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Players from the four Welsh regions came together on the pitch today to play an exhibition game of touch rugby to launch the European Touch Rugby Championship at Swansea University Sports Village.

Alun Wyn Jones, Martin Roberts and Sam Davies from the Ospreys and Dillon Lewis, Ethan Lewis and Jarrod Evans from Cardiff Blues joined Ryan Elias, Torin Myhill and Josh Adams from the Scarlets and Hugh Gustafson, Ian Gough and Nic Cudd from Newport Gwent Dragons to play in front of a packed crowd including First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, who officially opened the tournament.

The 2014 European Touch Rugby Championships will be held until August 10th with 52 teams from 16 countries competing in eight categories ranging from men’s, women’s and mixed open through to over 40’s.

Mark Davies, acting Chief Executive of Regional Rugby Wales which represents the four Welsh regions, said: “We’re delighted to support the launch of the European Touch Rugby Championships here in Swansea. Regional Rugby Wales and the four regions are always looking for innovative new ways of spreading the word of rugby in all its forms, so the opportunity to help Wales develop in Touch couldn’t be missed.

“The organisers have worked incredibly hard to create a packed programme for the next four days and it will be exciting to see the talent on display. I’m sure that hosting the European Touch Rugby Championships in Wales will encourage more people here to get involved in this form of inclusive rugby, helping them become more active for years to come.”

Initially developed in Australia in the 1960s, Touch is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has over 6,000 participants in Wales. Played by men and women, boys and girls, Touch contains a number of cross over skills that are similar to rugby. These are primarily related to the core open field skills as there is no tackling, lineouts, scrumming or kicking involved.

The Wales Touch Association, which is hosting the tournament, was established in 1999 to promote the development of Touch in Wales. Managing Director, Matt Enoch, said: “We are proud to have the support of RRW in our hosting of the biggest European Touch Championships to date and what promises to be the best one yet. While Touch is a separate sport to rugby union there are a number of cross-over skills and similarities between them – links that are recognised and promoted in the southern hemisphere where Touch is a significant sport.

“RRW put together a strong team of regional and international rugby players and it was really interesting to see how the speed, fitness and rugby skills of these professional athletes matched against the Touch skills and game knowledge of the Touch team. We put together a team consisting of young local talent such as Alex Francis, Dan Messer and Gareth Lewis mixed with the experience of the likes of Ryan Pollock and Dan Rushworth – both Touch World Cup winners with Australia.”

Ends.

Picture caption: Players from the four Welsh regions join the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, and Matt Enoch from the Wales Touch Association to launch the European Touch Rugby Championships in Swansea.