England Touch is taking its national club competitions to four new venues in 2018.
Wasps FC, Birmingham Moseley RFC, Nottingham RFC and Cheltenham will all be hosting legs of England Touch’s various tournaments, venues which reflect the continued rapid growth of the national competitions and the sport as a whole.
It is not just the venues which represent a more coherent structure to the England Touch season; as with the 2017 Finals Day there will be live streaming of action from the main pitch throughout the day, including commentary, along with better provisions across a range of areas.
England Touch has also confirmed the branding for the three main competitions that will be run in 2018, with clubs able to develop both their mixed and single gender teams throughout the year.
The Elite National Touch Series (NTS) – for fully mixed teams – begins this year’s calendar at the same venue which hosted last year’s Finals Day, Nottingham University’s Riverside Sports Complex.
Nottingham is an increasingly important venue for England Touch, with the University’s Highfields Sports Complex hosting July’s European Touch Championships.
The Elite NTS then heads to Acton, West London, and the home of Wasps FC, one of the country’s most historic clubs. Acton has been home to plenty of England international players over the years, with the Twyford Avenue ground including half-a-dozen full-sized rugby pitches.
Finals Day will be in the West Midlands at Billesley Common, home to Birmingham Moseley RFC. The overall final will be played on the main pitch in front of the club’s grandstand, and will be followed by an evening event for teams, friends, family and supporters to attend. More details will be announced closer to the time.
Attention then switches to the Men’s and Women’s NTS for single gender teams.
As with the Elite National Touch Series, the Men’s and Women’s NTS will be played over a weekend, giving players more experience of the format of international and regional tournaments with longer contests and more opportunities to watch other teams in action. Games in the weekend tournaments will be 40 minutes long, replicating the format of the Touch Nationals and European Touch Championships, with three matches on day one and three matches on day two.
England Touch is introducing two levels of competition in the Men’s and Women’s NTS, the Premiership (played across the whole weekend) and Championship (for emerging teams and played on the Saturday only).
The Men’s and Women’s NTS teams will begin their competitions in Oxford, which has hosted a number of tournaments over the past few years.
Round 2 will be in Manchester, another regular venue on the national Touch circuit, with the Finals Day taking place in Canterbury.
Clubs and players who are earlier along in their Touch journey will have the chance to experience national competition in the Development National Touch Series, five one-day tournaments held between May and September.
The dates for these tournaments have deliberately been scheduled to coincide with England national team training weekends to ensure that players who take part fit into the ‘development’ category.
The Development NTS will have a broad geographical spread, starting in Nottingham, this time at Lady Bay, home of Championship outfit Nottingham RFC, with Cheltenham (Round 2), Lincoln (Round 3), Oxford (Round 4) and Manchester (Round 5) all hosting events during the season.
Clubs can register for any of these events now by logging into their online account at www.englandtouch.org.uk/membership/login and selecting ‘Events’ in the top navigation bar.