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, January 02, 2009

The other side of the looking glass

"While many sports are tightening their belts, Rugby [...]'s governing body is enjoying some of the best financial results in the game's history and are currently celebrating a £30million windfall from Sport England, which will be used to fund grassroots development - and women's and girls rugby in particular - over the next four years." [Press Association, today]
Exciting news! Well, it would be if it were not for the fact that I have missed out a word from the above new report. The word "League".

So why should news that is not of material benefit to our game be of any interest? Because it is remarkable to see the way in which the RFL - perhaps influenced by the impressive world cup for the England women's team back in November (as reported at the time) - highlight their intention to spend the bulk of their windfall on women's and girls' rugby. Can you imagine the RFU making a similar commitment if they were in receipt of a similar grant? 

Of course Rugby League benefits from being a united sport, but even so for a game with an even more macho image than union to make such a statement is eye-catching, to put it mildly.

(The above video should repeat... but doesn't. Refresh the page to see it again)

Girls' (and women's) rugby league is at present a far smaller and less well established sport than our own branch of the game, particularly in this area as none of the League clubs in the south of England currently boast women's teams. However it is a game growing quickly in the League strongholds in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The RFL boast an 81% growth in the game in the past 12 months, a fact that isn't helping the development of rugby union game in those areas. The RFL currently list 30 girls rugby league clubs in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria - rather more than the 19 or so union sides registered with RFUW from the same counties. 

Professional rugby league is a summer sport, but the amatuer and girls' game is still played in direct competition to union. Although followers of rugby union are often critical and dismissive of what they see as a simpler and less attractive sport, it is clearly a force to be reckoned with, at least in its home area. And there is one thing we can be sure of - with the full and active backing of a single, united national governing body and the bulk of £30 million to play with we haven't heard the last of girls' rugby league.

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