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...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Highlights from the second test

England v New Zealand, last night. For some strange reason this is only available for three days... so enjoy!

Amazing photo from last night's test

Is this one of the best rugby photos ever? It crackles with tension and movement and strength and... well, everything. Its brilliant.
It shows England's Alexandra Matthews (who is still only 18! If she was male she's be a household name and on her way to her first £million!) up against Amanda Murphy. She's clearly just stepped off her right foot - is she going to carry to her left, or dodge right again? Has Murphy got that covered? A moment frozen in time...

A few more from the same photographer - Rob Munro - can be found here. Meanwhile the Black Ferns have another photo diary, this time of the Second Test.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

England go 2-0!

Full report from ScrumQueens - up online within a minute of the whistle!

Great win by the younger end of the England squad - 21-7. Whitewash looks on for the weekend!

Second test - LIVE

Quick reminder that the Second Test starts in 30 minutes - and will be streamed LIVE from FREE!

If you miss it, recordings will be available later on the same page.

Monday, November 28, 2011

BBC fails to recognise women's sport. Again.

The BBC have just announced their shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year... and they are all male.

Okay, we hardly expected any women rugby players, but in a year when there were a fair few British female world champions, not to mention a European win in golf's Solheim Cup (the female Ryder Cup) to have no women at all in the list is nothing short of a disgrace.

In times past the award was entirely in the hands of a public vote - but now a shortlist is produced by votes from Sports Editors of newspapers and magazines... including (and I kid you not here) soft porn "lads mags" such as Zoo and Nuts! No women's journals were invited to vote.

Complaints to the BBC - click here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black future? A Kiwi girls' rugby coach writes...

This is well worth a wider audience. Its a message sent to me from a girls' and women's coach in New Zealand (and as he also published it on a discussion board it already in the public domain). On the plus side it does suggest that England will lift the next World Cup, but that is about the only positive...

John I think England will win the series comfortably. The BFs have managed despite everything being against them in terms of resources, playing opportunities etc etc to keep above England but the great generation of BFs which generated a world dominance have retired and this a green squad. They haven`t even had recent match play (The first game for three months at any level for most players) so the odds were even more stacked against them. To be honest, I`m suprised they only lost 0-10. I would`ve expected England to be way more dominant than that scoreline in the first game. Anyway, if they lose the series 0-3 it might finally make the NZRFU get serious about the women`s programme.

Again, it`s an absolute joke that the 2014 WRWC is back in Europe and the NZRFU should hang their head in shame. The NZFA just hosted the womens U17 football World Cup last year and got many crowds of 10,000 plus including almost 20,000 for the Kiwi girls games at North Harbour Stadium. To put that into perspective, that`s more than the biggest crowd the Japan RFU or Italian RFUs got to the Junior RWCs. It`s also far more than the record for any BF test in NZ when not part of an ABs curtainraiser. Now if the NZFA can get those numbers for U17 womens football why the hell can`t the NZRFU put on a WRWC that beats the hell out of that?

Worse, the hard work of the NZFA is really paying dividends. NZ might have won the RWC and there might be a glow about rugby in NZ at the moment but it`s women`s football which is forging ahead in NZ, not rugby. The womens senior and age group teams have competed at the last few football WCs and have had some pretty big media attention. Many of the big high schools in NZ now have 2 or 3 girls soccer teams. Whereas girls rugby, now having been played in many high schools for 10 years or more is still struggling to put one team on the field every year with some schools playing some years and disappearing others which is a completely unsatisfactory situation. It should be at the stage where big schools have a junior team or B team as well a first XV. But it aint. There STILL isn`t even a national 7s or XVs girls high school champs in NZ! And to top things off during the RWC when Jacques Rogge attended the NZOC`s 100th anniversary with 7s exhibition games, the NZRFU told the media they were looking at crossover athletes because they didn`t believe there was enough talent within rugby`s own ranks. I just about had an apopletic fit!! Talk about dismissing all the hard work that coaches and administrators of womens rugby like myself have put in the last 15-20 years and dismissing any idea that they had to actually build girls rugby and create dreams of Olympic gold for high school girls in NZ. Sorry, you`re not good enough. We`re going to take a bunch of netballers or triathletes cos we think they`ve got more potential.

