Grassroots news round-up

The burgeoning version of Rugby League that is Touch Rugby has taken a further leap forward through the launch of a partnership between the Rugby Football League and the England Touch Association.

The initiative will build on the progress made last year, during which Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, Newcastle Thunder, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors competed in a Foundation Touch series, which embraced men’s and women’s teams.

RFL Chair Simon Johnson said: “This is a good fit for both organisations, as we aim to increase the number of people of all ages who enjoy Rugby League and Touch Rugby as a way of being fit, active, healthy and happy. The structure of Touch Rugby is similar to Rugby League, making it easy to pick up and fun to play – at whatever level. We believe more people can discover Rugby League through Touch Rugby, just as more people can discover Touch Rugby through Rugby League.”

Mark Croston, the Chair of England Touch – and a former RFL Vice President – added: “I took the opportunity to attend the first event and was delighted to see the Wigan Rugby League brand embracing our sport on a more formal basis.

“The fact is that every rugby player will play Touch, probably every week, if not every practice session, so if we can grow the number of people participating, supporting and viewing both sports we will benefit in so many ways.”

Marc Lovering, the RFL’s Director of Participation and Development, said: “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the ETA over the last few years, with significant crossover of personnel. To formalise that agreement and work to grow Touch will be a great step forward. They have some great pathways in place for players at all levels and we really see our focus supporting the development of more players which is becoming a focus area we identified to collaborate on.

“This newly formed partnership with the England Touch Association offers an excellent opportunity to offer players a pathway into Rugby League. We currently have a long-standing relationship with Try Tag Rugby and that has seen a surge in players taking up a playing offer with minimal contact and a reduced travel commitment. We have a growth strategy that looks to build a more flexible range of playing offers working with partners with specific expertise. We have such a good network of partners and relationships which will see us go from strength to strength offering alternatives supplementing the traditional 13-a-side contact game.”

Touch Rugby has grown substantially since South Sydney RL players used the minimal contact sport to stay fit during their off-season half a century ago. Tens of nations are affiliated to the Federation of International Touch, and thousands of players take part in World Cups and European Championships. Reigning champions England will host the coronavirus-delayed European Championships in 2022 in Nottingham while, domestically, the ETA has expanded considerably since its founding 25 years ago and now has around 130 affiliated clubs and leagues. And, in the Betfred Women’s Super League, former England Touch age group international Orla McCallion played opposite Chantelle Crowl (a former Manchester Touch player) when Leeds Rhinos met St Helens in the recent Grand Final.

Sammie Phillips, England Touch’s National Development Officer, said: “We’ve seen in Australia with the NRL and Touch Football Australia how much a positive and proactive partnership can be mutually beneficial, and by working closely together with the RFL we can grow both of our respective codes across England.

“We will be working together to get more people choosing to pick up a ball and run with it as their sport of choice, and then giving them the opportunity to progress within our respective codes, whether as a social or competitive player, and to potentially use their skills in both.

“We believe that community Rugby League clubs will view this partnership as an opportunity to include Touch Rugby in their own offering, and it will be fantastic to welcome them into the England Touch community, at whatever level they choose to engage with us.

“Having the Rugby League World Cup and European Touch Championships both in England in the same year is a unique opportunity for us to amplify the interest in our sports and to maximise participation across all ages, genders and backgrounds. We’re looking forward to working with our friends and colleagues at the RFL to achieve both our aims.”


Nearly 2,000 players had been registered ahead of the 2022 amateur Rugby League campaign by early last Friday afternoon.

That was the message to grassroots outfits in the Rugby Football League’s first Community Club Update of the year.

A spokesman said: “That’s fantastic, considering we only sent the links at 4pm on Thursday.”

Clubs were provided with a registration link in the update for those players who are paying their own membership fees, and another for those where the club itself is processing fees.

Meanwhile, the RFL is hosting a Club Webinar on Wednesday (12 January, 7.00pm). The webinar will focus on the Rugby League Survival Fund, which has been launched to help amateur outfits survive the financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further details of the fund can be found by clicking here.

The RFL confirmed, also, that the Philippines RL UK committee is seeking players of Filipino heritage for training and trials ahead of the London 9s and sanctioned test matches with IRL European member nations.


Wakefield outfit Eastmoor Dragons, whose renovation work at Woodhouse Road is nearing completion, are busy recruiting ahead of the 2022 campaign.

The Dragons are particularly excited about launching a Women’s team and a Girls’ Under 16s side. Training for the Women starts this Friday, at 6.45pm, while the Girls’ first session is on Saturday (10.30am).

Eastmoor’s Men’s Open Age side will visit National Conference League new boys Seaton Rangers, of Workington, on the first day of the new season on Saturday 5 March. New players are welcome for the first and second team, and at all youth and junior age levels.

Further information is available from Daz Fisher at


The Castleford & Featherstone ARL convenes this evening (Monday 10 January) at its Glasshoughton WMC base.

The meeting starts at 7.30pm, and items on the agenda include the league’s two knockout cups, and the planned relaunching of the representative side.


The National Conference League will revert to a divisional structure this year after having, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, operated on a localised basis in 2021, with Thatto Heath Crusaders accounting for Wath Brow Hornets in the end-of-season Grand Final following inter-league play-offs.

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