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...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RFUW National 10s at Lichfield

This Sunday - May 4th - we are playing in the RFUW National 10s finals at Lichfield RUFC. The timetable for the day is as follows :

8.50 am : Meet at Letchworth club
9.00 am : Depart to Lichfield RUFC
11.00 am : Meet at Lichfield RUFC
11.15 am : Registration
12.15 pm : First games kick off

This year we have to inform the RFUW during this week of all the players who will be taking part at Lichfield (rather than on arrival at the tournament as we have in the past).

Can you please confirm your availability to Simon or Mike as soon as possible so that we can supply the information to the RFUW on time.

Lichfield RUFC is, Simon will be pleased to know, much easier to find than Mellish RFC and is somewhat nearer. According to the AA, it is 104 miles to Lichfield and the expected journey time is 2 hours. The club address is :

Lichfield RUFC, Cooke Fields, Tamworth Road, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS14 9JE.

If anyone is planning to drive straight to Lichfield, without calling in at the Letchworth club, can they please let Simon or Mike know.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lost in Visualisation, too?

Anyone who has ever taken photos at a function like the Awards evening knows how easy it is to get nothing even slightly recognisable in the camera. If they tried using a telephoto lens, they will tell you just how difficult it is - people move about, stand up at the wrong moment, look in the wrong direction; the camera hunts about trying to autofocus in the dim light and the flash takes an age to fire ... and then there's the 'Guinness' factor. Somehow, the more of the wonder stout one imbibes, the better the pics look on the camera ... and the worse they look the next day! That is exactly how I view these efforts.

Firstly, I present a picture of the two Daves exchanging my jacket for a club shirt which was kindly presented to me by Chairman Dave for helping out with running the girls section. Meanwhile Coach Dave, whose hand can be seen over Chairman Dave's left shoulder, is grasping my jacket (containing wallet, car keys, etc) * ...

Dave Rae presents the 'Most Improved Player' trophy to Georgie :

and Nikki gets the 'Player of the Year' trophy from Coaches Dave and Simon (who appears to be interviewing her) and Chairman Dave :

... only to find, as John reported in 'Lost in Translation', that the trophy appeared to be intended for someone else :

Anyway, she seemed happy enough about it :

... though others seemed to be feeling the after-effects of the previous night's party ...

... or is Muddy practicing for the National Gurning Championships?

As mentioned by John in his 'Lost in Translation' article about the Awards evening, Katie's reaction to being asked to get her poor old dad a drink was not as one might expect from a well-educated young lady ....

... and that in front of such impressionable people too ...

I know haw you feel, Dave, there are some friends that are just an embarassment, aren't there? After all, by the look of this last photo, you really should know ....

* The more discerning amongst you may have realised that, in all probability, I did not actually take the first picture. Heather did ... which just goes to show that there is also a powerful orange juice factor at work on such occasions!

Another light goes out...

Far be it for me to publish unsubstantiated rumour (who said "like you do anything else"?) but it was a great pity to hear that our good friends at Westcliff may not be playing next year. We knew that, with no U15s to reinforce their U18 squad, that they would probably have to fold after 2008/9, but to hear that they may have to end things a season early is a great shame.

They are not, unfortunately, alone and in all honesty unless we can attract in a good half-dozen new faces next season we too may have similar problems come 2009/10 (though it is always worth remembering that we started in September 2004 with fewer players than we know we will have September 2009 so there is reason to be optimistic). It is therefore maybe worth asking where its all gone wrong (I say "wrong" because the collapse in the number of teams playing regular fixtures over the past 2-3 years is hardly indicative of something going "right").

Let's begin with a a list of teams we have played but who have now disppeared, at least as independent entities. Off the top of my head...
  • Milton Keynes (now part of Bucks Jesters)
  • Aylesbury (ditto)
  • Hemel Hempsted
  • Bishops Stortford
  • Stevenage (revivals announced annually, but nothing ever seems to happen)
  • Cheshunt
  • Fullerians
  • Uttlesford
  • Rochford/Basildon (obviously clustered now, but no longer independent entities)
  • Paviours (now in a cluster)

Thats ten teams we could have had fixtures with in 2004 or 2005 who we cannot now play, replaced with - at best - three cluster teams, so a net loss of seven. And as all of them had full teams at at least one age band that is also a net loss of at least eighty players (12 x 7). With Westcliff added the loss become eight sides and approaching 100 girls out of the game.

