Awards are recognition for achievements, and an award named after a person is an honour higher than the award itself as it not only recognizes achievement but grants a status to the person named as a legend, hero or icon of the sport. Worldwide sports have their superstars, and many have had trophies or awards named in their honour.
Rugby has the Webb Ellis Trophy for supremacy at the Rugby World Cup, Hockey has the Stanley Cup for the best Ice Hockey team in North America, Tennis has the Laver Cup for the best European or Rest of the World Tennis group, Vince Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the National Football League's Super Bowl champion.
The J.J. Giltinan Shield is an Australian Rugby League trophy awarded annually to the National Rugby League Minor Premiers. Rugby League also has the Clive Churchill Medal awarded to the best on the field in the RL Grand Final and The Ranfurly Shield is a prized trophy in New Zealand's domestic Rugby Union competition.
Many of these named awards are well known across the sporting world. Touch Football also has its awards, named in honour of its legends, icons and superstars. Below are links to such awards made by Touch Football Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, the New South Wales Touch Associations and the Sydney Scorpions.
The Australia Touch Association and New Zealand Touch Association were the first countries to engage in International Touch Competition. Australia sent a Men 35 years team in 1976 to New Zealand for a series of Test matches. Another two series were played against New Zealand before a tour to Canada was undertaken by Australia in 1987. The following year Australia played both Canada and New Zealand in a series prior to the inaugural World Cup on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Australia's Total History
Australian National Championships
The Australia Touch Association saw a need in the late nineties to provide competitive Touch for all its constitute Body’s. The National Championships were set up as a competition where states played other states of Australia. It commenced in 1980 in very poor weather conditions on the Gold Coast. Finances were a major issue for the sport so as to enable states to compete a cost sharing arrangement with all the states was introduced whereby no matter how far you had to travel all players paid the same levy.
The early days of the sport saw the Mens and Womens Open and Mens 35 years being the only divisions played. The events were dominated by New South Wales until they lost two Over 35’s games in 1983. It was not until 1985 that NSW Mens lost their first game being the final to Queensland. A year later Queensland inflicted the first defeat on the NSW Women. It was 1985 when the Mixed and Mens 30's division were added to the event and the juniors were introduced in 1983 but phased out in 1985.
Fifty Years of Touch
In December 2019 Touch Football Australia celebrated fifty years of Touch with a small gathering at the Rugby League headquarters at Moore Park, Sydney. The event was held in the Trophy Room of the League Headquarters where a section of Touch memorabilia was on display for the public to view. The evening was hosted by Rugby League and Touch commentator Andrew Voss and was attended by past Presidents and former officials of the national body.
Prior to the event a committee was engaged to select the best Men, Women and Mixed Open players of the past fifty years using a criteria that enabled players from each of the five decades to be listed in the final teams. Several people were involved in the process and in the final committee discussion every member of the committee had chosen the same twelve out of the fourteen players. The teams were:-
Katrina Toohey (Maher)
Giselle Martin (Tirado)
Catherine Bell (Barr)
Bo de la Cruz
Cathryn Lockhead Ogle
Nadina Bambury (Teskera)
Ali Plath (Kay)
Kylie Hilder (Lambert)
National Touch Premiership
In 2013 the National Rugby League and Touch Football Australia launched an historic sporting partnership representing the biggest boost to participation and game development in the history of either sport. The two sports agreed to work together to create the largest sporting community in the country which will reflect the wider support that exists for Rugby League and the game’s commitment to ensuring there is a ‘place on the field’ for everyone.
On April 26, 2018 the National Rugby League confirmed the National Touch Premiership competition, which had matches played as curtain-raisers to the NRL in May and July, and was split into NSW and Queensland pools before an eventual final. There was both a Mens and Womens competition, with matches broadcast live on TV.
National Touch League - OPENS
The Open Divisions of the new Nationals (National Touch League or NTL) formed in 1977, with the Age Divisions following a year later. Twelve regional permits consisted of six from New South Wales namely; Hunter Hornets, Northern Eagles, Southern Suns, Sydney Metropolitan, Sydney Rebels and Sydney Scorpions. Queensland entered four permits being the Brisbane Cobras, Gold Coast Sharks, North Queensland Tropical Cyclones and Sunwest Razorbacks.
The other two Permits were the Crusaders (whose representative players came from the Australian Capital Territory, Australian Defence Forces, Victoria and Tasmania) whilst the Barbarians were represented by
players from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The inaugural Champions Permit were the Brisbane City Cobras.
In 2008 an Elite 8 competition (Mens and Womens) was introduced to cater for elite players within the Touch Community. This provided terrific viewing for the fans but impacted on the Open Division team entries. In 2013 a T-League Division was created for Men and Women Open players with requirements for youth players to be included in the team. With the introduction of the NRL Touch Premiership in 2018 the Elite 8 and T-League were no longer required. To demonstrate Touch is an all inclusive sport, Touch Football Australia in 2020 introduced the All Abilities division.
