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...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Options at 18

Hayley's match with Hitchin Ladies today (report and pictures from Mike below) is an opportune moment to look at the options available for everyone "graduating" at the end of the season, or indeed for those of you who turn 18 next season. Moving up to adult rugby may sound daunting, but there is a major difference between the men's and women' game is that in the former junior players moving up will find themselves playing alongside players with many years experience. In most cases this is not the case in the women's game - fact is that most of you will find that you will be far more experienced players than many of your new teammates!

So first, the rules. You can only play adult women's rugby (or attend adult trials) after you have passed you 18th birthday - and you can also still play U18 rugby until the season ends. This is a change from a couple of years ago and is also different to the men's game where you can play adult rugby in the season you turn 18 (why? see below*). In addition you can train alongside senior players before you are 18 - something which is worth considering so that you can get to know you future teammates.

So who should you play for (even if you are going to university or college who have a women's team its still worth thinking about as you will still need a club to traing with and play for during when you are at home). We have a number of teams of varying standards within reasonably easy reach, so its a difficult choice. 
  • Do you have ambitions to play beyond club level? If so then you really need to be playing at a "Championship" or "Premiership" level club as only there will you be playing regular, full-sized, games against top-level opposition. There are several such teams in our area - but they do tend to be the ones furthest away.

  • Do you just want to play recreational rugby? Even if you have no representative ambitions you still probably want to go to a club that plays at a level that best matches your abilities - it could be a bit frustrating otherwise. However, several of you joining the same club could transform things.

  • How far can you travel, regularly? Remember you'll need to be able to get to evening training sessions as well as match days.
Okay, given all that what are the choices? Roughly in order of distance from Letchworth (and, co-incidentally, level of play)...
  • Hitchin Ladies. Our nearest club, but also the team at the lowest level of league rugby - National Challenge South East North 3. However that may not be the case for much longer as they are near the top of that division at the moment and if several of you joined Hitchin together you could make a big difference. Training is at Hitchin is on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so it would be worth going along to see what the club is like - in fact I know that some of our Hitchin-based players are already doing just that.

  • Hertford Ladies. One of the longest established clubs in the county and at a slightly higher level, being one division higher than Hitchin - and also with a reasonable chance of promotion this season.  

  • Shelford Ladies. Because they are not in Hertfordshire we often forget about Shelford, but they are - in fact - the third nearest women's club to us. They are also have a long history, play at Championship level (Midlands 2)- so two above Hertford - and have a railway station (Foxton) nearby (about 5 miles away) on the same line as Letchworth (so lifts would be very feasible - or cycling, given how flat it is!). If you have ambitions beyond recreational rugby (ie. regional or beyond) then this is probably the minimum level you need to play.

  • Old Albanians Saints. Just north of St Albans, OAs run two XVs - the 2nd XV playing in the same division as Hertford, and the first XV in Championship 1 South - one below the Premiership. Superb ground - England's international home for two seasons and home of Saracens "A" team - and a club very keen to attract new players (two open evenings planned, the next one on Wednesday week) - you could be sure of a welcome. Only real downside is that it is impossible to reach from Letchworth by anything other than car.

  • Saracens Women. Play in Southgate, north London (not very far from to Potters Bar). Claim - with some justification - to be the best club side in Europe with two XVs, 2nd XV in the same league as OAs 1st XV, and the first XV in the Premiership. England players galore, national champions on innumerable occasions, the club to play for if you want to play at the highest level - but again inaccessible from Letchworth by anything other than car. The only local club to enter last year's National Sevens.

  • In addition there is a team at Tabard from Radlett who play in the same division as Hitchin. 

  • Other local clubs have, or have had, ambitions to run women's teams - including Ampthill, Fullerians (Watford), and Welwyn - but are not currently playing in any RFUW league.
All of the clubs would probably welcome anyone coming along to their training sessions (check their websites for details) - Hitchin and Saracens have already invited any of you to come along, and OAs have their open days. If you are interested in having a look at any of the clubs contact them direct yourself, or - if several of you are interested in the same team - let us know and we arrange something at club level.

*One of the most important is that legally until you are 18 you are still a child, and that requires clubs to have all sort of child protection policies. This is not too important in the men's game where junior and senior teams are invariably part of the same club so the policies and club officials exist, but in women's rugby - as we know - adult and junior teams have in many cases grown up separtely so the adult teams may not have the right policies in place.


  1. Anonymous7:00 PM

    i thought you werent allowed to play womens rugby and girls rugby (U18's) at the same time?? i thought you could train with them but couldnt play matches and still play games for girls too??

  2. We did phone RFUW to ask exactly that before Hayley played, but they did not raise any problem. Also she would not have been allowed into the senior regional squad is this was not the case. And actually even before the rules changed you could play adult and junior rugby after New Year. The idea is that girls can ease into the adult game.

    It is also no different to men's game, where U18s can play both age group and adult rugby (and actually from an earlier age than girls can).


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