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 11, 2011

The most unexpected of honours?

A remarkable - and to the more cynical of us - unexpected award was announced today. It was not that the recipient of the Rugby Personality Award was that unexpected - if anyone was likely to be the first woman to win the "Pat Marshall Memorial Award" then Maggie Alphonsi was always going to be a pretty safe bet! - it is more who makes the award that is a surprise.

First the award itself. It is for the leading rugby "personality"  (ie. player, coach, or administrator) of the year. Its an international award and covers the whole game. Previous winners in the 50 year history of the award have included al-time greats of the game including Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Jean-Pierre Rives, David Campese and Jonah Lomu and this year's  shortlist included IRB Player of the Year Richie McCaw, RWC 2007 winner Victor Matfield, and Saracens' departing director of rugby Brendan Venter. In short it is one of the most prestigious awards that anyone in the game can possibly win.

But it is the people that vote for the award that is amazing - the Rugby Union Writers Club. Yes - the group who have been accused by some (ahem...) of being blinkered out-of-touch sexist dinosaurs (or words to that effect, if I remember right) and it is recognition of the astonishing effect the last World Cup has had on the game. For a profession whose senior members have openly said in the (recent) past they they would not cross the road to watch a women's game, or - after attending their first women's test match - have produced the most patronising of copy about how amazed they were by it all (they run, they tackle, people come and watch!) this appears not so much change of heart as a complete Road to Damascus moment. Yeah, verilly, they have seen the light! Hallelujah!

Well, we shall see. The Six Nations starts in a few weeks time - that will be the test to see whether or not the things really have changed. After all, last year the pretty much all newspapers failed to even list results never mind publish any match reports. Not by their words (or awards) but by their column inches shall we judge them.

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