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, September 25, 2011

Hubris [ˈhjuːbrɪs] (n) - see Chinese women's rugby

A couple of weeks ago China Daily - the main official news source in China - published a long piece about their women's rugby sevens team. One of the IRB's hand-picked eight teams for Dubai, China are probably the team the rest of the world knows least about - so this article, written shortly after their win in the Shanghai Sevens, was an interesting insight into the Asian champions and their leading player, Fan Wenjuan.  It also showed how seriously China is taking women's sevens - an article of this length would not appear about a sport where the country had no serious ambitions.

The style of article was, however, full of self-congratulations. "Catch us if you can" the headline shouted. "The Chinese women are miles ahead of their regional rivals" it went on to say "and have the potential to make some serious waves in Rio de Janeiro".

However, this article - appearing as it did after only a four-team invitational tournament - rather overlooked China's performance in the last major tournament, the Asia Games, where they lost in the final to Kazakhstan. It was also a bit of a hostage to fortune - and, in their very first tournament, the "regional rivals" have bitten back.

The Asia-Pacific Sevens bring together some of the best teams in the two regions. Champions Kazakhstan were absent, as were Pacific Games champions Fiji, but the eight team that did line up on Friday included Pacific Games finalists Samoa, China, Hong Kong and last year's runner-up, Papua New Guinea.

China won their group but - for a team "miles ahead" of their rivals - less convincingly than might have been expected, only superior skills with the boot giving them wins against Tonga and Papua. However, fairly comfortable wins over Singapore and Hong Kong saw them through to the final - against Papua this morning. And the news came through an hour or so ago that they had lost - 24-10, so not even that close.

What do we conclude from this? First - be careful what you write about how wonderful your team is as it can come back to haunt you very quickly! But more seriously, it seems to show a growing strength in Pacific women's rugby (at least at sevens) - which is significant as its a region totally ignored by the IRB in its women's sevens policy so far. Papua and Samoa did very well this weekend and showed that they are a match for Asia's "best" - but there is one team that neither side was a match for last month and that team was Fiji. Four weeks ago Fiji's women beat Papua 26-0 and Samoa 43-7 - what would they do to China? Or anyone else if they were able to go to Dubai?

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