2016 International Series Set to Blossom
27 Apr 2016 @ 7:00 UTC
The scene is set for a wonderful International and Trans-Tasman series at the Trusts Arena, Henderson, Auckland with respective national anthems and ceremonies concluded and action underway with fine weather predicted for the week ahead.
Australia, New Zealand and Japan will compete in the inaugural International series over the next two days with Australia and New Zealand set to renew their biennial battle; the first time the two leading nations met at the Touch World Cup this time next year.
"Just in terms of having everyone back from Australia again and introducing the Japanese contingent, it's great to have international touch back on again and we welcome and wish everyone competing this week the best of success," Ian Milne, 2016 Trans-Tasman Tournament Director said today following the opening ceremony and games.
The New Zealand Womens opened their 2016 campaign in emphatic style with a resounding 16-1 win over the Japan Womens Open team earlier ahead of the Mens Open encounters.
A very proud moment for Tomoya Ishikawa who opened the Japan team's account for this year's campaign, scoring in the 30th minute with her Mens Open counterpart, Daichi Yago scoring early in their clash against the New Zealand Mens Open team, currently underway.
For Bill Ker, the Secretary-General of FIT, it's a welcome return to the International Touch stage and competition.
"It is wonderful to see all the nations back again competing under the FIT banner and the spirit of international competition and specifically Japan," Ker said.
"This event effectively marks the commencement of the development of Japan Touch's assistance through TFA, and the Japanese teams we see here this week is the embryo really of what we will see at the 2019 Touch World Cup due to the development programs and international exposure afforded to them," he added.
"This event also effectively kick-starts the Touch World Cup cycle to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2019 following the very successful staging of the World Cup last year at Coffs Harbour and the European Championships to be conducted at Jersey in July."
Spearheading the global development effort, Colm Maguire, CEO Touch Football Australia is looking forward to a successful week ahead for the Australian teams and a bright future for the many Australian players on debut this week.
"It is great to see how the series and games have come since 2009, with the standard of competition and play improving significantly across the board and globe," he said.
"With the regular Trans-Tasman fixtures set in the calendar this helps us foster our leadership position with the global development of the sport; and we particularly look forward to unveiling the new breed of Australian athletes on the world stage at this event and as a pointer to success at the 2019 Touch World Cup in Malaysia.
A great highlight already at the event is seeing how far the development of the sport extends with Steve Roberts the World Cup winning captain of the Australian Mens Open making his debut as Japan Mens Open Coach this week.
They have already signalled their intent at this event notching four superb tries against the new-look New Zealand Mens Open team earlier, with the latter prevailing in the end by a 10-try margin.
Let's hope their development this week follows the proud emblem on their jerseys.
Article and photograph courtesy of Julian Buckmaster and TFA respectively.