The remaining clubs are indeed stronger teams - Basford are a better side than either Basildon or Rochford were, Bucks Jesters are probably stronger than Milton Keynes or Aylebury - but is that the point of club rugby? Surely the purpose at this level is participation not elitism? That should be what the county or regional system is for.

In fact what we are getting close to are clubs that are in fact county sides in everything but name. Bucks Jesters presumably is Bucks, and with 19 players in the squad Reading is Berkshire. Where will Essex get girls next year except from Basford? How many non-Saracens play for Middlesex? Or non-Leos play for Yorkshire? I could go on - Hertfordshire maybe the one major exception because it has significant contributions from more than one club!

A few strong teams do not make a strong game. Without a local club, where will girls at Hemel or Uttlesford, Milton Keynes or Cheshunt learn the game - or even know that it is an option? Furthermore in 2004 you could learn - you could pick games against sides of different strengths. In 2004 we began with three games against MK, Hemel and Stevenage before we took on the might of Welwyn. Would we be here today if Welwyn had been the first, and indeed only, side we could have played in the county? What is it like now when your first "club" game sees you up against a county team (or stronger!) wearing club shirts? No trainer pool like in 2004 - its sink or swim!

Whose fault is this? I'm not sure that that matters. You could say that RFUW were not prepared for the explosion in interest after the World Cup, and were too slow to adapt their structures to support the growth, but in reality that is unfair because they are a tiny organisation with minicule funding that have to worry about the game at all levels, right up to and including internationals. They did what they could with the resources they had, but it was a tidal wave they faced.

I will say, though, that I am not sure that clustering works - at least in the sense of growing the game or forestalling its contraction. It gets current girls games, yes, but the "cluster" seems to inevitably become the "club", risking its links with the communities from the smaller participants or clubs where the cluster does not play. And once the girls in that cluster leave the age band..? It will be interesting to see how Vincent's Suffolk "all-stars" avoid this problem next season. I am also not sure what the alternative is, within the current system anyway.

Because while the RFU and RFUW remain separate bodies, and while the RFU remain responsible for all U12 rugby, I cannot see anything changing. There is no incentive whatsoever for any club that does not have a girls section (ie. over 90% of them) to do anything to recruit girls, or do anything to adapt their coaching practices to retain those that may come along (even simple stuff like not calling the team "boys", let alone the more subtle differences and understanding required) because ultimately the RFU and the clubs in its membership (and, from what one hears, many CBs) are only responsbile for and interested in boys' and men's rugby. And you cannot blame them - why pour your resources into a talented girl who cannot play for you after she is 12, let alone play for your colts or adult sides?

One thought though. On the continent - indeed across most of the world - the main game is not 15-a-side rugby, but sevens. The former is obviously preferable, but I wonder if we had more opportunities for clubs to play in small-sided competitions like sevens spread throughout the season (say one every four-six weeks or so rather than packed all together in April and May) we might be able to keep more clubs playing as clubs? Do we have to be honest, grasp the nettle, and see the world as it is rather than how we might want it to be? Better to have a girl playing sevens than not playing at all...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lost in translation? Awards night 2008

What are the main memories about last night's Awards Evening? Hayley pursued by two entire boys rugby teams, congering around the marquee? Katie saying she'll buy her dad a drink... if she can find his wallet? Seeing the whites of Wonky's eyes (ie. where the sunglasses had been)?

However, perhaps the most memorable part of the evening was the climax to the awards. We'd had the boys teams do their stuff, the U15 award had gone to Laura (unfortunately absent due to her nan's illness - our best wishes to them), and then came the climax of the ceremony - the girls U18 awards.

First up came the players' player - this year going to Emily Vivian, a player whose potential and leadership abilities have been noticed by county coaches in the past and, with so many girls moving out of the age band next season, could have a real chance of county or even regional representation next season.

Second was most improved, deservedly going to Georgie Brinkley, totally new to the game in January who, while still a bit lost when it comes to positioning, when defending tackles like... well, like Nim Parnell reincarnated. In fact there are quite a few resemblances between Georgie and her illustrious predecessor, both of whom seem to be able to tackle with textbook precision completely naturally. Over Nim's three seasons she grew from a quiet young girl to become one of the most confident and feared defensive tacklers in the East and East Midlands - victims (there is no better word) often ending up in heaps on the touchline (and potential victims doing their level best to avoid her!). Georgie has the potential to equal Nim's achievements, and maybe even exceed them.

