As we entered the competitive touch season, all eyes in Old Wesley Touch turned to the England Touch Elite NTS for another year. Looking to pick up where last year left off, Old Wesley Touch sought to remain undefeated and claim silverware in Men’s Open Div 1, while the Women’s Open looked to build on last year in Div 2 – this year also marked the first time Old Wesley Touch would send three teams across the pond with a second Men’s Open team, debuting in Div 3 – a huge milestone for the club and a testament to the hard work of the coaches and players!

Men’s Open Div 1

The format for the Men’s Div 1 competition this year remained the same from last year, with Round 1 consisting of the group stages from which each team would be given a seeding for the knockout stages in Round 2; full details below.

Round 1

Fullerians RFC – 13/4/24

Back Row: Sean Ballance, Jamie Maher, Gary Hynes, Alan Doyle, Dylan O’Regan, Dom Brook, Luke de Renzy, Jamie Pearson Evans, James O’Donnell

Front Row: Cian Mollen, Tighe Brennan, Ben O’Connell, Conor Fitzpatrick, Horatio Price, Brian Leveau, Cathal Mac Gearailt

With three group games awaiting them, Old Wesley looked to start strong; reminding the competition as to why they went unbeaten last year;

  • First up in the group was Invicta Touch – dusting off the cobwebs with a hard fought 6-4 victory meant a strong start to the day
  • Next up was Nottingham Hoods, a young side with some exciting talent – a tough game resulting in Old Wesley’s first defeat at this level, falling to a 12-5 loss
  • Finally, CSSC London Eagles awaited, in a rematch from last year’s pool games – the game fell into a grind with the London side taking it home 9-7

This meant that despite 2 losses, Old Wesley still faced the possibility of silverware with the knockout rounds coming up next

Round 2

Old Leamingtons RFC – 18/5/24

Back Row: Darragh Forster, James O’Donnell, Tighe Brennan, Gary Hynes, Alan Doyle, Lilian Guegan, Sean Ballance, Michael Kearney (Coach)

Front Row: John Ennis, Jamie Maher, Brian Leveau, Ben O’Connell, Luke de Renzy, Kamil Shahabdeen

Looking to build on the previous rounds results, Old Wesley faced three tough knockout games against some familiar opposition;

  • First up the in quarter finals were the England M40s (a last minute addition) who proved to be a tricky proposition, but some solid touch left Old Wesley in a strong position claiming a 12-7 win
  • Next up in the semi final was a rematch against Nottingham Hoods – once again proving to be a grind, Old Wesley had clearly learned from the previous match and managed to hold on for a 11-7 victory
  • Standing between Old Wesley and further silverware were London Scorpions, full of Open’s players – there was a lot of ebb and flow to the game with both sides drawing scores with fast and free flowing touch but unfortunately the London side held out to claim a 8-7 win; it was nice to let someone else win for a change

 

Women’s Open Div 2

The format for the Women’s competition this year was similar to the Men’s Div 1, with three pool games on Day 1 followed by the final pool games on Day 2; full details below.

Round 1

Fullerians RFC – 13/4/24

Back Row: Michael Kearney (Coach), Chloe Mann, Charlotte Hall, Caitlin Gill, Faye St Leger, Annabel Redmond, Emily Pollard, Carla Mayon

Front Row: Kate Ballance, Kelsi Johnston, Aisling Gill, Rachel Duggan, Niamh Summerbell, Elise Wilson, Rebecca Phelan

Facing down three pool games, Old Wesley looked to showcase the hard work over the past few months;

  • First up for Old Wesley was Nottingham Trent, a young University side – with some excellent touch being played, Old Wesley managed to hold on and claim a 5-4 victory
  • Next up was Bristol Jets; with Old Wesley looking to build on their first win but facing a tough proposition, Jets held on to run out 7-4 winners
  • The final game for the day was against a makeshift London Vipers team (due to a last minute pullout) where Old Wesley showed their learnings from the previous defeat and stormed to a confident 10-2 victory

Round 2

Old Leamingtons RFC – 18/5/24

Back Row: Caitlin Gill, Aisling Gill, Kelsi Johnston, Faye St Leger, Lianna Prizeman, Emily Pollard, Charlotte Hall, Airmid Devitt

