Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Neighbouring club in trouble: should we help them?

It has become apparent over the last few weeks that our nearest neighbours to the north - Ampthill (Fern's old club) - are having some problems. They were due to visit us on 25th March, but this was cancelled owing to the National Cup, and arranging an alternative has revealed that they have lost a number of players since our visit to them before Christmas. This presents us with a two options.

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!


  1. Anonymous6:32 PM

    Do NOT get me started...

  2. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Please no...

  3. Anonymous8:18 PM

    No John please no im sorry but tbh ... we all say that all these teams joining togther is spoiling the fact we have no clubs to play and then if we join them ... we r gunna loose another club ... so no ... n looking at other ppls comments i think they all agree

  4. Hmmmmm..... some very strong feelings there. Is that the opinion of you all? Does anyone else want to express a view?

    The aim - anon 3 - is to keep more clubs going, long term, but helping them out short-term. If we do not help out Ampthill now then there could well be no team up there to play next season.

    I might add that if you all want to preserve our independence then you have all got some serious recruitment to do - including getting back those girls who we haven't seen since Christmas (or before).

    I've not actually heard back from Ampthill yet with their feelings on this - but if this the view of many of you then I'll have to tell them its off.

  5. Vincent11:45 PM

    This is FAR too important to discuss on line.

    It needs a team meeting so everybody can have a say properly

  6. Bam Bam11:49 PM

    At first I would have said naahhh man theres no point. But to be honest anonymous 1 go on then get started coz thats the whole point. Anon 2 actually its yes please (we actually need more girls!!). And Anon 3 ampthill are going 2 be lost anyways at this rate so we still wont have any clubs 2 play n not bein funny but at the start of the season we had 22 girls now we jst played westcliffe and we like had no reserves n couldnt even play 15s or 12s!! so we need the girls just as much as they want to play! Ampthill will like at latest by next season be back on their feet able 2 play again, so its not actually going 2 affect letchworth atall-exept for the fact it means we can actually play proper rugby with 15s and subs!! cmon girls think about it more yeh. And leave your names coz doin this anonymously is a bit silly!
    Oh and itll still just be a letchworth team in 7s n stuff so if ur worried ur place will get nicked by an ampthill player then dont. Coz ampthill have 7 players so they can enter a team on their own. (and if letch dont help ampthill then you kno where they will be knicked to or go to, mentioning no names *cough*) lol.

  7. We'll try to find time to discuss this on Sunday - but keep this going in the meanwhile (or use Nikki's site).

    Personally I'm all in favour of online discussion - it can allow for more considered comments than a "thinking on your feet" meeting.

    So think, contribute here and, if you are at training on Sunday, bring your thoughts there as well.

  8. We'll try to find time to discuss this on Sunday - but keep this going in the meanwhile (or use Nikki's site).

    Personally I'm all in favour of online discussion - it can allow for more considered comments than a "thinking on your feet" meeting.

    So think, contribute here and, if you are at training on Sunday, bring your thoughts there as well.

  9. Rosie Randall3:18 PM

    i think personally that yes it would be good to join with amphill and help a neighbouring club but, i dont think that if people dont want to do it in the team then we are going to loose our players cuse our team wont be happy and i dont think that is fair .. im not sayin no completly i am just sayin it is a serious issue and i think we need to consider every ones opinion and not loose the players that we have already.

  10. Randall4:28 PM

    Something else aswell if we play with them and get dropped from OUR team i dont think people will be very happy at all and then we will loose our players .

  11. simon4:46 PM

    I think you are putting too much emphisis on 'joining'. You need to look at it from a short term practical view. Will it let us field a full 15 a side team with a few subs? Can we play a full pitch version at U14's? If the answer is yes then go for it to the end of the season. Don't worry about the 7's that is different, though you really need a squad of 10 to compete on the day. Saracens U17's have to combine with others as we cannot field a full 15 person team yet, but in the meantime the girls are gathering playing experience. Last week Sarries U14's combined with Basildon to play 12 a side against Hertford, the U17's combined with Hertford to play Basildon. When was the last time both your squads played in full sided games? This is not about loosing identity this is about getting games and giving struggling teams time to recover and recruit, you don't have to train together. But if they fold you won't be travelling to Bedfordshire to play a match you will be going an hour further to Northampton to find a fixture. At the end of the day they will need to co-operate also and be actively building and recruiting.


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