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, June 29, 2009

And in third place...

International women's rugby still lacks any sort of official ranking system. The men's game has a system run by the IRB of bizzarre and Byzantine complexity but for some reason it seems that their statisticians - while willing to spend hours comparing the relative performances of the men's teams from major rugby nations like Vanuatu and Monaco - never seem to be able to find the time to look at women's results.

Admittedly identifying the top two in the world is pretty easy - New Zealand and England. Over the years the Black Ferns have won an amazing 49 out of their 51 internationals, and haven't lost to anyone since 2001. Since then they have had 23 straight victories - which I believe is a world record. Running just behind them is England with a record of 129 wins (and one draw) which means that England have won way more games than anyone else - but they have also played more games than anyone else (150 to date).

But which nation comes next?

Canada are one team, on current form, which many would feel have one of the best cases for the third podium spot, and this weekend they were playing against their greatest rivals, the USA (right). This was their 22nd international in a series with the USA that the USA used to dominate. But since 2006 Canada had won four straight games, and were favourites to extend the run to five in a row - which they did.

However, the USA made them work for it. 5-5 at half-time the game could have gone either way, but ill-discipline in the American's ranks in the second half (their coach complained about them "not following the gameplan" after the game) allowed the Canadians to quickly build up a 15 point lead and, though the USA came back at them, this was enough to ensure an eventual 25-17 win. Sounds like a good game, though, and a full video recording should be available online in the next few days (free!).

However, Canada's early years were pretty difficult and - even if you look at just the last 10 games - they have only won six. Based purely on results there are other countries have better records than that.

France, for example, have 94 wins from 134 internationals overall, and six (plus one draw) in the last 10, while Wales are doing even better with eight wins in the past 10 games (including the famous win over England last season).

But, statistically, one team beats them all. One nation has an (admittedly short) all time record that (in terms of percentage of wins and games) is close to Englands. They have won eight of their ten internationals played to date - and drawn one of the others. And they just won their regional championship for the third time in four attempts without conceeding a point, but scoring an average of 72 points per game.

These international superstars are... Trinidad and Tobago (right)who last weekend strolled to the NAWIRA Caribbean title, beating the Cayman Islands 48-0 in the final.

But it is a sad fact that the Trinidadians have no-where to go. A combination of lack of money, geography, and the IRB's decision to not even give them a chance to compete for a place in the World Cup leaves them isolated sharks in a small pool of goldfish. Occasionally the USA and Canada spend a sunny weekend in the Caribbean playing sevens, but neither established nation has ever offered the Trinidadians (or come to that a combined West Indian team - the men field one, so why not the women?) a test match. Is there a need for a little more imagination from the more established nations if they really believe in expanding the game?

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