Touch can be an emotive word in rugby, but none can ignore the popularity of the sport. Touch rugby is played as a training game in any rugby club, but the formalization of rules such as FIT have led to some complications as to the purpose of the game.
The biggest complication with Touch is who owns it as a sport. Many rugby unions such as England’s RFU have an O2 Touch pathway and World Rugby have now officially issued RFU Touch rules. And confusion reigns when a Unions player pathway switches from IRB to FIT rules and regulations, especially in developing countries as the UAERF where both FIT and World regulations come under the same regulatory body.
In the UAE, Touch has become a school sport, especially at primary school level, where the application of technical passing and running skills may be better employed in the early stage of rugby, than worrying about contact evasion.
However it is when it gets to the secondary age that many coaches disagree, and although many players play both, the nature of the good weather in the Gulf, sees players playing both in the same week.
Nonetheless, Touch has been successful as a sport in its own right and has gained new participants who regard the game as an excellent fitness sport. It therefore is an excellent introduction to rugby as a sport and a lot of rugby 7s tournaments are starting to introduce Touch as well.
After netball was introduced at the Dubai 7s, Touch administrators will surely be making a claim for introduction soon.