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, May 13, 2009

The World Cup starts this weekend!

The 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup kicks off on Sunday - in Sweden

That's not a mistake - while the finals will take place in September 2010 in London (probably at Richmond and London Welsh rugby clubs if recent statements are any guide) the qualification process starts this weekend with the start of a week-long tournament to be played in Enköping and Stockholm in Sweden.

As mentioned a month or so ago most women's rugby nations will not be able to compete for a place at the 2010 finals, whereas every men's union has been able to play for a place at the 2011 men's finals. In Europe only 12 nations (out of over 30 that play rugby) have been given a chance to take part. The best four nations in this year's Six Nations have already qualified - this tournament will decide the remaining two European places. The eight teams have been divided into two groups, mainly based on FIRA rankings, and each group winner will qualify.

Group A features Scotland, Netherlands, Russia and Belgium. Scottish women's rugby is in an even worse state than the men's game at present - Scotland have played 20 games since the last World Cup and have only recorded wins over Italy (twice), Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. Its a poor record for the only nation (other than England and France) to ever win a women's Grand Slam, but despite that it is difficult to see how they could not qualify from this group. 

Belgium (who the Scots have never played before) should cause no problems, and - despite huge strides forward - Russia should also not trouble Scotland much (though it should be closer than the 51-0 Scots win in the 1994 World Cup - their last meeting). Their final game - which should be a winner-takes-all game - should be a bit closer, but it is difficult to see how the Scots could lose to the Dutch.

Group B should be far closer. This will feature Italy, Spain, Sweden and Germany. The latter two should not trouble the former too much - though the Swedes have put huge efforts into their preparations for the tournament so could cause an odd surprise.

However, the final game between Italy and Spain could go either way. Italy are the Six Nations team, but they were only given that status in 2007 (at the expense of the Spanish) because the Italian men's team are in the Six Nations. In practice Spain not only have a far better international and Six Nations record compared to Italy, but they have also never  lost to them! It is a fair assumption that they will have something to prove and will relish the chance to dump their rivals out of the World Cup - should be a heck of a game!

World Cup European qualifier fixtures:

Pool A
Belgium v Netherlands (Enköping)
Russia v Scotland (Enköping)
Belgium v Scotland (Stockholm)
Netherlands v Russia (Stockholm)
Belgium v Russia (Enköping)
Netherlands v Scotland (Enköping)

Pool B
Germany v Spain (Stockholm)
Sweden v Italy (Stockholm)
Germany v Italy (Enköping)
Sweden v Spain (Enköping)
Sweden v Germany (Stockholm)
Italy v Spain (Stockholm)

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