NTL Opens Results
National Touch League - SENIORS (Age Divisions)
The Senior Divisions commenced in 1978 after having one more year under the state verses state format with the following divisions being contested; Mens and Womens 30 years, Mens and Womens 35, Mens 40 years and Mens 45 years . The same twelve Regional Permits that contested the Open Divisions the previous year now turned out to compete in the Age Divisions.
The inaugural Seniors winners were the Sunwest Razorbacks followed by the Gold Coast Sharks and the Northern Eagles. Since the beginning the Razorbacks and Suns have one championship title each with the Sydney Mets and Gold Coast Sharks two titles each but the overall success in the Senior age division is the Sydney Scorpions with eleven championship titles. Sydney Scorpions player David Cheung is the leading try scorer with 128 with Paul MacPherson also from the Scorpions second on 107 tries.
NTL Age Division Results
National Touch League - YOUTH (20 Years and Under)
Along with the Open divisions in 1997 the Mens and Womens 20 years divisions also became a regional based competition moving away from the "State versus State" concept. Their event commenced with the Eastern States Championship in Tamworth in 1984 predominantly with New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The other states participated in the Southern States Championships which were first held in Melbourne in 1985.
The inaugural winners in Mens 20’s were the Brisbane City Cobras whilst the Womens 20’s was won by the Sunwest Razorbacks. In the overall championships the Sydney Metropolitan came first with the Gold Coast Sharks one point behind in second place and the Northern Eagles and Sunwest Razorbacks a further point back in third place. The Youth divisions were discontinued with the introduction of the T-League.
NTL Youth Results
Other Statistical Data
National Touch League – Permits History
The permits went through a transformation over time. The Barbarians and Crusaders whose players represented the states other than New South Wales and Queensland drifted away slowly because of many reasons but mainly because the other states wanted their own individual representation. The two organisations were replaced by a more competitive group called The Alliance whilst some states sent their own representative teams.
In 2011 the landscape of the NTL changed with the introduction of the Elite 8 concept and The Alliance not only formed part of this new elite division but also participated in the Mens and Womens Open Divisions. To date the South Queensland Sharks are the most successful Club with nine Golden Boots Championships followed by the Sydney Scorpions with eight titles and the Sydney Metropolitan with six titles.
Results History of Each Permit
Thirty Years of National Competition
In 2010 at the National Touch League championships in Kawana on the Sunshine Coast, Touch Football Australia celebrated thirty years of National Competition with a function at the Caloundra RSL. Host for the event was Touch commentator and announcer Adam Collins who interviewed on stage past presidents of the sport. Each recounted their contribution and all praised the work of the then Technical Panel for the efforts they put into the development of the game.
Prior to the event a panel was established to select the best Male and Female players, Coaches and Referees from the first National Tournament in 1980 to the present day. Like the fifty year committee mentioned earlier; in the final analysis, twelve of the fourteen players were identified by all members of the committee, making the last two selections a quick debate. The team was announce by Cary Thompson who before naming the teams paid tribute to one of the forgotten pioneers of coaching, Denis Coffey. The teams were:-
Stacey BLACK (Gregory)
Giselle MARTIN (Tirado)
Renee MURPHY (Clark)
Katrina TOOHEY (Maher)
State of Origin
Outside of Test Matches against New Zealand, the State of Origin clashes between New South Wales and Queensland is the toughest Touch Football played anywhere in the world. The concept came about with the introduction of the National Touch League and the demise of the State verses State National Championships.
Originally comprising of only Mens and Womens divisions the first Clash of the Touch Titans was in 1995 in Port Macquarie where Queensland defeated NSW 2-0. They repeated the dose the following year and it wasn’t until the third series in 1998 that New South Wales got their revenge.
In 1999 the State of Origin added to the concept with the Interstate Challenge where Mixed, Mens and Women 20’s, 30’s and 35’s as well as Mens 40's and 45's divisions were played. The Mens over 50 years division was added to the Interstate Challenge in 2002.
It wasn’t until 2008 that all the divisions combined to become a State of Origin Tournament worthy of any Touch event in the world. In 2014 the Mens Over 55 years division was added to the State of Origin Tournament.
Since 1995 New South Wales have won ten events while Queensland have won three. No team in any division has dominated except NSW Womens Open (24-10), NSW Mens 40 years who have a 21-9 record over Queensland and NSW Mens 35's who have 24-6 winning record. Queensland's best results is in the Mixed Open with a 17-13 win record.
