Healthy training numbers for Touch’s Return to Play
Touch teams across the country have been back in full training for just over a month now, and player numbers are in rude health with many clubs seeing increases.
England Touch – along with the Touch offerings of the RFU and RFL – moved to Stage 4 in its Return to Play programme at the start of September, allowing for full training within clubs and inter-club fixtures while also taking into consideration social distancing, hygiene and contact tracing protocols off the field.
Clubs from as far afield as Canterbury, Exeter, Wigan and Newcastle have been embracing the opportunity to get back onto the field with playing numbers often up on pre-lockdown and a continuing healthy mix of men and women participating.
New clubs have joined the Association, making the most of the structured advice and processes provided centrally and the discussion groups sharing best practice across the country.
Several cities and towns have their local leagues up and running and clubs have been arranging their own fixtures and small tournaments, again all within established and approved guidelines.
While encouraging clubs to grow locally England Touch’s management is also mindful of the broader national circumstances, and for the time being is keeping its High Performance training programme online for at least the remainder of 2020 to avoid bringing together hundreds of athletes to one location from all parts of the country.
Chief Executive Chris Simon says that it is essential to maintain this balance and that he has been delighted with how clubs have responded over the last few weeks.
“We continue to be really happy with how Touch across England is progressing with Return to Play,” he says. “We have ongoing dialogue with all our clubs and it’s fantastic to see them sharing best practice and to actively discussing amongst themselves via the groups we have set up as an Association.
“It is also brilliant to see clubs arrange fixtures amongst themselves to get back to game time and strengthen existing relationships. We are also using this current period as an opportunity to work with our regions and develop the structures and support networks on a local level to help the sport thrive even more across the country.
“Nevertheless, we are also very aware of the ongoing national picture, which is why we took the decision to keep our Return to Play at Stage 4 and with it, our activity at a local, rather than regional level. This also has an impact on our High Performance programme which as a result has had to remain online for the time being. This has been successful over the summer with individual squads working together via Zoom, and while we’re looking forward to getting everything back to normal we’re making sure that we take the appropriate steps at the right time.”