Tuesday, April 29, 2008
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
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 :
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)
- 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
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
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.
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
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 www.rfusurvey.co.uk 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
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
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
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.
Tickets are available from Katie or Nikki so please remember to bring your money along on Thursday!
Nikki looking determined -
Letchworth scorers :
Kettering 7 Letchworth 10
Letchworth scorers :
Newbold 12 Letchworth 12
Letchworth scorers :
Old Leamintonian Comets 5 Letchworth 7
Letchworth scorers :
Worcester 17 Letchworth 0
Monday, April 21, 2008
- Darlington Mowden Park
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
Many thanks to Mellish RFC for a great tournament and congratulations to Worcester RFC for a deserved victory.
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...
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
Friday, April 18, 2008
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
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 http://letchworthgirls.blogspot.com/2008/04/letchworth-lumirugbya.html, one might title "It's all in the genes!" -
Many thanks to everyone at Reading and Wimbourne rugby clubs and good luck in the Divisional 10s this weekend!
Reading 31 Letchworth 5
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
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
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
Any other ideas, anyone?
Or failing all that suggestions for a better men's XV?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
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
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!"
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 http://www.readingrfc.co.uk/map.html.
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
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
- Pavworth Maoris
- Wisbech Grammar School
- Kettering R F C
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
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.
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.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date for entries 21st April.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Now here's an unconventional tackle by Katie on Carla who gives a great offload to Natalie -
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