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, January 03, 2011

International rugby - the second biggest women's team sport in the world?

We are often told that women's and girls' rugby is a "minority sport", which is why it gets little publicity, funding, etc. etc. However, it turns out that, on a global scale, this may not be true.

Its quite difficult to work out how "big" a sport is. The obvious thing to go by would be the number of players, but claims about player numbers by sports governing bodies are not always noted for their accuracy. Even the RFU's claims are - at best - dodgy, being dependent on a database that contains the names of many players who stopped playing years ago, while missing many who are currently playing (especially women and girls, if surveys by Sport England are anything to go by). When it comes to looking at player numbers internationally its pretty hopeless.

However, another measure is to look at how active teams are - especially international teams - as reports on international games are normally kept fairly well by the various international governing bodies. And its when you look at the number of countries fielding women's rugby teams, and compare this with other sports, that you get a big surprise.

Because an incredible 90 countries played over 300 women's internationals last year - either sevens or 15-a-side - to which another dozen or so can be added who did not play last year, but did in 2009 or 2008. This seems to be way more than the number of countries that played, for example, international women's hockey, or who have ever played - say - women's basketball or netball (in all cases around 60-70 countries). In fact only women's football has more active international teams - and not that many more (around 120, compared to rugby's 103).

Some countries were amazingly busy in 2010, especially in Asia, and none more so than Singapore, who played an amazing 23 internationals in 2010 (plus a couple more against unofficial Australian and South African teams) - in comparison World Cup teams from Europe, like England, played 18 times at 7s and 15s.

What is more, the number of countries playing in 2011 and beyond is likely to grow. Until last year several Middle Eastern nations played together as the "Arabian Gulf", but from this month each of these countries will be able to field their own teams. How many will remains to be seen, but if Iran can play women's rugby there seems to be no reason why countries like Kuwait will have any objections to the game.

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