REDDITCH Queenfishers player Olivia Jones is all smiles after being selected for the England women’s over 35 team to attend the 2019 Touch World Cup in Malaysia.
Jones and the rest of the England players have been attending High Performance Training Camps throughout the autumn and the programme will intensify as the road to Malaysia approaches.
The first Touch World Cup took place in 1988 when 13 teams competed across four categories. Since then the tournament has gone from strength to strength as more countries have brought their best players every four years.
The Touch World Cup has visited a diverse range of locations, including the Gold Coast (1988), Sydney (1999) and Coffs Harbour (2015) in Australia, Auckland in New Zealand (1991), Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, USA (1995), Kumagaya in Japan (2003), Stellenbosch in South Africa (2007) and Edinburgh (2011).
As may be expected from the country which invented the sport, Australia has been the dominant force in international touch rugby, but in more recent editions New Zealand have been taking home category titles and other teams such as the Cook Islands, Italy, South Africa, Samoa and England have been reaching finals too.
The 2019 Touch World Cup will be doubly-significant for the international game. Not only will it be the biggest ever tournament with 116 teams playing in 15 categories, but its location on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be the first time the Touch World Cup will have been played in south east Asia – the crossroads of the world.
The venue – Putrajaya Equestrian Park – has been tested already with the nine-team Youth World Cup in 2018.