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...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The most exciting weekend of international rugby... ever?

Never has there been a weekend of women's international rugby like the one coming up this weekend. In the space of less than 24 hours three internationals will be played by six of the world's leading nations... and all three are so tight that it is almost impossible to predict the winners.

None more so than the first game, on Friday night. Ireland v England. Until last year - until last month - a game where the only question was how many points England would win by. But all that has changed. In December a below-strength Ireland "President's XV" lost to a full strength England XV by only 19-8, a score which some accounts suggest flattered England.

Now on Friday a full strength Ireland, fresh from wins over France and Italy, will take on... what? Will England select the same team that lost Wales? Or will they draft in some experienced back-up from the sevens squad... and risk key players when the World Cup is only a couple of weeks away? Can England continue to rely on two players, who may be very talented, but have a combined age of less than 40?

It could all come down to defence. England - who have always had a rock-solid defence - have gifted tries in both of their last two internationals, the one against Wales in particular being almost X-rated. In both cases was it inexperience that was to blame?

And there is an extra threat with Ireland - the boot of Nimah Briggs, probably the best goal-kicker (certainly the most on-form) in Europe at the moment. England gave away several penalties against Wales that went unpunished, with Nimah on the field this may not be the case this time. On the other hand, Ireland's defence is far from water-tight - Italy lead twice against them two weeks ago - and we know that Emily Scarrett only needs the slightest sniff of a opening to break through and score. Its all too close to call!

Then on Saturday afternoon its the battle at the other end of the table - Scotland and Italy for the wooden spoon, and a ticket to Sweden for the World Cup play-off. Italy won last year - in Italy - for what remains their only Six Nations win. Can they do it again in Scotland? Or will the Scots finally get it together?

And after that - another battle for the title. Wales go to France with the Grand Slam a realistic possibility. They've beat France three times in the last four years, including twice last year, but have never won in France - and they have never had this level of pressure and expecation on them - win and the Slam is there for the taking, lose and even the Six Nations title could disappear. France, at home, will be the narrow underdogs - but if a French rugby team is anything it is unpredictable.

By Sunday evening the Six Nations could be a two horse race - or four nations could be neck-and-neck. Which will it be? According to the poll, you think Wales will come out ahead. Will you be right?

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