Front Row: Lois Gueret, Carla Mayon, Rebecca Phelan, Kate Ballance, Annabel Redmond, Isabelle Tierney

Looking to kick on from the previous rounds results, Old Wesley faced two pool games, with potentially a final on the cards;

  • First up was a rematch against London Vipers, a full side this time proving to be a trickier match – the time spent between rounds had paid off and Old Wesley once again started strong winning 4-1
  • The final pool game came against Oxford Touch, with Old Wesley continuing their fine form claiming the win in fine fashion 8-3

The results today and from the previous round meant that Old Wesley would find themselves in the final of Div 2

  • All that stood between Old Wesley and their first silverware at this level was a rematch against Bristol Jets; despite a lot of back and forth and some impressive tries by both teams, Old Wesley managed to dig deep and clutch out a 10-9 victory, gaining revenge for the previous round – a massive achievement for the team showcasing how far they’ve come in such a short time and ready to take on those in Div 1 next year, a proud moment for all involved!

Men’s Open Div 3

The format for the Men’s Div 3 competition this year was different than what the club had been used to – instead of 3 20 minute matches, potentially 6 20 minute matches lay in wait with each day representing an individual competition, presenting a very different challenge; full details below.

Round 1

Fullerians RFC – 14/4/24

Back Row: Jake Gill, Jamie Pearson Evans, Michael Kearney, David Kennedy, Andy King, Dylan O’Regan

Front Row: Alan Doyle, Frank Ennis, Brian Leveau, Gary Hynes, Chris Donaldson

With four group games awaiting them, Old Wesley looked to start strong, aiming to make their mark on the division;

  • The first game pitted Old Wesley against Nailsea & Bristol – dusting off the first game cobwebs, they managed to hold on to win 4-1 to mark a solid start to the day
  • Next up were the Chester Cheetahs which proved to be another close game with Old Wesley closing it out for a 4-2 win
  • St Alban’s were next up for Old Wesley, but starting to find their form, Old Wesley strode away to claim a 5-1 victory
  • The final group and London Galaxy awaited – the game quickly fell into a grind with a high level of touch being played; unfortunately the London side held on to inflict Old Wesley’s first defeat of the day 5-3

This meant that Old Wesley would play in the plate knockouts, meaning there was still a good chance of returning home with some silverware

  • The plate semi final between Old Wesley and Clapham Feelers was hard fought, but Old Wesle dug deep to claim a 5-3 win, meaning there was a final on the cards
  • Drawn into the hunt for silverware, Old Wesley faced down Exeter Eagle Owls with both sides playing fast and free flowing touch – there was a lot of ebb and flow to the game but thanks to this author, a try in the last couple of minutes meant that Old Wesley claimed a 4-3 victory, not bad for their first outing at this level!

Round 2

Old Leamingtons RFC – 19/5/24

Back Row: Gareth Elliot, Mark McAuley, Brian Leveau, Hugh Guest, Dylan O’Regan, James O’Donnell, Jamey Kingston, Michael Kearney

Front Row: Tighe Brennan, Frank Ennis, Ben Horgan, Gary Hynes, Jamie Pearson Evans

Looking to kick on from the previous rounds results, Old Wesley faced four more tough group games;

  • Starting off against PFT Dogs, Old Wesley started strong with a 8-4 win
  • Facing Northampton Dragons in game 2, Old Wesley continued their strong form winning 4-0
  • Next up was Horsham Tigers where Old Wesley managed to put the foot down and run out 10-4 winners
  • Blaze Inferno was the final group game and really put it up to Old Wesley, resulting in a fair 4-4 draw

Due to points difference, Old Wesley claimed a place in the cup competition, looking to go one better from winning the plate competition in the previous round

  • The semi final against London Galaxy was hotly anticipated, but unfortunately the London side managed to hold on for 5-3 win
  • The 3/4 play-off and all that stood between Old Wesley and a podium finish were Cheltenham Tigers, who ultimately clutched out a 4-3 win, resulting in a 4th place finish for Old Wesley – something they can be proud of, with all eyes on some silverware next year.