dozen games played in a three-hour period.

As well as a DTS/CTS team from Bournemouth Touch Centre the challenge also included Southampton University’s UTS team and two non-affiliated teams from Bournemouth and Fareham, who brought both current players as well as newcomers to the sport.

ETA ambassador Gareth Perry (England M35) was joined by Suns regional player Ben Absolom helped guide the newer players during the day.

“The best part was seeing the development of the two non-affiliated teams,” Jason said. “Over the morning and the afternoon they worked with some of our ETA ambassadors both in game scenarios and post-match feedback.

“Bournemouth Touch Centre has  excellent facilities and a good depth of experience hosting events as well as a good range of players always willing to be loaned to some as ‘Touch buddies’ to visiting teams to support the teams in their understanding and development.”

The challenge was also sponsored by Fetch The Drinks and The Right Crowd, who both played and supplied some excellent cider for the winners and Cava for runners up and best developing team.

Bournemouth Touch Centre has an open CTS/DTS trial on Saturday, March 4th, and their next four-team Touch challenge is the 11th March.

Anyone looking to visit Bournemouth and play Touch contact Jason on 07566244412.

Pride for Women’s 27s captain

Kate Hyde, Women’s 27s Captain has every right to feel proud.

Kate lives in Nottingham and has represented both the Senior Mixed and the W27 over her 5 year international career. She captains the Nottingham Hoods Touch team.  She also plays hockey with Boots hockey club, a well established team in the city.

Kate was nominated for the Notts Sports personality of the year after a storming season in 2016, leading her team to gold at the European Championships in jersey. She was up against a very strong field in her category with MBEs and Olympians in attendance. A panel of judges shortlisted from a wide field of nominated talent.

The full time detective narrowly missed out to the eventual winner, gold medal Olympic hockey player Helen-Richardson Walsh, who scored a winning penalty in their final against Holland back in the summer at the Rio Olympics  Nevertheless Kate should be extremely proud to be amongst the final selection.

Kate said a few words in the spotlight about the next Euros being held in her home city of Nottingham, and had this to say after her nomination:

“To be nominated at all was a massive surprise and I feel very privileged (and not to mention shell-shocked) to have been listed in the same category as elite, medal winning Olympian athletes!” she said. “Helen Richardson-Walsh was the deserving winner of the award but I’ve been truly humbled by the support I’ve had from you all and it has been greatly appreciated. All, my heartfelt and sincerest thanks for your votes and good luck messages.”

“To even be nominated and shortlisted in such a ‘who’s who’ of Nottingham Sportspersons, Kate is already a winner in our eyes!” added England Touch CEO Gregg Cropper, who was in the audience on the evening.

“The room was filled with worthy competitors, from sporting legends to local volunteers, all of which made the event such a success and Kate and Touch in general being a part of the biggest award of the night was great to see.”

“This awards are a fantastic showcase of what Nottinghamshire has to offer and is a chance for us to recognise the contributions of all of our athletes,” commented Mel Berry, Interim Chairperson of Sport Nottinghamshire. ” To have Olympic gold medallists and local sports heroes like Kate sharing the limelight is exactly what sport is about.”

The awards event was filmed by local Notts TV and will be aired in the next few weeks. We are all extremely proud of Kate and wish her another fantastic sporting year ahead.

The road to Level 3

by Melissa Day

First fun fact: I have a strong preference for primary colours.  So when I got my Level 2 Referee Badge, the joy was somewhat tainted by the green-ness of my new badge level.  Something had to be done.  So I decided to pack my skort and continue on my refereeing journey – the next phase of which I call “The Road To Level 3”.  Or, for those instagrammers, tweeters, snapchatters, googlers, facebookers, tinderers, myspacers and teenagers: “The #roadtolevel3”.

Second fun fact:  #derekfisherhateshashtags

Eight fellow, primary-colour-loving Level 2 Referees were joining me on the journey to gain our Level 3 Referee qualification and the yellow badge, including two of our friends from Touch France. This Level 3 course was the first time women outnumbered men.  And not just by a simple majority, but by three to one.  The fact that Derek Fisher featured heavily in advertising as the course presenter was obviously paying dividends in England Touch’s goal to recruit more women, as well as Roger Neighbours, to higher level refereeing.

The Level 3 theory course is run over two days and started with Derek and I discussing the merits of getting matching haircuts whilst he gave the group advice on whether to ever indulge in gluhwein (the advice: don’t).  During the initial part of day one, goal setting was a key focus.  After debating whether my ever finding a boyfriend was a SMART goal, we focused instead on our referee goals.  This served as a great basis for the coming two days – as a group we got to know each other and personally  it was a real motivator for why we were there.  We also went through the expectations for Level 3 – of not only continuing to build a strong knowledge of the rules, but also how to facilitate a great game, what adventures lay on the disciplinary pathway, and how to communicate effectively on the pitch.

Day one finished with some drills on the field which were very useful, including some risqué whistle chat, with Derek giving us a Pantene promise at the end of the day’s training that “It might not come overnight, but it will come”.

On Day Two we were fortunate enough to be able to put the theory into practice by reffing the Southern Permit Women’s Open squad, which was particularly pleasing to exactly one third of our refereeing contingent.  The standard of play was exceptionally high as we refereed the driving drills, line attack and defence as well as full games with the women’s squad.  We were videoed on the pitch which we then critiqued during the afternoon classroom session – this was a hugely valuable aspect of the weekend.  We also got to say hi to our friends which I thought was really nice.

That’s not where the Road To Level 3 finishes though.  Each of us now has an exam to complete (an actual exam!) before we are then assessed in a high level tournament in order to receive our yellow, Level 3 badge.  With three England Touch female referees gaining their Level 3 badge at the last Euros (Catriona Weir, Alice “Scooby” Watchorn and Layo Aromire) we have great examples to follow for our sport.

We’d like to thank Derek for travelling over to present the course and once again giving his time to help us develop as referees.  A big thank you to National Referee Manager Nicolas for organising the weekend at a perfect venue that included an indoor field located in an upside-down bouncy castle, as well as Ian Syder for dropping by whilst running a Level 1 course on the same weekend.  And finally the Southern Women’s Permit Squad for the great play and packing in plenty of deliberate infringements so we could practice our penalties.

The Level 3 course comprises genuinely two of the most interesting days I’ve had talking about sport (and this is coming from someone who has spent numerous weekends with England Men’s 30s stalwart Ruez Durrani).  We reviewed video analysis of different scenarios, debated rulings and delved into the grey areas that exist in all sports.  We are all excited for 2017, and if you are thinking about moving on from your Level 1 to enter the referee development pathway, I recommend you do it, ideally whilst avoiding the disciplinary pathway.  That pathway is not as much fun.

#teamref #sorryderek

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