England Touch Association receives recognition from Sport England
The England Touch Association (ETA) has taken one of the most significant steps forward in its development following its recognition as a National Governing Body for Touch Rugby by Sport England.
While acknowledging the place Touch Rugby has within the community programmes of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League, Sport England has recognised the total focus given to the sport by the ETA, and the work which has been undertaken by the Association to develop Touch or Touch Rugby at all levels, from informal social games up to an international level sport.
The ETA’s application process lasted more than five years, and Chief Executive, Chris Simon, thanked everyone whose hard work has paid off with this announcement.
“This recognition as a National Governing Body by Sport England is one of the most significant things to happen to the ETA in our history,” he said. “It is reward for all of the hard work which has been put in at all levels of the organisation, from establishing robust governance structures and imaginative grassroots and schools’ initiatives, through growing the National Touch Series and finalising the University Touch Championship’s place in the BUCS calendar, to expanding our High Performance programme to lead the way in Europe.
“A massive thank you to everyone within the organisation and across the sport – to our board directors past and present, management team and the huge number of volunteers at the ETA; as well as all those that volunteer in our regions, clubs and leagues across England.
“This announcement is another step on our journey as a National Governing Body, but it is not the end of what we want to achieve.
“We strongly believe Touch can play a huge part in people’s general physical and mental well-being, from picking up a ball in the playground, park, or local club, to representing your club, region or country at the more competitive end of the sport.
“The sport is growing rapidly across the university sector and becomingly increasing popular in primary and secondary schools, and we have no doubt that in years to come it will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people across the country.”
Sport England’s Executive Director of Partnerships, Phil Smith, said: “We are delighted to recognise England Touch as a national governing body for the sport of Touch in England.
“England Touch submitted a very impressive application and is very clear on its remit, including how it will serve and support those coaching, officiating and participating in Touch. We look forward to seeing it continue to develop and grow Touch in the years to come, giving more people the opportunity to get active and take part in the sport.”
ETA Chair, Tim Loveridge, is hopeful that the Sport England recognition can open new doors for the game, as well as the Association itself.
“This is an important announcement, not just for the ETA as an organisation, but for Touch as a sport,” he commented. “As well as rewarding the hard work of Chris Simon, Sammie Phillips and the rest of the executive team for growing our structures, competitions and pathways, Sport England have shown their understanding that Touch is a code of rugby in its own right.
“This in turn will reinforce our messaging to potential sponsors and partners as we seek to secure funding and growth opportunities to maximise our home World Cup next summer.
“We will continue our commitment to having positive relationships with the RFL and RFU, but now with the recognition of having our distinct status as a National Governing Body in our own right.”
In the last 18 months, the ETA has:
- Continued to see exponential growth in individual and club membership of some 30%
- Successfully delivered the largest European Championships and inaugural Atlantic Youth Touch Cup featuring teams from China, the USA and South Africa
- Been confirmed as the host of the 2024 Touch World Cup in Nottingham, with an expected 125-plus teams attending, with 3,000 participants and an estimated £5m of economic impact on the region
- Joined Australia and New Zealand as one of only three ‘Tier 1’ Federation of International Touch nations
- Entered 20 teams into the European Touch Championships and Atlantic Youth Touch Cup, winning 14 Golds, two Silvers and a Bronze from the 17 competitions across the two events
- Increased the number of divisions within the Nationals at both Junior and Masters levels
- Expanded the National Touch Series to a record number of clubs and teams and organised the first British Universities and Colleges Sport University Touch Championships
- Supported the expansion of regional development competitions
- Agreed a partnership with In2Touch as a preferred League Provider, with the two organisations working together to support the development of Touch leagues across the country
- Collaborated with Boing on a set of dedicated resources for schools, including specially designed games to develop and enhance core skills aligned with the national curriculum for physical education
- Organised and run two National Touch Schools’ events for primary and secondary aged children, as well as involvement in a number of county School Games events
- Completed an agreement with the Civil Service Sports Council for Touch to be one of their sports of choice for their 140,000 members