And so to the final award. Now, it has to be said that the awards themselves are arranged and sponsored by Dave Sharp - Ruby's dad - and it would be interesting to know quite how much liquid refreshment he has been consuming because something clearly got a bit garbelled, if not totally lost, in translation etween Mike and Dave, and Dave an the engraver - because the winner of the girls' player of the year for 2007/8 was (apparently)... Nichi Alcah.

Who? Well, try saying the words "Nikki Alcock" after you've had a few (as they say)...

That's my theory, anyway. Its that or Dave has handwriting even worse than mine! Perhaps he missed his calling in the medical profession - Nichi-Alcah does sound a bit like a respiratory disease!

But seriously, for sheer dedication alone Nikki Alcock deserved the award, not only spending more hours at the club than anyone else (evidenced by her lone training session in the snow a few weeks ago!), but also because she is a hugely versitile player having now played in just about every postition over the years other than maybe front row(?). A bit tall maybe now for a 9, she has proved to be very effective this season at 10 and centre, speed and strength seeing her rack up a fair few points for the team. Nikki - like Emily also at the bottom of the band - is another player who could benefit now from the departure of girls at county and regional level next season... if she wanted to take the opportunity.

In fact it is interesting to note that all three awards went to girls with another two seasons ahead of them. It shows that we have players with some real potential at the club - these girls can only get better, and next season could prove to be very interesting indeed.
  • Details of all award winners, past and present, can be found in the Hall of Fame.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Calling U15s: you can play at Herts 7s as well!

It seems unlikely now that Ampthill will be entering the Herts 7s, but any of our U15s who want to take part in (possibly) the best day of rugby of the season need not feel left out because the organisers - Tabard - are looking to put together a "Barbarian" team composed of girls like our happy few.

So, do you want to play in the Sevens on 18th May? It won't cost you anything, and we can arrange to get you down to Tabard with the U18s if you need transport. Being part of a Barbarian team does not mean that you will be in a weak side - the first Herts 7s was won by a Barbarian team, and Laura will remember joining a similar team for a tournament in Beckenham a season or so back... and reaching the final (which meant that the elder girls, who had been knocked out, had to wait for her to finish!).

If you are interested PLEASE let me or Mike or Simon know as soon as possible so that we can pass your name on to the organisers.

Winners elsewhere in the club

We train at different times to virtually everyone else in the club, rarely play the same opposition, take part in totally different tournaments to a radically different calendar and run by a different governing body.

Its therefore not surprising that there are times when we live in our own little world and rather forget that we are part of a larger club.

We will find out a lot more about what everyone else has been up to tomorrow, but a special word of congratulations is due to the boys U15s - county champions "against the odds" in what sounds like a pulsating 6-5 win over Old Albanians last weekend. Well done, lads!
  • Oh, and our performance in the tens did get a mention in The Comet this week. I must admit that I missed it initially, but its there. Look carefully. Bottom left-hand corner of page 76. Four lines long -under the three paragraph report and photograph about Datchworth Under 7s. I wonder how much coverage they'd give us if we won the thing?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rugby goes Hollywood

Amazing but true - Hollywood has made a rugby movie. Forever Strong is due to open in the USA in the Autumn (here - who knows, but we get loads of crummy baseball and gridiron films so one assumes British distributors will pick it up) and is apparently based on the true story of a very successful US college team. The Hollywood schmaltz is added through "a talented-but-troubled rugby player" who "must play against the team his father coaches at the national championship", but despite that- going by the preview below - it may turn out to be passably watchable.

If you care about your game, this really does matter...

The proposed (and ever so slightly controversial) changes to the the laws known as the ELVs - the Experimental Law Variations - have been mentioned on the blog in the past. These rule changes are more than a boring technical matter only likely to be of interest to Joe and referees - many knowledgeable followers of the game say that these will make fundamental changes to the way the game is played.

These concerns are even being expressed by the RFU. Chief Executive Francis Baron has said: "We have a number of concerns about the ELVs and the proposed process that is being followed regarding their introduction."

Because of this the RFU are - perhaps uniquely in a situation like this - consulting everyone involved in the game at every level - including you. The RFU has compiled an online questionnaire and are "urging everyone with an interest in the future of our game to go to and spend ten minutes completing the questionnaire so we can paint as accurate a picture as possible of people's views in England when the matter comes up for debate at the IRB in May."

