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...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Six Nations Round 1: all eyes on Dublin

The Six Nations starts this weekend (well, weather permitting). Unfortunately 99.99% of the media will (as usual) be concentrating exclusively on some obscure men's tournament, which is a great pity as this year there is more at stake than the question of England's almost inevitable march to a fourth successive Grand Slam. The more important question this year is actually who finishes fourth - finish below that and you risk not qualifying for next year's World Cup!

Needless to say this will not be a concern for England who begin their campaign with a game against Italy at London Welsh on Saturday. England coach Gary Street announced his squad today and attempted to build up the Italians as if they were some sort of threat. 

Quite why England women's rugby officials always do this before any game (regardless of the opponents) is difficult to understand (did no-one ever tell them the story about the child who called "wolf"?), and in the case of Italy it is particularly laughable. Only six weeks ago England's second team were comfortable 20-0 winners over Italy - moreover on practically the same ground, and in similar weather conditions. In their six previous internationals England have never scored less than 23 and average over 50 points per game. The most Italy have ever scored against England is 11. Even without most of the players who are preparing for the Sevens an England win by less than 40 points would be a cause for some concern - especially with the XVs World Cup round the corner. 

Elsewhere on Sunday Wales should have few problems making it five successive wins over Scotland when they meet in Edinburgh. Scotland were more fortunate with their preparations - which saw them beat Sweden comfortably (32-0) three weeks ago - while Wales' warm-up game with Nomads was called off. However, Wales are ranked number 2 in Europe now - and Scotland rank below even Italy.

However, the "big" game of the weekend must be Saturday's game in Dublin between Ireland and France.  Ireland have never beaten France in 15 previous meetings, but - based on performances over the past year - must start as favourites. When England said that they see Ireland as their greatest threat this season is was (for once) not all hype - the performance of Ireland's "President's XV" against a full strength England team in December was very impressive indeed - all the more so with several leading Irish players were absent. France, on the other hand, have been pretty awful in recent seasons and appear to have had no significant warm-up for this tournament. The French will also be distracted by the Sevens and may not be at full strength - while they are not going to same San Diego warm-up as England later this month they will be taking part in a tournament in Malaga over the same weekend.
  • When looking for information on this sort of thing you occasionally have to venture into foreign language articles, and rely on automatic translation. Most of the time this works reasonably well, but now and again it throws up something odd. One of the best examples of this was Google Translate's version of the French Sevens squad which turned Rennes' fly-half Sandrine Agricole into Agricultural Sandrine...!

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