Home Nations Series ushers in return of International Touch
Touch is back with the announcement by the Federation of International Touch (FIT) that an Autumn International Series between England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales will tap off at the end of August.
"After the most challenging year for the world since 1945, we are thrilled there is some blue sky for our game with the return of Touch internationals in Europe," said Gary Reynolds, Events Director, FIT.
"We will be carefully monitoring the COVID situation in Europe, along with the organisers of this event, with the safety of all participants paramount."
Late summer return
The series will begin at the end of August and run throughout September and is a welcome and emotional return for International Touch in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The series will be played in the Men's Open, Women's Open and Mixed Open Divisions and will see England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales play against each other on designated weekends.
This unique and exciting structure will see England versus Scotland across the three divisions at one venue and Ireland versus Wales at a completely different venue.
Test match status
As a Tier 3 Classified tournament, the athletes participating will receive International Caps for each game. There will be International Series Winners in each division and an overall winner crowned at the competition's end.
Hannah Chrisp, a Scotland Women's Open Representative and a leading organiser of the series, said: "It's been a long slog with the last year dominated by COVID and numerous lockdowns.
"The prospect of organising and playing in an international test series this year is really exciting. It's a fresh concept for the northern hemisphere, and I can't wait for the return of international touch and see how Europe's biggest rivalries play out".
More crucially, the Autumn International Series concept has brought together representatives from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the planning and delivery of the competition.
While fierce rivals on the field, the shared goal of returning to the pitch has brought everyone together to launch the series and ensure it is delivered safely.
England Touch High Performance Director and Women's Open Head Coach Ben Powell added: "This is a great initiative, as it gets us back on the field, and it will be so different to the usual international touch we see here in Europe.
"The idea of weekly representation rather than a multi-day tournament will provide different challenges for athletes and coaches."