If you thought that rugby was a game just for huge and powerful men think again. For last two weeks the 02 touch rugby tournament in University Parks has been getting male and female students from across the university in the sun and involved in rugby.
The rules are engineered specifically to involve players that are new to the game, or perhaps haven’t had a chance to play since leaving school.
There are seven members in a team, of which one must be girl, and five of the squad must be new to rugby or not played competitively last year.
Also, unlike other college sports, teams can be made up of players from anywhere in the university, regardless of college. This has lead to some intriguing encounters including Hertford II’s vs Touch Me Up Tony and The Flaming Drongoes, and The Grempletonians Vs Hudson and Hamishes Medics.
The tournament is structured into three tiers: The Premiership, The Championship, and National League 1 each consisting of two pools of three. The winners of their pool each week play off against each other the division championship and promotion to the league above. There are also tense relegation play-offs between the bottom two teams. The current Premiership sees the likes of Teddy Hall, Hertford, Regent Swanns, and Can’t Touch my Axolotl up against eachother. However the tournament’s ruthelessly swift system of promotions and relegations could see the power balance shift considerably as the weeks go by.
By all accounts the event has been going down well with its participants, including Toby Morris from Hertford: ‘I haven’t played rugby at all since year 9 PE classes, but have really taken to touch rugby. I’m still getting to grips with the tactics but it really doesn’t seem to matter – it’s a sport that pretty much anyone can get involved with and enjoy at any level. Great way to get out in the sun and meet new people.’
His team-mate Katie was also extremely enthusiastic: “Whoever said that girls can’t throw was proved wrong at the tournament. I didn’t realise that translating my ball skills to the pitch could be so much fun. It’s all for the bantz!”
As well as being fun, the tournaments are shaping up to be a great way of attracting new players to the sport who otherwise may not have given it a go.
Captain of the Hertford 1st team Charlie Brown first played rugby at last years mixed touch tournament, a year later she started in the women’s varsity match and picked up a Blue.
She commented that: ‘Mixed touch rugby completely demystifies any preconceptions that some people have about the sport and is a great way of getting people involved. Last week we had eight girls in the squad, who knows one of them could go on to play for the university.’
The tournaments continue every Thursday until the 13th June which will see the culmination of the touch rugby season with rugby touch cuppers, in which the touch champions of the university will be crowned.