Touch potential pathway to professional sports

Wednesday January 03, 2018 Written by Published in Touch Rugby
Touch New Zealand icon Peter Walters. 18010109 Touch New Zealand icon Peter Walters. 18010109

Touch rugby can be a pathway to professional sports such as rugby union and league, says Touch New Zealand icon Peter Walters.

 

Walters, who participated in the Bluesky Boxing Day Touch Tournament last week, said the sport has a promising future in the Cook Islands.

He said while it’s considered a leisure sport in many countries, touch rugby has the potential far beyond just a pastime game.

“Touch is a great sport and a pathway into professional sport. It can be a direct pathway to rugby Sevens.

“If you look at New Zealand and Australia, the two top teams in Sevens rugby, especially in the women’s (competition), the majority of their players played for their country in touch before taking up Sevens rugby.

“There are a whole lot of transferable skills like catching pass, footwork, agility and communicating in the run in touch that can be transferred into rugby.

“All you have to do once you get into rugby is to learn all the contact situations that are required in the game.”

Walters, who is regarded “Mr Touch” for his contribution to the sport, said he had coached some of the female players who have represented New Zealand in international Sevens rugby competitions, including the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I have coached a lot of girls who have gone into other sports be it soccer or hockey, and a whole lot of them in the New Zealand Sevens team.”

For the Cook Islands, Walters believes touch can also pave the way for local athletes into other professional sports.

He was impressed with the level of talent during the Boxing Day Touch Tournament on December 26.

“There is a lot of potential here. A lot of great natural athletes who have potential to become better in the sport,” Walter said.

“They haven’t done strength and conditioning at a high level but they certainly got the potential to be great athletes.

“I look at all these athletes, especially when you have running sports like touch, a lot of them have fine (strong) legs but their upper body needs work because you still need to be strong not just in the lower limps but the upper body as well.

“I understand the availability of resources here may be an issue but they just have to make do with what they have. Athletes here have shown promise, but need to get the proper training to excel.”

Meanwhile, Walters hailed the Boxing Day Touch Tournament as a great start to a new season of competition.

“It is such a great family and social sport. I know this tournament has been going for 25 years and it’s great that countries like the Cook Islands have this event, because it brings family and community together and promotes healthy living.”

Walters also held coaching sessions for local players last week.

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