Other Statistical Data
Southern States Championships / Alliance Cup
With the introduction of the Crusaders and Barbarians Permits to the National Touch League a competition between states outside of New South Wales and Queensland needed to be introduced. The first concept was the Southern States Championships in 1986 followed by the Crusader Cup. the Barbarian Cup, Australia Cup and finally the Alliance Cup. The latter tournament catering for players to represent at the NTL in both the Elite 8 and other divisions under the name of The Alliance Permit.
The results for all the events that were conducted under this banner are not available and in most instance were not kept by the organisation which conducted the events. Attached are a collection of results that are known.
Since the commencement of the National Championships in 1980 - Players, Coaches and Managers have been selected to represent their State from Youth Divisions to Over 55 Mens divisions.
Australian Merit Teams / Aussie Touch Footie Cards
Australian Merit Teams
With the introduction of the National Championships in 1980 and with no International representative games on the horizon, it was decided that an opportunity arose at this tournament to select Australian Merit Teams. Given that the best players in Australia would be attending the event, it was decided that Merit Teams would be named at the end of the championships in the Mens, Womens and Mens 35 years divisions.
In 1985 the Merit teams were give the first opportunity to represent Australian in a Test Match (Mens Open and Mens 30 years) against New Zealand. The following year Test matches in Auckland saw the Womens and Mixed divisions added to the event. Being an amateur sport some players could not afford the time off work or the financial commitment to represent so alternate players were needed.
This resulted in a change in the method of how teams were selected. Up until and including the 1986 nationals, selecting was done on an aggregate number system with no specific criteria relative to the numbers and was flawed. The ATA created a Director of Selectors who introduced Policy and set criteria based on the skill sets of players. This proved to be successful in 1987 when teams for a tour of Canada and the USA were selected using the new methodology.
The concept continued for each National Championships up until 1997 when by that time the National Talent Identification Scheme was fully implemented under the direction of Ian Stanley and from these squads Australian teams were selected to play against International opposition.
Aussie Touch Football Cards
During the early years of Touch development ATA (now TFA) had an active and professional Technical Panel. Areas that were covered were Coaching, Refereeing, Selection, Womens, Masters, Juniors and Equity. Under the guidance of the Directors of each Arm of the Sport development across Australia began to flourish with increased number participating in the sport.
in December 1990, the Womens Director Glenys Woolcock organised a Womens Promotional Tour of Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria. The concept was undertaken to promote Women playing Touch in states outside of NSW and Queensland where participation was strong. In 2000 Keith Harris-Walker, the Masters’ Director, organised for Australian Age division teams to participate in the European Championship.
Gradually ATA Boards reduced many technical areas and gave some of the roles to paid employees diminishing the number of Directors and Panels. To recognise the players and officials’ efforts over the early years of the sport an “Aussie Touch Footie All Stars Card Series” was born. It was designed along the lines of American Baseball cards and subsequently utilised by the Rugby League organisation in Australia.
It was accepted by the ATA that such an idea was a good for the marketing of the sport, but that is where concept stopped. The then General Committee approved a list of the All Stars that should appear on the “Aussie Touch Footie All Stars Card” series. The States were supposed to notify the named persons and provide details of them (pictures, age, a brief history etc).
Only NSW Touch contributed but not until 1994 when it employed Tracey Matthew to assemble the data for its contingent of All Stars. Tracey however moved on to other employment shortly after and the project folded.
Love them or hate them – Referees are an integral part of the sport of Touch and need to be recognised for their dedication, training, coaching and efforts they put into their part in making the sport the success it is today.
Peter Rooney organised the first Referee organisation whilst the sport was still in its infancy back in 1977 by forming the NSW Touch Football Referee Association. Keith Page was its Patron and as the NSW Rugby League's leading Referee he bought a wealth of experience to the group.
The records held are for the National Touch League and other Australian Championships up to 2005 as resources' were not available after that date to continue recording the referee appointments.
However the International Appointments by Australian Referees is better documented and all of these are current and include all International fixtures.
The 1991 World Cup is missing in places as is the European Championships up until 2006. The first International Appointments was back in 1976.
Touch Football Australia Honour Board
Volunteers are the backbone of amateur sport all over the world and Touch is no different from any other sport. Touch has its legions of volunteers who spend countess and unselfish hours dedicated to the development of Touch not only throughout Australia but also Internationally.
It is impossible to name these people and even to acknowledge those at a National Level who have outstanding service other than to display their names on the TFA Honour Board. State, Regional and District Organisation no doubt have a system in place to recognising outstanding performances by volunteers
and without a doubt many have achieved such honours. Whilst not naming names for National Honours other than those disclosed in the attached documents it would be remiss not to mention a person who was with Ray Vawdon and Bobby Dykes at Snape Park back in 1969 and until recently provided his services to his State, his Region and at the Park; and that is none other than Parramatta stalwart, Founding Member and legend, Garry Croft.