Wednesday, February 28, 2007
It would appear that I was misinformed.
I have now removed the comment you have complained about and wish you good fortune in the final against... whoever may emerge on the 25th.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Thought it might be useful to do a quick rundown of what, where, who, why etc. for the next few weeks, 'cause what with regionals, cups, tours, etc. its quite tricky.
This Wednesday (and ever Wednesday) training as usual - but this week hopefully Mike will be coming to say fond farewells. Bring plenty of tissues.
Sunday 4th. At home to Saracens & Peterborough (and/with maybe Ampthill depending on their team meeting tomorrow). Kick-off 1.30. Saracens bringing nine girls in each age group, Peterborough four U17s so at the minute it looks like a 7-a-side game for the U14s and 13-a-side for U17s unless Ampthill provide some players/a team as well, or we get any of the U14 girls from Hitchin Girls or Highfield.
Sunday 11th. U17s training in the morning - start time and venue TBC - but assume 10.30 and at the club unless you hear otherwise.
U14s will be going to see England play France in the Six Nations at Old Albanians, where the U17s can join them after training. After their 32-0 win in Ireland at the weekend a win over the French should virtually sew up Englands second successive Six Nations title, with only Wales standing in the way of a Grand Slam. In fact England have not conceeded a single point so far this season - but on the other hand their recent record against France in the Six Nations is not good, with only one win out in the last three games. France are also unbeaten this season, and finished third in the World Cup - so you will be watching the best two teams in the Northern Hemisphere battling it out!
Kick-off will be at 1.45, preceeded by an "A" international kicking off at 12.00. £7.50 for adults, £2.50 for children - and free parking!
Hayley, Nim and Fern will be missing all this as they'll be at region.
Sunday 18th. Looks like a weekend off for U17s at least to rest and prepare for the following weekend. Except for Hayley, Nim and Fern who will be knocking lumps off each other at the East Midlands vs East game in Leicester.
Sunday 25th. National cup for both U14s and U17s... and we STILL do not know where you will be.
Sunday 1st April. Training at Letchworth, except for the above three superstars who (selections permitting) will be playing either at Ely or wherever East Mids are at.
Wednesday 4th April. "International" U17 festival at Letchworth! I E Weldon, plus teams (or at least players) from equally exotic places such as Aylesbury, Towcester, and Sudbury - and maybe other places too. Should be enough for at least three or four teams over all so we can have a round-robin touranment. I'd like to offer them some sort of "party"or at least social event afterwards - ideas please.
But we need YOU to vote to get us into the finals - so click on the links above (or on the menu bar on the right) and lets see if we can't win a second trophy this season. Or even a third! And after you've done you can vote for Nikki's site because she is up for the best U16 award, and also entered for the Best Sports website as well!
And for our many other readers (including those overseas)... you can vote too! You do not have to be in Hertfordshire to cast a vote. So come on - it'll take only a few seconds!
All votes have to be in by 16th March - so get clicking now. We're both up against some stiff competition (see here for details) so we both need all the help we can get!
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Ampthill had already been invited to join us next weekend for the game against Saracens (or now what will be something like a combined Saracens and Peterborough team, as the Cambridgeshire team will be sending down sufficient players to ensure that our opponents will have something close to a full side).
More news on their response when we receive it.
(Well I think he said "bless'ed"...)
Anyway it seems that after contracting a severe case of skint Mike eventually surcumed to a surfeit of money contracted in the Worcester area, where the Guinness Premiership club will now be using his services as a Community Coach. The fact that his new club play in a league sponsored by a brewer has apparently had no influence over his move. And if you believe that...
Mike begins his life On The Other Side tomorrow - but fear not for it is rumoured that on the Third Day (ie. Wednesday) He will return unto us one final time to say His farewells to His disciples and followers. Yay - for it is written that He shall move amongst us once more for one final evening before finally retiring unto the lands of the mystic West where His accent will no longer be a cause of amusement. Because they all speak like that down there...
