England Touch Association adds to Non-Executive Director expertise

  • Professor Mark James joins the England Touch Association’s board as a Non-Executive Director with immediate effect
  • Mark is Professor of Sports Law and Director of Research at Manchester Law School
  • His expertise will help the England Touch Association achieve its growth ambitions as one of the country’s top participation sports and align it with the latest Sport England strategies

The England Touch Association (ETA) has today announced the appointment of Professor Mark James to the board as a Non-Executive Director.

Professor James is one of the country’s leading sports law researchers, working with a variety of sports organisations and governing bodies on a wide range of issues, including ambush marketing, ticketing and player violence and injuries.

With over two decades’ experience working within the sports sector, Professor James is ideally placed to help the England Touch Association continue to develop in a strategic and sustainable way during a period of rapid growth.

“I am genuinely excited to be joining England Touch at such an important stage of its development,” he said. “Touch is a great sport that brings together all ages and sexes in a mixed environment and is going through a period of rapid growth.

“I hope that I will be able to use my experience of working with many different sports organisations over the years to help England Touch to continue to reach out to new audiences and to build on its success in international competitions.”

Professor James joins Chris Martin and Natalie Davis (profiles below) on the Board, completing a trio of Non-Executive Directors with a broad range of expertise to support the ETA’s Executive Directors and Managers, as well as the Association’s broader ambitions ahead of the 2018 European Touch Championships.

Chief Executive Gregg Cropper is excited by the addition of Professor James to the ETA’s board.

“Since I first met Mark I knew that his depth of knowledge and law background would be a perfect fit within the ETA to both add value and fill an identified skills gap,” he said.

“One of our major ambitions is to continue our alignment with the latest Sport England strategies, including ‘Towards An Active Nation’ and develop our place as one of the country’s leading participation sports. Mark will quickly become integral to this area and we’re all looking forward to working closely with him in the future.”

About the other Non-Executive Directors

Chris Martin Chris has been a long-time player and fan of Touch and has a wide range of commercial experience. Over the past 15 years Chris has built a number of successful companies in and around sports development and has built up an extensive network of industry experts and contacts on whom he can rely.

As a qualified PE teacher, an experienced coach and successful business owner in the world of digital and web, Chris offers effective advice and support to the England Touch board through this period of accelerated growth and development. Chris has acted as a Governor and NED with other organisation and feels this experience will be of benefit to the future governance of England Touch.

Natalie Davis As a policy advisor to Government Ministers for the last seven years, Natalie has experience creating and developing policy ideas at the national level. Most recently Natalie was one of the authors of the Government’s new Sport Strategy and has worked with sports administrators across the sector to increase participation and raise the profile of women’s sport. Natalie hopes to use her experience to help England Touch become more effective and sustainable at this exciting time in its journey as a National Governing Body.

Orton take home Midlands honours

Orton Ospreys took home the first trophy on offer in the Midlands in 2017 last weekend.

The team from Peterborough beat off stiff competition from across the region at a development tournament in Wixams, near Bedford.

Sides from as far afield as Norfolk, Northampton, Essex and Whitley Bay headed to Wixams to take part, and organiser Adrian Twigg said that it was a cracking way to start off the season in the area.

“We were really pleased with the tournament,” he said. “Teams approached the games positively and the standard improved as the day went on. We’re growing as a club and this type of event gives our players the opportunity to test themselves against teams from across a wide area.

“Thanks to all the teams for coming to Wixams, especially those clubs who travelled several hours to get here. We hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!”

Soul Phoenix, an ETA Development Officer in the Eastern region, brought a Norfolk Freightforce Lions team to Wixams and said that he was seriously impressed by all areas of the competition.

“A tournament like this provides a great opportunity to develop players, referees and organisers towards the ETA’s regional and national Development Touch Series standards,” he said. “What was great about the Wixams tournament was the range of ages and experience that we saw, with players helping each other and working with the referees in a really positive way.

