중앙데일리

No longer touch and go, rugby is here for keeps

Sept 24,2008
Monsoon from Singapore goes on the offense against Seoul’s Hangang Exiles in the men’s quarterfinal competition during the 2008 International Touch Seoul tournament, held in Seoul, Saturday. Monsoon won the men’s title. By Jackie Cheong
If you thought rugby was a muddy game for hooligans, think again.

Last Saturday, around 400 men, women and children from across the region gathered in Seoul for Asia’s most prominent touch rugby competition.

International Touch Seoul was created by expats in Seoul and was held in the Korean capital for the third year in a row.

Through weekly events held by expats, the sport is becoming more popular with locals, according to ITS organizers.

“It’s serious competition, but a friendly environment,” said Jeremy Burks, who played a pivotal role in the organization and growth of touch rugby in Korea.

“What I think is really special is you get a mix of Koreans and foreigners, men and women, boys and girls, all together into the same sport,” he said.

More Koreans are joining expats in playing in ITS, the gem of touch rugby events, organizers said. This year, four participating teams were comprised wholly of Korean nationals.

Teams from Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo also drew more locals to the ITS competition this year than before, they said.

A less rowdy but speedier version of rugby, offensive play stops when the opposition touches the player carrying the ball. With little risk of injury, it is open to anyone, regardless of gender or age.

The 2008 ITS tournament had four categories: adult men, adult women, mixed gender and kids. In the adult competition, Monsoon, a team from Singapore, beat defending champion Komae from Japan. Korea’s Yonsei University team came in third.

The Seoul government is a major sponsor for the event but the organizers say that’s still not enough. “We are bringing hundreds of foreign people to the country,” Barny Hampson, an organizer, said. “If they are able to give us better facilities, that will really help.”



By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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