Everyone likes to try their hand at their favourite Olympic sport after the games are over and, perhaps surprisingly for such a physical sport, the same happened after the 2015 Rugby World Cup. There was a huge uptick in interest for England Rugby’s game-changing touch rugby programme for men and women, and now more than 17,500 players have registered for a league or beginner’s TouchBase event, and are playing regularly.
Coach joined one of the sociable, open-to-all levels sessions which combine a workout, drills to learn the rules and skills, and a practice game. It was easy to find the group one balmy summer evening on Clapham Common [one of ten locations in London] – just follow the music.
A big PA system blasts out pop playlists throughout, giving the hour a more relaxed vibe than a bootcamp fitness class. The session began with a workout to limber up. This was a challenge – everyone found the finishing positions tough to hold, but there’s nothing like communal failure to help break the ice with strangers. To get the group comfortable with the ball, mini games are led by instructors with rules added and subtracted to get people used to passing and moving. To finish, there’s the chance to put it all into practice in a game.
The toughest part is remembering to back pedal 10 yards every time someone is tackled, which happens a lot. Good news: touch tackling favours beginners – people who have played rugby before tend to sprint through tackles, before having to run back further to the spot where they were tackled and slowing their team’s momentum.
England international and Saracens player Alex Goode was there and let Coach in on his top tip. “Like any team sport – from football, hockey, netball, you name it – it’s about moving the ball into space as much as possible,” Goode explained. “Make sure you learn your teammate’s names, say pass the ball right, pass to your left, I’ve got this man defensively… If you work as a team well you’ll always be successful.”
If you’ve ever played a sport that involves hand-eye coordination and don’t want to work out solo, give this a try.
First session is free, price after is £2-£4. Visit o2touch.co.uk (opens in new tab) for more.
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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