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, August 15, 2009

Meanwhile, in the corner of a different foreign field...

While five nations play in Canada in preparation for the World Cup next year - all automatic qualifiers - on a different continent two countries who were not even given a chance to attempt to qualify meet today in what must remain the pinnacle of their rugby until at least 2014. Assuming the IRB allows them to take part then, of course.

Uganda and Kenya are not big names in rugby (clearly not as big as South Africa, who were given Africa's only place at the World Cup without their having to set foot on the field and despite finishing comfortably 12th of 12 last time round), but they have been active on the international scene since 2005 and this will be the third time they have met each other for the Elgon Cup.

The tournament began as a men-only event in 2004 but women's teams joined in very quickly and have been playing side-by-side on the same day and the same ground with the men ever since. "Double headers" are nothing new then - they were invented in East Africa some years ago, it seems.

Its also worth remembering that Uganda's women are the country's most successful rugby team - indeed probably the most successful team in any sport. They reached the finals of the World Cup Sevens this year - the men didn't even get close.

The Cup is competed for over two legs, home and away, and the defending champions for the women's series is actually Uganda (you cannot blame the hosts of the opening leg missing this bit of information off their poster). However, there is little to choose between the sides - last year the series end one match all, Uganda only retaining the trophy thanks to an overall 31-22 aggregate - and from all accounts this year should be just as close.

The only downside of all this is that these two countries - like the Caribbean nations - have to exist in a weird isolation from the rest of the rugby world. Occasionally they may get to play other neighbouring nations, like Rwanda, but that is about it. They might as well be playing on Mars. Can a game develop - or even sustain itself - in such circumstances? That is, of course, why you need World Cups - to give players and teams something to work for and aim at. Which is, of course, where we came in.

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