#TouchNationals 2014 - Roundup
The 2014 Touch Nationals took place on the 6th & 7th of September in Cambridge. The tournament consisted of a Men’s Open, Women’s Open and Mixed U18s divisions and ran in conjunction with 2014 Open Trial.
The Mixed U18s was a 3 Match series in which the Southern Mavericks and the Northern Stars played each other on the Sunday of the tournament.
Game 1 saw both teams score within the first 3 minutes and that set the tone for an end-to-end closely fought match which ended in a victory for Southern Mavericks.
Game 2 saw the Northern Stars take control of field position early on and they increased their intensity from their first encounter which the Mavericks could not handle. The Northern Stars took victory in the second game, which meant it was all square going into the final game of the series.
Game 3 saw the Southern Mavericks get on top early in the first half with a very hard driving game and some clinical line attack, however, as the half progressed the Stars got themselves back in the game. Touchdowns were exchanged early in the second half and with about 10 minutes left the Mavericks found themselves with a 2 Touchdown lead. The Stars shot themselves back into contention with 2 quick scores; however, a last minute touchdown scored by the Mavericks far wing saw the Mixed U18s 2014 Touch Nationals title head South as the Mavericks took victory in the final game 7-6.
Following the games, all the U18 hopefuls had a presentation by current U18s national coach Nicholas Matenga, about the selection process and what happens next in these exciting times for the Association.
Male 18s MVP: Jack Dickinson (Northern Stars)
Female 18s MVP: Catherine Walker (Southern Mavericks)
The Women’s division was a tightly fought contest once again as all 6 teams stated their title credentials in the first round of fixtures with the most impressive result being Midlands Tigers holding the reigning National champions 2-2 in their first match. This was a sign of things to come for the Midlands ladies as they dominated their games against the North West Blades, West Wildcats and battled to an excellent win over a determined and well drilled South West Saxons to secure their place in the final. Both the South East Taipans and South East Sharks were battling out for the right to play the Midlands in the final in their last group match; and in a tremendous game that was showcasing a number of international players, the South East Taipans came out winners 7-6 to progress to the final.
The Women’s final was evidence of just how competitive the Women’s division was. Both teams battled for field position and provided a great defensive spectacle with the Taipans holding a 2 Touchdown lead until midway through the second half. The Midlands ladies equalised late in game and as the coaches, referees and spectators were subconsciously prepared themselves for a drop off, the Taipans struck with seconds on the clock to retain their National title 3-2.
The Women’s division was a fantastic spectacle of the strength in depth of Women’s Touch throughout England. All 6 regions played exceptionally well and the division was hallmarked by a number of great performances. Not only did we see the re-entry of the South West Saxons who finished an outstanding 4th place overall, but for the first time a region outside of the South East made the final, in the form of the Midlands Tigers.
Final Score: South East Taipans 3 - 2 Midlands Tigers
Women’s Open MVP: Kellie Lee James (Midlands Tigers)
The Men’s Open division proved to be extremely competitive with some outstanding Touch played over the 2 days by all 6 teams. Day 1 saw some fantastic touchdowns and faultless defence and concluded with both the South East United and Midlands Tigers going through to Day 2 undefeated with the highlights coming from Midlands Tigers Vs West Wildcats and North West Blades V South East United games.
The Midlands opened Day 2 with a defeat to the North West Blades who played some excellent free flowing Touch to turn around a 2-1 deficit at half time. With the North West Blades defeating a resilient and highly competitive South West Saxons and South East United defeating the Midlands Tigers, it meant that the North West Blades snuck into the final on point’s differential to face an undefeated South East United.
The final saw a rematch of round 3 that was played on Saturday evening with the South East starting the better and moving clear early on. However, the North West pulled themselves back into the game before the end of the first half through some resilient Touch, however, the commencement of the second half saw the South East pull away through some clinical finishing and solid defence. Touchdowns were scored and conceded by small margins, however, South East United ended up clear winners, 12-6.
The Men’s division was probably the strongest we have seen it. Usually dominated by 1-2 teams, this year saw a number of close results with the overall standard of play outstanding. All 6 regions looked well drilled and the competitive nature of each touch made and each touchdown scored made for an excellent tournament.
Final Score: South East United 12 - 6 North West Blades
Men's Open MVP: Roger Neighbours (South West Saxons)
Coach of the Tournament: Leah Cuthbertson (Southern Mavericks)
Referee of the Tournament: Nick Richardson
The ETA would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who made this years #TouchNationals a huge success.Regional Leads & Regional Coaches
North West - Ben Powell, Rob Wellock, Steve Melling, Clark Hobson
Midland Tigers - Kellie Lee James, Dan Mendis, Simon Clare
West Wildcats - Jose Luis Dias, Sam Jones, Sam Powles
South West Saxons - Nina Gulati, Martin Wright, Jen Palmer
South East Taipans – Crystal Ravenscroft, Susan Kidd, Marnie Wills
South East Sharks/United - Tracy Andrew, Kalem O'Sullivan, Luke Profke
Southern Mavericks - Leah Cuthbertson, Sam Jones
Northern Stars - Zoe Parish, Ben Meakin
Cambridge Touch Association
For all their efforts of pre, mid and post event organisation. Kumba Komba, Elizabeth Sargeant. Along with ONE Leisure for the excellent venue
The Medical Team
Cari Thorpe and her team of physiotherapists, Emma Knott and Gareth Marlow.
To all those who assisted in the successful running of the open trials. There were over 100 open trialists to co-ordinate, a great number of players looking to develop their skills.
Mike Roa, Chris Garland, Brett Milligan, Ian Moody, Jeff Bimson, Lesley McCallion, Dave Ratcliffe, Puila Tuiono
Co-ordinators Nick Richardson & Ian Syder and the rest of the referee team. Nicolas Van de Rijt, Kathy Van de Rijt, Shane Hills, Robin Wylie, Rob Bowen, Matthew Hobbs, Gareth Hinds, Martyn Brawn.
All those coaches, helpers, Talent ID spotters who came to select for their team and/or other teams to ensure those with the X Factor where spotted and directed to nationals selection accordingly.
Tim Osborne, Ben Smith and Gregg Cropper for their tireless efforts in ensuring the day was planned correctly and ran smoothly.
Thanks to all of the players who participated to ensure a tremendous weekend of touch!
Keep an eye out for the pending announcement of National Squads to attend the 2015 World Cup in Coffs Harbour Australia.