CRLA and Touch Canada Inc. (‘Touch Canada’) have announced their intention to enter into a formal partnership that will see a new programme established, with both organizations aiming to have rugby balls in the hands of all ages, and especially children, across Canada.
Touch Rugby is derived from league training drills and is growing across the region. The game became popular in its own right and, by the 1980’s, established as a sport under governing body, the Federation of International Touch. The sport is now played across the world in over 50 countries and is one of the rare, thrilling sports in which men and women compete in teams together, and at international level.
Canada Rugby League Association president, Paul O’Keefe, said of the link up: “Touch is very similar to rugby league but it takes the body contact out of the game; players need to develop all the same core skills. It is also a terrific way of keeping fit, socialising and having fun.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a rugby-dominated nation and can see what is lacking here in the development of most players in Canada. We all played backyard touch rugby before we even started school in Australia. In Canada, a large number of players are not even introduced to a rugby ball until they are in secondary school, which is far too late. This new partnership will provide a much-needed platform to introduce the sport to children. It is a great, new initiative and, most importantly, a game played in accordance with highly refined and regulated international rules.”
One of Touch Canada’s main goals is to ensure that Touch is offered, and played, in a consistent manner in each province or territory, leading to a team being selected for the next Touch World Cup, to be held in Malaysia in 2019.
Touch Canada president, Joyce Lim, who is actively playing the sport and most recently competed at the US Touch Nationals in 2015, commented: “We are thrilled to be entering into a formal partnership with CRLA to harness the synergies between the two sports and accelerate playing opportunities for all Canadians.”