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RFL formal partnership with England Touch Rugby


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As a lifelong supporter of rugby league and someone who has been involved with Touch Rugby for the last 8 years this is great news. Touch is a very inclusive game that can boost the participation of full contact league as well for both the mens and womens game and is far more similar in structure to league than Union.

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5 minutes ago, DoubleD said:

Can someone more knowledgeable clarify, is this the version of non contact rugby that Union has tried to own and had it under their figures for Sport England participation funding?

My knowledge on this is near over a decade old, but the RFL and the RFU were both claiming touch participation figures. 

There was at one stage a ridiculous situation where an individual was polled and claimed to play Touch Rugby, they were then asked if it was RL or RU.

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1 hour ago, DoubleD said:

Can someone more knowledgeable clarify, is this the version of non contact rugby that Union has tried to own and had it under their figures for Sport England participation funding?

Touch rugby in England has now effectively split between the now RFL-affiliated (and better established/competitive) England Touch and the RFU’s new Touch Union. 

Touch Union rules have some noticeable differences, eg the defending team has to touch the ball carrier twice with different defenders to effect a ‘tackle’, there’s no rollball/PTB (tackled player must tap and pass instead), and you can kick (below head height). Only a two-metre offside rule instead of seven metres as in proper Touch, and Tag.

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12 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

Touch rugby in England has now effectively split between the now RFL-affiliated (and better established/competitive) England Touch and the RFU’s new Touch Union. 

Touch Union rules have some noticeable differences, eg the defending team has to touch the ball carrier twice with different defenders to effect a ‘tackle’, there’s no rollball/PTB (tackled player must tap and pass instead), and you can kick (below head height). Only a two-metre offside rule instead of seven metres as in proper Touch, and Tag.

Thanks. Why the split? It’s unlike union to let go of something they had under control without a fight. Is it anything to do with the new Touch rugby head who is an ex RL man?

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1 hour ago, DoubleD said:

Thanks. Why the split? It’s unlike union to let go of something they had under control without a fight. Is it anything to do with the new Touch rugby head who is an ex RL man?

I think the RFU like to be the masters of their own destiny rather than have a partnership.

I think it’s a good win for RL. I don’t expect touch union to particularly explode in popularity. I anticipate more than anything, it will be played solely within RU club setups. On the other hand, I feel that ETA are deserved governors of Touch Rugby and has more potential to grow. If an exclusive partnership with ETA can reinforce participants perceptions that they are playing a variant of RL, then that’s a great thing.

Edited by Sports Prophet
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1 hour ago, Man of Kent said:

One of the things that bothered me about the split of the ETA from O2 Touch  was the possible withdrawal of O2  sponsorship, it appears my fears have been realised. Given the limited budget that the RFL operate on other sources of revenue will be necessary to maximise the potential of this opportunity

My first thoughts were that Betfred may fill the void although I`m not sure that having a gambling outfit as the major sponsor for such a grass-roots organisation is ideal, alternatively it may not matter at all.

One alternative I thought would be to seek the possible involvement of Cazoo, a company that has already shown an interest in sponsoring a Rugby League related event.

It`s been interesting to read of your different experiences playing the different versions of Touch and Tag. As someone who plays the sport do you think the new versions of union Touch pose a threat to the more League based Touch rules. I have read from @jacobus amongst others there has been some resistance to the switch. I think that if the Rugby League can the get the Touch side of things working then the Rugby League Tag side of things will evolve naturally out of that. A sport which is even more obviously closely related to League.

My thoughts were that big tournaments clearly based under the RFL/IRL banner would be a good first step, but of course these take money. 

Interested to hear from someone who is involved at the grass-roots level.

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6 hours ago, Sports Prophet said:

I think the RFU like to be the masters of their own destiny rather than have a partnership.

I think it’s a good win for RL. I don’t expect touch union to particularly explode in popularity. I anticipate more than anything, it will be played solely within RU club setups. On the other hand, I feel that ETA are deserved governors of Touch Rugby and has more potential to grow. If an exclusive partnership with ETA can reinforce participants perceptions that they are playing a variant of RL, then that’s a great thing.

