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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nations Cup: Youth shows the way

Two tries each from Fiona Pocock and Emily Scarratt were instrumental in a thoroughly professional performance by England in the opening game of the Nations Cup in Canada - being played in the glourious surroundings of Appleby College in Ontario (right - though the pictures do hide the problem of clouds of midges that rise from the nearby lake!). An early breakaway try gave USA the lead in the opening stages of the game, but after that England controlled the game well, spending most of the match in the USA's half - though the Americans made a number of threatening breaks.

It took a while for the territorial dominance to be turned into points. Fiona Pocock finally broke through but at half-time England's lead was only a narrow 10-7. However, in the second half greater fitness seemed to become a factor with four more unanswered tries being scored to round off a 36-7 victory.

Remarkably this is the USA's eighth straight defeat since the last World Cup. Admittedly they have only played England and Canada in the past three years, but it cannot be doing much for their confidence. Though their tackling was strong, and the running of some individuals was good, poor handling seemed to let them down and some players seemed to panic a little when under pressure. Which is not to say English handling was perfect - they could and should have scored another three or four tries - but in the end they will be satisfied with this performance.

What can be safely said is that neither side will struggle much against South Africa or France, who played earlier. South African almost caused a huge upset - leading 17-12 until the final play of the game when France score an unconverted equaliser to tie 17-17. However, for all of the excitment of a close game the quality of play was well below the England/USA game - South Africa's inability to hit touch in the final few minutes (coupled with their tendency to kick the ball away continually) cost them dear in the end, as did indiscipline which resulted in their playing with only 14 players for the final 8 minutes of the game. As for France - uninspired about covers it.

Rugby Canada match report (with incorrect scores!)
  • The live webcast of the first two matches went pretty well - a few glitches and not exacty HD-TV but great to watch and improvements are promised for the next round of games on Thursday night. Well worth taking a look at - though the second game doen't end until after 1am so you have been warned! One nice little bonus is that you get to chat to everyone else watching - so a chance to get to know women's rugby players and followers from around the world. The image to the right was captured just after Fiona Pocock had scored her second try to put England 29-7 ahead.

    Most of the second half was recorded - this extract is particularly good, starting with England's opening try in the second half then showing some excellent attacking play leading up to Scarratt's first try (about 10 minutes in). The remains of the second half can be seen here. You can also watch almost the entire France v South Africa game.

    Wouldn't it be great if RFUW could do something similar - its not that difficult to do. Looks like Rugby Canada even do this for major regional and club games.

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