Combined British and Irish team to tour South Africa
8 Nov 2019 @ 7:00 UTC
Higher representative honours will be an added incentive for competitors at the 2020 European Championships.
The home nations of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England will unite under a single banner to create men’s, women’s and mixed open representative teams to each challenge the might of South Africa in a three-test series in Cape Town in 2021.
FIT Event Director, Mr Gary Reynolds, said “A new continental event for Asia was the obvious addition to our event calendar. Unfortunately, the opportunities in other parts of the world are not always so evident. South Africa is the only active FIT member on the African continent, so the chance to establish a regional competition in this part of the world is unlikely in the short term.”
General Secretary of the South African Touch Association (SATA), Mr Siphiwe NE Khumalo, said: “We are 100% behind all efforts to attract more international competition for South Africa, and we are looking forward to hosting the British & Irish teams in Cape Town.”
Support for the concept from Ireland, Scotland and Wales is resounding with each country endorsing the involvement of their representatives. Gary said, “Each country felt the possibility to create a unique and exciting opportunity for players, coaches and referees alike to not only achieve higher representative honours but also contribute towards global development could not be overlooked.”
Recently appointed CEO of the Scottish Touch Association, Duncan Campbell, concurred, “The concept of a British & Irish representative Touch team is incredibly exciting.
“Not only does it create a playing opportunity that transcends national squad representation, but it also creates a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for our friends at South African Touch to host international Touch in their beautiful country. We’re delighted to support this initiative and look forward to working with the other home nations.”
Alex Welch, Managing Director of Wales Touch Association added, “We’re excited to be a part of the journey in taking touch to the next level. We fully support the creation of this team, in which our elite players will relish the opportunity to represent.
“We believe that it will not only provide our players with an opportunity to compete on the highest stage, it will further assist in the growth and development of our sport.”
A working group consisting of one delegate from each of the home nations, plus Gary Reynolds, will share responsibility for the touring teams. Their first order of business will be to identify and appoint coaching teams and set the selection criteria.
Meanwhile, South Africa has appointed Labeeb Levy to the event working group. Labeeb said “It’s a massive honour and privilege for South Africa to host the touring group.
“Cape Town is the perfect setting with its multicultural environment and experience in hosting world-class events, including the 2007 Touch World Cup.”
Labeeb added, “This will provide opportunities for local players to participate in an international flavoured competition which might not always be possible due to various financial constraints.”
Planning will commence immediately giving English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish players and referees a little extra to play for at the European Championships in Nottingham next July.