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...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What makes a complete rugby club?

The steady stream of rugby news that tends to find its way here these days varies a bit in interest and relevance, but if there is a trend then it is generally pretty positive towards the worldwide development of women's and girls' rugby. Gradually barriers seem to be coming down, attitudes changing. Even in male dominated societies women's rugby is growing - women play rugby in Iran, Laos and Cambodia played their first international last week (only 10-a-side, but it will now be an annual event), and an Indian team will take the field for the first time next month.

But just occasionally you get news stories that make you sit up and say "what???". And rather a lot of these stories tend to come from nearer home.

Take for instance today. From the RFU I get their latest newsletter with an article praising to the skies a rugby club that is...
"setting the standard for rugby clubs up and down the country by becoming the first club in England to achieve the Rugby Football Union’s Whole Club Seal of Approval award"
Wow. Apparently...
"the Whole Club Seal of Approval award recognises the effort and achievement of volunteers in reaching the required standard of a club committed to the development of rugby union."
Sound amazing. They have obviously worked hard. So who is this club? The answer that they probably won't mean much to you. Why? Because they have no women's or girls' team. So far as I can judge they are nor even part of their county cluster and their comprehensive website mentions girls just twice - once in the mini section saying that girls are welcome, and once in a tour report which apprears to see girls as a form of entertainment for the boys. 

Okay, they are only 20 miles from a club with a big, well known girls' team - but within around 20 miles of Letchworth you'll find Welwyn, Hertford, Saracens, Ampthill and Stevenage, so that is no excuse.

But this is not a dig at the winning club (which is why I have avoided mentioning them). What I have problems with is the RFU saying that such a club could be "setting the standard for rugby clubs up and down the country". When one rugby player in 12 in England is now female, is (effectively) a male-only club (with, presumably, no development plan for girls or women's rugby - well not one that works anyway) really the model that the sport's governing body should be encouraging everyone to emulate?  Surely a basic requirement for a truly model rugby club would be one that successfully embraced the entire local community - not just half of it?

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