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, August 30, 2010

World Cup: Mid-term report

As we are now at the half-way point in the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup, perhaps its a good moment to look at how its going.

Press and TV coverage is better than in 2006 - marginally, and maybe just because its in England this time? The game has also yet to get beyond the feature article and into the routine match reporting where it should be. As a result, after good pre-tournament coverage, you'd struggle to find much in today's papers. Makes you wonder what all the media people at Guildford are doing (over 100 of them, before you ask!). Sky's coverage has been excellent, but it was a "Contractual Obligation" - ie. they had to do it to win the rights to show England men's games. And they also had to show the games that the IRB could sell to southern hemisphere rugby channels, not the ones they would have wanted to.

What is clear is that the scribes at the front end, who watch the games and do the actual reporting, are perfectly reasonable people who are impressed with what they have seen and are taking it very seriously. The block seems to be the editorial team back in the office. From what you hear they sound like the ultimate dinosaurs, with attitudes to women that would not be out of place in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately there seems to be no sign of a convenient meteor to bring about their extinction.

Organisation. In terms of the shear mechanics the tournament has run well and all the players, coaches, managers etc, are very happy with what is a magnificent venue, with jaw dropping training facilities. The pitches themselves have been like carpets. You have not seen the like. Really. Its a player's heaven.

Unfortunately it is clear that one group came last in all these considerations - spectators. I have this vague feeling that the organisers either forgot about them completely, or didn't expect anyone to turn up. Whatever the thinking (if there was any) the result is that not only have we had the farce of seeing people turned away because of a ludicrously (and unnecessarily) low ground capacity, but in the next stage we have match scheduling that will make it impossible for anyone to watch both some potentially fascinating 5th-8th place games (including a repeat of USA v Ireland, one of the best games of the pool stages) in Guildford, and then get to the semi-finals or final at The Stoop. You will, however, be able to catch the 9th-12th place games as these are earlier in the day. What on earth what was going through the minds of the organisers (if anything)?

The teams and games. The quality of play has been superb pretty much across the board - even lower ranked sides like the Swedes have been exciting to watch. However, the top three after the pool stages are the same as they have been for the past three tournaments - though on the positive side Australia are a new face in the semi-finals, the first since 1998, replacing Canada. The rest of the standings look likely to remain more or less as they were four years ago. However the stand-out performance has been Wales - and for all the wrong reasons. They are a far better team than one point, but have been tactically inflexible. There is something going seriously wrong (pressure?), and another Six Nations wooden spoon looks possible next season. They should have been challenging for the top four, now the best they can do is finish 9th, but it is also possible that they could end up 11th or 12th.

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