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...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This weekend: Aylesbury away, and the parallel universe of the National Cup

A reminder that on Sunday we are away to Aylesbury, both U18s and U15s. Meeting at the club at 11.00. This will actually be our first visit to Aylesbury - address: 

Aylesbury Rugby Football Club
Ostler's Field
Brook End
Weston Turville
HP22 5RN

Meanwhile in a parallel universe the National Knock-out kicks off. Despite over 100 clubs being eligible to enter, the competition has again failed to find 16 entrants this year - yet somehow this means it is still "more popular" than the National 10s as it retains its place in the calendar next year whereas the latter event was, as you will recall, dropped.

That aside we didn't enter again this year, partly due to concerns that our playing strength was not big enough on our own (were not part if a registered cluster "on registration" - ie. at the start of the season - so also could not combine with anyone else), and partly because in previous years the tournament has often included teams of - how can I put it? - an "unusual strength" for an allegedly club rugby event. Obviously there is no evidence that this will be happening this year...

Indeed this year's Cup hides evidence of some good news of massively successful (but unreported) recruitment drives. Several of the clubs who have entered this season are only Category B members of RFUW, which means that at the start of the season they had fewer than 15 playing members. Yet now, without combining with any other clubs (or, presumably, poaching their players), they are able to enter a competition that - in effect- requires squads of experienced players numbering in the twenties. Well done to them!

Meanwhile, partly as a result of the failure to fill all the places on offer, the format of this year's event is, well, "original" might be a good word. Details from the north are, as usual, a shade sketchy but I hear that in the south the South East and South West qualification rounds have been combined.

Six teams (Reading, Thornbury, Exeter Sarries, Oakmedians, Welwyn and Wimborne) have all been placed in a single group, and each team will play all of the others over two weekends in Reading (5th and 26th April) with the winner goes to the final.  The games are 15 mins each way, with two games on one day and three games on the next. Which I guess sounds great on paper - except for the fact that it breaks rather spectacularly a basic guideline for any sporting competition - the one that says "Avoid Dead Rubbers".

A "Dead Rubber" is a match in a tournament where one, or both, teams taking part have already been knocked out. Its a safe bet that, as a result, the teams concerned will rarely play at their full abilities - indeed it is not unusual for teams drawn to play in "Dead Rubbers" to withdraw from such matches altogether, going home rather than "risk players in games that don't matter".

The above format does not so much break that rule as batter it to death with a sledgehammer before jumping up and down on the pieces. Consider... to win the group you really cannot afford to lose more than one game - at most. It is not impossible, but it is statistically very unlikely that a team with two defeats will stand any chance of going through.

But it is inevitable - assuming there are no tied games - that at least one team (and probably two) will lose both of the opening two games. Given that... why the heck would they bother returning for next round of games three weeks later? Why trek from, say, Exeter to Reading (and good 300-400 miles round trip) to play a series of (for you) meaningless fixtures? In fact, by the time you complete the third round of games at least half of the teams in the group will inevitably be "knocked out". When you work it out, at least a third of all the games will be "dead rubbers".

Why should this matter? Well, even if the teams do show up, if you are playing a crucial game against another team who are still "in" the competition, how fair do you think it will be if a rival on the next pitch is up against opponents who are, mentally at least, already on the bus home?

And why go to all this needless expense (ie. preparing and hiring grounds, and busing 100+ girls from across south of England twice) when the competition could be wrapped up with two pools of three and a final (plus classification games) on a single weekend? Madness. But fortunately madness we do not need to worry about!


  1. Anonymous7:23 AM

    Thanks for the information about the south u/18s competition.The north u/18s has been put back to the 26th as only 4 teams have entered.Do you know how many have entered the u/15s event.

  2. Anonymous4:15 PM

    Exeter B catergory or could be SWS.
    Wimborne B catergory but remember they have since the beginning of the year clustered with Ellingham B catergory

    All others A catergory

  3. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Oakmedians didn't bother turning up at all even to the first round in the south and wimborne aren't turning to the second round as they can't possibly win and have two critical league matches left to play......touche!


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