The South African Touch Association (SATA) is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its first ever Touch Rugby World Cup in SA next year.
SATA is recognised by the South African Sports Council and is currently in the process of registering with the South African Sports Commission and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) – the governing body of sports in SA. The event itself has also been fully endorsed by Sports Minister Rev Dr Makhenkesi Stofile.
The World Cup, which will be hosted at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch from 17th to 21st January 2007 and is endorsed by the Federation of International Touch (FIT) , will feature 41 teams from 15 countries, including current world champions in the Men’s, Ladies and Mixed divisions, Australia, archrivals New Zealand, England, Japan and the USA, among others.
The event will be divided into seven divisions namely, Men’s Open, Ladies Open, Mixed Open, Mixed and Men’s Seniors (over 30′s), Men’s Masters (over 35′s) and Men’s Veterans (over 40′s). The top four teams in each division after the league stages will advance to the semifinals, with the respective winners then battling it out for the championship.
This prestigious event will mark the sixth Touch World Cup in the history of the sport. The inaugural tournament was held in Australia in1987, with SA participating in all the events since readmission into the world sporting arena in 1995. The last Touch Rugby Cup was hosted just outside of Tokyo in Kumagaya in Japan in May 2003 where Australia took the honours in all divisions, with New Zealand finishing second on the log standings across the board, while South Africa claimed the bronze medals in three of the four categories entered.
In a letter endorsing the event, Stofile stated “As an amateur sport promoting the participation in sport in line with the mission statement of the Ministry of Sport and Recreation South Africa, creating an active and winning Nation, I would like to extend my unequivocal support for this international event”.
Commenting on the event, SATA president Garth Macintosh said: “It is a great honour for South Africa to host this event. We would ask and hope for as much local support as possible to help our national sides take on the best the world has to offer.”
Touch rugby is one of the few sports in the world where men and women compete in the same arena and the broad spectrum across age groups illustrates the extent to which the game caters for everyone. The sport is definitely one of the fastest growing sports in SA mainly because of the ease of setting up playing fields, which is essentially the only requirement to host a game. Touch rugby has become quite popular in the previously disadvantaged areas in the past few years, which has increased interest in the game significantly.”
Most teams are expected to arrive for the showpiece early in January to acclimatize for the event.
What is Touch Rugby?
South Africans have played touch rugby on an informal basis for many years. Following phenomenal growth in popularity and prominence in Australia and New Zealand, Touch Rugby has also become more formalised in South Africa as it transitioned from the informal 1 touch that is played socially on school fields, beaches and just about any open area throughout the country on weekends, to the internationally accepted 6-down code which follows a more formalised league and tournament structure.
Touch is a non-contact game played on a field 70m by 50m (3/4 of a rugby field). There are 12 players in a team, 6 on the field at any given time, with 6 rolling substitutes. Both men and women play, in either a men’s team, a ladies team or a mixed team. Games consist of two halves of 25 minutes each. Each team has 6 consecutive possessions to try and score a try by crossing the try line without the attacking player being touched. If a try is not scored within these 6 possessions, possession is handed over to the opposition team after the 6 down or immediately on an error such as a dropped ball or a forward pass. Touch rugby is played internationally according to the Federation of International Touch (FIT) rules. These are commonly known as the 6 down rules, which differs to the informal style of 1 touch most commonly known in South Africa.
In the last fifteen years, Touch has developed to the point where South Africa now has around 10 000 registered players competing in 12 leagues across 9 regions of the country. Compare this to the numbers in Australia – over 940 000 participants – and New Zealand – over 150 000 registered players – and the future and growth of the sport in South Africa looks bright.
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