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...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Being squeezed

First the "Surrey League" swept up pretty much all the clubs in Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent (and, for a while, Mid Herts). Then the Thames Valley league took care of rugby in Berks, Bucks, Oxfordshire and (last season) Middesex.

And now we hear that the league rugby is coming at us from the north as well. A "Notts, Lincs and Derbyshire" cluster league is starting next season. As with the Thames Valley league it is being set up with the aim of bringing together players from clubs unable to field full sides and offering them a regular programme of matches.

Which is all well and good and wonderful (and a good idea for clubs in the North Midlands), but what has this to do with us? Well, quite simply our world is getting smaller. Not only do there seem to be fewer teams to play each season (often, I would contend, due to clustering) but also those teams that remain are increasingly joining leagues, which means that they are unavailable (to us) for matches for most of the (shrinking) club season.

It will, for example, be interesting to see what applications NLD get from outside their boundaries. Clubs in Leicestershire will be tempted, and I suspect the same may apply to Northants teams as well (Kettering, for example). Which will leave us with a list of clubs to play that will be, well, a bit short.

Perhaps there will be an East or East Midlands League (there does seem a degree of inevitability about it), but (even supposing we'd want to join) in many ways that will entrench our problem - ie. that we appear to be heading towards a world in which we end up playing an ever reducing number of teams. A solution would be more clubs and more teams, but in the meanwhile in the real world... well, it can't be making Heather's job any easier.

For more information on the NLD Cluster League see below:

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