Touch in Bristol

Touch has been played in Bristol for seven years. The last four have seen the most significant growth, with summer league team numbers increasing from 12 teams three years ago to a record 39 teams in this year's summer league.  With approximately 850 registered Touch players, Bristol has one of the biggest leagues in the country.

It's a great social sport that accommodates both men and women, whatever the age and whatever the ability. This is one of the reasons why the sport has become so popular.


Touch was introduced to Bristol by Nathan and Anthea Joyce in 2002, both of whom can still  be found playing in the Bristol league.

The league was initially based at Clifton Rugby Club (Cribbs Causeway) for the first two years. The league venue was switched to Clifton College Sports Ground, Abbots Leigh in 2004.  A total of twelve teams took part in the leagues in the early years, mainly consisting of several local rugby teams. The leagues have always been run as mixed from the start.

At the end of 2006, Nathan felt he could no longer dedicate the time to running the league. After a mayday email to all captains from the previous season, players Tom Bedkowski and Ian Syder stepped in to take the reins.

Shortly after taking over in 2007, the league became affiliated to the England Touch Association.

The summer league remained at Clifton College in 2007. In Tom and Ian's first summer of organising the league, a record 20 teams took part, with Bristol Baa Baa's taking the cup.

Due to the increasing  interest and enthusiasm for Touch, in September 2007 the first ever Autumn Touch league was started. This was played on the all weather pitches at Monks Park School in Horfield and saw a venue capacity 16 teams take part.

The autumn league finished in November and the first ever winter league took place in January 2008. The Autumn and Winter leagues are currently the biggest in the country. The only other large league is in London that has a 'spring league' starting in February and being played on a Sunday. These leagues have now become an annual event in the Bristol Touch calendar.

The winter league saw the formulation of 'Super' and 'Social' leagues. This split teams into ability groups, and also allowed teams to decide how seriously they wanted to take the sport. The split lead to more competitive games, making it more fun for all; and has proved to be highly successful and is now in use across the seasons as standard.

Summer 2008 saw Tom Bedkowski take sole organisation duties. As well as the touch league moving to a new venue after four years at Clifton college. Ground works being undertaken on meant that the venue was out of use for the summer.

After a long search for a new venue in Bristol, the Bristol Civil Service Sports Ground was selected.  This proved to be an excellent site for 2008, and with positive feedback from all, it looks like being our summer league base for the forseeable future.

The highlights of 2008 -

  • Bristol hosting a national tournament, which formed round 6 of the National Touch Series (NTS). A total of 12 teams from across England and Wales came together to compete in the event, with London Otters taking the title.
  • Bristol hosting one of the first Level 1 coaching courses in Europe,
  • a record number of teams taking part in the summer league (30), and
  •  having five players from the league play at the European Champs in France (four for England and one for Wales)

and 2009 looks just as promising -

  • Regional Tournament, including a women's event.
  • Bristol hosting one of the first Level 2 coaching courses in Europe.
  • The summer league moving to two league nights.
  • A proposal to work towards taking Touch rugby into schools.
  • National representation from the Bristol league at this year's Home Nations in Glasgow.
  • Working towards Bristol/Bath hosting the 2010 European Championships.