At Fun with Touch (FWT), many of the regulars are first timers, so the referee ensures that the game is always free flowing and fun. Weather permitting, games are played every weekend from March through to December at Tatsumi, with a 4-week break in August as it’s a bit hot to play.
Weekly games at any of these clubs are open to anyone. First timers or people that haven’t exercised in over 10 years would feel right at home. All of these three clubs have some English speakers (native or otherwise), so if your Japanese is not fantastic but you would like to play at one of these clubs, you can.
If you are a player that would like to play at a higher level, then there are other options that you could undertake. Firstly, there are monthly games played at the Tokyo Gas ground in Omori. You could turn up and play as an individual, or you could join one of the two FWT mixed teams that we usually enter each tournament.
Omori touch tournaments are half days with about 8 teams entered each time. Every team plays 3-4 15 minute games. This is a little more demanding than the regular weekly games because you are playing against organized teams which have a higher level of fitness and knowledge of the game. Also the referees are a lot stricter on the rules. That said, when FWT teams attend these tournaments they usually win more games than they lose.
On top of this, there are social tournaments throughout the year. The four major social tournaments are in Omori, Saitama and two in Fujisawa (Shonan). All of these tournaments have been around for 10-20 years and have strong attendances. An example of the types of attendance at these tournaments, Omori was held at the end of June this year and had 32 teams compete. The Shonan tournament in July attracted over 100 players, and they even held a BBQ afterwards by the beach, which was a lot of fun.
As for competitive touch rugby, there is a competition called the Kanto Touch Super League (KTSL) featuring 10 teams. Summer is generally too hot to play touch rugby, so the competitive touch rugby season is generally split into two “series” – spring and autumn.
For someone to play in the KTSL, they have to be involved in a team. The competition is the best standard in Japan, with all of the Kanto based Japan national players (both men and women) participating. There are teams from each of the aforementioned clubs (FWT, Komae and Shonan), one university side (Sun Body Touch), a women’s team (Kanto Women’s), with the remainder being teams, not clubs. The top three teams in the KTSL over the last 3 years or so have been Sun Body Touch, UNDERDOGs and the Shonan Grass Boys.
Finally, if you are in a team and would like to see if you are the best in the country, there is always the Japan Cup. The Japan Cup is usually held in October after the KTSL season has finished and is split over two days – Saturday is the women’s competition, while Sunday is the men’s competition. Despite being beaten in group play by the Tokyo Warriors in last year’s tournament, the eventual winners were Sun Body Touch. This year, we are hoping that things get shaken up a bit and a new champion arises!
There you have it, the touch rugby season in a nutshell!