What can be said of a man whose sense of direction matched his organisational abilities? That he was a damn good backs coach we know. That he transformed out back line is obvious. That he had his admirers for reasons other than simply his rugby ability we will cast veil over if we can. You are invited to leave your thoughts and memories here - at least the printable ones an dthosethat remain inside the laws of libel. After all now he can no longer get back at you!!
Mike leaves behind... a bit of a lack-of-coaches situation, especially next season. The club will be placing adverts for coaches shortly, and other avenues are being explored as well. In addition I will not be continuing with my county role next season so as to concentrate on club affairs. Yes indeedy - you could lose Joe and Mike and gain me! I can just picture your excitement at that prospect!!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
First. Do nothing. What happens at another club is not our concern and - hey - we might pick up some of their players! However while we might have some short term gains like that, longer term we lose another team off our fixture list.
Those of you who were here in year one will recall a fixture list that included Stevenage, Hemel, Bishops Stortford, and Cheshunt - all clubs in Hertfordshire and all only 20-40 minutes away. All now gone. Leaving aside the observation that this means at least 50 girls have been lost to the game (as most of them will not have joined other teams), the collapse of these teams is one reason why we travel at least an hour to almost every away game we play.
Can we let this continue? Should we stand by and let Ampthill - a team which we have generally got on pretty well with - go next?
Second. We offer to help. This season we have seen two successful partnerships like this - Saracens helping to revive Fullerians (so successfully that Fullers are now back on their own feet again) and Basildon working in the same way with Rochford (which has worked pretty well for them). What we are proposing to Ampthill is that we do the same with them.
Will it work? There are no guarantees that it will. If the problems lie deeper within the club than simply recruitment and retention of players then whatever we do will not help. Saracens last season tried to keep Cheshunt going, but in the end that partnership did not succeed.
But at least we will have tried and if, despite all our efforts Ampthill still go belly-up we will have shown their players a possible new home.
What do we get out of it? Apart from a warm glow and an opponent within easy travelling distance? Quite a bit actually...
- Our U14s (or U15s next season) would be the big winners as they'd be able to combine with Ampthill's small junior group to create a full team
- We get a bigger U17/U18 squad - which, bearing the loss of Nim and Randy next season, we will need
- We get a second "home" venue to use when Letchworth is too busy,
- We get access to Bedfordshire and Bedfordshire schools and Mid Beds council sports development which will help us get into schools in Biggleswade, Stotfold, Arelsley, etc,
- We get the positive image that comes with our showing that we put the wider game first, ahead of simply building up our own playing squad. Its not something that has any financial or playing benefit, but behind the scenes it can be very useful.
- Those with county or regional ambitions probably get a choice of counties!
And at what cost?
- Some weekend training or home games at Ampthill
- We might register with a slightly different name - but there again we were considering tacking "and Mid Beds" onto the team name anyway so as to enable us to get easier access to the schools etc. just over the border
When from? Up to Ampthill - and you, because (in the end) this is your club. If both sides are agreeable we could start tomorrow (or 4th March at least). Certainly it would - say - make entering an independent U14 team and a second U17 team in the Herts (and National?) Sevens viable.
What next? Ampthill are already discussing this at their end - I know because Fern has said so. So we need to discuss it this end too. In the end if most of you do not like the idea then we do not go ahead.
But if you do choose the "easy" course of doing nothing then no-one is allowed to make any complaints next time we we are faced with a two hour drive up the A1 to Market Harborough or Daventry or... wherever!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
We will, of course, not raise awkward questions along the lines of "what were you doing mucking around on the internet at that time - maths a bit boring today or something?".
The continued fascination that our neighbours to the south have in all things Letchworthian remains, of couse, gratifying - but come on, guys, isn't it about time you started your own blog?
Still the timing is rather good as from Friday evening you'll be able to vote for this site (and for Nikkis too!) in a competition to find the best websites in Hertfordshire. This blog will be up for the Sport and Blog categories, while Nikki will be going for the U16 title - and chances are the sport title as well. Voting buttons will appear (top right) when the polls open.
