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...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Not yet firing on all cylinders?

There were good points and points to work on from yesterday's Rochford 10s. A mid-table position was really what we deserved on the day, but we know that have the ability to do much better.

The positive is that we all know that we can play so much better and there are any number of ways we can realistically improve on our performance. And against Sudbury, and for part of the time against Aylesford, we were playing almost as well as we did last year - if we had maintained that standard thoughout we might have been in with a shout to retain the title.

Unfortunately we were dreadfully inconsistent. The dithery response to restarts continues to be a major Achillies heel, and was compounded yesterday by a remarkable reluctance to dive on a loose ball when kicked ahead by the opposition - something that cost us at least two tries. Both of these faults centre on the same thing - indecision over what to do when the ball is bobbling around at our feet, but hopefully we have now learnt that standing around in horrified fascination (as if it were some sort of unexploded bomb) is asking for trouble - as is leaving it to someone else to defuse. The solution is simple - in case of doubt dive on it! The opposition have to let you get to your feet, which means that you keep possession and gain a vital couple of seconds for support to arrive.

"I'm sure I saw a ball around here somewhere..."

The other negative was our tendency to take too long to "get our game heads on". Admittedly we were not alone and against Westcliff in the first game both sides spent the first period apparently trying to see who could make the most embarrasing errors (an inability to see from one end of pitch to the other didn't help). Our problem was that mist cleared from Westcliff's minds rather sooner than ours - they woke up in the second half of this game whereas we seemed to still be fast asleep until the second half of the following game with Aylesford!

This was a pity as once we did realise that the tournament had started - ie. the game with Sudbury - we were back to our best, playing as well as we did at Wimborne last month. But then - after a full lunch - it was (from what I hear) slumberland again when Basford hove into view (fundamental rule - you cannot run through Basford's defence, any more than you can run through a brick wall!), rounded off by a very tired performance against Welbeck College.

Maybe last year we did benefit from going to Beckenham after all? For all of it being a long way to go for not much rugby, it perhaps did allow us to wake up before Rochford and maybe we performed better as a result. I also suspect we a missing a certain inspirational 18-year old far more than we realise (and no, I don't mean Joe...).

Despite whatever some may have been saying, we are still fundamentally the same team as last season - and the good news is that with the Nationals 10s and National Cup now in the spring we now have plenty of time to find that form again.

A slideshow of photos from yesterday, taken by Natalie's mum Joan, are now available at


  1. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I saw this and thought of Letchworth, digest, enjoy but most of all take the action.

    From Will Greenwood’s column, The Times, Saturday 3rd February 2007, the occasion of Jonny
    Wilkinson’s return from England exile.

    Forget all the talk about Jonny Wilkinson and
    England’s chances of winning the Six Nations. It
    won’t be on the field that the future is decided. It will
    be in the lead-up to the opening games and it will be
    the same for all the teams in the competition.
    The week before a Test match is all about removing
    luck, about controlling what is controllable, about
    ensuring 22 players are in the best possible state to
    play their optimum rugby.
    Selection has already been made, training has been
    planned and is completed. Media day is fulfilled.
    Tactics are discussed, downtime is enjoyed with a
    day off, while the final team run took place
    yesterday so that all the i’s could be dotted and t’s
    The night before the game a film will have been
    watched, a massage enjoyed, a final supper
    devoured. Sleeping tablets get swallowed by some,
    hot chocolate for others. Come match day and lunch
    is pushed around the plate because the butterflies
    will allow nothing else. After what seems like an age,
    bags are loaded on to the bus and the journey
    begins. Music is listened to, cars are overtaken with
    the help of police escort, arrival planned for 90
    minutes before kick-off.
    Players collect their bags and walk through the
    crowds to the changing rooms. You hear the noise
    but retreat into your own world. Kickers get changed
    early, always the first out. The front row find a dark
    corner, staying close, aware that they must go to a
    place where none of us can follow.
    Physios and doctors are flat out, as most players will
    have ankles and shoulders strapped. Some are lucky
    enough to require neither, others resemble Egyptian
    mummies. Many players will read the programme,
    others clean boots, change studs so that some are
    longer than others. Luck socks get worn, right boots
    on before left. The soundtrack is provided by iPods
    playing the theme to Rocky, The Clash, Take That,
    whatever gets you on edge.
    More and more players drift out on to the field,
    different routines for different positions. Some jog
    around the field nice and slow, others are out of the
    blocks, spinning, stepping, accelerating. Then the
    rush of adrenalin that follows with the knowledge of
    what is about to take place. Half an hour to go, back
    into the changing room. Team uniform for the warmup,
    match shirts put on only closer to the time. Many
    hit the caffeine trying to perk up and boost
    awareness levels. It’s legal. Others stay on the

    Time for a sit down, the coaches take centre stage. A
    talk through, the opening kick-off routine reminded.
    Defence coach reiterates importance of solidity.
    Attack coach talks of patience and discipline. The
    head coach gives a final overview, underlining
    opportunities that have been gone over all week,
    reminding the side of their basics, their game plan.
    They they have finished.
    Team huddle as the captain has a quick word, trying
    to hold his troops back. The fitness guru is waiting
    outside, so the captain leads his boys out and the
    crowd react. Layers are in the zone, but not al. Some
    have not yet flicked the switch. Each to their own.
    Warm-up. Heart rate raised. You had better be
    ready. A split – forwards and backs go their separate
    ways. Forwards must do more lineouts, must hit
    something and preferably each other. Bone on bone
    tells them it is almost time. Backs enjoy the feeling
    of the ball hitting their hands, of delivering the
    perfect pas.
    A move is rehearsed. Then the squad come together
    again. Team-play, half a pitch covered, patterns
    rehearsed. Hit a power runner, zip it wide, focus on
    the coach’s key points. Some rucking drills, some
    power running, then some hits. This is not training
    ground stuff. Bags are hit at full tilt, replacements
    bellowing encouragement.
    The sweat is pouring off you: you wonder how you
    will manage a game – and then it ends. A last word
    on the field and then walk back into the changing
    room. Water bottle gulped on. The intensity of the
    occasion has your blood pumping. Shoulder pads on,
    helmets secured. Shirts fitted into – the new ones
    are so tight you may as well paint them on. Physios,
    kit men, replacements all help. Boots are re-tied,
    gum shield kept in mouth or shoved
    down sock. The five-minutes knock
    on the door from the ref.
    At that moment you could be English
    or Scottish, French or Italian, Welsh
    or Irish. You could be at
    Twickenham, at Cardiff, at Rome. No matter what
    language you speak, when the knock comes you
    must be ready for confrontation, physical and
    mental. You must be ready for punishment. You
    have to be ready to go to work. It is here that
    the game is decided. This very moment. Not in
    the anthems, not in the first kick, not the first
    points. It happens in the changing room, with
    your mates.
    Your rugby soul stripped bare, the reason you
    play the game. A final handshake, a final hug,
    the captain’s final words. Looking around you
    and seeing the unity, the desire. It is then that
    you know the game is won, that the game is

  2. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Well done girls for getting back up on your feet after each knock down, you did well and carry great team spirit.

  3. Heather6:53 PM

    Nice Photos Joan - Phil better watch out!

    Not sure about the unexploded bomb analogy, John. Yes dive on rugby balls but don't on unexploded bombs!


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