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Club Focus – Exeter Touch Rugby

Max Anderson tells James Warrener about how Exeter Touch has become a growing hub of the sport in the south west.

How did your club start, and what are you all about?

We started Exeter Touch Rugby in 2014, initially focusing on providing an opportunity for people in Exeter to stay active and have fun through community touch rugby sessions, supported by the funding offered by O2 Touch. Running weekly social sessions for all remains a core part of what we’re about, and we’re about to enter our ninth year of running these! We aim to make our sessions as accessible as possible, which is why we continue to run these on a pitch up and play basis, where no membership is required.

While running our community sessions, it became apparent there was also a huge appetite for us to develop a club Touch environment, where players could regularly develop, compete, and socialise together. This led to us developing the Exeter Eagle Owls!

The Eagle Owls are all about providing a welcoming and friendly club environment to all players regardless of their experience, whilst also giving opportunities for players to achieve their own competitive ambitions. Our players range from being entirely new to the sport, through to high performance squad players pushing themselves to get to the top of their game and compete at a national and international standard. Alongside what we do on the pitch we also prioritise running a busy social calendar and we find that many players who are new to the city join us as a way of meeting new friends.

We’re very proud that our club now has now grown to over 200 members from a huge range of backgrounds. We run Community Touch sessions every Monday and Eagle Owls Club Training every Wednesday. For more info, follow us on social media:

Who are the main characters in your club?

Our dedicated committee has worked tirelessly to provide a strong platform from which our social and competitive teams can thrive. With over 200 members in our club, we have so many characters that it’s difficult to pick only a few, but one that does stand out is our club captain and head coach, James Webber. James has been at the heart of the club since it first started, and his hard work, drive and ambition has been integral to the club’s success both on and off the field.

Emma Cole, Charlie Marr and Sylvaine Lacrosse have all done an amazing job to promote the club through social media, arrange regional tournaments, plan social events, and organise our annual tours abroad. They’ve all helped to create an inclusive and fun touch club and established ourselves as a venue for high quality Touch in the south west.

Another key member in our club is Brendan Harrington. He’s been with us since the beginning and has played a huge role in supporting our club touch. Brendan is one of our club’s most experienced and dedicated referees and demonstrates enormous commitment to support the majority of England Touch’s National Events.

We’re also very proud of all our players who have gone on to compete at representative Touch over the past few years. In 2022 it was amazing to see so many players represent the south west Saxons in the Nationals and their countries at the Euros; where Rose Willoughby won a gold medal for England Women’s 27s and Matt Mahoney won a silver medal for the England Men’s 40s!

What’s your vision?

We want to maintain our strong foundation of social community Touch for all, providing a gateway for new players to come into the sport and enjoy themselves keeping active.

We also want to continue to develop, strengthen and expand our club’s competitive teams; working towards establishing consistent teams at every level and format of the National Touch Series, underpinned by a welcoming, active, and inclusive club environment. As part of this we would love to develop our club as a hub for Women’s Touch and are working towards this in 2023!

What challenges have you faced?

We’re incredibly lucky to have a core group of women at our club who are all fantastic role models for new players, many of whom were new to the sport themselves when they joined us. However, we’re always looking for new players and are keen to learn about what we can do better to encourage new women to join our club. This year, we’re making this a club priority and are running dedicated women’s training, fixtures, and events to encourage new players to give Touch Rugby a go.

Another key challenge is maintaining the accessibility of our sport for everyone during the cost-of-living crisis. We’re keen to provide more support to our players through securing sponsorships which can help us cover the costs of hiring pitches and buying equipment, allowing us to keep costs for our players as low as possible. We’re also exploring ways of supporting players from disadvantaged backgrounds, to make the sport more inclusive and accessible at all levels.

What’s your goal for 2023?

In 2023, we’re excited to be entering a Women’s, Men’s and two Mixed teams to compete in the National Touch Series. Our aim is to consistently enter these four teams across the series and improve on our performances from last year to consolidate our positions in our national divisions.

We also want to support more of our players representing our regional side (South West Saxons) in the Nationals. This tournament provides fantastic opportunities for players to develop and enjoy representing their regions and provides a huge boost to our development as a club when they return to club duties having experienced the top standard of the national game.

Find out more about Exeter Touch at

We are England Touch

Some space. A ball. Your mates. A game
Your team. A competition. Maybe a trophy or two
Work hard. Develop skills. Get selected. Represent your nation
Volunteer time. Pick up a whistle. Make a difference
This is England Touch. Pick up a ball and play!