Having read the article from @Man of KentI think this is a huge win for RL. I don’t see the union version gaining much traction beyond the clubs as you say and ETA is so well embedded, reinforcing the link to RL can only be beneficial

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6 hours ago, The Rocket said:

It`s been interesting to read of your different experiences playing the different versions of Touch and Tag. As someone who plays the sport do you think the new versions of union Touch pose a threat to the more League based Touch rules. I have read from @jacobus amongst others there has been some resistance to the switch. I think that if the Rugby League can the get the Touch side of things working then the Rugby League Tag side of things will evolve naturally out of that. A sport which is even more obviously closely related to League.

Hey, Rocket.

As I was saying in the other thread, Touch is difficult to play well. 

Also, the seven metre offside combined with a ‘dump’ (a quick rollball initiated by the ball carrier to win the ruck) make it aerobically demanding. 

In some ways, Touch is more a running game than a ball game and if you’re not fit, it’s hard work.

It seems the RFU has noted this and tweaked the rules to reduce the offside to two metres and removing the rollball. This undoubtedly will slow it down. They’ve compensated for the lack of space for the attacking side that these tweaks will cause by requiring two defenders to effect a touch tackle instead of one.

I think @Sports Prophet is probably right in that it’ll only be played at RU clubs, mostly as a means to give veterans a way to play some form of social rugby in their retirement. 

I note my local RU club is saying those who want to play traditional rules/competitive touch can play for the separate, England Touch-affiliated local touch club.

Edited by Man of Kent
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NRL Touch Football[edit]

152px-NRL_Touch_Football_logo.svg.png
 
NRL Touch Football logo

On August 13, 2013, Touch Football Australia and the National Rugby League announced a joint-venture partnership between the two organisations to work together and form the largest sporting community in Australia.[3] The partnership resulted in a major boost to funding and promotion of touch football across the country, with an aim to boost participation rates of both sports. As part of the partnership, the "NRL Touch Football" brand was created to align the marketing of the sport to the NRL brand profile.

There are now over 600,000 registered members and 500,000 children who participate in Touch Football and according to Australian Sports Commission statistics, it is among the top participation based, organised sports in Australia.

What the RFL can eventually aim for.

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Touch is massive in Australia and also New Zealand who both dominate the game on the global stage with many players like Kalyn Ponga and Daejarn Asi of the North Queensland Cowboys having major touch backgrounds in addition to their league prowess.

ETA is the one with the global affiliation so we are on the right horse so to speak with partnering here.

Two players from my club (Yorkshire Thorns) now partnered with Leeds Rhinos played in Malaysia a couple of years ago for the mixed over 30s England Touch team.

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14 hours ago, DoubleD said:

Having read the article from @Man of KentI think this is a huge win for RL. I don’t see the union version gaining much traction beyond the clubs as you say and ETA is so well embedded, reinforcing the link to RL can only be beneficial

I play walking rugby at my own union club. Almost all participants are rugby fans and enjoy both codes.

It's aimed at everyone but particularly older or injured players. 

It's spreading and gaining popularity with fat old bug gers like me who want to re-live their youth, get some exercise whilst having a laugh with mates.

We've got a tournament at the national stadium in Wales in March. Granted, its walking rules not touch rugby rules. Not identical but have similarities.

Almost all of us don't have an issue with union or league. It's all rugby to be enjoyed

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On 27/12/2021 at 23:57, Man of Kent said:

Thanks for posting this, I wasn't aware. I already flatly refuse to go anywhere near O2 products and this just reinforces my position.

