Year 11 student Saran Adams likes playing touch rugby. In fact, she often plays for up to five teams in a single week. This dedication has obviously paid off, as she recently returned from representing the Nelson region at the 2020 Bunnings Junior National Touch Championships in Papakura.
She was part of the U16 mixed team, who had an impressive tournament, finishing fifth out of the fourteen teams in their grade, and just missing out at making it into the top four.
Saran said it was a fierce competition that was closely fought.
“In one of our games we had a drop off,” Saran said. “That means that the scores are tied for each team so we drop one person off, so it is five on five for two minutes and then another person goes off, until you get down to three people and then you just play hard touch until someone scores.”
“We went down to three people and sadly, I had just played a full half on the outside wing and then I had to keep on playing the drop off. But we won! It was like a rugby sort of thing that you see on TV, we all went running in and did a massive group hug.”
Saran has been playing touch at a representative level for 3 years. Rep. players undergo a vigorous training regime to not only improve their skill level, but also help bring them together as a team.
“Once you are (in the rep team) you train about twice a week, for a month,” Saran said. “You’ve got to become a team - even if you don’t like someone on the team you have to get past that because you are a team.” Saran is quick to confirm that were no such issues during her most recent stint in the regional team. “We gelled so well as a team,” she said.
Saran said she would eventually like to compete at a international level. She expressed excitement at knowing that playing at the nationals as a junior, was clearly a good stepping stone in that direction. “At nationals, you have a person sitting on the sideline and they are just sitting there on a deck chair with a little clip board going across all the good players and ticking off everything they are doing right,” Saran said.
For now though, it is just touch, touch and more touch for Saran, who plays in several different competitions throughout Nelson. One of these competitions has seen her take on the infamous Nayland teacher’s team. Saran offered some compliments for the teacher team, and some constructive criticism.
“(The teacher’s team are) pretty fast. You’ve got some pretty fast men,” she said. “You need to work on your defense though. If you stop the other team early, then you have less room to have to try and make the yards up.”