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...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are England now the best in the world?

News from the South Seas where the previously unbeaten (well "previous" to the start of 2008) New Zealand sevens team has lost again. Twice. This time to Australia (not exactly a major power in the world of women's rugby). That's four defeats this year (balanced only by wins over Fiji, Samoa and Niue Island).

While its rather hard to draw many conclusions about 15s rugby based on Sevens, as decline in form goes this is pretty steep, and there is little else to go on - since the World Cup the Kiwis have played only two full internationals last October, both comfortable home wins over Australia (a nation not even in the top six in world rugby).

England, on the other hand, have played 18 internationals since that day in Edmonton, winning 17 and drawing one against Spain when they entered an understrength development team in the 2007 FIRA tournament (a tournament they still went on to win). The other internationals have featured invariably comfortable wins over every other team in the top six, except Canada who England will meet in month's time.

The retreat into antipodean isolation by New Zealand in between World Cups is nothing new, and England have thought themselves superior in the past - only to get a rude shock. But never before have England been so on top at all levels against all comers in all forms of the game. Not only are the full team and sevens teams unbeaten since September 2006, but the "A" team are 100% against other national XVs, as are the U20s who recently won the first age group Nations Cup in Canada at a canter. The only reverse of any sort has been the defeat of the TDG U18 team to the Canadians in the spring, a game that the RFUW do not consider an international.

So are England now ahead of the Kiwis? The (frankly criminal) lack of money in women's rugby is likely to restrict any direct match-ups between the teams, outside of maybe an England tour down-under, so who can say - but New Zealand will have run up some pretty comprehensive wins over Australia in October if they want to make us believe that they are still number one.

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