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, September 03, 2010

World Cup: Why England and New Zealand are in the final again

Got a few minutes? Take a pen (well actually I used Excel, but never mind). Now pick your Best XV of the tournament - the IRB's website ( will be a big help as it has all the teams, scorers, etc. etc.

Done that?

Okay - how many players in your team are NOT from England or New Zealand. Apart from Nicole Beck? And maybe Lucy Millard might just have squeezed in. Even if you have a full 22 chances are that the bench will be pretty much filled with England or New Zealand players. Astonishing isn't it - at pretty much every position the best player in the world will be on display in the final on Sunday.

The gulf between the top two and the rest is an ocean. Look at what the Black Ferns did to France - probably the third best team in the world (they beat Canada, after all, and I suspect Australia will have all sorts of problems against their forwards). Its a gap that has been there for the past 15 years really, and there isn't much sign of anyone bridging it. Given some investment, a decent tour programme (indeed any sort of regular fixture programme), and some forwards Australia are clearly the best hope to break up this duopoly. As for the rest?

Is there a word for "consistency" in French? If so maybe someone could explain what it means to their players and management. How can a team that cannot string two passes together one day play like demons the next? But hey, they're French! Yes, and that is why they will never get above third place.

Canada and the USA both suffer from being on a different continent to everyone else - well, that and money obviously. Both have such potential and look great, but need more experience of playing teams other than each other (Sunday's fifth place game will be their 28th meeting, and the fifth this year!). Ireland and Wales flatter to deceive at times - they may sting the big girls occasionally, but then a big hand comes and swats them away. And something has gone seriously wrong with Wales in the past year - maybe the new coach they will get after this tournament will not be coming a moment too soon.

Maybe the best hope is South Africa. Okay, they'll probably finish 9th or 10th this time (several injuries mean that they may not be able to repeat their earlier performance against Wales), but with their youth and rate of progress (and - please - regular fixtures?)  in 2014 they'll be in the top 8 and by 2018... who knows?

Until then... its back to the Old Guard for Sunday. Who will win? Heart says England, head says New Zealand - and somewhere in the middle says it all depends on Katy McLean.

Elsewhere? France for third, Canada to beat the USA for fifth, Ireland to take 7th from Scotland, Wales to pick up 9th from South Africa (for the reasons above), and I fear for Sweden's pack against Kazakhstan so with regret I think my favourite team will finish 12th. Sorry Jenny, Ulrika, Lina, etc. Prove me wrong!

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