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, January 27, 2009

England show where their priorities are

The England squad for the San Diego Sevens has been announced. 

Normally this would not be exactly headline news, but this Sevens is the last tournament before the Sevens World Cup and will be taking place in the same weekend as the second round of Six Nations matches when England are due to play Wales - arguably the biggest obstacle in the way of a fourth Grand Slam. So the identity of the players selected in the England squad bound for California was always going to tell us where England's main target for 2009 is. Would the "big names" stay at home to counter the Welsh threat and ensure a XVs triumph, or should the Sevens take priority (even if some people, like the manager of a certain East Anglian team, don't see this version of the game as important)?

Well, if there was any doubt before today a quick glance at the Sevens squad removes it:
  • Sue Day (Captain) (Wasps)
  • Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens) 
  • Claire Allan (Saracens)
  • Charlotte Barras (Saracens)
  • Sarah Beale (Lichfield)
  • Rachael Burford (Saracens)
  • Heather Fisher (Wasps)
  • Emma Layland  (Richmond)
  • Kat Merchant (Worcester) 
  • Michaela Staniford (Wasps) 
  • Danielle Waterman (Blaydon Team Northumbria) 
  • Jo Yapp  (Worcester)
Wow - that is quite a team! An "impressive combination of youth and experience" would be how it might be described. Two former England captains (Day and Yapp), plus Rachel Burford (current XVs vice-captain) stand out alongside established stars like Danielle Waterman and rising stars like Michaela Staniford.

Its obviously a slight gamble. England will be risking a 22 year-old 100% record against the Welsh (25 consecutive wins to date) at a time when their opponents have probably never been stronger - but its probably the right decision. England have greater strength in depth than any other team in the world, and the players who come in to fill these stars boots should be more than capable of rising to the challenge. Still, its going to make the weekend of 14th/15th February very interesting...
  • In other Sevens news - and relevent as a form guide - Brazil won their fifth consecutive South American sevens title at the weekend.

    Unlike the men's game, where Argentina dominate the continent, in women's rugby it is Brazil who stand head and shoulders above the rest. However there was a small shock in this year's event when, for the first time since 2005, Brazil actually conceded a point! In fact for a stunning few seconds Uruguay were actually ahead in their semi-final... before normal service was resumed.

    Quite what this means for the World Cup is difficult to say as a full-strength Brazilian team has never played outside South America.

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