Hodge sponsored the Wales Men’s over 30s team in Touch Rugby at the European Touch Cup. And here’s how it went!
The Wales Touch Association takes the lead in overseeing and nurturing the sport of Touch Rugby in Wales, from grassroots enthusiasts to top-tier athletes.
It’s an exhilarating game played by teams of six players, open to participants of all ages and genders. It's all about honing those essential skills like running, passing, catching, dodging, and working together like a well-oiled machine.
This year Hodge sponsored the Wales Men’s over 30s squad as they went to take on the rest of Europe at the European Touch Cup in Vichy, France. Our very own Ross Williams, head of mortgage product & pricing is part of the team and talks to us about the importance of sponsorship and the excitement of the sport.
“I started Touch Rugby back in 2015 once I decided to hang up my Rugby Union boots. A string of injuries forced my decision, but I was left craving the buzz rugby as a sport gave me, not to mention both on and off the field teammate comradery.
“While working at Principality Building Society, a bunch of like-minded individuals decided to form a team to play in the Summer WRU touch rugby social leagues, calling ourselves ‘The Puffins’. The name at the time related to our fitness levels but there was also a tied social purpose. Every time we won a game, Principality would adopt a Puffin as part of the preservation efforts on Skomer Island off the tip of the Pembroke coast.
“The team members grew and we soon had two squads playing in the league. It’s safe to say part of the thriving Puffin population on Skomer Island is down to our positive results on the touch rugby field!”
“Travel to and from, accommodation, kit, insurance, and expenditure was all self-funded by the players for this event.
“Hodge being the main squad sponsor helped immensely through offsetting the costs of kit requirements alongside contributing to tournament fees. As a self-funded sport, financial aid in any form is always greatly appreciated – I had the pleasure to not only represent Wales, but also stand proud as a Hodge employee and see firsthand the benefits the sponsorship delivered to the squad and its contributions to our success.”
“Federation of International Touch (FIT) organises the Cup tournament. This year it was in Vichy, France. The 2025 Euros will also be contested in France, and the consecutive events are expected to build significant momentum for Touch in France, arguably one of Europe’s sporting powerhouses. The event also marks the first time the Euros have been contested in the western European republic since 2008.
“The premier event includes divisions for Opens, Seniors and Mixed, Men's and Women's divisions.
“In our pool we were up against, England (30’s and 35 squads), France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweeden. The tournament itself was a ‘round robin’ style tournament which meant the top four teams went through to semi-final matches to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals. As a squad we had nine games across the four days.”
“England and France were always the favourites going into the tournament – they’ve had the most success in recent international contests and have the larger set ups. Playing those nations was a great test as to where we were as a squad. As I mentioned this tournament was very much a building block for next year’s World Cup which is being hosted in Nottingham. The Southern hemisphere is widely accepted as leaders in this discipline of Rugby – so we’re looking forward to playing New Zealand and Australia given the chance next year!
“This personally was a bit of a bucket-list item, to say I have competed at international level in a sport I love. Gaining my first nine caps (hopefully more to come) and getting on the score sheet four times – one of which was our very first against hosts France in the opening minute of game one.”
“There were 12 new caps out of the squad of 16, so we’re a relatively new team to international level. With nine caps up for grabs we were all keen to test ourselves against international components.
“Seeing as there hadn’t been a Men’s 30 grade for some time, our goal was to get off the bottom of the table and aim for fifth or sixth playoff.
“This year we exceeded b our estimations, making it to the Bronze medal final match again. Now, even though we didn’t quite seal the deal against Switzerland, the game was end to end, narrowly missing out on the medals by a final score by the Swiss in the final seconds of the game, finishing 10 tries to nine.
“We were bitterly disappointed at the final whistle, however recognized we had been successful in getting to the semi-final stage of an international tournament and the first Welsh squad to do so since 2018.
“Thanks once again to main sponsor Hodge for helping us on our way.”
You can find out more about how to join, support or stay updated with Touch Rugby at https://www.walestouch.co.uk/news