The Junior Touch Championships was created to fill a gap in the Touch Rugby development structure in Europe.
In addition to the Open divisions, there were more and more senior divisions being added to the Touch championships but no development pathway for players to gain experience prior to qualifying for the Open teams.
The JTC acts as a regular focal point to introduce young people to the sport of Touch in a culturally diverse environment; regardless of their origin, social status, gender, and sporting aptitude. Furthermore, it provides National Governing Bodies accredited with the Federation of International Touch with a pathway for the retention and further development of young people in the sport of Touch; coaching opportunities for those involved with youth development and a mechanism to introduce young people to refereeing.
The first JTC was held in 2014 in Swansea.
In 2015, the JTC saw the introduction of a Girls and Boys division, and 14 teams took part, including one from the Middle East, with referee support provided by the Touch Rugby world governing body, the Federation of International Touch.
The JTC 2016 was held in Arnhem with 24 teams, including 8 new Mixed 15 teams.
The tournament is now fully established as part of the Touch international calendar and has led to a number of national level junior championships. The benefit to the European Touch Associations is clear to see in the ages of players in the Open squads comes down.
This year the JTC was held in Dublin, Ireland between August 18th and 20th, and has proved to be the largest junior tournament in Europe to date.
The London Scottish Red Lions Touch Rugby has been working closely in the past two years to create a relationship with the England Touch Association, the Governing Body of the Sport of Touch Rugby in England. This relationship is promoting a step by step approach to create a performance pathways for players wishing to play at elite level.
Two of our junior players, Freya Aucken and Harry Hardman were pre-selected one year ago at the open trials, and after enduring 12 month of gruelling training at various venues across the Country, were selected to play with the England Girls U18 (Freya) and England Mixed U15 (Harry).
The Girls U18 pool had formidable teams representing Middles East, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the European Select, with the round matches results as follows:
England 4 – Wales 4
England 3 – Middles East 3
England 11 – Ireland 0
England 12 – Europe Select 0
England 4 – Scotland 0
Progressing to the knockout and playoff stages England defeated Middle East (9-2) and Scotland (7-0), winning against Middle East (4-1), and so been crowned European Champions.
The larger Mixed U15 pool saw England playing against Wales, France, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Middle East with the round matches results as follows:
Czech Republic 1 – England 14
Middle East 0 – England 11
Netherlands 2 – England 9
Wales 5 – England 3
Sweden 1 – England 8
Ireland 2 – England 6
France 4 – England 3
England 6 – Scotland 5
The England Mixed U15 team agonisingly losses against Wales and France prevented them to run for gold, however winning the bronze final against Scotland (6-4).
Freya Aucken, who won the Players' Player Award as voted by her team, scored 12 touchdowns and earned 7 England caps, while Harry Hardman scored 1 touchdown and earned 8 caps.
We are honoured and privileged to have two junior international touch players with the London Scottish Red Lions, and I would like to thanks their parents, Sally and Alexander Aucken, Ruth and Tim Hardman, for the hard work and support they have given to these two talented athletes.