Bucks duo hoping Euro title is within touching distance

Nathan Bourke and Glen Gregan

Nathan Bourke and Glen Gregan

First published in Sport Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A PUB'S deputy manager is plotting the England touch rugby team's path to European glory along with a team mate this week.

When he's not pulling pints at the Queen's Head in Penn, Nathan Bourke is player/head coach of the England over 30s touch rugby team.

They are taking part in the European touch rugby championships, which starts today in Swansea, and will be going for the world title in Bourke's native Australia in April.

Bourke will be joined by 35-year-old Marlovian Glen Gregan, a team mate of his at the Thames Valley Vikings touch rugby club in Reading.

Nine teams play in a round robin group phase at the European championship before matches to decide the three medal positions are played.

Bourke said: "It's closer to rugby league than union. You have six touches to score, there's no kicking and if the ball hits the ground it's a turnover.

"It's really fast - you're probably only on the field for two minutes at a time with rolling substitutions. It's a high intensity.

"I've been playing for years - in Australia you get brought up with it."

The 31-year-old said the sport is gaining in popularity and is hopeful his England side can do themselves justice at the tournament.

He said: "It's been building for the last five years. Each year we have a national competition between the clubs and each year it builds - this year we're up to 36 teams.

"It's definitely on the up. We've got a contract with the RFU pushing it into schools, getting younger kids into it.

"Last year we won the Home Nations title, which we went through undefeated. We've got a much improved team and we should do well."

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