Austin Touch Talks About Running a Successful League

Austin’s summer FIT touch league has been running for 20 years and was originally started by the Austin Blacks Rugby Club. In the last 5 years, touch in Austin has really grown and has become a separate group entirely that has become centered around the Saturday morning and Wednesday evening group that plays at Zilker Park. The group organizes and communicates via the Austin Touch Facebook group which has over 700 members. Austin Touch has taken over running the touch league for the last 3 years.

This year, the touch league has moved over to the fields at Austin Huns RFC on Nixon Lane. The league is now being run in collaboration with Luis Sanchez from the Huns and Chong Shin from Austin Touch. Luis is also the Austin Valkyries women’s RFC head coach, and as such, we’ve seen a huge increase in the women playing this year and this is the first year we’ve been able to run the league with a rule that states that at least one woman must be on the field at all times. We have 8 teams in the league this year.

Facebook makes it really easy to communicate with our touch community. We communicate exclusively via the facebook group and invite the community to organize into teams. We typically run the league for the first 2 weeks without any of the results counting. This gives us time to get the word out and to add late comers or new folks into teams. We are fortunate to have Grant Penney, who refs at touch Nationals, as our head ref and over the years we’ve built up about 5 or 6 folks that can ref to support Grant. Chong is our scheduling wizard and structures the evening schedule so that everyone gets at least 2 games every night and then we pull refs from the teams that are not playing at that particular moment. Each game is 2 x 10 minute halves, with a 1 min break between. The last week of the league is the play off and the winners of the league get their name engraved on a cup.

One thing we’ve found is that, due to the rise of sevens, it’s been hard to get interest and numbers in the league until sevens season is over. We now run the touch league starting in late august — after 7s — and ending in early October — before 15s. We’ll likely keep doing this as a lot of our touch community are competitive sevens players. It also works well as a good lead up for the folks going to Nationals in October.

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