“We’re seeing the standard of Touch increase with each passing year, and entry level tournaments like this are playing a massive role in that.”

England Touch launches new England Universities project

England Touch has announced the launch of the England Universities project, providing a platform for University Touch Series (UTS) players to represent their country and play at the highest level of the sport.

There is a fantastic opportunity to enter two University teams into the 2017 European Federation of Touch Championship Permit (EFTCP 2017) in Pays de Fontenay-le-Comte, France, between 19th and 23rd July.

The tournament is split into two separate divisions – Men’s Open and Women’s Open – and we are looking for expressions of interest from all eligible male and female university touch players.

Eligible players must be:

  • Playing in the University Touch Series 2016-17
  • Hold a valid ETA membership
  • Not playing in the 2017 Premiership Permit in Edinburgh
  • Eligible to represent and play for England. CLICK HERE for eligibility details

If you are eligible to play and want to represent your country CLICK HERE to register your interest.

This will be a great way for university Touch in England to express show the strength in depth we have in the sport and to compete against some of the strongest national teams from across Europe. Both Men’s and Women’s squads will receive training and ETA-branded kit prior to the tournament, and will have the opportunity to play at some amazing facilities (see below!).

Initial scouting will take place at the UTS finals in Bath on April 1st, 2017, and will be supplemented from the expression of interest form, after which both Men’s and Women’s training squads will be selected to build towards the tournament in July. Players will need to able to attend two training days in June and July (dates tbc).

The squads will be coached by Harry Grocott and Mark Aldous. If you have any questions please email university@englandtouch.org.uk

ETA Draft Pool for England Touch Nationals

For the 2017 England Touch Nationals, players who are unable to be selected for their home regional side for any reason (selection, non attendance at trials etc) will be able to nominate into a central draft pool. The nomination form will be embedded on the ETA website.

This draft pool will open from 1st June until 10th August 2017 and will be publicly available on the website. Coaches from regions other than a players home region will be able to pick players according to the following criteria:

  1. Player is not deliberating trying to avoid playing for their home region.
  2. The side does not already have 3 draft players.
  3. The side is the first to request the player. This will be done on an end of day basis. So if two sides request a player on the same day the decision will be the players. If one side only requests that will be considered to be completed.
  4. All draft picks will be published on the ETA website.

The purpose is twofold

  1. To assist regions who have player number issues.
  2. To ensure players in stronger regions are given a chance to play and put themselves into selection for  2018 European Championships Squads. This is even more important due to it being a home event.

North East Raiders Development Session March 2017

The second of two player development sessions was held in Wetherby last weekend, delivered by Lesley McCallion, North East Regional Lead.

A fantastic 30 people registered for the session, a mix of newbies and experienced players from new and established clubs around the region. The focus was to improve fundamental skills though drills and modified games that players could take back to their own clubs.

Touch participation is steadily increasing in the North East with new touch clubs, O2 Touch and Play Touch Rugby League centres popping up throughout the region. The aim of North East Raiders is not only to develop players and referees but also to help establish links between clubs, share resources and improve the way that Touch is played. The introduction of the Northern Touch Cup, held at the home of Percy Park Pirates Touch, has given clubs in the region a fantastic playing, refereeing and socialising opportunity which will only encourage more players into Touch.

Next up for Raiders will be open trials, when they will start building towards the Touch Nationals in August. Email Lesley McCallion for more information at mccallion-physio@blueyonder.co.uk

Belief Sports England Touch leisure range now on sale!

The all-new England Touch leisure range from Belief Sports is now available to order!

The range includes tee shirts in blue and red, base layer tops in blue and red and leggings, polo shirts, singlets, hoodies and mid layer tops, as well as shorts and full zip waterproof jackets.

All kit will be ordered via a microsite on the Belief website to ensure rapid and smooth fulfilment of orders, with the ETA receiving a percentage of the associated sales revenues.

