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...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meanwhile, on another planet...

... the RFUW's unstoppable charge towards junior leagues continues.

Several teams have withdrawn - including ourselves, Saracens, Leeds, Sleaford and others - but others have joined (apparently) - in total defiance of the RFUW's own closing date for entries! This has resulted in a rejigging of leagues, including the abolition of the U15 South West North league, which means that quite a few teams now have U15 and U18 teams in different leagues, which will make parents and coaches very happy and clearly shows some jaw dropping ignorance about how junior rugby works.

In addition some leagues now have 10 teams, while others only have four. This means that for teams in these big leagues they will now have to set aside most of their club dates to the league - which means that they must hope and pray that the other teams in their leagues will all turn up, otherwise there will be a lot of blank dates to fill at probably very short notice.

After all, much as we would prefer it not to be the case, the fact is that on average around 15-20% of teams disappear each season. The good news is that these tend to be balanced with a similar number of new teams that appear during the season... but they obviously will not be in the leagues!

But all of these arguments have been well rehearsed, and discussed whenever coaches have met (normally making sure that no-one from RFUW was listening. Really - I am not joking. Numerous coaches and parents have told me how they have learnt not criticise the RFUW in public). No - what stands out in the latest missive is the following statement:
"there is no other way and the aim is to get girls playing rugby"
Printable words fail me. Of course there are other ways! Just off the top of my head RFUW could have helped junior rugby and "getting girls playing" by...
  • Running a centralised fixtures bureau
  • Organising regular regional festivals 
  • Adopting the South West model
Its just that RFUW have not considered any of them!

As for "getting girls playing rugby", its a nice thing to say but (based on their actions) it has never been RFUW's overriding aim up until now. It has been aim of the hundreds of volunteers in junior rugby, all of whom must be a little peeved by the implication that they were not doing it properly. However truth is that the inevitable formality, straight-jacket structure, and rules of a league will prevent girls from playing.

First, the new clubs forming (mentioned above) will find it very hard to get fixtures, especially in areas where all the existing clubs are in leagues, so may never get off the ground. Triangular fixtures and the ad-hoc lending of players to make up teams (as typified by the brilliantly successful South West model) will be impossible. Think back to our many, many three-way afternoons - games like that with Bedford and Ampthill last year where we they combined together to play us at U18, while we combined with Ampthill to play Bedford at U15. Worked wonderfully - cannot happen in leagues as players obviously cannot play for other clubs.

Or another example. In the past if a club with 15 players rolled up at club that has only 7 one club would often have lent the other players to make up an 11-a-side game. We've done this dozens of times - who can forget Hayley Gulder playing scrumhalf for Ampthill, or Nikki Alcock's try-saving tackle on her sister, or the fact in our very first game the points scored against us were actually scored by Letchworth players! It cannot happen in a league - so in these circumstances eight girls will NOT be playing. They'll be kicking their heels on the touchline.

Short for a game? Forget ringing up another club to borrow a couple of spare players. And forget player-sharing arrangements like we have had with several girls, like Sasha. Problems with your club - want to move? You're going to find it very hard to do that mid-season. And so on.

In these ways - and more - formal leagues will inevitably result in fewer playing opportunities, frustrating the formation of new teams, presenting extra barriers to the selection of new players, killing off inter-club co-operation.

The only reason there may be "no other way" in 2010/11 is simply because RFUW have listened to no-one and have killed off every other alternative!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:25 AM

    they have killed off more than just alternatives.....


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