WATCH: Guernsey Touch return to European stage in France
A mixed team will be flying the flag for Guernsey this week at the island’s first European Touch Championships outing since 2018.
The grand international tournament in France, which begins tomorrow and features 14 European nations, has been a ‘huge motivation’ for Guernsey players according to team coach Garth Owen.
‘We’re really excited to see what the rest of Europe’s like, because we haven’t played against them for quite a long time,’ he said.
‘And the Euros is always a really, really fun one because we get to play some of the smaller nations as well.’
Owen is one of many team members who take touch rugby as their main sport, a category that also includes ‘Mr Touch’ Ollie Ward.
But the women’s side in particular includes a strong multi-sporting contingent, including netball development officer Amy Fallaize, Island Games track athlete Becca Toll, and Guernsey Raiders Ladies player Ness Brown.
The coach has belief in this blend of players but is tempering this with a touch of realism.
‘There’s a couple of nations there that we are going to have to just admit we won’t beat,’ he added.
‘The Englands and Wales of the world are just very, very strong.
‘The other nations can be a bit of a mixed bag. They usually send a strong and enthusiastic team, but we always hope to be competitive against them.
‘Our ambitious aim is to get into those top four places. But if we fail that, then we want to really hit that fifth spot.’
On the opening day of their campaign, Guernsey will take on the Netherlands, Ireland and France in the early stages of a round-robin.
That is just a taste of the opposition they will face in a tournament that concludes with the pool stages and finals on Friday and Saturday.
But, regardless of what the Guernsey touch team achieve in France, their coach sees the Euros as ‘a bit of a platform’ for the future.
‘We’ve got the World Cup next year, which is where we really want to show who we are.’