I'm not sure what the winners will come away with, other than an overbearing aura of sumgness...
The Start Rugby Coaching course is designed to give you some ideas that could be used so that you could be more actively involved, particlarly with new players joining the sport. It is a good first step towards a coaching qualification, but is also of value in itself if you did not want to go that far.
The evening is a 2 ½ to 3 hour practically-based course and aims to develop your skills and knowledge about the game. By attending a Start Rugby course, you will learn how to deliver elements of the warm-up, handling and contact skills, small sided games and basic coaching processes.
You also get a useful coaching resource, including a pack of laminated coaching cards detailing simple drills and games.
If you are interested please email Dave Roberts asap.
On the plus side Saracens are definately coming and I am seeing if I can find someone else. Fulerians are now a separate side again, so they are being asked, and I'll see if someone like Towcester might visit as well.
At least I have a week or so to cast round - and we know (if the worst comees to the worst) that Sarries can be relied upon!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
It had been proposed to have one squad of 40 (as in Worcestershire) and run two teams from that squad, but the existing coaches argued against that as they instead wanted to be able to concentrate on the leading players.
The "B" squad will, however, have a much higher status than the former Barbarian team and will have its own kit and as full a fixture list as the "A" team.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Confusingly one of two "Rosie R"s to join us at more or less the same time in the latter half of our first (2004/5) season, it was only at the start of this season that we managed to come up with something better than "Rosie - no that one!".
Rosie began in the U14s... until someone near the end of the season spotted that her sister, Jade, had got her birthdate wrong and she should have been in the U17s. Though Jade faded from the picture early in the second season, Randy stayed with us.
Always incredibly quick, for a long time tackling was not Randy's strong point... until mid-way through 2006 when we suddenly found ourselves with a totally different player. Retaining her speed she now combined that with the ability to bring anyone crashing down - and was deservedly selected for the county in September.
Tough, fast, fearless and confident Randy has made a terrific contribution to the team this season and now - just when is is playing better than ever before - she leaves us in two weeks time to start her six weeks basic training, after which... watch our world!
And watch out too whoever currently plays wing for the British Army XV - your days are numbered!
U14 training will be at the usual time.
- Organising an 18th birthday party the evening before an away game
- Attending said party in large numbers and fully participating in the disposal of the refreshments provided
- Leaving said party in the early hours very tired and emotional
- Getting about 4-5 hours sleep
- Meeting at the club early on Sunday morning in a condition only to expected by the above
- Consuming large quantities of Lucazade and paracetamol en route
- Defend like demons against one of the most exciting and fastest back lines around
- Score three tries, largely against the run of play
- Convert two of the the tries
- Win 19-15
- Declare that "we play much better with hangovers"
Perhaps one observation would be that temporarily killing off most of the higher brain functions (including the ability to feel pain, it would seem) seemed to make everyone play by instinct - the result being some staggering tackling (especially by Hayley) and the fantastic first try where H was tackled while running at full speed, almost did a complete somersault, but still got the ball away to Nim who went over to tie the scores at 5-5 at the end of the first half.
Of course there were downsides. The lifters in the line out temporarily forgetting about the laws of gravity did deprive the team of Nichola for part of the game as unfortunately she had not been at the party and so had not developed an immunity to pain, but even she came back later on.
But seriously it was a terrific game. Considering the hiding Westcliff gave virtually the same team only two weeks before it was an amazing turnround. Everyone played superbly, some in somewhat makeshift positions. Some 80% of the game was in our half, but we never gave up, came back from behind on three occasions, and stole the game with a typical Hayley try (and Nim's boot) at the end.
Unfortunately suggestions that the pre-match regime be repeated on a regular basis has not won much favour. So let's see if we can repeat this performance when sober when we play Basildon and Saracens on 4th March!
And finally thanks to Westcliff - great sports again - for introducing the team to a whole new post-match routine! Lots of ideas now for the tour....