The BFs may have some match play v England for three years but the reality of womens rugby in NZ under the current NZRFU administration is nothing less than dismal. It shames and pains me to say this, but go England. I hope you give the BFs a towelling (Sorry to the BF players - I`m not against you. I just want you and womens rugby to get a better deal in NZ) It will be the best thing to happen for womens rugby in NZ for a decade.

First test, from a Black Fern perspective

The Black Ferns Facebook page have just published this remarkable photo diary of yesterday's game - from the team hotel, to the ground, the changing rooms, and match.

Lots to look out for - including evidence of a "learn the words of the haka" lesson.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One down, two to go...

10-0 to England!

More detailed reports will appear shortly, but a few impressions...

Emily Scarratt had a blinder - player of the match, deservedly, best game I have seen her play, for England anyway. Reminded me, though, of the time she came up against Letchworth and Nim Parnell in the National 10s... Boom - over the touchline, end of game! Made up for it when we saw her again in the Herts 7s, though!

Natasha Hunt also excellent at scrum-half - should be no.1 in that position - love the speed of pass. Maggie peerless as usual (what would England do without her?). Still worried a bit about Katy McLean, though - great drop, but her kicking is so inconsistent... can't be long before Sarah Hunter takes over?

Friday, November 25, 2011

More England Twitterers

Further to the list of England players you can follow on Twitter that appeared on here a couple of weeks ago, a few more names, including a fairly big one!

Maggie Alphonsi 
Sophie Hemming (Prop)
Marlie Packer (Flanker)
Fiona Pocock (Wing)

Lies, damned lies, and... (part 23. Approximately)

Interesting news article about the IRB's new plan for women's rugby (a copy of the plan would be nice), but in the meanwhile....
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “These are exciting times for Rugby around the world. We have witnessed an 18% growth in participation across the sport since Rugby World Cup 2007"
How on earth does he know? Given the very loose link between many countries player registration data and reality (most especially England's hilarious claims) how can he possibly make such a statement? And with such laser-like accuracy? Not "about 20%", not "more than 15%" - exactly 18% (unless maybe someone said it was about a sixth?).

But also, given the fact that England's wildly inflated totals not only make up a sizeable proportion of the world's alleged rugby player totals, but have apparently been falling (see various panicked initiatives over the past five years or more, many reported on here), how on earth can player numbers be going up this much, if at all?

Wouldn't it be great if someone at the IRB (and RFU) could stop inventing statistics...

England v Black Ferns: Round 1 tomorrow

A reminder that (after the Barbarians/Australia warm-up act) the weekend's big game is on tomorrow at 5pm. The first test is only on Sky, but the next two will be free to all.

Lots of preview articles on Scrumqueens... so no need to add anything here. Should be very close - but I favour England, if for no other reason than they have fewer new faces than the Ferns.

Will be fascinating to see how the coaches manage their squads over three games in a week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

County rugby: Junior festivals

Last weekend saw the first ever official RFUW county festivals for junior teams - though, before RFUW became involved, they had been going on for some years in this part of the country at least, and with plenty of Hertfordshire success!

In London and the South East, as mentioned a couple of days ago, Hertfordshire success continued in the U18s with Simon Shutler bowing out as county coach with yet another county title (we think he never lost a festival as a county coach, either in his U15 days, or with the U18s - he certainly cannot ever remember losing!). The U15s lost their final to Kent (see report), but even so another festival with both of the county's team reaching a final.

