The Korea Herald


Korea Touch reaches out

By Korea Herald

Published : March 18, 2014 - 20:50

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The Korea Touch Association will kick-start its 2014 season Saturday with an open day in Jamwon Park, next to the Han River.

The touch rugby event will involve skills practices, coaching clinics and an introduction to the game for complete beginners, followed by a casual mini-tournament.

The KTA has seen most of its old hands leave in recent years, according to event organizer Dain Leathem, but a large influx of new players meant that last year saw an uptick in participation.
Chris Prasad competes for the Exiles in a past Korea Touch Association tournament. (KTA) Chris Prasad competes for the Exiles in a past Korea Touch Association tournament. (KTA)

“We had another big turnover last year, and we formed a new committee, but we had a much bigger year in terms of player turnout from the year before,” he said.

“We had a lot of new teams last year. I would say about half the teams were either completely new teams or new players in different teams.”

The KTA typically holds five tournaments a year, in addition to social games on Saturdays. Each tournament has about 10 teams of 12 players, but last year’s new teams pushed that to 16 teams for one tournament.

“The first tournament (of the year) we had 16 teams, which is the highest turnout we’ve had for about five or six years, and that was really great to kick-start the season with so many,” said Leathem. “Logistically that was the most we could have, because we only have two pitches (in Seoul).”

He said that the teams had progressed well, making it a competitive season, which he welcomed after a few years of domination by a handful of teams.

“We had a lot of teams develop who were brand new, who at the end of the year were playing really good touch. Which is really good because we don’t want to see the same teams winning all the time,” he said.

Touch is a noncontact version of rugby, which allows a wider range of players to get involved. Leathem said the KTA encouraged teams to be coed, and that some of the players were in their 50s.

And while the teams were mostly comprised of expats, including one Japanese team, there was one Korean team and many Koreans who tried it found it easy to pick up and get involved. Leathem said that there was no equipment required, and recommended the open day or the Saturday sessions for curious players.

“The tournaments can be quite competitive,” he said. “And we have had some people say they are a bit too nervous to play in a tournament.”

Leathem said that he and two others would help with the coaching in the Saturday sessions in Jamwon for new players, which anyone could join.

Besides Leathem and his wife, there will be a qualified coach from New Zealand. “We get people up to scratch as fast as possible,” he said, adding that Saturday’s open day would have the most coaching.

“Part of it is to try to attract new people and, also, that’s how a lot of teams find new players,” he said.

There will be a social event after the open day at Sin Bin sports pub, the KTA’s main sponsor, in Itaewon from 5 p.m.

For more information visit the Korea Touch Assocation’s Facebook page.

By Paul Kerry (