So - what are these changes? Well, there are a fair few and the IRB have produced a summary, so maybe its worth highlighting some.

Some are a bit trivial, like touch-judges becoming "assistant referees". One is tempted to ask quite why this is deemed necessary, or more to the point why the heck rugby would be aiming to ape football, but there are bigger matters of concern... and the touchline is due to become a pretty crowded place (as we shall see later) so maybe the TJs need a higher profile?

So let's look elsewhere. Here's a good one...

Corner post, and post at corner of touch in goal and dead ball line not considered to be touch in goal unless the ball is grounded against the post.

This means that if you hit the corner flag on the tryline when scoring a try you will no longer be considered to be in touch. Instead you will only be in touch if you actually put a foot over the line. So a reasonably obvious indicator will be replaced with something that will require a TV replay, or in other words something that will lead to endless arguments at our level. Nice one.

Are you a forward (and especially a prop)? Well, looks like you could become close to unemployed as a whole raft of offences that previously resulted in scrums (or even penalties) will now become free kicks. These include...
  • Line-out throws that are not straight
  • Ball unplayable (ie. not emerging) from a ruck or maul
  • Offences at kick-offs or restarts (ie. the ball not going 10m)
  • All other offences (other than offside, not entering through the gate, and
    Foul Play).

Quite a few new offside lines appear. The scrum half and non-throwing hooker at a line out would have to stand 2m back, and the defending side at a scrum will now have to stand 5m back. In some drafts these extra lines will be patrolled by "flag judges" (cue hilarity as FJs and TJs - sorry ARs - collide while running different directions).

But all this pales into insignificance when compared with the next two belters....

  • Players on their feet may handle the ball in the ruck.
  • Defending players can pull down the maul.

Yes - you did read that right. Just think about what this means (again, especially if you are a forward) - essentially no more mauls, and an end to rucks too - at least as we know them.

So... this is important. It matters. And not just if you are a prop (who should now be considered to be on the endangered species list). You do not have to be a genius to read between the lines and see that the RFU is not exactly supporting all this and is looking to you to give them evidence to show that the games at large does not want the changes either. So spare a bit of time and follow the link

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Training on Thursday 24th April

Please remember that training starts at 5.45pm on Thursday (... and don't forget your money for the Awards Evening tickets!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National 10s date change confirmed

The RFUW have confirmed that the National 10s tournament will take place at Lichfield RFC on Sunday 4th May (rather than Monday 5th May as previously stated).

I'm sorry for any inconvenience that this change brings but, as it is a change to the date stated on the entry forms, competition rules and RFUW March newsletter, and it doesn't appear at all on the RFUW calendar, we were not in a position to know that the RFUW would suddenly impose such a change on us.

However, you will be pleased to know that there is no change to the RFUW National 7s which are confirmed for Saturday, 24th May as previously advised.

Presentation Evening

This Saturday it is the annual awards evening for the junior sections of the club including the girls. It's a great night for all the coaches, players, their families and friends with food and a disco included in the modest price of £5.

Tickets are available from Katie or Nikki so please remember to bring your money along on Thursday!

Divisional 10s - just a few more pics!

I've dug out a few more pics from the tournament at Mellish RFC that I thought you might like to see. We start with Hayley's acrobatics -

Sasha opens the scoring against Melbourne -

Nikki looking determined -

Hayley gets Letchworth's second try -

and Nikki gets the third while Carla and Eleanor cheer her on -

The injured heroines -

The rain got so bad that some people became desperate for any sort of head protection -

and, finally, Simon explains how he persuaded the organisers that he was an U18 girl .....

Those who saw him on Ladies night will know how plausible such a suggestion might seem!

Results summary :
Melbourne 5 Letchworth 17

Letchworth scorers :
Tries : Sasha, Hayley, Nikki
Conversion : Sasha

Kettering 7 Letchworth 10

Letchworth scorers :
Tries : Sasha, Hayley

Newbold 12 Letchworth 12

Letchworth scorers :
Tries : Sasha, Hayley
Conversion : Sasha

Old Leamintonian Comets 5 Letchworth 7

Letchworth scorers :
Try : Jess
Conversion : Sasha

Worcester 17 Letchworth 0

Monday, April 21, 2008

National 10s line-up confirmed

The teams at National 10s will be....

  • Darlington Mowden Park
  • Letchworth
  • Reading
  • Tynedale
  • Wimborne
  • Worcester

Rather tasty company I think you will agree. Some big names there for a big day.

