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...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

U20 Nations Cup ready to go

The biggest-ever U20 women's international rugby is nearly here. The 2009 Nations Cup starts at Brunel University in North London on Thursday with arguably the four strongest international teams - England, Canada, Wales and the USA - playing each other over the next week for a place in the final on the 18th.

As highlighted a couple of weeks ago there will be a number of familiar names in the England team - not only Lizell and Sasha, but also players from half-a-dozen or more teams that our U18s have got to know very well in recent years as many of the players were still playing "junior" rugby this season. It is therefore quite a young U20 squad - though it has a core of experienced players, such as OA Saints and Hertfordshire's Sarah McKenna who seems to have been playing age group rugby for England since we began playing at Letchworth.

England start tomorrow with probably their toughest game - against Canada. They too have a young squad - not to mention a completely new coaching team who appear to have had no part in its selection. Remarkably it seems that the squad was selected and trained by a different set of coaches who only learnt that they would not be travelling to England with the team this month when they attended the final training camp a few weeks ago. Whether this will have an effect on the Canadians' performance we will see, but it sounds less than an ideal means of team preparation.

On Sunday England meet Wales, whom they have beaten three times in the last 18 months, including 26-8 in April. In fact the Welsh have yet to record a win since international age group rugby moved up from U19 to U20 a year or two ago, but it must only be a matter of time as their record as a U19 team was pretty impressive - including several wins over England. What is more the strength of their junior regional teams has improved dramatically over the past year so an England win cannot be taken for granted.

Finally next Wednesday England round off with a game against the tournament's "mystery" team - the USA. A mystery because they were not at the Nation's Cup last season, and have only ever played two U20 internationals - both last year in a tour of South Africa. As their opponents on that tour have also never played anyone else it is difficult to know what to make of that tour's 1-1 draw.

The USA do have a long record at U19 level (if not a very successful one - ie. no wins in 11 games before the South African tour) and many players from former U19 squads return to the colours this week. In fact whereas Canada and England have lent towards youth, the USA have gone for experience with only nine of the 25 player squad lacking international caps. They also had a pretty tough "warm-up" last month when they took part in the national U23 regional tournament (an event entitled, with typical American modesty, the "Women’s U23 All-Star Championships") where they battled through to win the "Tier II" event, recording some significant wins over theoretically bigger and stronger opposition - so they will lack nothing in preparation.

I know that several people are going down to Brunel to cheer on the girls, so have a great time - and let's have a few pictures and reports!

And finally good luck to the England team, and most especially ex-Legend "all-stars" Sasha and Lizell!

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