Step right up, touch players, elite competition needs you

Manawatu last held the national touch championships in 2012.
Murray Wilson/ FAIRFAX NZ

Manawatu last held the national touch championships in 2012.

Elite-level touch players, Manawatū needs you.

The Manawatū Touch Association is trying to confirm numbers for the elite competition on Thursday nights, but so far there hasn't been much interest.

Competition co-ordinator Craig Irwin said they were struggling for player numbers at the top end and they want expressions of interest from teams keen to enter.

There is no lacking in numbers for the social competition on Wednesday nights, which is looking like getting 50 teams, or in any of the junior competitions, but it is just the top level that is falling short.

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Irwin said a couple of teams have pulled out from last season. They are hoping to get four or five teams, or preferably six, for each of the elite men's, women's and mixed grades.

Manawatū has traditionally been strong in touch, but the level seems to have dropped off in recent years.

"You look at five, six years ago when the New Zealand open was here, we had nine teams representing Manawatū," Irwin said. "Last year we had one, which was a women's team."

He said they need people to step up and organise these teams and if more teams, be they rep or clubs sides, put their hands up, MTA will happily accommodate them.

"People don't want to step up at the initial stage."

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MTA held a meeting on Monday to see if people would come and signal their intentions, and there was little interest. But Irwin said they should get enough to run it.

"I think for some reason around Manawatū there's a lack of organisation among people. It's hard to get people to do things.

"We've got three or four good solid touch clubs that are going to make up that grade."

Junior Manawatū representative teams are strong up to the under-20 level, but then players don't keep going.

Manawatū will have three under-16 rep teams and three under-18 sides this year. There is an under-20 men's team and Irwin was keen on having under-20 women's and mixed teams.

The touch season starts on October 11 and they will have junior competitions running at Celaeno Park on Mondays, and at Monrad Park on Fridays, and they will have close to 150 teams.

The secondary schools competition, which has about 40 teams, will be on Tuesday nights and will run at Queen Elizabeth College like it used to.

 - Stuff

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