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, April 29, 2011

2011 European Trophy: no foregone conclusion

The 2011 European Trophy kicks off tomorrow in Corunna, in northern Spain. Eight international teams will be playing four matches in eight days in a genuinely fascinating tournament that is really unpredictable and could go any of four ways.

Though England return to the tournament for the first time since 2008 they are not the favourites. RFUW have stuck to their policy of sending their "A" team and, though the squad includes six Six Nations stars, the bulk is made up of up-and-coming development players. Though they are still as strong as most international 1st XVs, the gap is far closer and victory certainly cannot be taken for granted.

This is particularly true because, though Italy - who England open against tomorrow - have also officially sent their "A" team, it is squad that includes 17 of the 22 players that beat Scotland and Wales, and pushed Ireland and France close, in this year's Six Nations. They are quite capable of springing a "surprise".

Also taking part - but in the other group - are hosts and current champions Spain - who have a great record in this tournament since they were chucked out of the Six Nations (effectively on the grounds that their men's team wasn't good enough... go figure...) - and France, who are effectively at  full strength and must start as tournament favourites.

The other four teams - while unlikely to reach the final - are also worth watching. Sweden and Netherlands will both be fielding young squads, partly because they are concentrating on sevens, but also (in Sweden's case) because they are rebuilding after the World Cup, while Russia are something of an unknown - though not anything as much of an unknown as Finland, who have never competed at this level before.

For the first time you can follow the tournament on its own Facebook Page, as well its own website, and a results page on the FIRA website. Two out of three are in Spanish, but Google Translate does a fair job. Unfortunately there will be no streamed video.

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