Participants flocked to Colwyn Bay to take part in Touch.
The new, Welsh Rugby Union-run Touch Rugby leagues have kicked off around Wales this week with a lot of enthusiasm already evident for the venture.
There is now a league in each rugby region with Cardiff, Caerleon, Swansea, Ammanford and Colwyn Bay the host venues for the inaugural season of the national leagues. There will be regional finals and the regional winners will take part in a national finals day at the Millennium Stadium.
Following successful 'Try Touch' events, Swansea and Colwyn Bay were the first new 10-week leagues to get off the ground, along with the long-established Cardiff Leagues held at Hailey Park, Llandaff North.
The Dragons and Scarlets leagues kick off on Monday (6pm) and Wednesday (6pm) at Caerleon and Ammanford respectively with limited spaces for teams and individuals still available.
WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey said, "The Welsh Rugby Union acknowledges the need to adapt and widen the forms of the game on offer to the Welsh public, especially at a time when changing lifestyles, work patterns, family structures and additional distractions all provide considerable challenges when trying to increase and maintain the number of players participating in traditional rugby in Wales.
"Touch, and other alternative forms of the game are key to our rugby strategy moving forward in allowing as many players as possible from as many different sections of society to benefit from the team spirit and camaraderie that comes with being part of a rugby team.
"Touch is a fantastic way of keeping fit; anyone can play it, it's fun and it certainly hones key rugby skills as proven by the fact that all our national squads use touch and forms of touch on a regular basis as part of their conditioning and skills programmes.
"Touch is perfect for groups of families, friends, colleagues and sports teams so we would really encourage everyone to get in touch and give it a go."
Over 200 participants took part at Swansea University Fields and Colwyn Bay Rugby Club on Wednesday evening with a wide range of players, young and old, male and female, experienced touch players and players who have never played the game before.
WRU Touch organiser and WRU regional development manager Ben Rose, who was at the Swansea event said, "The Try Touch events were successful and as a result we had 12 teams registered for the Swansea League by Wednesday evening which has since increased to 16 teams with additional individuals and teams registering. We had some very young players, some older players who had fallen away from rugby and others who were totally new to the game.
"The evening was very enjoyable for everyone who took part, and there are still some opportunities for individuals to turn up and join a team on the night or for new teams to join."
Mark Barnes, who has joined the Colwyn Bay league said, "Having heard about the WRU Touch league through my son's rugby team Rhyl Under 12s, a few of the coaches and parents thought it would be a good idea to give it ago.
"I had never played any rugby before but after attending a couple of the excellent taster sessions, I decided to join the club team which has been named 'Keepin it Rhyl'. Everyone is made to feel very welcome whether you're part of a team or taking part as an individual - I would urge anyone thinking about it to grab their boots and come along.
"The weekly League events are very well run, friendly and full of laughs and along with the obvious fitness and skills benefit, the real motivator for me is the chance to play at the Millennium Stadium for the regional winners."
Philippa Farell, who has also joined the Colwyn Bay league added, "I am a very active person and have always loved trying new sports. I played one tag rugby tournament in high school and thoroughly enjoyed myself. My main sports are netball, wheelchair basketball and tennis. I wanted to find a new sport new for the summer and liked the sound of the WRU touch league straight away. The league is very laid back and there are many people willing to teach the newcomers the rules. It's a great way to meet likeminded people in a friendly environment. As it is a mixed league it is great to see the skills different people have and what each person can bring to the game. I'm enjoying myself so much I'm hopefully going to join a club so I can play different types of rugby."
To join a league, contact the Regional WRU Touch organisers as follows: Dragons: Pat James (firstname.lastname@example.org) Scarlets: Jeff Roach (email@example.com) North Wales: Allan James (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ospreys: Tom Sloane (email@example.com)
NB The Cardiff Touch Leagues are full for this season
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.