The microsite will remain open until March 31st; all orders placed before that time will be made bespoke for the person who has ordered it and will be sent out to be received by the end of May.

General sales will be available later in the year.

So get your Belief Sports leisure wear before anyone else! CLICK HERE to order now!

Notes From The Big Island – Part 4

By Martin Wright

Firstly the big news of the day is that I have yet to insult another Australian man. My search for the third biggest insult goes on! Oh and there is a small matter of the NTL Grand Finals today as well.

Mens Elite 8 Grand Final

In the men’s competition we have an all Queensland affair with the Cowboys vs the Titans. Neither cruised to victory in the semis but both got up eventually. Tense games which were littered with errors and the odd flourish of brilliance.  In the women’s competition it is the Broncos vs the Scorpions in the final. Both made it through to the finals reasonably easily by comfortable margins.

Perhaps the game I am most looking forward to is the Mixed Final which sees the Queensland Sharks take on the Sydney Rebels. A few of the Rebels players were opponents two years ago in the SMX World Cup Semi-final and memories of the ease with which they beat my team then are still with me. I have watched them a few times and the simplicity of what they do is striking. Economy of movement but maximum impact with each flick of the wrists or nod of the head. The main player I remember for the Australian SMX from 2015 is Manu Wakely so I wanted to see him in action again. Two years on when I saw him on the field my first thought was “Wow, he has aged”. Not sure what he’d say about me if he saw me on a pitch again (actually I expect he’d say “who are you?”)!

A word here about the setup. The tournament itself is a big deal, in fact I think they even rate the competition more highly than a Trans-Tasman or a State of Origin event. Coffs Harbour is an excellent venue for this with lots of high quality pitches, room for tents and infrastructure and also a good Pitch One and grandstand setup.  t makes for an excellent spectator and player experience.

On top of that though, they also live stream all games played on Pitch One with very professional camera work (I’m sure you’ve all been able to watch back home). This makes coaching analysis of the opposition much more effective and significantly enhances the standard of play. As you’ll see from the above photo, the men’s final, played under floodlights is without doubt a show piece affair with fireworks and pumping music accompanying the game. Whilst I like Cambridge as a venue for our Nationals tournament (and this is by no means a criticism), the grand finals of those events are still quite low key affairs. One can’t help but think that if we want them to be the real show piece affair that makes the experience worthwhile, we might be well served to identify a venue which helps us create this.

A showcase event

I’ve added a photo of the Queensland Elite 8 squad tent tent below which is a good example of how they are just one notch above where we are in the UK.  Along with the usual changing areas with tables and chairs etc, there is a catering area where all teams get their lunch provided for them. This is in the form of a buffet which is provided all day long.  There is also a mobile wifi facility which can be used by all players and which enables the livestream to be shown on a big TV screen throughout the day.

The tournament experience for the Elite 8 players is very good and I think we should be trying to take a leaf out of their book with England Touch. I do accept that this all costs money and that Queensland Touch have ten full time employees who are dedicated to achieving this but with a few little touches we can make our playing experience a little less amateur and probably enhance our performances as well.

A professional player experience created by Queensland Touch

Time to kick back now and enjoy the experience of the finals. I’ll sum up my trip tomorrow when I’m waiting in the airport for my ride back the UK.

Manchester: A Hive of Activity!

The worker bee was adopted as a motif for Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, and those running Touch in the area have certainly took on this mantle from the off in 2017. From the Manchester Chargers Touch Boot Camp, Manchester hosted Touch Championships, and Level 1 and 2 Referee courses to local derbies, the England Touch AGM, Junior Touch Discovery day, and even a Touch Stag Do, Manchester’s got it all!

Manchester Chargers Touch Boot Camp

The Touch Boot Camp was hosted by Manchester Chargers and managed to recruit over 40 brand new players, who’ve never played Touch before! It ran over a six-week period every Sunday morning at Mancunians Rugby Club, where players were introduced to a wide range of Touch skills and techniques, taking them from total newbies, to comp ready, So much so that many of the new players felt confident enough to enter into the Manchester Championships with Manchester Chargers!