- Phil's action pictures now on the archive
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Okay, not as a player - but something even more exclusive - as one of only four winners of the "Young Volunteers +" award.
You will recall that Joe was recently presented with his "Young Volunteer" Award. Well, it seems that all winners of that award are then reassessed with the leading candidates "who contribute an outstanding amount to their rugby community" being offered the chance to further their knowledge and experience by joining the England U20 squad.
Joe will therefore be getting an all-expenses paid visit to the U20s training camp on Tuesday 6th March and then the match itself the following Friday. He will join in with both the coaching sessions and the tactical briefings, as well as taking part in the post-match team dinner.
So we can expect all kinds of useful new coaching techniques to be on show just in time for our preparation for the National Cup.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Unfortunately they have no U14s. At one point it looked as if Gravesend might be visiting as well so there might have been some opponents, but now it look like the Kent side will not be coming.
So just the U17s will be going down to Essex. Kick-off will be 12.00, so meet at the club at 9.45 for a 10.00 departure. Some of you will already know the way to Westcliff having been there for the county tournament in December:
Address: The Gables, Aviation Way, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 6UN
Map: click here
U14s: Rachel will be in touch if training can be organised at Letchworth. Failing that anyone Year 7s who wanted to play could jin with the U12 boys who are playing at Hitchin.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Joe and I were in Basildon with the senior regional squad, who lost a game they should have won comfortably by 12-5 thanks to a last minute South East try. I think the main thing to report for U17 girls in particular is that the senior rugby is, on this viewing, not that significant a step up - on skill levels at least. All the players are bigger overall - but then by the time you all get to the 18+ you will be as well. A few familiar faces in the team from U17s last year - including at least one certain Basildon "legend" you will all remember.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Over the 24 hours I've had approaches for fixtures from Towcester (new club in Northants - just the other side of Milton Keynes) and also an invitation to the Aylesbury Amazons Festival on 13th May.
The latter is the same day as the National 10s final, so would be a problem for the U17s should they win the regional heat three weeks before. But I'll work on the assumption that we will not be at Lichfield that day, not least because the Aylesbury festival includes U14s (I think).
Looks very likely that we'll do the East Mids regional 10s by the way - had a very friendly response from the hosts there - Aylestone St James (or "Jimmies" as the are known). Sounds like it would be a really good day out.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Anyway - sounds as if everyone who went had a great time and that a certain rivalry has begun to develop between two local schools.
So the question therefore is... how can we build on this? Might we have an U17 game between Highfield and Hitchin Girls? Maybe even a best of three involving U14s and perhaps U12 tag as well? Perhaps on a Wednesday afternoon/evening or a non-fixture Sunday?
Obviously we'd host it at the club (neutral ground... but also if we want to "convert" new players we need to get them up here).
What do you think? Would it be feasible? Would you school support such an idea?
- Apparently Roysia School from Royston where there as well. As they are on our "patch" maybe we could bring them in as well. What were they like?
However, finding any news in the press about the women's six nations is about as easy as stopping Sasha from scoring from 5m out - even if the results are published they are often buried away in such small print that an electronic microscope if required! So the following web-based resources are particilarly useful.
- Biogs etc. about the England squad appear on the RFUW website
- Scores and results appear on the "Official RBS Nations Website". This also includes the previous three campaigns, and the main thing to note is that Italy did much better against France than I think anyone would have predicted.
- England's matches can be watched - live - online at www.247.tv, except for this Saturday's game against Italy which will be on BBC Interactive.
England's final home game is on Sunday 11th March against France at OAs and its likely that we'll be arranging some sort of "team day out" to this instead of training (its a regional day for both juniors and seniors anyway so Mike, and possibly Joe, will be "Otherwise Engaged". And it should be a good game - probably the championship decider!)
