Touching base with the KTA

by Dain Leathem and Liam Ring
Groove Korea (groovekorea.com)

Fresh from their third tournament of the season at the end of June, the Korea Touch Association (KTA) is limbering up for the heat of Haeundae in Busan for what the organization promises will be a fantastic weekend for the sport. Last year’s inaugural Busan tournament saw ten teams – including two from Hong Kong – make the trip to the south coast and a similar (if not larger) contingent is expected to hit Busan this time round.

Busan 2014 picsStarting as a training game for rugby union, Touch has in recent years developed into a sport in its own right, with this year’s Touch Grand Final seeing host Australia fend off the New Zealand challenge for honors in eight of the nine categories. Played by two teams of six players (with six reserves awaiting their place on the field), each side has six “touches” to get the ball over the other’s try line. Unlike rugby, one point is given for a score in men’s and two in the women’s and children’s games. Additionally, tackling involves simply touching the player, who then has to place the ball on the ground and step over it for a team-mate to take on possession – a move reminiscent of rugby league. Eschewing the physicality of the tackle from the union and league codes, Touch’s frenetic pace rewards strong ball handling skills and speed, and is fantastic for building up fitness levels.

Touch in Korea sees men’s, women’s, mixed, and children’s teams involved and competitions often feature teams from Busan, Anseong, Paju, and Seosan, in addition to the Seoul Survivors  and Seoul Sister Rugby clubs. The Busan tournament fees will be KRW 10,000 per person which will guarantee at least four games of Touch at the Busan International Foreign School in Haeundae. Additionally, all participants are invited to an after-party, which has a particularly exciting reputation. Although a voluntary organization, the KTA is made up of people with a strong passion for the game who run the association’s five tournaments and weekly practices as well as socials. Like any voluntary group, support is vital, and the KTA would like to thank the Hollywood Grill in Itaewon, Hidden Cellar in Noksapyeong, and the Cheeky Kiwi bar in Sinchon for their assistance.

Practice is every Saturday at the Jamwon pitch in Apgujeong, where Touch devotees regularly mix it with players from the Survivors and Sisters clubs. The KTA welcomes any skill level, age or gender to play, with coaching and equipment on offer to assist those who have had no past rugby experience. To check out a practice before the Busan tournament, the KTA’s Facebook page has up-to-date information for any changes from the usual 10am start in Jamwon. Great for all fitness levels, a trip down to Jamwon Rugby Field this Saturday could offer a whole lot more than just a work out in the sun.

Contact the KTA at Koreatouch@gmail.com or check out its Facebook page for more details.

Groove Korea website
 

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