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...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rugby World Cup 2010 to be in London

The RFUW have won the bid to host the 2010 World Cup. The IRB  have announced that the tournament will be held in London, four years after Edmonton staged the event. 

This will be the first time England will have hosted the tournament, which before Edmonton was held in Spain (Barcelona), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Scotland, and south Wales. Women's world cups tend to be restricted to small areas - mostly single cities - rather than touring around a host nation because its cheaper.

At this stage it has not been announced which grounds will be used, but RFUW have said that it "will be staged across West London" which restricts things to a handful of likely candidates, and presumably misses out OAs, which is a pity, but it still means that the entire event will be less than an hour's travel away. No announcement as to whether the final will be at Twickenham - but it is difficult to see how RFU could get away not allowing the game to be played there.

Details about the qualifying process (which the IRB claim that "will ultimately involve 83 national women's teams") will be announced by the end of the year. However, RFUW have also confirmed that the tournament will again be restricted to 12 teams, as at Edmonton in 2006, rather than the 16 that took part in Barcelona in 2002 which makes it all a bit academic.

I'm not entirely sure where the IRB gets its data from as by my reckoning at least 40 of those alleged 83 nations have never played a 15-a-side international, but of those left three-quarters of them need not bother filling in the entry form. 

As each continent gets at least one entrant, in a 12-team tournament even Europe will probably get only get five places (as it did in 2006). That means that not only will the likes of Russia, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain - who are quite capable at holding their own against most non European nations - have no chance of joining the party, but even one of the Six Nations teams will miss out. 

At Edmonton the IRB had to choose between having a sixth European team, or a third Australiasian team to accompany automatic picks New Zealand and Australia. In the men's game they would at least have a qualifying match between the two - probably home and away - but in the cash-strapped womens game the issue was decided in a committee room in Dublin. In the end they went for Samoa, which meant that Wales (then ranked sixth in Europe thanks to a "Welsh clubs only" selection policy) missed out. 

It should be emphasised, incidentally, that it is the IRB who have got themselves into this bind because it is they who insisted on a 12 team event - not RFUW or any of the other bidders. As I suggested back in June, the effect of this 12 team restriction was probably sufficient on its own to kill off the German and Kazakhstan bids.

Shutting the door on up-and-coming nations in this way is a very short-sighted policy which does nothing for the development of the world game, and come close to making the whole qualification process a wate of time. It creates such a closed shop that you can safely predict exactly who will be coming to west London in 2010:

England, Wales, France, Ireland, Scotland (or Italy)
(No room for Spain, Russia, Germany, Netherlands - all very capable sides - never mind the other up-and-coming nations)

North America: 
Canada, USA 
(waste of time for the new Caribbean nations to even enter)

South Africa 
(no room for Uganda or Kenya, where the fifteen-a-side game is growing)

(unless Japan sort themselves out very quickly [unlikely] no-one else in the region is remotely likely to beat the Kazakhs. China, Hong Kong and Singapore certanly need not worry too much about booking flights.)

New Zealand, Australia, Samoa 
(no hope for Fiji, Tonga, etc.) 

The only question mark might be Scotland, where women's national team - not exactly helped by some attitudes in the SRU - has been spiraling to the ground faster than even their men's side. By next year it is quite possible that even Italy will have overtaken them and at their current rate of progress I wouldn't fancy their chances against Andorra come 2010...

Overall this hardly encouages the game in - say - Russia (magnificent winners of Europe's "second division" in the summer). A 16 nation event would have given developing nations so much more to play for. Okay, they would not have been likely to make a dent on England or New Zealand, but frankly even third-ranked Canada are way behind these two beomoths who will inevitably meet in the final. World Cups are about more than finding out who the winners are - just the prospect of qualifying would have been a real boost to many nations. A 12-nation tournament kills all that. You do wonder if the IRB wants a truly worldwide game... 

Anyway, for those nations that do make it its an exciting prospect. IRB official Bernard Lapasset has said that in awarding it to England, "the tournament would be best positioned to elevate the women's game to new heights" and undoubtedly it will be well run (the RFU and Sports Council, who are pumping £150,000 into the event, will make sure of that). 

It'll be (well it should be) a terrific base on which to build out own game, of course. Its at least one tournament too early for most of you to dream about taking part, but it'll be amazing to watch. It'll be the biggest women's sports event of the year, and one of the biggest this century, so maybe it'll get some passing notice in the media. And it'll all take place in less than two years time - maybe we should start planning now...

Reaction from officialdom can be found in the RFUW's press release.

PS. Please, please, please IRB and RFUW - come up with a tournament format this time that makes sense!! Last time the tournament was almost impossible to follow for anyone without a masters degree in advanced multi-diamentional mathematics! It also didn't work - as the USA and Australia (who had to play each other twice in a week for reasons way too complex to explain) would agree. Hint: 12 teams = four groups of three, or three groups of four... its not difficult!

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