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, October 10, 2008

Is New Zealand's crown slipping?

Its not been a great year for the Black Ferns - New Zealand's normally all-conquering women's rugby team. Successive defeats by England at Sevens was followed during our summer by their only scraping through to the World Sevens Cup finals by means of second place at the Oceania qualifer.

What we don't know whether these slip-ups at Sevens are an indication of a decline in the strength of the full XV. New Zealand - shamefully underfunded by their Union - play very few test matches outside of the World Cup, so its very hard to gauge their progress.

That makes this weeks two game series (Tuesday and Saturday) against Australia all the more interesting. Incredibly this will be the Kiwis' first visit to Australia for ten years and the first international in Australia since 2001. With the Wallaroos sevens win over rivals still fresh in their minds they should approach these games with more confidence than ever before, as well as home advantage.

New Zealand must still be clear favourites. Australia are probably no better than 7th or 8th in the world (behind France and the USA), so a win in either game would be a gargantuan upset. What will be of more interest will be the magin of victory. Last year the Australians got within 20 points of New Zealand for the first time, losing only by 21-10 and 29-12. If they can reduce the margin to, perhaps, a single score this time then that will be a huge moral victory. New Zealand's status as world number one would look increasingly shaky - and England's hopes for a home World Cup win in 2010 will be all the stronger.

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