The only slight confusion now is which day as RFUW have written to me saying the 4th (Sunday), when we - plus Uncle Tom Cobley at Mellish - thought the finals were on the 5th, what with the senior 10s being on the 4th (presumably at the same place). While rubbing shoulders with the cream of adult women's rugby would be a bonus, how much room is there at Lichfield?

  • It begins to look as if this was all an error on the entry form. Joe and Phil have said that they recall the senior and junior tens being played on the same day last year, so its quite possible - even likely - that they will be this year, and that the date will be the 4th... despite earlier information to the contrary.
  • Actually it now increasingly looks like a... well, use an appropriate adjective of your own because checking back we discover that the entry form AND the competition rules (indeed every bit of paper we were sent) says 5th May. In fact the only thing that says the 4th is the fabled RFUW calendar... which does not actually include the U18 tens competition at all (at least not in May), only the senior tens. Admittedly this may all be academic being as presumably RFUW haven't booked the ground for the 5th.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Midlands 10s in pictures

Phil has captured the excitment of today's 10s with 43 pictures from the five games, all of which can now be found on the Threlfall Achive, either as thumbnails or a slideshow. Relive the day, and watch how Randy's kit (above) gradually changes colour...

Players and coaches celebrate qualification for the RFUW National 10s

The Letchworth Girls with their runners-up medals at the RFUW Midlands Divisional 10s :

Many thanks to Mellish RFC for a great tournament and congratulations to Worcester RFC for a deserved victory.

Big surprise from Southern Tens...

As revealed in a reply to a post below, and much to the disappointment of Randy (at the very least), we will be carrying the flag of Hertfordshire rugby alone this year at the Tens Finals in Lichfield.

Why? Because the qualifiers from Petersfield are Wimborne... and Reading.

Clearly last week's practice session in Reading had a dramatic effect with all three of us making it into the finals - making last week's rain-sodden affair possibly the most successful warm-up session in rugby history!

No news yet from the north, but as I cannot find any northern club that has updated its website in the past year, let alone last few hours, we may have to rely on RFUW for these results.

Or just wait to see who turns up at Lichfield...

Worcester 17, Letchworth 0

A brave final game with some very tired girls - but in the end we're still through!

Into the final

Worcester are running in an easy win over Kettering, so our game with them - the last of the day - will be the final... but we are both off to Lichfield on 5th May!

The big one

With Stourbridge withdrawing a win over Old Leamingtonians could be enough to see us through... And an early try from Jess proved enough for another 7-5 win. Picture shows Sasha making the cruicial conversion.

Caption competion no. 2

Halfway and unbeaten

Carla okay but will not play again today.

Worcester look strong - but we play them last. Old Leamingtonians next, then Stourbridge.

Match 3: Draw v Newbold

Ht: 7-0 (T:Sasha). Letchworth the stronger side but needed to makd it count.

Newbold level early in second half, though several girls say the scorer went dead. But there was no doubt about their second try.

A knockon at the restart then lets Hayley in. 12-12

FT: Letchworth 10, Kettering 7

Some desparate defence results in a win marred by an injury to Carla , who landed on an opponent`s studs with her back. Soon up when the ambvlance came and being checked. Try and match saving tackle!

Match 2: Letchworth v Kettering

HT: 10-0 to Letchworth, tries from Hayley and Sasha.

Match 1 (of 6!): Letchworth 17, Melbourne 5

Tries from Sasha, Hayley and Nikki eventually see off the Derbyshire challenge.

Its wet and cold - must be tens!

This is a bit of a test posting live with pictures from the touchline of the Midlands regional 10s at Mellish in Nottingham. All here on time except Simon who is lost on the Nottingham ring road. Slight confusion as to who or how many teams here - 6 or 7 - but we are playing Melbourne (from Derbyshire) first at 11.15. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Front page news.. eventually

A big surprise is dropping on the doormat of homes across the area - Katie has made the front page of this week's Comet (with Niki, Jess and Georgie in the background).

One of the main reasons for it being such a big surprise is that its not exactly a new story. Indeed our much loved local rag - not always noted for its speed in publishing news (or should that be "olds"?) - has surpassed itself by headlining an event that happened six weeks ago! Still, they have done a great job of pretending (or at least giving the impression) that it happened it last week (they didn't go on that journalism course for nothing!) and you can hardly compain about the publicity it gives us.