DSM Rugby ("Dummy, Scissors, Miss" apparently - so clearly aimed at backs!) is a free online magazine for rugby followers. The first issue (which came out in December) featured all sorts of good stuff - apparently - including the first in a regular series of articles by Danielle Waterman (Clifton Ladies & England). The second issue has just appeared.
I say apparently because try as I might I can't actually log into it at the minute. Which actually means I may have to do some work today. Bother.
Anyway - with those of you in Herts starting your half-term early today it'll give you something to do to fill the yawning gap in your social schedule. And for those of you in Beds it'll help you get over the gnawing injustice of having to go to school while your soft southern colleagues get the day off! Indeed quite what tough northerner Andy makes of his wimpish new home is anyone's guess.
"Call that snow? When I were I lad..."
- Okay - managed to get in now and its brilliant!. The problem seems to be that its presented using Flash so that it looks like a paper journal - when you read through it it "turns" the page in an animated sort of way. So you can't get in on some computers if the connection is a bit dodgy or whatever. But it is worth the effort!!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
It had been hoped that at least one of the three would have been around but that was not to be. Unfortunately there hasn't been enough time to sort out either an early start to training, or alternative coaching support so ... you've all got the day off! Well, apart from Nim, Fern, Laura, and Hayley who will be either training or battling for a place in the regional squad.
We WILL try to get something in place for the next Regional Day on the 25th. In the meanwhile... relax, enjoy, and get mentally ready for Westcliff on the 18th.
U14s are down to train with Rachel.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I E Weldon will be arriving in Letchworth, by way of Gatwick, on Tuesday 3rd April and will be staying at Wymondley Woods scout centre. Our game with them will now be on Wednesday 4th April (details like start times etc. to be sorted out) and, after a day trip to London, they'll leave for pastures new (including a game against Hertford) on Good Friday.
At the minute I am trying to see if any other clubs might like to join us on the 4th to make a sort of "mini-festival" that afternoon - as we will obviously have the whole ground to play with.
Main thing though is make sure you are around on the 4th. Seriously - its still a couple of months away so there is plenty of time to rearrange visits to grandparents, shopping trips, and GCSE revision. Weldon will have come 5,000 miles for this game - let's make their trip worth it!!
Monday, February 05, 2007
And she must have put in a terrific performance - remember East Midlands U17s beat East both home and away last year. And they'll be meeting again in March - so there will be some divided loyaties around.
Meanwhile some possible good news from East is that Hayley will now be allowed to retrial after all on Sunday. So good luck Hayley - and Laura too who also gets a second go!
On 29th April there is the first ever "official" RFUW Regional U17 10s tournament. In fact there will be ten tournamnets spread around the country and our "local" one (for East Region and North London) will be at Hemel.
However, RFUW have made it very clear that you do not have to enter your local event. In fact they have made a point of suggesting that clubs can enter ANY of the regional competitions.
Given the rumblings about our always playing the same teams one thing we might consider is entering the East Midlands 10s, which are due to be held at Aylestone St James in Leicester. In terms of journey time Hemel is about 40 minutes away, Leicester about twice that - but in practice the latter is normally a pretty clear run up the A1, which is more than can be said for trips to Hemel....
Who might we expect to meet? Well presumably the likes of Kettering, MK and Becket, but also possibly Paviors (from Nottingham - who came to our 7s last year - good team), North Kesteven (Lincs - supposedly very good), Buxton, Kidderminster perhaps (or are they West Mids?) and other teams - most of whom we will never have heard of - but all in all it might be a bit different from the usual round.
So what do people think? No rush to make any decisions yet but worth a bit of discussion perhaps.
But seriously there was certainly a spark of some sort missing all afternoon. In a way it reminded me of the visit to Ampthill, but there the opposition was weaker and we got away with it. Yesterday it wasn't and we most certainly didn't.
Its the first time we've played the FULL Sudbury team I think - and its a shame that they had lost prop in the earlier draw with Westcliff as it would have been interesting to see how strong their pack is. The main players were well known, and perhaps the main positive was that we seemed to cope with Sasha better than Westcliff had - though at a price. That price included Katie off for the rest of the day, and Rosie unable to push at prop in the game with Westcliff.