Can anyone remember a county festival in the past 6-7 years where Hertfordshire's team failed to at least finish as runners-up? I must confess that I can't - which, for a county with not the most magnificent of sporting traditions, isn't bad. I wonder - have our girls' rugby teams, over the past few years, been the most successful teams that the county had ever produced in any sport?

Anyway - full results from the L&SE tournament are on the Herts blog. So lets look at how things went elsewhere.

North Division
First, congratulations to Lancashire - the only county to do the "double" and win both U15 and U18 titles at their Divisional festivalWith Cumbria, Cheshire and Durham having to combine to create a geographically unlikely team, the Red Rose county only had three opponents, but even so it was an impressive performance. Their U15s lifted their title without conceding a single point (but scoring 94!), while the U18s had some scares but still came through unbeaten.

The scores...

U15 Results
Yorkshire 0 Lancashire 34
Northumberland 21 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 33 Northumberland 5
Lancashire 20 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 27 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Lancashire 40 Northumberland 0

U18 Results
Yorkshire 0 Lancashire 7
Northumberland 0 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 20 Northumberland 5
Lancashire 19 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 7
Yorkshire 0 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 5
Lancashire 5 Northumberland 7

South West Division
The biggest festival was in the South West, where seven teams competed for the U15 crown, and six for the U18. The U15s had a long day - a single round-robin pool, meaning six matches for each team. Cornwall came through this marathon as the only unbeaten team, though Berkshire held them to a draw (but then lost to Devon, but still finished runners-up).

Unfortunately Cornwall were unable to do the double as they did not enter a U18 team at all, so the six remaining teams played off in the same format as London & South East used. However, the far South West triumphed again with Devon taking this title, easily seeing off Dorset & Wilts in the final. Somerset, on the other hand, completed a disappointing day with two wooden spoons.

The scores:
U15 results:
Berkshire 21 Somerset 0
Devon 12 Oxon 0
Berkshire 19 Gloucestershire 5
Cornwall 12 Oxon 7
Berkshire 17 Oxon 5
Berkshire 0 Devon 10
Oxon 28 Somerset 0
Berkshire 5 Dorset &Wilts 0
Gloucestershire 0 Oxon 19
Berkshire 5 Cornwall 5
Gloucestershire 7 Devon 5
Dorset & Wilts 12 Gloucestershire 0
Cornwall 27 Dorset & Wilts 0
Devon 12 Somerset 0
Devon 10 Dorset & Wilts 7
Cornwall 10 Somerset 0
Cornwall 10 Gloucestershire 0
Gloucestershire 0 Somerset 0
Devon 0 Cornwall 5
Somerset 0 Dorset & Wilts 24
Dorset & Wilts 7 Oxon 5

U18 results:
Pool A:
Berkshire 5 Devon 19
Gloucestershire 5 Devon 10
Berkshire 5 Gloucestershire 5

Pool B:
Dorset & Wilts 27 Somerset 0
Dorset & Wilts 15 Ox & Bucks 12
Somerset 0 Ox & Bucks 12

5th/6th: Somerset 5 Berkshire 15
3rd/4th: Ox/Bucks 15 Gloucestershire 19
1st/2nd: Devon 21 Dorset & Wilts 0

Midlands Division
And finally the Midlands. Four U15s and five U18s competed for these titles, with North Midlands (home of Worcester) missing out on a double by two points - the margin of defeat for their U18s against Staffordshire & Warwickshire who went on to take the U18 title. However, the North Midlands U15s had few problems in their event, which saw some very high scoring for short festival matches.

The results:
U15 results:
NLD 5 Leicestershire 29
North Midlands 24 East Midlands 10
NLD 5 North Midlands 34
Leicestershire 10 East Midlands 0
NLD 5 East Midlands 12
Leicestershire 0 North Midlands 38

U18 results:
NLD 5 Leicestershire 0
North Midlands 5 Staffs/Warks 7
East Midlands 0 Staffs/Warks 14
NLD 10 North Midlands 17
East Midlands 0 NLD 22
Leicestershire 0 North Midlands 12
Staffs/Warks 7 NLD 5
Leicestershire 5 East Midlands 0
North Midlands 22 East Midlands 0
Staffs/Warks 19 Leicestershire 0

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Well done Herts!

