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...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Katie Alcock, scrum half.

The compulsory embarrasing photograph - from the Hemel Girls' Tag Festival in 2004, the forerunner of Herts Sevens.

The first of the "true originals" is moving on the greater things. Practically an ever-present at scrum-half for four years (who will do that job now?), Katie was one of a handful of girls who have been there for everything since the very, very begining - the legendary tag tournament at Herts Youth Games in 2004.

In fact she was only a reserve for that. The team was a joint affair with Hitchin - five girls were selected by each club, and Katie was our sixth. When one of the Hitchin girls failed to show up, urgent phone calls from the touchline had Katie and Mike rushing to Hatfield in time for the second game. They've been there ever since.

When September 2004 came round Katie was at the centre of the new team - indeed she was the entire U17 team for the first few weeks! Fortunately in those dim and distant days the writ of Twickenham did not run too strongly in the shires, and most clubs took a suitably Nelsonian approach to annoying little administrative details like birthdates, so almost all of our first season's games were all-in affairs. If that had not been the case, would Katie still be playing today? They were innocent days when the idea that a bunch of girls with little or no playing experience could be match ready in six weeks did not seem unlikely, or that they should win their first three games not impossible. We were all learning together - we didn't know any better. Could that be done today, I wonder?

One of Katie claims to fame from that first season is that she was the first, and only, girl injured during the season (ie. injured enough to miss the following week's game) - until we got to the National Sevens of course! Ironically it happened in one of the very few age group games - against Welwyn - after which she was diagnosed with concussion. Come to think of it, ALL our injuries that season came in games with strict age-group limits!

As scrum-half Katie has always been more than just a starter of moves - her speed of reaction and vision have ensured that she has finished a fair few as well. Her pick-ups and runs down the blind-side of scrums have brought us tries from the very first game, and have included some of the more important scores in the team's history - perhaps above all the winner in the Rochford 10s in 2006.

But it as an advocate of girls rugby, and as a captain, that she will perhaps be most hard to replace. Katie has been a superb captain for the past two years and - thanks to the internet - her famous speech at the RFU President's XV awards has been copied around the world (moreover a speech largely off-the-cuff and without notes). If in the future the RFUW are looking for someone to spread the word about women's and girls' rugby, someone who could really sell the game to ordinary girls (and parents!), they should look no further.

We are all together now because of Katie and the other originals. Together we have created something pretty special, as we all discovered last night. A true rugby team made up of friends from all backgrounds, open to anyone who wants to play, that is capable of holding its own (and more!) against the best in the country without the need to hand-select players from all parts of the compass. We have girls choosing their higher education courses - even careers - based on what they have experienced here. Katie, you have helped change people's lives. There can be no higher tribute.

Katie's final try...

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