verge loves: O2 Touch

A workout in the sunshine where you forget you’re working hard and just enjoy getting fit with your friends to the latest DJ mixes? That’s what O2 Touch, one of England Rugby’s most successful programmes, offers thousands of players across England on a weekly basis.

O2 Touch is social fitness as its best – a fun and friendly environment for people of all abilities to get involved in touch rugby. Whether it’s about honing your fitness or having a great time exercising as a group, this is a high-energy game that delivers real benefits.

O2 Touch has worked with analysts at STATSports to track players at a typical O2 Touch session (60 minutes) and the statistics are compelling. Liam Blundell, sports scientist at STATSports explains “O2 Touch is a really physically demanding game. Players hit impressive max speeds, around 24 or 25 kilometres per hour, and they’re covering a total distance of around four or five kilometres in a game. Heart rates we recorded were consistently high, and players were burning an average of 500 calories per session.

Liam concluded, “From a fitness perspective, it’s comparable to a high intensity workout in the gym, such as a hard weights session or circuit class, or an eight to ten kilometre run steady state. But obviously O2 Touch is a lot more fun and you’re playing touch rugby with your mates, so it’s a lot less perceived effort.”

As well as the fitness benefits, the other unique elements of O2 Touch are the social aspect and the fact that sessions take place to a soundtrack of the latest DJ mixes. This also drives real fitness benefits for participants as a study conducted by O2 Touch and Brunel University proved.  Leading the study was Dr. Costas Karageorghis, Divisional Lead for Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences, who observed “Music can have a really potent effect on how you feel during sport and physical activity. When music is played, the perceived exertion went down as players were focusing more externally. We saw a significant increase particularly in female enjoyment of O2 Touch when music was played. When we interviewed participants, it was clear that they loved the social aspect of O2 Touch and how it brings males and females together, and how the music mix creates a whole social environment.”

Through O2 Touch, 25,000 people are playing touch rugby regularly each year. As part of the RFU’s Strategic Plan, O2 Touch is looking to drive participation, getting more people active and playing touch rugby. The format aims to breakdown common barriers to participation in rugby, by creating an offering that is easily accessible,non-contact, played to music, and that dials up the social and fitness elementsof the sport.

O2 Touch, coordinated in partnership with O2, is also supported by Sport England and forms a major part of England Rugby’s partnership with Sport England to grow the game.

Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Director today said: “O2 Touch has consistently been one of the RFU’s top performing grassroots participation programmes, particularly among the 18-30s audience. The programme benefitted significantly from the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017, so we are hoping to continue this positive legacy and to grow participation, particularly among women. Around 72% of our players tell us that they play regularly to get and stay fit, so it’s great to have these studies to prove just how significant these fitness benefits are.”

 O2 Touch operates both a ‘pitch up and play’ facility aimed at individuals who are new to rugby or who can’t commit on a weekly basis and O2 Touch leagues for those who want to play in a more structured and competitive environment.

For more information about O2 Touch visit www.O2Touch.co.ukor download the O2 Touch app