Congratulations to Herts U18s, winners of the first official London & SE Divisional county championship, with an impressive performance today, winning every game and not conceding a single try.

Herts U15s also reached their final, but lost 10-7 to Kent.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that Herts has players from six different clubs, with six different coaches and playing patterns, all of which has to be brought together. I am not sure that many other counties select from as many teams.

All goes to show that Herts remains one of the leading counties for girls' rugby. Long may it continue, and let's also hope that the on-field success will now be followed by lots of Herts names being selected for the Divisional squads in the New Year.

Go Greens!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Herts juniors favourites for county finals

Despite a somewhat mixed set of performances this season, a very kind draw means that both Herts U15s and U18s are favourites to reach the finals at this weekend's London and South East divisional festival, to be played at Beckenham on Sunday.

The leadings county teams in the Division - in terms of results - have been Surrey and Sussex in the U18s, and Sussex and Kent in the U15s, all of which have 100% records. But Surrey, Sussex and Kent have been drawn together in Pool A for both the U15 and U18 competitions - true Groups of Death where it is impossible to guess who might come out on top!

Hertfordshire, on the other hand, are in Pool B where they will play Hampshire (who have so far lost all of their games at U15) and Essex (who have won only one of four). At U18 Essex have a good record, with a win and a draw, but Hampshire have yet to win a game.

Click here for fixture details

All three Black Fern games to be broadcast/webcast LIVE!

Great news from the RFUW - all three of England's games against the Black Ferns will be available watch live.

  • The opening test on 26th November will still be on Sky (via the Red Button - which is a bit annoying as that makes recording it, or watching it online, impossible), kick off 5pm
  • The second test, on 29th November (at Esher) will available on, kick-off 7pm
  • The third test, on December 3rd, will also be available on, kick-off 3pm

The streaming page will be available from 28th November, and will be accessible free to viewers overseas as well as in the UK. A full recording on the page of the second and third tests will also be available for three days after each game, and edited highlights will also

This is not the first time that England women's internationals have been streamed, five or six years ago some home games were covered by independent, commercial webcasters, but viewers had to pay a subscription fee to watch the live games. This will be the first time that the RFU/RFUW have streamed their own games - and the first time the games have been made available free. Most international games in North America and the Caribbean, as well as occasional games in France and eastern Europe, have been successfully webcast for some years.

  • England will also be playing against Wales at Twickenham in the Six Nations, which means that there is a very good chance that this game will also be broadcast on the BBC.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

England Sevens avoid Group of Death

The day after England announced their very young and inexperienced sevens squad for Dubai (2-3 December) - the result of a clash with the Black Ferns tour, rather than adventurous thinking on the part of the English selectors - the draw for the tournament seems to have been leaked by the Spanish RFU. Though as yet unconfirmed by the IRB, the draw does make sense as it seems to be largely based on the result of the 2009 World Cup - with one important alteration.

If the IRB had kept strictly to the 2009 rankings, Pool A in Dubai would have brought together Australia (winners in 2009), England (5th), Canada (6th), and Brazil (10th) while Pool B would have been USA (3rd=), South Africa (3rd=), Spain (7th), and China (9th).

However, the unbalanced nature of these groups seems to have resulted in a bit of tinkering that moves England from Pool A to Pool B, at the expense of Spain. It has to be said that recent form suggests that Canada and the USA should also have swapped groups, but perhaps IRB's knowledge of the relative form of non-European teams is limited.

The result is that the weaker Pool B should see England's young team win a semi-final place - though whether they will go any further is questionable. Pool A, on the other hand, gives have no room for mistakes for any team with the deciding factor perhaps being the order in which the games are played - whoever plays Brazil last will benefit from knowing what they have to do to make the last four.

