National Touch Series opening weekend round-up
Mixed National Touch Series action was back on the agenda for the first time in nearly two years this weekend with the opening rounds of the 2021 Elite and Development Series.
The basic stats are impressive alone – more than 580 players, tens more referees and staff, 144 matches featuring 48 teams from 32 clubs across six fields, all happening at the home of Banbury RFC.
This was also a very competitive NTS weekend and the difference between the various different knockout stages came down to several decimal places in the rankings, which themselves were based on league points earned, then try difference, then tries scored, encouraging attacking Touch throughout the morning.
Then in the afternoons one match after another on both days was decided by the odd try or two, with plenty of contests going into extra time, and some into 3 v 3 sudden death.
The Cup finals on both days were end-to-end, with Hot Custard pipping London Scorpions 5-4 in the Elite NTS and Cheltenham Tigers edging EY London Vipers 9-6 in the Development NTS.
The Plate and Bowl on Saturday were more straightforward, NQ Rebels beating Thames Valley Vikings 8-4 in the former and London Eagles 2 overcoming Cambridge Bees 6-3 in the latter.
But on Sunday both of these matches had thrilling finishes. Hosts Banbury nearly threw away their Plate final against near-rivals Oxford with a pair of substitutions while on their own line at the start of the 3 v 3 period. But Oxford failed to capitalise and when Banbury headed up to the other end they were rewarded with the match-winning score.
The Bowl final was no less tense, with precious little to separate a youthful Wigan Spartans and Norwich Rebels throughout, the northerners eventually prevailing 2-1.
All six of these matches are well worth another watch!
CLICK HERE to see the Elite NTS league table, and to re-watch both sessions of play
CLICK HERE to see the Development NTS league table, and to re-watch both sessions of play
Round 2 of both competitions will be back in Banbury, with the Development NTS on Saturday, July 10th, and the Elite NTS on Sunday, July 11th.