The Boot Camp was designed not only to up skill both new and existing players, but also to give players the chance to get fit in fun and playful ways. The Boot Camp included a wide range of activities including touch netball, and enabled many of the players to join a team and learn about the world of Touch. At the end of each session, one of the Chargers players brought in a huge batch of healthy banana bread and fruit, giving the players chance to make new friends over some nibbles and a brew.

All smiles at BootCamp

Ready to go!

The Boot Camp was so successful that it will continue to be hosted by Manchester’s premier Touch club every Sunday morning at 10:00. You can follow Manchester Chargers on social media (Facebook and Twitter) or email manchesterchargers@hotmail.co.uk for more info.

Manchester Touch Championships

Team pics from the 8th Annual Championships

The #NoMoreMud competition kicked off the season in style, with 16 mixed teams battling it out for silverware over the day on state of the art 3G fields. A great annual event that welcomes newbies and established team alike, giving everyone the chance to come away as winners! To see the full report of the Manchester Championships click this link.

Manchester host Level 1 and Level 2 Referee Courses

These referee courses took place in sunny Manchester with delegates from Manchester Chargers, Orrell St James, Halton Storm, Crewe & Nantwich Blaze, Stockport Rugby Club and Orrell Anvils. We had 12 attendees who all enjoyed the course, which was run by Jordi Bitlloch and Gregg Cropper.

Level 2 Referee Course with 4.5 Chargers

All participants developed their understanding of the rules of the game, the importance of communication, practical examples, and were then tested to consolidate their learning.

It was great to see so many youngsters getting involved too! Further courses are advertised on our website, along with referee apparel, to make sure you look at part too!

Give your Stag a Touch to remember!

Looking for a fun activity for a Stag Do? Well Manchester Chargers have just the thing!

They get lots of requests from beginners and experienced players alike who want to come and try Touch … but this one had a slight twist!

Manchester Chargers received an email asking if they could put on a fun beginners session for a Stag Do. In true Chargers style they jumped at the chance and had an awesome time designing the session and delivering it! The Stag and friends learnt a range of new skills, which they then put into practice in a VERY competitive game.

CLICK HERE to find out more!


Local Derbies – Manchester Chargers Chicks Vs. Chester Cheetahs

Chargers welcomed local North West club, Chester Cheetahs ladies, who made their way to Manchester to have, what was, a great game against the Chargers Chicks. And here’s the mandatory after match team pic to prove it.

Local Derby – Chargers Chicks vs Cheetarahs

This was a great opportunity for an all female game, whereby players could put into practice their leadership skills, driving the ball and communicating with other players. Local friendlies are a great way to get all your club players involved, without the expense and travel. Get in touch with clubs in your area, with our club finder and where to play map

Level 1 and 2 referee courses coming up

There are a number of Level 1 and Level 2 referee courses coming up at a number of locations.

The England Touch Association is needing more and more qualified referees with each passing season to ensure the highest standard of officiating at all of the various national tournaments that are held throughout the year.

Level 1
£20 per participant

25th March North Shields (invite only) Sarah Mason http://goo.gl/EYtZAe
3rd April Reading Gareth Hinds http://goo.gl/EYtZAe

If neither of these events is convenient from either a date or geographical perspective register your interest with the ETA’s refereeing department by CLICKING HERE.

Level 2
£30 per participant

25th March Bristol Kevin Hobbs http://goo.gl/HUj8Kt
25th March Hammersmith Ian Syder http://goo.gl/HUj8Kt


England Junior squads announced

The England Junior training squads have been announced for the Boy’s 18s, Girl’s 18s and X15s categories.

Over the past couple of weeks over 130 youngsters took part in Junior Discovery Days in Manchester and Canterbury, with 90 being selected. This group will have four training sessions in April and May before the squads are named for the final training ahead of the 2017 Junior Touch Championships in Dublin.

