Wicklow to the fore
Host of players picked for Ireland
County Wicklow will be well represented at the European Junior Touch Championships which take place in Paris from August 16 to 18 next. A host of young players, many drawn from local rugby clubs, will represent Ireland and take on teams from all over Europe.
There will be three Irish teams in the touch rugby championships and all three feature players, coaches and managers from the Garden County.
The Ireland Mixed U15 (X15) will include Arklow RFC's Grainne Flynn and Jane Neill, Wicklow RFC's Robyn Johnston, Brian Johnston, Jack McCall, Ava-Paris Neiland, Mya Neiland and Aimee Smit, and Greystones RFC's Charlotte Nagle, Lucy Nagle, Senan Cusack and Ben Hamilton, along with James Moloney from Ashford. The X15 coach, Paul Keating, lives in Arklow and has represented Ireland in the Men's 50s division at European and World Cup tournaments. The team is managed by Greystones RFC member, Ria Cusack.
The Ireland Mixed U18 (X18) will feature Alex McGuiness, Emma Curran and Naoise O'Reilly from Wicklow RFC, Conor Pickering of Greystones RFC, Arklow resident and Gorey RFC player, Hugh O'Brien and Wicklow town resident Wiktoria Dolgoruki.
Players on the Ireland Girls' U18 (G18) will include Faye Larkin of Wicklow RFC and Megan Collis, Eleanor Furlong, Leah Kearney, Sive Cusack, Melanie Walsh and Anna O'Brien from Greystones RFC.
Paul Nagle, G18 assistant coach, is a member of Greystones RFC where he helps with the coaching of the U14 girls. Carmel Kearney, G18 manager, is a member of Greystones RFC where she is also the manager for the U18 girls' team.
This will be the sixth annual European Junior Touch Championships and the event will again showcase the future of touch rugby and the best of the values of the sport.
Hosted by Touch France, it takes place at the National Rugby Centre in Paris.
The venue includes, among other things, five rugby pitches, a gym, medical facilities and a swimming pool.
It is the permanent base for the French Under 19 rugby team and France's men's national team occasionally use it.
It was the venue of the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup.
Touch rugby has been growing from strength to strength across Europe since the first junior European championships took place in Swansea in 2014.
The championships took place in Dublin in 2017. Ireland has been represented at the championships every year.
The Irish junior teams have been hard at work since earlier this year with stiff competition for places on the teams.
They train each Sunday at the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Leisure all weather pitch in Stepaside with players travelling from as far afield as Athlone.
Anyone interested in playing Touch rugby socially at all age grades from youths to adults should contact their local club for information.