Westcliff themselves were a revelation, though. They have improved so much since Beckenham - and for what seems a "small" team have possibly strongest looking pack in the region (difficult to tell with Rosie's shoulder, but in the one contested scrum we managed NO other East side has pushed as effectively as Westcliff did!). As for their backs.... that sub 13-second sprinter that Worthing had was pedestrian compared to Westcliff centres - and as for the scrum-half... wow!
They also remain one of the friendliest teams on the circuit.
And we play them again in two weeks. It's be Randy's last game so let's make its good turnout and see how we do against this team with our full strength side. Should be an interesting game!
Phil's photographic coverage can be found here.
- Some good news about Katie. No bone breaks apparently but a "partial tear of the scapula ligament" - the one that anchors the arm. She will be unable to contact for six weeks - but that means she will be back in time for the National Cup, the Canadian visit AND the tour!
Friday, February 02, 2007
To begin with we will have virtually full teams on regional training days - as indeed will several clubs by the look of it. Anyway...
Club fixtures: One problem with the U14s is that both of the fixtures arranged this month are at teams with virtually no U14s at all. We may have to wait a week or two to see how things have panned out for clubs with significant U14 squads - Milton Keynes for example (who are due to visit us) and Hertford (ditto) - so there is some hope, especially if we could get them to come over on the same day...
Eastern Counties: Another route is through Eastern Counties. Twice now (three times?) they have sent girls to us, and we might maybe return the favour and join them one weekend... once they have something in place.
Hertfordshire: This looks less hopeful. Something over half of the Herts U14 team are in the East regional squad - along with Simon, the coach - so there is unlikely to be much organised within the county.
Boys U12s: Training - or even (for some of you) playing - with the boys U12s might be an option. I really want to hear how well the boys treat you both in training and matches because if we get any Year 7s next year they will not be able to play with in the new girls' U15 team. So it is very important to know how viable the idea of having them play with the boys team really is. The boys are also gearing up to a BIG festival in April and - if any of you wanted to join them - you'd really benefit from taking part.
Key thing: Talk to Rachel about what YOU want to do.
Team building. Joe has plans for some special training events on some Sunday mornings.
Club fixtures. Much the same as for the U14s - except that you do have two weekends of games already lined up. However the likes of MK and Hertford do owe us visits, and Eastern Counties may be carrying on with a county programme and might fancy a game.
Hertfordshire: Obvously around half of Herts team will be at region, and it really depends on how enthusiastic everyone that remains is. However this year almost all of those selected so far are from one club, so it may well be that a county team is not needed because most clubs will be little affected by regional call-ups.
Preparation: There is the "London North 10s" and "Herts/East Region 7s" to plan for, as well as the National Cup, the Canadian visit, and the tour - so some good daylight training sessions on Sunday mornings would not be a bad thing.
While we can take a reasonable guess on who around 30 of the regular readers are, this would mean that each of our team is logging on over 50 times per month... which seems unlikely as my guess is that there are more exciting websites out there. Like Nikki's for starters!
Truth is that there is a very big readership from outside the club necause only about a third of the hits are from locations registered in North Herts. The site has quite a significant "fan base" in the likes of Luton. Oxford, Watford, Abingdon, and Welwyn Garden City- in each case at least one person from these places logs in (on average) once a day!
But there is international interest too. We get at least one "hit" every day from somewhere the USA (a particular hello to Long Beach, California!) - and we've also had significant number of visitors from Canada, New Zealand, France, Japan, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Italy, Portugal, Singapore, China, and South Africa.
Which all begs the question.... why? I mean we can guess why there was a sudden spike in readers from Sussex and Milton Keynes at certain times of the season, but why so many people from other towns read about our activities so often is anyone's guess. Maybe they like the writing style. Or the pictures...
Still, I wonder if any other ordinary junior sports team generates this level of interest?
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