The (unconfirmed) pools, as announced by the Spanish RFU, are:

Pool A: Australia, Canada, Spain, Brazil
Pool B: England, USA, South Africa, China

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rugby failing to sell holiday destinations

The Caribbean... . Sun, sand, sea - a holiday paradise. That is the image we have of these islands, isn't it?

Well, anyone following the current North American & Caribbean Sevens in Barbados may be getting a different impression. This (right) is what the pitch looks like near the start of Day 2 - Day 1 ended early with driving, torrential rain and corner flags bent all but horizontal by the wind.

This deluge comes fresh on the back of the recent rain-swept men's World Cup that did so much to encourage potential visitors to ensure that they packed an umbrella, if not a wetsuit, for any antipodean holiday, while England's tour to the south of France earlier this month appeared to take place in a previously unrecorded Mediterranean monsoon season.

Once upon a time it was said that, to make it rain, all you need do was attempt to play cricket, now it seems that in order to end any drought all you need do is organise an international rugby tournament. Anyone venturing to Dubai next month should ensure that pack waterproofs. And flippers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Eight changes as England call up big guns for Ferns

Eight of women's rugby's biggest names are back in the England squad for the series against the Black Fern.

The squad announced today includes 18 players from the party that went to France, but replaces Rosemarie Crowley, Rose Jay, Ceri Large, Sarah McKenna, Harriet Millar-Mills, Isobel Noel-Smith, Tamara Taylor and Lydia Thompson with Maggie Alphonsi, Rachael Burford, Becky Essex, Sophie Hemming, Katy McLean, Claire Purdy, Tamara Taylor, and Nollie Waterman.

However, two new caps from the French tour are retained - Hannah Gallagher and Alex Matthews.

This is clearly a squad that means business. Every player has played at least one test match - following the last Six Nations England have had both the Nations Cup and the French tour to experiment with new players, positions and tactics - five tests and one uncapped international, so there is no need to try anything new. The result is a pretty awesome team.

The challenge, of course, will be to keep the team on top form over a challenging three games in just over a week - but again England's preparation for that could hardly have been better, with four test in a fortnight in Canada and now two in four days in France.

The full squad is:
  • Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
  • Rachael Burford (Richmond)
  • Rowena Burnfield (Richmond) 
  • Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
  • Rebecca Essex(Richmond)
  • Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
  • Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
  • Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
  • Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
  • Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) 
  • Laura Keates (Worcester) 
  • La Toya Mason (Wasps)
  • Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
  • Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
  • Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
  • Marlie Packer (Bristol)
  • Claire Purdy(Wasps) 
  • Alice Richardson (Richmond)
  • Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
  • Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
  • Amy Turner (Richmond)
  • Tamara Taylor(Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
  • Kay Wilson (Richmond)
The dates for the three tests are:
  • Nov 26th England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Nov 29th England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
  • Dec 3rd England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm
Tickets for the game at Twickenham on November 26th are available from and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.

Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29th and December 3rd will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. They can also be purchased in advance at

Counties - looking ahead

After last weekend's results (see below) the senior county teams have one more round of games to look forward to on 4th December:
Lancashire  v Yorkshire; Cheshire  v Durham; Northumberland  v Cumbria; Warwickshire v NLD; East Mids  v Leciestershire; North Mids  v Staffordshire; Middlesex  v Surrey; Eastern Counties  v Hertfordshire; Sussex v Kent; Hampshire  v Essex; Dorset & Wilts v Devon; Somerset  v Gloucestershire; Berkshire  v Cornwall 
The juniors, on the other hand, have divisional festivals on 20th November. Hertfordshire will, of course, be in the London and South East divisions tournament at Beckenham and the current form of their opponents looks like this:

