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...

Friday, January 01, 2010

In at the deep end

2010 is going to be an important year for women's and girls' rugby. The World Cup and (perhaps in the long run just as important) the merger with the RFU could take the game to a whole new level, perhaps making the sort of breakthrough that women's football and cricket have achieved in recent years following similar on-field success and off-field reorganisation.

However, one woman has - largely unnoticed - achieved a remarkable breakthrough that would be impossible to imagine in either of the other two sports. Because Elaine Vassie, seven years after taking up the game and only four years after becoming a coach, is now the Head Coach of semi-professional side Manchester RFC in National League One (only two steps below the Guinness Premiership, and three above Letchworth's 1st XV).

Admittedly it is not the post she joined the club for. As an article in today's Daily Mail reveals she originally joined the club as an assistant coach, with an emphasis on conditioning. But when she arrived she found that most of the 1st XV had left due to money problems, with the Head Coach following a few weeks later. With almost no experienced (or even adult) players life for Manchester has been pretty difficult, but Elaine seems to have held her team together remarkably well and - while they are still without a win - they aren't losing by margins of over 140 points any more.

Though relegation for Manchester this season looks certain (and has done since before Elaine took over), if she can hold her young team they could be a team to watch in the future.

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