SEAN Lineen has probably done more than anyone else to popularise touch rugby in Scotland, and it was therefore only appropriate that he should be named as the official ambassador for the 2011 Touch World Cup. The tournament is being held at Peffermill Sports Ground in Edinburgh next June, and it will be the first time it has been held in Europe.
It was in the early 1990s that Lineen, now the Glasgow head coach, began organising touch tournaments during the close season in Scotland, and the decision to hold the seventh World Cup here is testament to his success in spreading the game. At least 1,700 competitors from around 25 countries will take part in next year's event.
"Touch is played by over half-a-million people in Australia, and it's now a huge sport in its own right," Lineen said yesterday. "Anyone can play it – it's non- contact, and is all about handling and passing and communication.
"One of the fun things about organising tournaments here has been some of the names that people came up with for their teams. I think my favourite was 'Jim Telfer Ate My Hamster'.
"Hosting the 2011 World Cup here in Edinburgh is a great opportunity to showcase it. We'll have the best teams in the world here, and I hope a lot of people come along and watch them. But I also hope those people are inspired to take up playing it themselves, because it's a great way to get fit."
Major rugby-playing countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are the traditional power-houses of the sport, but with nine separate titles being contested, the honours are likely to be shared around. There will be open-age men's, women's and mixed team events, and there will also be two senior age-groups which will also have male, female and mixed categories.
• The Scottish Touch Association is the governing body of touch in this country. Its website, www.scottishtouch.org.uk, contains information about the rules of the game and where to find events in which to play. The world governing body is the Federation of International Touch: its website is www.international-touch.org.