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...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wales shows the way

You turn up and train midweek, you play games Sundays. Beyond that - who cares - does it matter how the game is run or who by?

Actually, in truth, it does. The fact that the RFUW and the RFU are separate bodies running their own game really does impact at ground level. It means, for example, that there is no obligation for counties to support girls or womens rugby because the counties are RFU bodies. Fortunately most are rather more far-sighted than that, and we are okay in Hertfordshire, but there are players in parts of the North East and South West are not so lucky.

It means that funding and sponsorship to the game as a whole does not necessarily and automatically find its way to the girls and womens game, it means that television contracts (for example) will only cover male internationals. It means - ultmately - that we have "rugby" and "women's rugby" as if they were different things.

It need not be so, and from the end of August in Wales at least it won't be as the Welsh Rugby Union and the Welsh Women’s Rugby Union are merging - which means that the WWRU will no longer be merely an "associate member" of the WRU, but instead that the WRU will take on full responsibilty for the development of the women's and girls' game. So - in theory at least - any development programme in Wales will now automatically include women and girls, and it will be interesting to see whether the men's international team sponsors names start appearing on women's shirts.

That is what happened some ten years ago when the men's and women's boards merged in cricket. National team sponsorship immediately applied to women's teams as well, and TV contracts included an obligation to show at least some women's games. As a result every county now fields a women's team stronger than the regional teams that existed ten years ago. Even club funding became dependent on programmes to develop the women's game.

Admittedly mergers do not guarantee success - only two days before the above announcement one of the New Zealand "Black Ferns" was complaining about the lack of support they get from the NZRU, which they are full members of. And this is not the first time the World Champions have had cause for complaint.

But overall the impression you get is that being part of a single governing body measurably benefits the women's game - look at the USA and Canada, where women's rugby has been a full part of their rugby unions for ten years or more. Remember how much girls' rugby is played around where IE Weldon came from, and - perhaps even more importantly - the positive attitudes there seemed to be towards it. Or maybe it would be better to say the lack of attitude - it was the routine acceptance of the women's game that was so impressive, the impression that every school that had a boys rugby team would of course have a girls team too. It barely needs saying how far we are from that!

The RFUW and RFU have been in discussion for some years, I gather, but niggling differences remain. One day a merger will come, though, but in the meanwhile its going to be interesting to see how things develop over the border. Maybe it will take a revialised, well supported Welsh team beating England (something that has never happened in over 20 years!) before bullet is finally bitten?

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