Meanwhile - and getting back to the present - its a 7.30 meet at the club on Sunday for the tens in Mellish RFC in Nottingham (directions here). Sounds like our player numbers may be a bit tight for the day (what with a couple of injuries from last week and various exam considerations) so its all hands to the pumps, and a good time to avoid bouncy castle, chocolate bars, rabbit holes, and any of the other interesting and unusual ways in which we have lost players through off-pitch injuries in the past!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I thought it was going to be sunny ....

Even the higher authority (the Met Office, apparently) called upon to provide good weather at Reading on Sunday was unable to keep the rain away for the whole day, though it did seem to me that Wimbourne had brought the Dorset sun with them ... and took it back with them, as well!

The first game was a close affair between Reading and Wimbourne which saw the visitors do enough to gain the victory. Then it was Letchworth's turn. It turned out to be a day of mixed fortunes for the Letchworth girls who fought back in their first game (against Wimbourne) to earn a draw but then couldn't maintain that level in the second match which was comfortably won by the hosts.

I thought we might start off a few pics from the match with this one which, after looking at a photo of a grey-haired old guy on, one might title "It's all in the genes!" -

And this could be titled "Ruby gets a warm Wimbourne welcome!" -

Then we have Sasha's try -

and Natalie's marathon try from just about on her own tryline ...
... just evading the Wimbourne defence ...

And finally, following John's suggestion, does anyone have a caption for this one?
It was a fine day's rugby marred only by the injury to Poppy - everyone at Letchworth sends their best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

Many thanks to everyone at Reading and Wimbourne rugby clubs and good luck in the Divisional 10s this weekend!

Results :
Wimbourne 12 Letchworth 12
Letchworth scorers :
Tries : Sasha, Natalie
Conversion : Sasha

Reading 31 Letchworth 5
Letchworth scorer :
Try : Sasha

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thursday Training - Change to time

Will all players please note that training this Thursday will start 15 minutes earlier than usual at 5.45pm. Also, as the session will involve some tactical discussions, etc. please remember to bring some warm clothing to put on over your rugby playing kit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Caption competition...

Just spotted this (quite amusing) one. No prizes as such, but I am wondering what the Wimborne defender (the one with her eyes closed!) is saying/thinking as Hayley closes in (having just run over a teammate!)...

Remembering sunny Reading...

I am sure Mike will shortly be publishing his illustrated match report, but in the meanwhile Phil has added a couple of dozen pictures to the Threlfall archive. You can browse the images or view them as a slideshow.

Of all the images I reckon this captures best the main memories most will have of the day. Doesn't include the thunder and lightning, of course, or the (occasional) outbursts of sunshine.

It is also no comfort to find that this weather seems reserved for us (and wasn't it interesting how it got worse after Wimborne left... taking the sun back home with them!). A common remark was that "well, its not as bad as it was at Lichfield", but it certainly looks like it was bright and sunny there yesterday for the National Knockout Final.
  • On a less happy note we hear that Poppy (the Wimbourne girl injured in Hayley's tackle) has a broken humorus and will not play again this season. Our best wishes to her for the summer, and the hope that she will return fully fit again for next season.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fantasy women's rugby XV (and guess what's 8th "most influential" rugby blog in the UK)!

Mike has passed on an interesting item - apparently this is the 8th most influential rugby union blog in the UK. Not just girls' rugby, or club rugby... any rugby union blog, including professional ones run by journalists. In fact we are also the 91st most influential blog on any sport. And when it comes to club - sites aimed just at one club - or junior sport blogs we are number one!

Quite how the people who run this - Wikio - work all this out I am not entirely sure - its something to do with how much a blog is quoted elsewhere I think - but overall its rather neat. Not to say ever so slightly scarey...

Looking at the other rugby blogs listed we are also probably one of the oldest. And there are some quite interesting blogs out there. I rather like this one - imaginatively called The Rugby Blog - and especially the latest article which tries to pick a fantasy rugby XV from sportsmen who never played rugby. There's some rather predictable picks - a current and present World's Strongest Man as props - but there is some nice ideas in there, including Muhammed Ali at outside centre, and Frankie Detorri as scrum-half.

