With the Rugby League World Cup heading towards its final stages around the country, the Rugby Football League (RFL) has launched a new minimal-contact version of the game, aiming to take the sport to a much wider audience of men and women.
Play Touch Rugby League has been piloted over the past two years, and the RFL is now seeking licensed partners to deliver the programme at sports and leisure venues across the UK.
Play Touch Rugby League is part of the RFL’s new community game strategy, to deliver aspects of the traditional game without the high impact tackling.
David Gent, director of participation, said: ‘The professional game is attracting incredibly positive attention right now thanks to the huge home crowds attending World Cup games and the millions of viewers enjoying the international action on their television screens. We hope to use this national interest in the sport as a springboard to launch Play Touch Rugby League.’
‘We’ve had incredible feedback on the new format which will enable a much broader range of people to enjoy our sport and the physical benefits of playing regularly.’
‘We are hoping to attract delivery partners from outside of our immediate Rugby League community. The game can be played both indoors and outdoors in an area about the same size as a 5-aside football pitch. Leisure centres with sports halls or astroturf are ideal venues.’
‘The pilot programmes have been extremely successful, with venues regularly attracting 150 players on a weekly basis. Play Touch Rugby League provides leisure centre operators with a significant opportunity to generate income.’
50 licences have already been taken up by Professional Rugby League Foundations and the first Play Touch Rugby League sessions will begin in March 2014. Support for the licensees from the RFL includes collateral, marketing tools, operational advice and training. A national PR programme will also be raising profile for the new game across the UK.
Gent added: ‘The RFL is investing significant resource in the national promotion of Play Touch Rugby League. Licensees signing up now, and in the run up to the official launch in March 2014, will benefit from this as we work together to direct players to venues across the UK.’