England Touch - In Focus
This week we caught up with the driving force behind the High Performance teams:
How are your preparations going for the 2015 TWC?
In September 2014 after a hugely successful and competitive #TouchNationals and Open Trials, the England Touch High Performance Team and elite coaches selected players to be part of the initial squads for the upcoming 2015 Touch World Cup in Australia. The coaches had a tough job in selecting their squads as the number of players and quality of skill had increased yet again in 2014; a great achievement for Touch in England and Europe as a whole.
Throughout October and November the squads had numerous training sessions and were put through their paces at the All-England Camp at the Rugby School in Warwick.
England’s 16-player Touch World Cup teams were formally announced on November 21.
In the coming 20 weeks, there will be numerous team sessions, along with a further two All-England Camps: one in Loughborough and the final one in Sydney, the week prior to the tournament.
Player from England to watch out for at the 2015 TWC:Men’s Open
- Sam Jones: top scorer at the recent European Touch Championships with 37 Touchdowns. A very, very exciting, young talent.
- Justin Conway: the highest capped England representative (he’ll be able to remind you of the number).
- Susannah Hudson: at just 23 years of age, Susannah will be competing in her 5th major international tournament. This is her year to shine against the best in world, with her outstanding game awareness and killer long ball.
- Jordan Melling: step, dive, pace, long ball – this young ginger ninja has all the attributes to compete at the top level.
- Sammie Phillips: player, coach, super-mum supreme! With an excellent all round game, watch out for her change of pace and faultless passing.
- Jen Palmer: a pocket-rocket middle, she will be looking to exploit the smallest of gaps each time she attacks.
- Julie Walker: playing the best touch of her career – watch out for her intensity in defence and when attacking the opposition line.
- Martin Wright: preparation, fitness and strength underpin Martin’s game – his attitude and presence in the middle will prove crucial in the Mixed Senior team’s bid for success.
- Julia Kang: with pure speed and great hands, Julia looks after the far wing for Mixed Senior. Julia bagged several touchdowns at the recent European Touch Championships.
- Dan Holland: Dan dominated defensively at the 2014 England Touch Nationals, and is going to be a real asset for the Men’s 30s in their TWC tilt.
- Mike Roa: Mike has moved up from the Men’s 35s to player-coach the Men’s 40s. Mike’s work off the ball and coordination around the ball not only defines his game, but also defines his team’s game.
- Terry Careswell: Terry provides the unexpected – a flick pas or a burst of speed will be a crucial weapon for the Men’s 40s in line attack.
England are currently sending 7 teams (MO, WO, XO, W2, M30, M40 and XS) to the 2015 TWC, what are your goals for the event?
Further develop our 112 elite players and 7 TWC teams through exposure to the fastest, most intense and longest tournament in international Touch. We have a whole host of youngsters, uncapped players and debutants that we’re looking to expose to the world stage, with the expectations of them being the next generation of stars.
What are you most looking forward to for your trip to Australia?
We are most looking forward to the camaraderie of #TeamEngland on tour: the 7 teams and supporting staff. This is something we have worked to build over the last 2 years and we have seen great dividends as a result of this. For our England players this will be a trip of a lifetime, representing their country, in a sport they love, in the country the sport was invented – what more could an athlete ask for…other than silverware!
We are also very excited about seeing how we compare with the rest of the world. Touch has undergone significant growth both at grassroots and elite levels in England since the 2011 Touch World Cup.
Anything else you would like to add?
England are the current double European Champions following success at the European Touch Championship in Swansea during August 2014. England won the Men’s and Women’s Opens, as well as the Men’s 30s and Women’s 27s divisions. The three Mixed and two other age-category Men’s sides all won silver medals. This success gives us a great platform to build upon.