Exeter cap off stellar season in Bath snow
Exeter University confirmed their place as the top University Touch outfit by winning the final Cup competition of the 2017/18 campaign, and finishing top of the table in the process.
Exeter – who sent four full squads to finals day in Bath – saw off Bath Hawks in a Cup final that went down to the wire at the Odd Down Sports Ground.
Although the venue was buffeted by cold winds and snow for the majority of the day, the skill and commitment on show was a fitting way to end a 2017/18 University Touch Series which had more teams and more universities competing than ever.
In all 15 universities were represented in at least one of the six events, with Exeter showing their strength in depth by regularly sending four full squads to take part. Bath, Loughborough and Bristol also had more than one squad at multiple events, and University Touch Liaison manager Harry Grocott says that the rapid growth is showing that Touch quickly becomes well established once it has been introduced into a university.
“We’ve had more tournaments than we’ve ever had before, which has shown the appetite for the sport,” he said. “We’ve had more individual universities turn up and more teams from universities turn up, so it’s growth in all areas.
“We started off with five or six teams, predominantly in the south-west, but this year we’ve had universities from as far afield as Birmingham, Surrey, Cardiff and Edinburgh take part, and next season we’re looking to kick on even more.
“The teams that have a good set-up and strong structure are now performing the most consistently.
“The whole point of having a series of tournaments is that those teams who are the most consistent are the winners, and in winning five events it’s fair that Exeter were worth their overall win.”
The lunch break in Bath was filled by 40-minute intra-squad exhibition matches showcasing the England Men’s and Women’s Opens squads, who were in Bath as part of their preparations for the 2018 European Touch Championships.
“It’s nice to have us synching in with the rest of the England Touch set-up,” Grocott added. “For the university players to see the Men’s and Women’s Open teams play and the calibre that the top-notch teams have is really good and gives them a motivation to kick on.
“The England Scholars have squads of 25 men and 25 women and give us more strength in depth.”
Check out photos from UTS Finals Day now on the England Touch Facebook page!