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Looking at the locations it's split into 6 (7 depending on how you split London) regions https://www.englandtouch.org.uk/play/where-to-play/map-and-contacts/  but there are clubs based all over. However if you dig deeper "North East Raiders" are the rep side with players trialling out from their clubs to play regionally then nationaly and potentially internationally so clear pathways in place. I think it's a good idea but definitely a 2 way street as there aren't many Yorkshire based side "Yorkshire Thorns" in Leeds are the main one they have backing from the Rhinos community wise which is good. Potentially one in York but the page has been quiet for a while. I think England touch will benefit from potential of "all year rugby" as well as fans of League that fancy giving touch a go but more visible teams or leagues need to be present maybe on the back of the exsisting RFL community game or a tag league model. 

Edited by BridBeachRL
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On 27/12/2021 at 23:47, DoubleD said:

Thanks. Why the split? It’s unlike union to let go of something they had under control without a fight. Is it anything to do with the new Touch rugby head who is an ex RL man?

Mark Croston has been head of England Touch for quite a few years, so I don't think it's that.

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By rights every Rugby Union and Rugby League club should have a Touch/Tag and even some form of Semi Contact like X- League ? section it's the future as adds membership and bar takings.

The real task I noticed in England as someone said before that Competitive Touch Rugby can be very anal to some plus a lot of ex full contact players ever find it tough on the cardio or complete different game and the 3 drives to get the slowest fatty off side just Rugby Lite.

Edited by EggFace
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On 30/12/2021 at 09:25, BridBeachRL said:

Looking at the locations it's split into 6 (7 depending on how you split London) regions https://www.englandtouch.org.uk/play/where-to-play/map-and-contacts/  but there are clubs based all over. However if you dig deeper "North East Raiders" are the rep side with players trialling out from their clubs to play regionally then nationaly and potentially internationally so clear pathways in place. I think it's a good idea but definitely a 2 way street as there aren't many Yorkshire based side "Yorkshire Thorns" in Leeds are the main one they have backing from the Rhinos community wise which is good. Potentially one in York but the page has been quiet for a while. I think England touch will benefit from potential of "all year rugby" as well as fans of League that fancy giving touch a go but more visible teams or leagues need to be present maybe on the back of the exsisting RFL community game or a tag league model. 

There are teams in Leeds (Yorkshire Thorns), Driffield, Catterick that play in regional and national competitions and feed into NE Raiders along with teams in the Newcastle/Durham and wider north east areas.

There are other more local events aimed at mass participation run from some of the rugby league clubs around Yorkshire but these are mostly teams of friends who wish to play together in small events in their local area and don’t wish to get involved further even though they are often good enough to. As far as I know these include Leeds, Bradford, Batley and Wakefield though there are probably more.

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On 30/12/2021 at 22:32, EggFace said:

By rights every Rugby Union and Rugby League club should have a Touch/Tag and even some form of Semi Contact like X- League ? section it's the future as adds membership and bar takings.

The real task I noticed in England as someone said before that Competitive Touch Rugby can be very anal to some plus a lot of ex full contact players ever find it tough on the cardio or complete different game and the 3 drives to get the slowest fatty off side just Rugby Lite.

It’s just different in some key aspects like the ruck/ptb being totally different to league or union in that in both contact games the defensive player making the tackle stays next to the ball but in touch must instantly retreat which is alien to a pure full contact player and they get offside a lot due to that. It is aerobically tough but a well policed offside makes the game far more open and less messy and frustrating to play.

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On 02/01/2022 at 10:46, arcticchris said:

It’s just different in some key aspects like the ruck/ptb being totally different to league or union in that in both contact games the defensive player making the tackle stays next to the ball but in touch must instantly retreat which is alien to a pure full contact player and they get offside a lot due to that. It is aerobically tough but a well policed offside makes the game far more open and less messy and frustrating to play.

When I played unofficial for training be it at a Union/League club it seemed to just be get the ball and have a go but proper Touch is target the slowest/fattest player on defence and its the same faces doing the 3 man drive...when I payed 10 years or more ago it was really fun but went back last year after a 5 year or more lay off and just didn't find fun like I used to sadly it was all talk of tactics and Whats App group discussions.

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