Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

NZ Touch teams gear up for World Cup showdown

Avatar photo
Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

As the countdown to the Touch Rugby World Cup in England draws near, the New Zealand Touch teams are preparing for what will be their biggest challenge yet.

For the New Zealand open women’s team, the journey to the touch world cup began three years ago – a period marked by intense development and the nurturing of new talent. 

“We started in a development phase, went through to Trans Tasman with 14 debutants, trying to build a younger generation,” says coach Peter John Teraukawa McIntyre. 

Touch NZ, a non-profit organisation established in 2012, has grown to include over 7,500 players in more than 20 leagues across the country. 

And over the years, the nature of the game has evolved as open men’s coach, Rahul Das explains. 

“The game’s gotten faster, and the skill set of our players has had to improve,” says Das.

With the physical demands on players increasing, it’s now evident that the sport is requiring a higher level of strength and conditioning.

“It’s very competitive, not only team versus team but player versus player, and yes, there’s a lot of contact within the sport,” says men’s team member Carlos Savage. 

As a field sport that uses speed, agility and dynamic ball skills, it’s no secret that Touch is a commonly used stepping stone for sports such as Rugby Union and League. 

However, despite its growing popularity, Touch Rugby still faces significant funding challenges. 

“Finance is always a challenge,” Das says.

“We don’t come into camp often, and one of our limiting factors is the ability to hold camps and training. Financially, it can be a bit hard on athletes in our sport.”

And coach McIntyre says that the user-pays model has been limiting their resources as a standalone sport. 

“Being in a sport like Touch where it’s user-pays, those funds don’t come as far. It’s always a challenge financially, he says.

“The challenges of having our athletes primed and then losing them to the realms of sevens, the Black Ferns, and hockey, which is great, we’ll always promote them, but to be our own sport and to get the funding that’s relevant for our athletes to do what they have to, to be the best in the world, is a huge challenge,”.

Despite the financial constraints, the determination to make an appearance at the World Cup in England hasn’t stopped the New Zealand teams as they prepare for the tournament this July. 

For many players, this will be their first World Cup experience. 

“This will be my first World Cup, so I’m quite excited for that,” says Skylah Tainui-Takerei of the women’s open team.

Ariona Ieremia from the open mixed squad reflects on past near-misses and looks forward to this year’s competition with optimism.

 “This time coming back for a World Cup, it’s different. You get one game to do it, so yeah, 100% confident we’ve got the team to do that,” she says.

The squad, a mix of seasoned players and newcomers, is quietly confident about their chances in Europe and look forward to the challenge. 

The Touch World Cup will be held from the 15th to the 21st of July this year and will be streamed LIVE  on YouTube

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily updates direct to your inbox!

*we hate spam as much as you do