Originally developed as a form of non-contact training for rugby, Touch has developed into a sport in its own right, with mixed Touch having become a staple of rugby in Cayman over the last couple of years.
With 12 teams taking to the field in the Corporate Mixed Touch Sevens 2008 the competition was likely to be fast and furious and the participating teams did not disappoint.
The event is a big draw for new players and in order to facilitate the inclusion of inexperienced players into teams a handicap system was put in place.
Players who had never played rugby before would earn their team two points, with players who had played the game before but not in Cayman would earn their team one point.
With some teams starting the tournament with as much as 10 points earned through the handicap system, it indicated quite a number of new players were being introduced to the game.
Apart from the points scored through the handicap system, teams scored three points for a win, one point for a draw, and nothing whatsoever for a loss.
Teams could consist of up to 14 players, with seven players on the field at any time. Of the seven active players, at least three had to be female.
Play took place in two pools, with Ogier, Five Nations, KPMG, Appleby, Campbells and Knoll contesting Pool 1, while CML, PwC, Maples, H proportions, Z99 and Blue Iguanas contested Pool 2.
During the early clashes in Pool 1, Five Nations and Ogier looked like the likely contenders as both teams claimed their first two games.
Unfortunately for Ogier, their unbeaten run was snapped by Knoll, who rebounded after losing their first game to Five Nations.
Knoll kept up their push for supremacy in the group as they won all their remaining games.
Unfortunately for them their initial loss against Five Nations would be their undoing, as Five Nations suffered but a little wobble, playing to a draw against KPMG to take first place in Pool 1.
In Pool 2 the competition was equally tight as Maples Macs and CML established themselves as the early leaders.
However, things started unravelling for CML when they suffered their first loss against Maples, to be followed by a loss against Z99, effectively taking them out of contention for pool honours. Z99 recovered well after their initial loss to Maples and did not suffer another loss during the rest of the pool section, but could not match Maples’ flawless record, and had to be content with second place in Pool 2.
With 2007 champions Five Nations making it to the finals once again, history seemed well on its way to repeating itself.
However, Maples Macs were not keen on accepting a blemish on their record this late in the tournament and fought tooth and nail.
With two equally matched teams it was a relatively low scoring game and with match time running out the score was locked at two tries apiece.
In a fitting end to the day, the game had to go into overtime to decide a winner.
Frustratingly for Five Nations, their dream of back to back titles was dashed as Maples managed to cross their opponents’ line to claim the title.
For Richard ‘Grizz’ Adams, technical director of rugby in the Cayman Islands, the continued popularity of mixed touch is a good sign for rugby in Cayman.
According to Adams it is ‘a fun non-confrontational, non collision branch of the mainstream sport’ which makes it ideal for drawing new players to the game.
‘In Cayman the crossover of players especially in the women’s ranks from touch to the full game has been steady and strong and with the men also we have seen many new recruits.
‘The touch aspect of the sport offers us a unique opportunity to market the Union, the sport, the family friendly atmosphere and our commitment to our players, spectators, sponsors for fun and development for all.’