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, August 06, 2010

World Cup: Living on nerves

Its a difficult time now for all of the players in the 12 World Cup squads. The opening games are only a fortnight away, so getting into that starting XV will be uppermost in their minds. Training will be getting more intense, and the temptation will be to push just that bit more, to impress the coach and win that place.

On the other hand the tournament is indeed only two weeks away, and even only a minor injury could be enough to mean that you miss a tournament that you have been working up to for four years. So maybe you should hold back a bit, take a little more care when hitting that bag, not go into contact at quite 100%?

Its a hard one - not least when every day seems to bring news of another player missing out. Within the last few days the news has been full of stories of training injuries ending individual players' hopes. At the end of July Ireland have lost Ulster prop Lauren Day, on Tuesday New Zealand revealed that the versatile back Amiria Rule - a star in the 2006 cup winning team - will be staying at home a knee injury, yesterday South African flanker Temi Faleni was forced out of the squad with a shoulder injury, and today it was England's turn with news that experienced centre Claire Allan - almost a fixture in the team since her debut in 2007 - will miss her first World Cup, thanks also to a knee injury.

It must be a desperate feeling to know that you have to drop out so close to the tournament, but every individual misfortune is someone else's opportunity. For New Zealand it means that rugby legend Anna Richards comes out of retirement for one more World Cup, while for England ex-Fullerians and Hertfordshire girl Michaela Staniford (right) gets the chance to revive her England career.

Michaela was England's youngest ever international when she made her debut in 2005 when still only 18, but has tended to slip out of contention as a first choice place in the past couple of years (though she has been pretty much an ever-present in the Sevens squads). Now she has been presented with a great chance to make her mark and get back into the first XV - and I'm sure everyone in Hertfordshire rugby hopes she grab it with both hands!

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