The coaches were impressed by the standard of the skills and positive attitude shown at the Junior Discovery Days and had some hard selection decisions to make.

Congratulations to everyone who has been chosen!


Aaron Povall (Wigan Touch Warriors)
Abbey Gould (Lincoln)
Adam Bimson
Alana Gauntlett
Alice Smith (Lincoln)
Amy Jones
Angus Dickens
Anna Louise Reeves (Percy Park)
Ayla Payten (Canterbury Touch)
Bartek Krzyzanski (Wixams)
Benjamin Dobson (Orton Ospreys)
Bradley Murphy (O2 Upminster and Southend)
Brooklyn Leota (Manchester Chargers)
Cai Andrew (Maidenhead)
Caitlin Simpson (North East Raiders)
Catherine Walker (Galaxy London)
Connor Hughes (Canterbury Touch)
Daniel Eaglestone (Canterbury Touch)
Daniel Emburey (COYS Northampton)
Daniel McLaughlin (Bristol Fijians)
Ed Howell (MGS)
Eddie Pizzey (Nottingham)
Eliot Nye (Medway O2)
Ellie Costello (Wigan Touch Warriors)
Eloise James  (Lincoln)
Emily Brightling (Canterbury)
Emily Simon (Nottingham)
Emma Oliver (Lincoln)
Erin Payten (Canterbury Touch)
Evan Michaels (Upminster O2)
Eve Pickup
Fin Creighton (Midlands)
Flori Nasir (Canterbury)
Freya Aucken (London Scottish)
George Worboys  (Chippenham/Bristol Fijians)
Hannah Wheeler (Chippenham)
Harry Evans (Worcester)
Harry Hardman (London Scottish O2)
Harry Missin (Peterborough)
Isaac Wilding
Isabelle Book (Bath)
Isobel Hobson (Nottingham)
Iszak Moy (Nottingham)
Izzy Thesiger (Galaxy London)
Jack Hawken (Upminster O2)
Jack Ratcliffe
Jackson Chan (Oxford)
Jez Traynor (Trojans)
Joe Thompson (Cambridge)
Josh Henderson (Maidenhead)
Joshua McBride (COYS Northampton)
Kate Davis-Bavin (Nottingham)
Keir Clark (Chippenham)
Kolia Bermann (Cambridge)
Logan MacDonald (Bury O2)
Louis Peters (Canterbury)
Lucie Skuse (Whitehall Tigers)
Lucy Norburn (Bury O2)
Lydia Ticehurst (Canterbury)
Macy Kang (Nottingham)
Maddie Rendell
Matthew Bate (Chester Cheetahs)
Matthew Maynard (CTA)
May Burke (Newbold Falcons)
May Harvey
Megan Fox (Canterbury)
Megan Green (Bury O2)
Millie Jones (Crewe and Nantwich Blaze)
Morgan Rolfe (Canterbury)
Niall Povall (Wigan Touch Warriors)
Oliver Holmes (Crewe and Nantwick Blaze)
Oliver Maynard (CTA)
Olivia Walker (Wandsworth)
Orla McCallion (Percy Park)
Patrick Tyrrell (Cambridge)
Rachael Porter (Halton Storm)
Ria Downes (Canterbury)
Richard Barningham (Crewe and Nantwich Blaze)
Salesi Tuiono (Halton Storm)
Sam Belsey (Canterbury)
Sam Halsall (Orrell St James)
Sam Lawton-Davies
Sam Ridout (Crewe and Nantwick Blaze)
Samuel Missin (Peterborough)
Sophie Hill (Lincoln)
Thanh Ha Kistler-Bui (Galaxy London)
Thomas Pollard (Nottingham)
Tom Harkins (Upminster O2)
Tom Lawton-Davies
William Heath (COYS Northampton)
Will Lupton
Zac Hill (Nottingham)