Junior Touch Championships 2016
The 19th August 2016 marked the beginning of an epic weekend for Junior Touch.
After months of preparation, 59 juniors from across England headed off to Arnhem, Holland to compete in the third annual Junior Touch Championships.
The venue was the National Sports Centre at Papendal, a high performance centre that is proud to host Dutch National Teams and Olympic Champions and the facility lived up to its expectations with pristine pitches in beautiful woodland surroundings.
As of previous years, the tournament consisted of teams in the 18s divisions with mixed, girls and boys squads. In addition to the squads, this year saw the inclusion of a Mixed 15s division which signifies the growth of touch across Europe. Within the Mixed 15 division, competing teams travelled from Wales, Middle East, Scotland, France, Ireland, and Germany, and a European Select team was made up of players from all of the competing 15s nations.
The standard of play from the England Mixed 15s was incredible as they performed well beyond their years, the youngest player on the team still to turn 13!
Credit to Coach Ben Powell who has developed the squad over such a short period of time. Their skills and confidence grew as they progressed through their games and they looked well drilled and composed as they executed their patterns and drove with intensity, whilst defending out attacks from frustrated oppositions.
They sailed through day 1 and 2 with some impressive score lines to put them a comfortable second in the table going in to finals day, with only the Welsh left to play in their pool. They would meet Wales again in their final.
This proved to be a hard fought game, but the brilliance of the Welsh was too strong and the favourites rolled away in the second half, widening the gap with a final score 3-9.
Runners up in a competition consisting of 8 European Teams is a fantastic achievement for the Mixed 15s and we are excited about what the future holds for our Junior section with this positive rate of progress in only a small fraction of time and a result such as this in our first representation to this division.
The 18s can also be hugely proud of their achievements.
The Girls team were in a tough pool with Wales and Ireland.
"Our England under 18s girls showed exactly how a squad of skilful and talented touch players are able to develop as a team over the duration of a tournament." Quoted coach Marnie Wills.
On the last day of tournament our girls showed their true touch abilities with another amazing game against Ireland winning 7-0 and a fight to the end performance against Wales 1-5.
After 6 games England had finished as Runners up, to match to success of their younger 15s squad and boasted their well-earned Silver medals.
In the 18s mixed pool, Scotland, Ireland, France, Middle East, Guernsey and the Netherlands were competing to steal last years crown from the Welsh, who again arrived at the Championships as strong favourites. Wales played Scotland in the finals while England Faced a strong French opposition to compete for the final medal spot. A close and gripping battle between in the 18 Mixed, coached by Leah Cutherbertson, saw England beat France to secure bronze with a very close score line 5-4. Their determination and perseverance shone through as their hunger for a medal pushed them harder through their final game.
The Boys 18s, coached by Doug Benzie, had the most successful result of the campaign, finishing as winners of their division which consisted of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Having been beaten by the green army in their previous game, and having lost a key player in the penultimate game due to injury, they knew they would have to dig deep. They had an outstanding performance in the final against Ireland, in very wet and difficult conditions as they went out on the field even more determined to come out on top.
The England boys played a nail biting final, winning 4-3 and taking the title and their well earned gold medals.
We can boast to have demonstrated a high level of sportsmanship throughout and our juniors have conducted themselves on and off the field with the greatest of maturity. The honour to have represented your country at a young age is not something that everyone can stake a claim in. Each player did this with the greatest of dignity and pride.
Not only has this experience been vital in pushing the skill level of our junior players, but the tournament has encompassed many things. It has created a wider touch family as parents and guardians have made the trip over to support their children whilst developing a fondness for other children and making bonds with new families. The players have made lifelong friends who share the same love and passion of a sport.
Furthermore, this is so important as it provides national governing bodies with a pathway for the retention and further development of young people in the sport of Touch and coaching opportunities for those involved with youth development.
Bring on the new, the children are the future of our game. What an exciting future that lies ahead.
Full ResultsJunior Touch Championships ResultsX15s
Captains - Bradley Murphy / Emma Oliver
Vice captain - Keir Clark
MVP- Evan Michaels
Top Scorer - Richard Barningham
Captain - Salesi Tu'iono
Vice Captain -Will Lawrence
MVP - Elizabeth Dorey
Top Scorer - Jack McHugh
Captain- Kate Davis-Bavin
Vice Captain - Hannah Murphy
MVP- Catherine Walker
Top Scorer- Lottie Phillips
Players Player - Lucy Skuse
Captain - Toby Phillips
Vice Captain - Dan Mayall / Louis McManus
MVP - Toby Phillips
Top Scorer - Toby Phillips
The JTC was a huge success. There are many people we would like to thank.
Firstly Touch Netherlands who hosted the tournament in a very warm and welcoming fashion.
A massive thank you to all our coaches and assistant coaches who put in months of preparation leading up to the event. The execution of skills, sportsmanship and excellence from our young players was second to none and the children were guided by positive leadership throughout the campaign.
Thanks to all the managers who chased around with admin detail making sure information was cascaded to parents and families and kept the process rolling whilst nurturing the players over the tournament weekend.
Thank you to Tim Osborne and Dom Tripp from the High Performance team who gave match feedback to the team coaches and imputed advice and guidance on match strategy.
A huge thanks to the team of physios who attended to our players needs over the duration of the tournament. They went above and beyond in the most professional manner, in some very testing circumstances.
We are truly grateful to all the Parents and Guardians who committed to supporting their child's progress by transporting them to the various training venues, giving up time to travel to Holland to be there for their children's precious moments. Without their continued support this venture would not have been possible.
Rugbyfotos - Theo Beentjes