London & SE U18s
1. Surrey (2 wins from 2 games, points difference +78)
2. Sussex (2 wins and 1 draw from 3, +39)
3. Essex (1 win and 1 draw from 3, +2)
4. Kent (1 from 2, -4)
5. Hertfordshire (1 from 2, -14)
6. Hampshire (0 from 2, -50)
7. Middlesex (0 from 4, -91)
8. Eastern Counties (have not played)

London & SE U15s
1. Sussex (4 from 4, +186)
2. Kent (2 from 2, +48)
3. Hertfordshire (1 from 2, +1)
4. Surrey (1 from 2, -16)
5. Middlesex (1 from 4, -90)
6. Essex (1 from 4, -103)
7. Hampshire (0 from 2, -33)
8. Eastern Counties (have not played)

Elsewhere one result (Leicestershire U18s v East Midlands) has not been published, so the Midlands table is not quite complete. However, that aside :

Midlands U18s
1. NLD (3 from 3, +54)
2. Staffs/Warwicks (3 from 4, +64)
3. North Mids (1 from 2, +38)
4. East Mids (0 from 3, -70)
5. Leicestershire (0 from 2, -86)

North U18s
1. Northumberland (2 from 2, +15)
2. Lancashire (1 from 2, +5)
3. Yorkshire (1 from 2, 0)
4. Cumbria/Durham (0 from 2, -20)
5. Cheshire (have not played)

South West U18s
1. Dorset & Wilts  (2 from 2, +112)
2. Berkshire  (3 from 3, +79)
3. Gloucestershire  (3 from 4, +22)
4. Devon  (2 from 3, +51)
5. Oxford/Bucks  (0 from 4, -72)
6. Somerset  (0 from 2, -80)
7. Cornwall  (0 from 2, -102)

Midlands U15s
1. East Mids  (2 from 2, +51)
2. North Mids ( 2 from 2, +18)
3. Leicestershire (0 from 2, -24)
4. NLD (0 from 2, -48)
5. Staffs/Warwicks (have not played)

North U15s
1. Lancashire  (2 from 2, +119)
2. Northumberland  (2 from 2, +53)
3. Yorkshire (0 from 2, -68)
4. Cumbria/Durham (0 from 2, -104)
5. Cheshire (have not played)

South West U15s
1. Devon (4 from 4, +109)
2. Berkshire (2 from 2, +91)
3. Dorset & Wilts (1 from 2 (+1 draw), + 58)
4. Oxford/Bucks  (3 from 4, + 51)
5. Cornwall (0 from 2 (+1 draw), -12)     
6. Gloucestershire (0 from 4, -71)
7. Somerset (0 from 2, -145)

Monday, November 07, 2011

County results: round 2

Adult county results are now on Rugby Roundup, but not (it seems) juniors - so...


After two games, only seven of the 26 counties remain unbeaten with North Midlands and Somerset the stand-out teams. North Mids followed a 53-0 win over Warwickshire in round one with a 48-7 win at Leicestershire last weekend, while Somerset beat Berkshire 50-3 this weekend having beaten Dorset & Wilts 36-0 in round one. However, the biggest win was Middlesex's 83-0 demolition of Sussex, despite having lost to Eastern Counties in their opening game. Overall the major plus is that every county has now managed to get a team on the field.

Hertfordshire recovered from their narrow first round defeat  to Kent with an impressive 22-15 win over Surrey.

  • Lancashire 45-0 Cumbria
  • Durham 0-27 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 20-18 Cheshire
  • Warwickshire  44-20 East Mids
  • Leciestershire  7-48 North Mids
  • NLD  17-36 Staffordshire
  • Essex  25-3 Eastern Counties
  • Middlesex  83-0 Sussex
  • Hertfordshire  22-15 Surrey
  • Hampshire 19-38 Kent
  • Cornwall  beat  Dorset & Wilts (walk-over)
  • Gloucestershire  25-17 Devon
  • Somerset  50-3 Berkshire

Only five U18 counties are unbeaten - Dorset & Wilts, Berkshire, Surrey, NLD and Northumberland. The first three teams seem very strong - Dorset brushed aside Cornwall 64-5 having beaten Somerset 53-0 in round one; Berkshire have yet to concede a point in their three games to date; and Surrey sent Hertfodshire U18s to possibly its biggest ever defeat (certainly at home), winning by 40-5 - but not that much of a surprise given Surrey's 43-0 win against Hampshire in round one. Cheshire and Eastern Counties have yet to get onto the field. A more detailed form guide can be found here.

