This summer. TOUCH RUGBY will confirm its status as the fastest growing team sport in Scotland. Now’s your chance to grab sporting glory - without the aches and bruises. \‘v/orris: Lorin McDougall
AS A PLAYER, SCOTLAND GRAND SLAM hero Sean Lineen was no lantern- jawed battering-ram. Instead. the legendary centre used his subtle skills to bewilder opponents and delight supporters.
It's apt. therefore. that l.ineen. having quit top-flight rugby. is now so passionate about a game based upon those very same skills of running and passing. Touch Rugby. in which a simple touch replaces the traditional rugby tackle. was formally introduced to Scotland by Lineen in l‘)‘)3. This summer‘s event. sponsored by 1).“ Hall. is the seventh annual tour- nament. lidinburgh. Glasgow and Aberdeen already have established leagues and. in l‘)‘)‘). Lineen and his organising team are spreading the gospel to Stirling and (ialashiels.
‘No bumps. bruises and scrapes — just the sexy bits of running and handling.‘ is what's promised. ‘lt's one of the best team sports in the world to play.~ continues Lineen. with typical enthusiasm. 'lt started in Australia in the early 80s as a beach sport and moved quickly across to my native New Zealand. where I got involved. It's so big in these countries.
it‘s just called “Touch”. The beauty of it is that anyone can play. especially if you don‘t like the physical side of
rugby. 'l‘hirty-four per cent of our players don't play normal rugby. so we‘re seeing plenty of converts and new people. It's the rugby equivalent
of five-a-side football. and a lot of
footballers who‘ve tried Touch Rugby love it.‘
Such is the sport’s success in Australia that over one million play the game and TV coverage has made its stars household names. Scotland has some basic obstacles to overcome before it can match these figures. ‘ln the Southern Hemisphere. the weather is a lot better.‘ explains Lineen. ‘The pub scene is also very big in Scotland. and there’s not enough emphasis on sport.'
Despite this. he can still boast some impressive statistics of his own. In lidinburgh alone. 1-H) teams and 1.500 players -~ including (iavin Hastings and Siren from Gladiators -- are involved every week in men‘s. women‘s and mixed leagues (post- match shirt-swapping optional). Major companies. such as the Royal Bank of Scotland are introducing their
'The beauty of it is that anyonecan play. especially if you don't erthe physical side ofrugbyf
employees to the game. and 1998 saw the advent of a Scottish Schools tournament featuring 32 schools. There is even talk of Scotland hosting the liuropean Championships. but Lineen is anxious not to lose sight of the essence of the game.
‘lt‘s more a participation sport than a spectator sport.‘ he says. 'You can relax in a different environment with friends and family together in the same game. even the same team. lt’s a lot of fun and everyone looks forward to the social side. Last year we had a mid-summer disco. an end-of-season prize-giving party at Murrayfield. and a beach party with a sand pit and palm trees at the (‘aledonian Brewery.’
When the new season starts in April. some will have their sights set on the National Finals in lidinburgh. during the last weekend of July. Others. in the true spirit of Touch Rugby. will try to dream up the funniest team name — 'Jim Telfer Ate My Hamster‘ will take some beating.
For information on the DM Hall Touch Leagues and to request a registration pack, phone 0131 554 0540 before Fri 12 Mar.
DM Hall Touch Leagues Major Sponsors m
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