THE VIALEX EDINBURGH TOUCH RUGBY LEAGUE is Scotland’s oldest touch rugby competition, having been on the go since 1995, when pioneer competitors included a star-studded team of internationalists such as current Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, tournament founding-father and present national age-grade supremo Sean Lineen, Scott and Gavin Hastings, David Sole, Tony Stanger and Derek Stark.
Apply now to get involved
This year’s league kicks off on 9th May with players of all standards coming together weekly at Inverleith Park. Applications must be in by Friday [16th March] so visit www.touch-scotland.co.uk to download an entry form.
“This is an opportunity to enjoy a great sport in a fun, safe and social environment We are the largest league in Scotland and when you join our league, you are joining in with over 400 other Touch players who all enjoy our professionally run event both on and off the pitch. We endeavour to provide the highest standards of organisation and overall competition,” said Viki Mendelsohn, managing director of Big Blue PR, the competition organisers.
“The organisers of the league were the same people who delivered a successful Touch World Cup in Edinburgh in 2011 so we can cater from the highly experienced to the absolute beginner. We have men’s, women’s and mixed leagues. It is a great way to come together with family, work mates and friends to get some exercise and, most importantly, have some fun,” she added.
What is Touch?
Touch is a minimal contact sport played on a pitch half the size of a rugby field (ie 50m x 70m). The game emphasises running, agility, passing, catching and communication. There is no tackling, lineouts, scrumming or kicking involved. This make it appealing to a wide range of ages and abilities, from juniors to masters and from slight to heavy builds.
The main aim of the game is for each team to score “touchdowns” and to prevent the opposition from scoring (One touchdown equals one point). Teams are made up of six players on the field at any given time, with up to eight substitute players on the side-line. Teams are categorized into Men’s, Women’s and Mixed divisions (mixed = three male + three female players). Players can substitute anytime during the game and as often as they like.
Attacking players must perform a ‘roll ball’ (between the legs) once they have been touched by a defender. Defenders must retire in a straight line five meters from the ‘roll ball’ mark. After 6 touches, the possession changes to the other team for their turn at attack. Penalties are awarded for a variety of infringements including, forward pass, offside, touch-and-pass, roll-ball over the mark and over-vigorous play.
The history of Touch
Touch started in Australia in the early 1960s as a social or “park” game and as a training technique for rugby league. It was not then viewed as a sport in its own right. It was formalised into a sport proper by the “Founders of Touch”, Bob Dyke and Ray Vawdon of the South Sydney Junior Rugby League Club. On 13th July 1968, the South Sydney Touch Football Club was formed and the sport of ‘Touch Football’ was born.
The first official game of Touch was played in late 1968 and the first official competition, organised by Dyke & Vawdon, was held at Snape Park, Sydney in 1969. From these humble beginnings the game quickly became a fully regulated and codified sport. It was first played in Brisbane in 1972 and by 1973 there were representative games. It had spread to New Zealand by 1975.
The establishment of the first national body, the Australian Touch Football Association came in 1976. A highlight came after the drawn Sydney Rugby League Grand Final of 1977 when the rematch needed a curtain-raiser and rugby league officials asked the newly formed ATFA to provide the prelude game. With a crowd in excess of 40,000, this game helped to raise the profile of Touch in Australia and was nothing short of spectacular according to Bob Dyke in the book “The Story of Touch”.
Another profile raiser came in 1978 when the Sydney Metropolitan Touch Football side played the touring Great Britain national rugby league team in a high-scoring match, with the local team winning with a disputed touchdown on the siren. As more people began to play Touch more organised competitions developed.