  • Cumbria / Durham 10-22 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 22-19 Lancashire
  • NLD 22-12 North Mids
  • Leicestershire 0-38 Staffs / Warwick
  • East Mids 0-36 Staffs / Warwick
  • Middlesex 7 -22 Sussex
  • Middlesex 12-47 Essex
  • Sussex 12-7 Essex
  • Hertfordshire 5- 40 Surrey
  • Hampshire 10-17 Kent
  • Cornwall  5-64 Dorset & Wilts
  • Gloucester 14-0 Devon
  • Gloucester 19-14 Oxford / Bucks
  • Devon 29-7 Oxford / Bucks
  • Somerset 0-27 Berkshire

Things are rather more polarised in the U15s with eight out of 23 counties with 100% records. - but Sussex stand out with four wins from four games, scoring 186 points and conceding none. Lancashire, Devon and Berkshire have also scored over 100 points. Hertfordshire came back from defeat in round one with and impressive 45-15 win over Surrey last weekend. Cheshire, Eastern Counties and Staffs/Warwicks have not managed to field any U15 teams so far. A more detailed form guide can be found here

  • Cumbria / Durham 21-50 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 7-51 Lancashire
  • NLD  lost to North Mids (walk-over)
  • Leciestershire 12-15 East Mids
  • Middlesex 0-43 Sussex
  • Middlesex 5-12 Essex
  • Sussex 67-0 Essex
  • Hertfordshire 45-15 Surrey
  • Hampshire 0-19 Kent
  • Cornwall  17-17 Dorset & Wilts
  • Gloucester 0-38 Devon
  • Gloucester 12-24 Oxford / Bucks
  • Devon 26-5 Oxford / Bucks
  • Somerset 0-87 Berkshire

Watch this - top level women's international sevens!

From last week's Elche Sevens, Spain v Netherlands. No sound - which slightly spoils the atmosphere - but great play from both teams. Most of Spain's other games are also available.

(Spain won by 12-10 - the final Spanish try is converted off-camera).

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Autumn internationals... part 1

And so ends the first part of this autumn's women's internationals... now its time to take a breath before New Zealand arrive. However, before it all gets lost and forgotten in the inevitable fuss and hoopla that will accompany the arrival of the Black Ferns, its worthwhile looking back on the past couple of weeks.

Losing both games on their French tour is not what England would have expected, but it was refreshing to see the management take a risk and leave some big names at home so that the stars of the future could have a taste of the game at the highest level. Having winning as an absolute priority, and always picking the absolute best team available for every game, is all well and good but flirts with disaster as often the entire squad plays, ages, and retires together.

Now England have five new players with international experience who could be in the team for 2018, never mind 2014, which is a huge positive. Hopefully England will continue to allow these five, and other up-and-coming players, to develop their careers over the next year. The only fear might be that we may get a repeat of what seemed to happen after the Sevens squad failed to win its first warm-up tournament in the spring - the panicked jettisoning of the policy of the long build-up to 2013 and the drafting in of established players to ensure that England won every game thereafter. RFUW need to hold their nerve - after all its not the results this season that matter, its the ones in 2014.

And puncturing complacency is not a bad thing - as is seeing England's biggest European rivals turn a corner. Its six or seven years now since the Six Nations was last truly competitive, but the next tournament could be one of the best for some time. France, buoyed up maybe by the success of their men's team, found a consistency and self-belief that was remarkable. Not only did they win all three internationals, in the space of just eight days, but they also took part in a highly competitive Elche Sevens tournament in Spain at the same time (raising the question of why England were not there - after all, their men's team were).

