The Rugby Football Union has today announced an expansion of its O2 Touch initiative after signing new partnerships with In2Touch and the England Touch Association.
The three-year deals will see In2Touch and the England Touch Association (ETA) work exclusively with the RFU and O2 Touch to expand the reach of and participation in Touch across the country.
The RFU, working with O2, aims to establish 75 new O2 Touch Centres by next month, and a further 100 during 2013/14.
As a result of these partnerships, the RFU claims the initiative will:
- See the 16 existing In2Touch-owned leagues in England re-branded under the RFU/O2 Touch Rugby banner
- Grow the profile of and increase the participation rate in these existing leagues
- Set up and deliver new leagues under the RFU/O2 Touch Rugby banner
- Increase Touch participation with priority of importance placed upon adults (aged 14+) in clubs and generally throughout communities in England
- Increase the number, and improve the quality, of Touch referees and coaches in England through providing dedicated courses and qualifications by working with the ETA
- Support the ETA’s representative Touch teams and enhance and widen the player pathways through RFU funding of international team wear.
Alastair Marks, RFU head of rugby growth said: ‘We are delighted to be joining forces with two quality organisations in In2Touch and the ETA. They both have a wealth of expertise and experience in touch which will be invaluable as we look to grow the game’s profile and increase participation. These partnerships will help us expand our offer beyond our existing 51 club-based and ten university-based O2 Touch Centres. They will also see O2 Touch entering the league market for the first time. Touch is a great way to keep fit and have fun and we are looking forward to introducing even more people to playing.’
Michael Abromowitz, managing director, In2Touch added: ‘The RFU, with the launch of the O2 Touch programme, have embarked on a fantastic initiative which we are very proud to be involved in and assist in hopefully becoming the premier Touch programme, not just in Europe, but the World. We are really looking forward to working with the RFU and the many rugby clubs affiliated to the RFU, to assist them in creating sustainable programmes of Touch activity that will hopefully become a mainstay of every rugby community in England.’
Gregg Cropper, President, ETA commented: ‘England Touch is very excited about the partnership we are entering into with the RFU. We have an established framework for touch in England, but the sport has a relatively low profile. By partnering with the strongest brand in world rugby, we truly believe we can take the sport to new levels – both in terms of participation numbers and performance. Touch is a fantastic and extremely accessible sport for men and women of all ages and ability, and this partnership will enable a much greater percentage of the population to experience it firsthand.’
To get involved in O2 Touch sign up at www.rfu.com/o2Touch