Touch Rugby springboarding women into top flight ranks

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Touch Rugby has proven itself to be a strong proving ground for future top flight female players across England.

Players with England international and representative experience have been turning out in both the Premier 15s and Women’s Super League in recent weeks and months, showing that the skills you develop in Touch are transferrable into the other versions of rugby.

Freya Aucken has taken her three European Junior Touch Championships gold medals earned with the England Girls 18s team in 2017, 2018 and 2019 into a promising top flight career. Versatile enough to play scrum-half, wing and everywhere in between, Freya was in the first team at Richmond aged just 17, before moving to Harlequins during the most recent Premier 15s campaign and was a member of several match day squads during Quins’ title-winning season. Freya remains in the England Women’s Open training squad.

One of Freya’s 2018 team mates, Orla McCallion, has experienced both the Premier 15s and Women’s Super League in these past few months, turning out at Number 8 for DMP Durham Sharks in the 15-a-side game and then scoring two tries in Leeds Rhinos’ first few matches.

Also at DMP Durham Sharks is Lauren Torley, who came into the squad in February 2021 and was a regular on the wing during the remainder of the campaign. Lauren wore the England Lions shirt in the 2019 European Touch Challenge Trophy and is in the England Mixed Open training group.

Another member of the current England Mixed Open training group, India Perris-Redding, had five first team appearances for Sale Sharks Women, with India joined by her sister Georgie in both the Sharks and Crewe and Nantwich Touch Club squads.

Lucie Skuse was a European silver medal winner with the England Mixed 18s in 2018. This season she has been a regular in the new Bristol Bears set-up in the Premier 15s, playing in 17 out of the team’s 18 league matches at either inside centre or fly half.

Another noteworthy former Touch Rugby player is Chantelle Crowl. Regarded as one of the world’s leading female Rugby League players, England international and 2021 Challenge Cup winner Chantelle played for both Manchester Chargers and Halton Storm Touch Rugby clubs during her formative years.

“We’re always delighted and proud to see players who we have worked with in the past and who we continue to work with achieve high things in other versions of rugby,” says England Touch’s High Performance Director, Ben Powell.

“They are all really talented players and it is really pleasing to see them continue their Touch journeys alongside their other sporting commitments.

“It also reiterates that the skills, fitness and game awareness you can develop in Touch can be transferred into both of the other versions of rugby, and – as with Orla McCallion – there is nothing to stop you moving between Touch, Union and League.”

With thanks to Chris Wearmouth for this article.