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, September 07, 2009

Across the Atlantic the great experiment begins...

Boys rugby teams seem to consider any away games outside Hertfordshire to be a "long way" - even Tring is considered a major trek. For our games, anything in Hertfordshire is "local" and trips two or three counties away are normal. However something over 100 miles or so - Hampshire, say - might be a "long way". As you move up the ladder in the adult game you might reach the heights of the Premiership with fixtures up in the Borders or South West - 250 miles or more. A long slog to play a rugby game?

Well, how about adding an extra "0" to that? And then some. That is the task facing clubs in possibly the most ambitious club rugby projects in the women's game - the USA Women's Rugby Premier League - which kicked off last weekend.

There have been national championships before, bringing the regional champions together to a single locations - but not a regular league with teams from as far apart as Oregon, California, Minnesota, and New England (check out an atlas - suffice to say they are a long way apart!). The early stages will group the teams into effectively East and West "Conferences", but that will still see a team from Minnesota having an away game against Berkeley in California - a cool 2,000 miles away. And a couple of years ago we thought we had it tough when our U18 registered over 3,000 miles in a season - these teams will exceed that in a weekend!

And all this in what is, obviously, an amatuer game - and moreover not a staggeringly wealthy one (when we had the U19s Nations Cup here in the summer the USA team had to stay in Buckinghamshire to save money). What is more these are indeed "ordinary" clubs supported by their own membership - not representative XVs backed by their regional unions. The theory, like our own Premiership, is to have the top teams playing hard rugby every (in this case) fortnight, thus raising the standard of the game as a whole (including the national team). Will it succeed? I guess we will have to wait a few years to find out - but you have to admire USA Rugby for their ambition and the players for their devotion to the game.

So next time you have to get up early on a Sunday morning to travel to Basford, or Hartpury, or wherever remember - it could be worse!

*One of the leading teams (if not the leading team) is "Beantown" from Boston in Massachusets. I just mention them as whenever I see the name my mind seems to stick an extra "o" in there. Beanotown women's rugby team - Dennis the Menace's worst nightmare?

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