Rugby Footprint Grows with USA Touch's Participation in 2018 Youth Touch World Cup

Exposure of young athletes to simplified international competition furthers the reach of the traditional rugby model

LAFAYETTE, CO. - USA Touch, as an official development partner for USA Rugby, is set to participate in the 2018 Youth Touch World Cup this August 8-11. Taking place in Malaysia, the organization seeks to increase its exposure to young athletes, helping build a foundation for participation in traditional rugby through elite, international competition. As an influential resource in introducing new players to a simplified level of rugby, USA Touch -- and its presence in the Junior World Cup -- serves as an important piece of the USA Rugby National Team development pathway.

"Touch is not only a fun, fast and engaging sport for all but also helps to deliver key rugby skills from evasion to support and defensive positioning to game management," says JD Stephenson, USA Touch's General Manager for High Performance who simultaneously serves as National High Performance Development Manager for USA Rugby. "Touch and rugby will benefit from each other and we're hopeful that we can continue the thriving relationship between USA Touch and USA Rugby."

With the Touch World Cup commencing in April of 2019, months ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, young American athletes have a built-in future trajectory to showcase their abilities on the world stage. And, more significantly, with the return of the Olympic Games to the United States in 2028, increased familiarity and participation in rugby only supports the growth of the olympic and national player pools.

"Touch players from all over the world are now playing Super Rugby in the south and crossover athletes are seen all over the sevens circuit," said OJ Hawea, President of USA Touch. "Our goal from the outset has always been to work with USA Rugby to build the awareness and availability of the sport across any code there might be - the synergies are too close to be ignored allowing us both to benefit from mutual development."

Since the announcement of USA Touch as an official game development partner, the organization has used its sport model to connect future athletes with traditional rugby while helping existing athletes polish their fundamental knowledge of the game. As a part of the USA Rugby player pathway, participation in the 2018 Youth Touch World Cup increases both exposure to international rugby competition and the American presence in the sport.

As USA Touch looks ahead to the future of U.S. hosted rugby events, including the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and even beyond to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games, chances to increase the rugby footprint at all levels reaches the forefront.

With this in mind and as a support to USA Rugby, the organization evaluates its own chances of hosting a World Cup in 2023. In order to do so, USA Touch will seek strong representation at this year's Junior World Cup acknowledging implications that might provide for a youth World Cup in the coming years. Though nothing is set in stone, opportunities are on the horizon for both USA Touch and rugby as a sport overall.