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, December 11, 2008

International weekend: World Cup 2010 starts here

Well, not literally here - more at London Welsh this weekend when what are effectively England's 2nd and 3rd XVs take on the best from the world of of Italian women's rugby in fixtures that will be vital to both nations' world cup preparations. 

The weekend of international rugby begins tomorrow night when a team officially called the "RFUW Development XV" - the England 3rd XV - take on Italy A, the Italian's 2nd XV.

For England its a rare international chance for the up-and-coming young players on the fringe of the main squads to have a chance to show what they can do against adult international opposition. The last time an English Development team took the field in a similar fixture was in the lead-up to the last World Cup when they played Netherlands 1st XV home and away, losing 15-14 in Amsterdam before winning the return 15-5. 

Many of the Development team are drawn from the current U20 squad, backed up by other players currently knocking on the door of the main England squads. With more than 18 months to go before the World Cup there is still plenty of time for these players to make their mark.

Although they are playing the Italian 2nd XV, the sheer mathematics of player numbers will alone make the Development team favourites. The Italian  RFU claim to have 1500 registered players, but that is barely a tenth of the number of players RFUW can select from. 

Similar maths points to a win for England in the second international on Sunday, when the England "A" team take on the the Italian 1st XV - but that is before you take into account that England "A" are probably the second strongest team in Europe (after the England 1st team!). They have only ever lost one game against a national selection - when they were beaten by USA 1st team (then ranked 5th in the world) in 2006 - and they have never lost (or even been seriously troubled) by a team ranked outside the top ten, as Italy are. 

This is an England team packed with talent, including four players - Claire Allan, Rachel Burford, Vicky Massarella and former Hertfordshire junior Michaela Staniford - who already have significant international experience, while all of the players will already be members of the England Elite squad. All of them will be trying to catch the selectors eye, both for the World Cup and the forthcoming Six Nations.

For the Italians, these games are possibly even more important than they are for England - regardless of the results. 

As there will probably be only room for five European teams in the World Cup, the team finishing bottom of the Six Nations this season are very likely to miss out - as Wales discovered four years ago. Following their win over Scotland last season, Italy are no longer the also-ran of the Six Nations. A good performance - and above all a single win this season - should be enough to see an Italian qualification, almost certainly at the expense of Scotland. Scotland have failed to arrange any pre-Six Nations games this season, so by providing their top 30-40 players with highly competitive warm-up fixtures the Italians are stealing a major (and possibly decisive) advantage over their Caledonian rivals.

Fridays game at London Welsh between RFUW Development and Italy A kicks off at 7pm, while the Sunday game between England A and Italy begins at noon. Unfortunately extensive media coverage of the games is not expected, so we'll be relying on the RFUW website to let us the outcome of the games, hopefully early next week.

1 comment:

  1. Halleluyah !!! I say congratulations to the IRB on at last setting a precedent for the rest of the sport to follow and good luck from Gloucester Girls Rugby Charitable Trust Fund - funding and volunteer delivery in grassroot rugby.

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