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...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Women's rugby podcast: impressive production, remarkable ignorance

A new, free, women´s rugby podcast was launched a week or so ago. Launched by  talkSPORT's Kathryn Anastasi, the first issue one looked at the 7s game and previewed last weekend's European Sevens. As a result, its a shade out of date already - but still well worth a listen.

This production itself is faultless - very professional (aside from the mildly annoying bloke who unnecessarily pops up between the various items and makes irritating comments) with interviews from RFUW Head of Performance Nicky Ponsford, England star Maggie Alphonsi, Head England Sevens Coach Barry Maddocks, and editor Ali Donnelly. You can now download it from iTunes at - and I suggest you do exactly that.

That said, the main thing I learnt from the production was how scarily ignorant RFUW officials are about their own game. Nicky Ponsford in particular starts off by confidently stating that the European Sevens has been "in place for 10-15 years" when it has barely been running for half that time (the first tournament was in 2003, and England did not enter until 2005); she also says that England have done quite well "recently", when in fact they have always done very well. England have the best sevens record in European rugby.

Nicky then says that the FIRA tournament is and will be used to decide who qualifies for the Sevens World Cup when, in fact, it doesn't -  last time, in 2008, FIRA suspended the usual tournament format and ran something completely different - and we have no idea yet what they plan for next year, FIRA have not said (and I know that because a rather more turned on coach from another European nation told me).

Nicky also then says that there are very few international women's sevens tournaments, which really isn't true. There is no official IRB women's international circuit - yet - but this year there have already been a dozen or more tournaments featuring international women's teams, and England could easily have played in half of them. Does Nicky not know about Amsterdam or Rome or Las Vegas or Hong Kong? What is more, if Nicky thinks there are too few sevens tournaments then the answer is actually in her hands. Not only could the RFUW maybe run one themselves (instead of leaving it all to the unions of far smaller nations), but - as is mentioned elsewhere - sevens is popular, and the appearance of an England team at events like - say - Prague Sevens in August would transform the event, probably pulling in more teams and sponsorship. Obviously if you just sit around waiting for just FIRA or IRB to put on events for you then your email box is going to look a shade empty because this is not how it works. Take the initiative, Nicky!

Elsewhere the interviews with Maggie and Alison Donnelly (from ScrumQueens) are good, but its a shame, in a way, that the latter comes at the end. Alison asks a number of awkward questions about what England are playing at with their sevens policy which really could - and should - have been put to Nicky Ponsford and Barry Maddocks, but aren't. As a result these two get away with some annoyingly bland replies to relatively tame questions. Trouble is that we all know how much RFUW hate being questioned about anything - could it be that Kathryn is worried about upsetting people? I hope not.

So - a really good start. A great listen, and very revealing (perhaps unintentionally!) - but please don't let the RFUW get away with it - ask them the questions we want them to answer!

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