Not only did I wonder if its possible to pick better XV, I also wondered about a women's XV. A shade more difficult, being as women's sport has nothing of the profile of men's sport, but what do you think? If not a full XV - how about a few choice picks for specific positions, for instance I might suggest (and at the same time indicate my age and sporting interests!):
  • Kelly Holmes - centre?
  • Victoria Pendleton - wing?
  • Jane Smit (England wicket-keeper) - fly-half [will catch any pass, however bad!, and pretty accurate passing too]?
  • Denise Annets (Australian batsman) - scrum half [short, but lightning fast. Brilliant hands]
  • Fatima Whitbread (javelin gold-medalist) - hooker [no problem hitting the back of the lineout!]
  • Mary Peters (pentathlon gold medalist) - prop
  • Rachel Heyhoe-Flint (managed to overturn the MCC's all male-member policy - just think how useful someone like that would be in the women's game!) - Manager
I did wonder about all those former East German shot-putters as forwards, but presumably they'd be caught and banned for doping these days!

Any other ideas, anyone?

Or failing all that suggestions for a better men's XV?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Changes to girls section on main website

The main club website is continuing to be carefully redesigned to link better with the blog. Anyone using the website will notice that there is now one "Girls News" link rather than separate links for each age group team - there is one blog it is easier to have just one link on the main website, which will now be automatically populated with stories from the blog.

This means that there will be no duplication of effort that would otherwise be needed to update two sites, and also that whichever site you visit you will get all the latest news.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Letchworth Lumirugbya!

OK .... OK ... so it lacks a certain something compared to the Finnish version of snow rugby (like 30 degrees of frost, for example!) but last Sunday gave just a tiny notion of what Lumirugbya might be like ..........

Nikki practiced a couple of kicks which was not too bad considering she wasn't wearing boots and consequently kept slipping around ...

Not to be outdone, Mike, who was wearing boots (but not rugby boots) decided to show his prowess with an "up'n'under" neglecting to note a). how much snow was covering the ball and b). how inept he is at kicking. So here goes -

"Why is my leg so wet?", the old fool said followed by, "I'm sure it went up there somewhere!"

It had. 2 seconds later it landed on his nose.
Enough of kicking.
"Throw me a pass", he said to Nikki, "and I'll take a photo of it"
"It'll hit you!"
"No, no, no ... I'll take the picture and then catch it quickly"
"OK, here goes ..."

So what would Lumirugbya be like in England?
Too cold on the hands and too wet on the legs, I'd say, but I'd bet the ground was softer than on a frozen Finnish lake!

U18s at Reading on Sunday

A slight change of arrangements for our U18s games at Reading this Sunday. Firstly, the games will be 10-a-side in preparation for the Regional 10s tournament the following weekend and, secondly, the start time has been moved forward one hour.

So please meet at the Letchworth club by 10.30am on Sunday.

We can then travel to Reading for noon and get the first game underway by 1pm. According to the AA it is a journey of 68 miles and the Reading RFC website gives local directions to the club on

I am reliably informed by Reading that they are having a word with those in high places to ensure that we avoid the snow and get good rugby weather this weekend ........ !

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

RFUW clarify Super League announcement

RFUW have now clarified the rather misleading article about the new U18 "Super League" which appeared in Touchline. It now appears that where the article said that the Super League will take place at the same time as the adult competition it meant the one that will take place at the end of this season on May 18th and 31st. I must confess that I never thought for a moment when I read the article that RFUW would be making such a significant change to the calendar at this late a date!

On the plus side this means that county rugby will be unaffected next season. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for club rugby as 18th May is a club date, and moreover the last of the season. Consequently it is a date for end-of-season tournaments (including Herts Sevens) and crucial league fixtures. This may not affect us as we have no TDG girls (though Hayley and/or Sasha might still be selected for these games if they perform well for East at the regional festival in Rugby) but it is causing all sorts of headaches for clubs that do have a significant TDG contingent.

This is because clubs (including us) have no idea at the moment whether or how many of our girls will be selected, and as most clubs have limited squads (our 18 or so girls makes us the biggest in the county!) the loss of one or two girls, or even more at some clubs - and moreover all the leading players - can have a big effect. This may be yet another factor that is restricting entries for Herts Sevens this season - and will hopefully not result in any withdrawals when the Super League teams are finally chosen.

