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...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rise and fall

The frustrating pattern of rise and fall in the average girls club looks like it will be taking another victim with news from Wales that Colwyn Bay Mermaids look like folding at the end of the season.

Who? Well, this was a pretty major side - well managed with a number of representative players - which has been North Wales' "Team of the Year" four years running, but even it has been unable to get past the six season barrier that very nearly saw the end of rugby at Letchworth, and seems to be the lifespan limit for most teams. It has been mentioned on here before, and it is a problem that many other coaches at other clubs are well aware of, but nothing ever seems to be done to try identify a solution to the problem.

When you think about it, its a huge waste. Not only is setting up a new team an expensive business (though it attracts all sort of grants), but the collapse of a club will invariably mean that girls joining in years 3 or 4 will not be able to complete their junior careers and may be lost to the game, unless another club starts up nearby.

It shouldn't happen. The same "mini rugby" programme that feeds boys into boys' junior rugby should also produce girls for girls' teams.

With exceptional players it can work - almost all of the England team began their rugby in the minis - but rugby - and sport in general - is not just for exceptional girls. It is for everyone - super-talented, ordinary, or even the not-so-great-but-keen. Girls who are never going to play for England, and have no divisional and national ambitions, but just want to have fun. Mini rugby - the games' nursery - should not be driving them away. Even the best players need someone to play with, and who knows how many future stars of England (or Wales) have been lost because their club failed?

Its not because girls of that age do not want to play - the early years of minis have plenty of girls playing, and the Hertfordshire U12 experiment showed that many want to play beyond that, but for some reason only the truly exceptional girls seem to survive mini rugby - too many seem to get the message that they are not wanted.

Something needs to be done, and now we are one game, maybe now is the time to do it. Just imagine how big the game would be if every club that has taken the field since Letchworth started in 2004 still existed today?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I know much has been written berating cluster clubs but if the grass roots are going to succeed then clubs need to work together and this just has not been the case. In some instances the reality is the total opposite with clubs taking actions which impact negatively on other teams. The mini age groups are the breeding grounds for youth rugby en-mass but these are being invaded by those who only see the game one set of results at a time. IMO we need more coaches which involves more volunteers and sadly more cost for clubs which due to the volatile nature of the game clubs can be reluctant to invest in.


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