Defence's representative touch football teams broke a two-year hiatus from the Australian championships with competitive performances at the National Touch League at Coffs Harbour. 

The ADF Touch Association (ADFTA) fielded two men’s teams in Over 40 and Over 50 age groups at Coffs Harbour from May 4 to 8 as part of 127 teams and 1800 of the nation’s best touch players. 

ADFTA President Wing Commander Sheena Stapleton said the return of the ADF Warriors to the National Touch League signalled a restart for the sport, which was heavily impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our preparations were not only impacted by COVID, but also a postponement to NTL due to the flooding rains in March, however, the teams still put on determined performances against the nation’s best sides,” Wing Commander Stapleton said. 

“NTL is regarded as the best touch footy in the world and some teams have spent the past year preparing for their campaign.

“Overall, I am pretty impressed with the competitiveness of our players in this year’s competition, given very limited preparation and availability of personnel due to operational and training commitments.

“We are working towards selecting more teams for representative honours later in the year and again for next year, and will start that build-up with announcing the details of the Defence National Championships in the near future.”

The men’s Over 50s bowed out in the quarter final with a 5-1 loss to Brisbane Cobras after a strong pool performance with wins against NQ Cyclone (5-3), Vic Storm (4-1), Sunshine Coast (4-1) and losses against eventual champions Sydney Scorpions (2-0), third-placed ACT Raiders (5-0) and a narrow loss to Hunter-Western Hornets (6-5). 

They finished sixth out of the 11 teams in the 50s division with Air Force’s Warrant Officer Stan Davis finishing fifth overall on a congested try-scorer’s table. 

Flight Sergeant Shawn Spry on the attack against Victoria Storm in the Over 50s division at the National Touch League. Photo: Nathan Hopkiins

The men’s Over 40s were heavily impacted by player availability and struggled to chalk a win in a competitive pool that included eventual champions South Queensland Sharks, and Sydney Scorpions. 

The highlight of the team’s campaign was an 11-7 quarter final loss to Victoria Storm, with Army’s Warrant Officer 2 Dan Tattersall and Terence Kong leading with gritty performances in a depleted eight-man team as a result of player injury and illness. 

The ADF National Championships scheduled for later this year will be announced soon and will be used to select participants for Queensland State Cup 2022 and NTL 2023.