It is unclear whether there will be a Super League for U18s next season - no dates for it appear in the current draft of next season's calendar (or at least not the one I have seen) - but that obviously does not mean that it will not be added. Hopefully the 2008/9 dates will be announced before clubs or tournament organisers have spent too much time working on their arrangements for the new season.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Herts Sevens: entries grow

The entry for Herts Sevens is slowly growing - though clearly the league clashes are taking more of a toll than expected. There are now seven teams in the U18 - us and...
  • Reading
  • Hertford
  • Basford
  • Pavworth Maoris
  • Wisbech Grammar School
  • Kettering R F C
Pavworth who? A little research reveals that this is Paviors and Tamworth combined (not sure about the Maoris though...), while Wisbech will be at the Nationals and are sensibly taking the chance to test the water at Herts Sevens first.

The U15s currently have eight entrants: Reading, Welwyn, London Irish, Hertford, Rochford Hundred, Tamworth, Kettering, and O A Saints. In both cases I think we can expect more entries yet.

Friday, April 04, 2008

RFUW add another tier to U18 rugby

Interesting news in the latest "Touchline" magazine. Following the success of the adult "Super League" (or "Super Fours" as it is sometimes called) - where the leading players are brought together to form four squads who play each other at the start of the season - a similar strategy is being adopted for U18 rugby.

Two U18 "Super League" squads are to be formed, including not only the TDG girls but also girls from beyond that elite group (there are only 30 girls in the TDG which is clearly not enough for two full squads). These teams will play each other twice at on the same dates (and presumably venues) as the adult Super League (no indication of any squad training session, but you'd think that logically there would have to be at least one!).

This actually sounds a good idea. To gather the leading girls together for just training sessions always struck me as an idea that seemed to miss something (you need a target - otherwise what are you training for?). The recent TDG game against the touring Canadian U19s was a welcome development, and there is a logic in building on that.

The only teeny tiny snag is that this "Super League" tier is being shoe-horned into what is already a pretty crowded - some would say over-crowded - calendar (see previous article). The county and regional tiers remain unchanged and there are some of us who have been saying for some time that it is stretching resources too far for a small game to run with two elite tiers. Now we will have three!

One positive - for clubs at least - is that Super League dates do not currently clash with the precious few remaining club dates in next year's packed calendar. They do, however, clash with the first half of the county season's dates which will make selecting and training U18 county squads a nice challenge for those involved. Numerically the loss of four or five girls (which is what, on past form, Hertfordshire might be faced with) would not make sessions impossible - but they will be the leading players so the loss will be out or proportion to numbers (and numbers in some county U18 squads may be a bit tight next season anyway). It may mean that some girls get county call-ups when they might not otherwise do so - but will they then get pushed out when the SL stars return in November? Not great for team-building that.

Wimbourne & Reading to the rescue!

I seem to have had to write quite a few 'sorry but our game has been cancelled' notices over the last few weeks, so it's very pleasing to be able to report that Wimbourne and Reading have stepped in to fill the void in our calendar with an U18s fixture at Reading on Sunday April 13th!

We will be meeting at Reading at 1pm for 2pm kick-off of the first match. Travel arrangements/meeting time at Letchworth will be posted next week.

Sunday 6th April

Unfortunately, Dorking are not able to join us this Sunday so there will be U18s training from 10 am at Letchworth.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No Superteams for us this year

It appears that there will not be a Superteams this year - at least not in the same format, or (crucially) on the same date. The organiser - Herts Association for Young People - appear to have decided to not only expand the "Highland Games" concept (so rather fewer multi-sport and "fun" events) but also have brought the date forward six weeks to 27th April, when we are likely to still be a bit busy. Teams sizes have also doubled from four to eight for the upper age band and you now HAVE to include 4 boys and 4 girls.

All in all a pity as its been a fun - and rather profitable - event for us over the past three years.

*If anyone is involved in any other youth clubs, and are free on 27th April, it still looks like a great day out. You will need to find a team of either fourteen 11-13 year olds, or eight 14-16 year olds (even split of boys and girls). More details from Closing date for entries 21st April.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A little light training ...

Unfortunately, our friends from Ampthill were unable to be with us on Sunday, so we ran a 7s training match for the U18s which certainly seemed to get everyone in the mood for the forthcoming tournaments.

Now here's an unconventional tackle by Katie on Carla who gives a great offload to Natalie -

Nikki escapes the clutches of Sasha -

but gets demolished by Georgie -
Natalie makes a determined attempt to catch Georgie -
and Carla lines up a big tackle on Charlie -
And then there's Hayley's version of 'head down and charge!' -
Finally, many thanks to MBDA in Stevenage for the set of balls they kindly donated -

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