Touch Football is officially 50-years old in 2018 and Shark Valentine Holmes, himself a former junior touch star, at Rugby League Central today to help celebrate the milestone as the NRL made a significant announcement for the non-contact form of the game.
Holmes was joined by Manly legend Cliff Lyons, Jillaroos Maddie Studdon and Ali Brigginshaw, as well as representatives of Touch Football Australia in announcing a new competition and some exciting plans.
In a game-changing move for the sport of touch football, Touch Football Australia (TFA), in conjunction with their partner the NRL, is introducing an NRL Touch Premiership, with games to be played as curtain-raisers to NRL games from Round 11 this year.
Australian NRL Touch Football male and female players, who currently play in elite-level domestic and international competitions, will be selected for teams that will align with six NRL clubs – a mix from New South Wales and Queensland.
Two 30-minute games – a Men’s game and a Women’s game – will be played ahead of the main NRL event for seven rounds in total.
The games will be broadcast nationally through a mix of live and delayed broadcasts.
TFA CEO Steve Mitchell is thrilled about showcasing elite touch football to a broader audience in this, the 50th year of the sport, which was born out of rugby league in 1968.
“Touch football is Australia’s largest social sport, so it’s not generally considered a spectator sport, but everyone who gets the chance to witness the elite level of the game is in awe of how entertaining it is to watch,” Mitchell said.
“These players, both male and female, have been playing the sport since they were five or so, and the speed, the agility and the skill level is just phenomenal.
“We’ve seen so many touch football players move into the NRL – Benji Marshall, Kalyn Ponga, Valentine Holmes, Maddie Studdon and Ali Brigginshaw, for instance – so we’re excited about giving our touch players a tournament that allows them to showcase their skills in this sport on a national stage.”