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, July 15, 2008

Girls' school rugby: let's make it more difficult

Okay folks - its rant time again. So stand well back...

School rugby for girls (other than tag) is not exactly a major sport, especially in secondary schools. The reasons are many - not least the conservatism of PE staff - but the major factor in the games' favour has always been the flexibility of age groupings that basically meant that as long as you could get some girls together it didn't really matter which years they were from as long as the age gap from youngest to oldest was not bigger than three years.

Well, all that wonderful flexibility has just gone out of the window as RFUW have announced that from next season schools will have to play to the same age bands as clubs. This means that girls in Year 7 can only play amongst themselves, or have to play with the boys (like that is going to happen!) - so your chance of grabbing new girls into the game while they are fresh and open to new ideas, and before the cynicism and routine sets in (ie. around Week 2), is now largely blown away. Okay, things recover a bit in Years 8 upwards but even so its another barrier for U12 girls wanting to play rugby (as if there were not enough already).

And that is just at secondary schools. For anyone in a three tier system - ie. East Herts or Mid Beds - its even worse. Unless you have a really big middle school (which cover years 5-8) you may as well give up altogether as your Year 8 girls cannot work with Year 7s, who in turn cannot work with Year 6s...

I know its a good idea for everyone to play to the same rules wherever they are (though boys' rugby famously doesn't!), and people will shout "insurance" and stuff, but come on... Exactly how many injuries have there been under the flexible three year age band system that will now be prevented by rigid three year bands? Do I hear none? So if its not a safety issue what is it - administrative convenience, perhaps?

For heavens sake everyone - given the state of our game its all about participation. Its about getting girls to play. Its about time that that was pushed to the forefront of the minds of all decision makers instead of talent spotting and England pathways and the 101 other considerations that are irrelevant to 80% of girls who want to play (or would do if they had the chance). If ONE more girl takes up the game as a result of this change I will be amazed. On the other hand if girls are lost to the game as a result of the change I will not be the least bit surprised - indeed I go so far as to say that its a racing certainty.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    Similar comparisions can be drawn from the boys game here in so far as most if not all primary schools I've dealt with only take part in rugby in the TAG version so at high school (year 7) upwards is the first chance to play the game in its full version. Under the continuum this is obviously not allowed however high schools seem to 'ignore' that inconvenience. They seem to play upper school yr 10 & 11 as one team and lower school yrs 7, 8 & 9 as another.
    Given the communication between schools and clubs and for that matter RFU / RFUW I for one very much doubt that what ever may be said from on high will be rounding ignored by the schools.
    As for insurance they are covered under their own insurances unlike clubs who are reliant on the RFU provided coverage so equally that isn't a negoiation point.

    On a positive I have had 3 local high schools reporting they are putting girls rugby (15 a-side, full contact) on the timetable from September.


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