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...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Defining U18

What is an Under 18? When, exactly, is the cut-off point? Simple enough question, you'd think.

Or maybe not. A few years ago this problem was raised in Hertfordshire when we discovered that one of the girls in the county team had a birthday on 1st September. The problem was that RFUW rules say that you have to be "Under 18 on 1st September" to qualify for junior rugby, and if you birthday is the 1st then clearly you are not under 18.

However, this was a nonsense. Such girls will still be in school, and if they were boys they would be U18s as the RFU have a much clearer definition - ie. you must be under 18 at midnight on the 31st August/1st September. At the time we appealed, and the girl concerned was allowed to play as a junior.

Consider my surprise to learn that this example of bad rule writing is still in the RFUW's books - and girls are still being caught out by it. A parent in the south east contacted me only recently to ask for advice about it as their daughter fell into this trap. Fortunately it now seems that, although the RFUW rule remains in place, officials in Twickenham are in practice applying the RFU's rule instead and - after much confusion and general grief (again) - the girl concerned can now line up with her team-mates again.

While it is good that RFUW are behving sensibly over this, it rather begs the question - why not just change the rule? Why do RFUW still have different rules from the RFU over simple matters like age definitions (especially when the RFUW rule is demonstrably bad)? One game, surely - especially now the merger has sort-of happened? I mean, if we have to slavishly follow RFU policy when they get things wrong - things like banning junior players from kicking (even though it damages the female game) and stupid recruitment panics (when it is almost entirely a male issue, if it is actually an issue at all) - then why can we not take on the good stuff as well?

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