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...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Across the Irish Sea

When the girls section was formed in 2004 we thought about possible tours and - as there were plans for the boys to go to Ireland - we looked at whether the girls might join them. Nothing came of that for the simple reason that there was very little girls rugby in Ireland. The IRFU's website had no mention of it at all, and when we wrote to them the result was silence.

Then in 2007 an English club did go on tour there. Worcester's tour made headlines on both the IRFU and RFU websites, as well as in the local press, as the took on (and beat) county and provincial select XVs.

Since then the expansion of girls' rugby in the Emerald Isle has continued at a fantastic rate - its pretty unlikely that a single club could beat an Irish province today. The latest event was an U15 game played at the Aviva Stadium - the new Irish national stadium built to replace Lansdown Road, featuring girls from two local clubs (pictured above).

Its another example of how junior rugby in the rest of the British Isles is starting to catch up with England. The reorganisation of junior rugby in Wales around four or five years ago has resulted in a noticeable improvement in their teams - an effect that had reached the U20 team last season, when they beat England. Scotland have also been working hard with their junior rugby as well, and will be fielding their first U20 side this year. Ireland can only be a couple of years away - which could potentially give us a junior "Five Nations" before the next World Cup comes round.

The next step for England is the move to divisional rugby. This should produce a much tougher level of rugby for leading junior players than the old regional system (where the level of rugby in recent years had not been than much higher than county rugby). Trials for the first divisional squads will take place at the end of the month. It'll take a year or two before the results feed into the national squads, but there is a chance that some of the players selected this year could be playing for England at the next World Cup - or even for Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics!

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