A significant factor in French success was rediscovering players who could kick. The return of Aureile Bailon to the team - absent throughout last season - and the discovery of the remarkable Jessy Trémoulière gave extra strength to any already exciting backline. Trémoulière is, of course, yet another international goal kicker who has converted to the game from another code - when will Unions see that girls need to include kicking in their game from the earliest years? In particular, if English girls do not kick a ball before the age of 13, where will our future international full-backs and fly-halves come from?

The week was about more than England and France, however. Scotland started their season with something that they have seen little of for some years - a win, and a convincing one too, in Amsterdam, by 33-10. Admittedly the Dutch are rather concentrating on Sevens at present, and their best players were all at Elche where they finished runners-up to to the hosts. It was just the result that Spain needed - and had to achieve as they prepare for the IRB Sevens in Dubai (if nothing else it justified their selection).

Perhaps the only country that finished the week with negatives would be Italy. A team that has performed so well in recent Six Nations was beaten with embarrassing ease by a young French team, a result that follows on from their disappointing European Trophy performance. They may struggle to repeat their recent performances in the next Six Nations.

But until then we have the Black Ferns tour, Dubai Sevens - plus international sevens and fifteens tournaments across the globe from the Caribbean to Indo-China. The world's second biggest women's team sport rarely stops these days!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

England downed... by French kicking!

England have just lost the test match in France by 16-15, despite outscoring their hosts by two tries to one. Three French penalties and a converted try were enough to sneak past England - who had lead for almost the entire game.

Given the nature of the teams (many of England's leading players were rested for this short tour) it does not mean a sudden change in world rankings, but maybe the real significance is that first line above. France scored three penalties and a conversion in conditions that were pretty awful (heavy rain - again).

Considering that eight months ago or so France's penalty takers would not have reliably kicked the skin of a rice pudding this is a remarkable turn round - especially if you recall that their kicking display in the midweek game was also pretty good.

No news yet as to who it was who kicked England to defeat, but this does suggest that the Six Nations could actually be quite competitive this year - which would be no bad thing.
  • It is interesting to learn that the golden French boot belonged to Aureile Bailon, who is not exactly new to the French team as this was he 28th cap. However she missed all of last season, but now seems to be back with a bang, not to say a boot. With Jessy Trémoulière (who impressed everyone on Wednesday) also in the team, France are building a challenging team.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Follow England from the inside

Either because of a change of policy at RFUW, or maybe because they have not noticed yet, the social media has at last made an impact on the England team.

Its not quite the blog or tour diary, like the Americans and Canadians have managed in recent years, but some of England's players have begun to embrace Twitter. So for the first time you can follow the ups and downs of being part of the team from the inside, including occasional unguarded unofficial photos, like this flattering image of Michaela Staniford after Wednesday's uncapped friendly against France.

England players and officials tweeting at the moment include:

Amy Turner (hooker and for scrum-half)
Sarah Hunter (captain and No. 8)
Alice Richardson (fly/centre)
Claire Allen (centre)
Kim Oliver (fly/centre)
La Toya Mason (scrum-half)
Natasha Hunt (scrum-half)
Claire Purdy (prop)
Isabelle Noel-Smith (Flanker)

Janice Anastasi (vice-chair of RFUW)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The great trans-European hitchhike

Okay, for once this is not a directly rugby posting, but normal service will be resumed shortly on that score. However it is sort of relevant as it is the tale of an ex-Legend, and  does involve a carload of Australian rugby players.

Suffice to say Nichola (ex-second row, currently based in Utrecht) and a friend recently hitchhiked from the Netherlands to San Sebastian in Spain, mainly to do some surfing. Her adventures are currently appearing on this blog and apparently they'd like comments. Enjoy.

(And if there are any has any other Legendary Tales of Ex-Legends, let me know). 

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