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, December 30, 2011

European Championship mystery

2012 should be the year of the Women's European Rugby Championship. It happens once every four years, in between the World Cups, and normally features the top eight national teams in the A tournament, and all of the rest in a B tournament.

In 2000 10 teams took part, in 2004 this rose to 12, and in 2008 13. But in 2012 only eight teams will be in the championship (see here for fixture information)

The A event, in Italy, will include only four teams - England, France, Italy and Spain - and the B competition will only include Finland, Netherlands, Russia and Sweden. This also means that - for the first time - Scotland, Wales and Ireland do not seem to have entered the European Championship.

Quite why is anyone's guess - but it seems very odd. It is certainly not a positive development step by these Unions (especially Ireland who do not even have the excuse of preparing for the Sevens World Cup).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Women's rugby awards

At this stage regrettably the game does not generate the funding or publicity to justify an award evening with lots of evening dresses and suits at some swanky London venues (or even Salford). Maybe next year. Until then the ScrumQueens Awards for 2011 are well worth a look and - if at all possible - a few comments and debate.

A surprising amount of work and long, agonised debate went into these - especially the young player and 7s awards - while the make up of the related 2011 Team of the Year, also published today, was equally fraught with long discussions into the early hours.

Anyway, take a look - and leave your comments on the ScrumQueens facebook page.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wikipedia threatens coverage of women's rugby - your help needed

The famous internet encyclopaedia "Wikipedia" is threatening to remove an article on a women's national rugby team because it is "not notable" and because the editors have doubts that women play the game.

The article under threat concerns the Laos women's team, but the level of proof being demanded would threaten coverage of almost every other women's national team in the encyclopaedia.  Oddly there are no objections to the page on the Laos men's team, even though this has considerably LESS information than the women's page contains, nor any objections to any pages on western teams - so the editors would seem to be not only openly sexist, but racist as well!

Please could all readers find a few minutes to go to this page, click on "edit" and leave a comment (if you already have a Wikipedia log in first).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wanted: Black Fern sevens players. No previous rugby experience necessary

Anyone else think this advert is just slightly odd?

New Zealand are - finally - forming a women's sevens team (talk about leaving things late!)... but, despite being World Champions at XVs, clearly have no faith at all in their existing young players (or coaches) but are instead trying to attract anyone from any sport.

The Dutch tried a similar idea last year - but that was in a country where rugby is barely known, so trying to attract new talent was understandable. This is a different thing entirely.

It is obviously a reasonable idea to seek to expand a sports player base - and it is true that several leading international players are converts from other sports - but you cannot help but wonder what sort of kick in the teeth this must feel to those currently involved in grass roots rugby in New Zealand, be they teenage players or coaches.

Strange way to go about things....

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Great try compilation from Dubai

Okay - its Spain's tries, not England;s, but as clearly every game was videoed presumably any of the competing nations could do likewise. Anyway, that aside there are some brilliant tries here.

The sheer acceleration of Julia Pla (from about 4:35) is amazing, and the rather undignified penalty given away by Brazil from 3:10 is pretty amusing! But there is much more. Enjoy.

And if you do enjoy that, the full recording of Canada v Spain is well worth watching.

If anyone knows of any other similar compilations, let me know!

So, you want to be a professional rugby player...

A day in the life of the professional Dutch women's rugby sevens team...

Its clearly not all trips to Dubai and Las Vegas - in fact it sounds like its mainly days rolling around in the Amsterdam mud.

And its 2-3 degree colder in Holland than here this time of year!

Now, doesn't a nice warm office somewhere seem so much more attractive...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

"La, La, La! Can't hear you!" BBC response to Sports Personality complaints

If you were annoyed by last week's side-lining of women's sport by the BBC, and angry at he way they tried to palm all the blame off onto a voting system that they created themselves, be prepared to get even angrier when you read the shameful response of their Director of Sport.

A few highlights (or should it be lowlights)...

  • "We stand by the current voting process". Yes, they are going to have a review - because they have been forced to - but nothing will change. 
  • "Having considered a wide range of alternative mechanisms, we remain convinced that the current system is fair, independent and robust." Review? What review? 
  • Nuts and Zoo are included because they "have a readership profile which reaches younger audiences"  Yes - an audience of exclusively men!  "
  • Zoo and Nuts "helps contribute to a balanced panel which is representative of all the BBC's audiences."And in what possible way is an audience of just men "representative of the BBC's audiences?? And really do we want awards decided by readers of soft porn?
  • Sports editors "chosen because of their expertise in the area, their coverage of a wide range of sports throughout the year and the extent of their readership." But does the writer not realise that they are part of the problem? Anyone who has tried to find coverage of the Black Ferns tour in our press - in the very week of this controversy - will know exactly how much "expertise" these dinosaurs have.
  • "We do not include specialist sporting publications given their potential inherent bias to one particular sport nor do we canvas the views of non-sporting publications." So forget it ScrumQueens. Or SportSister. Or any journal or magazine read by women of any age. 
I challenge anyone to come up with a better example of "we know best - go away and do not dare to question us again".


Eighteen England stars now on Twitter

So there is no excuse for not being able to follow what is happening in the England camp. See the column on the left for all the names and links.

Legend in the desert

One former legend had a few days away from the growing cold of winter when she became the first ex-Letchworth Girl to play in the Dubai Sevens.

Jess played for (I think correct me if I am wrong) "RSA Ex-Pat Old Girls" (a team of English students, with some familiar names like India Harvey, while other familiar faces - like Poppy Cleall - also played for other teams) in the third tier Women's Open, and reached the Plate Final (a familiar outcome for a legend in a sevens tournament).

Apparently playing and training in 35 degrees made the return to Loughborough's balmy -5 all the more bracing.

Somerset "county champions"

Its a shade strange to award a "county championship" based on just three rounds of games, but Somerset lead the RFUWs table at the end of this season's senior county programme.

Yorkshire, North Mids and Kent might dispute this - North Mids suffering from cancellations as they only played two games. Each are, however, clearly their own divisional winners - maybe if RFUW could organise a play-off weekend to settle all arguments?

Hertfordshire lost narrowly to Kent - but were otherwise unbeaten. The final weekend's results were:

Lancashire 0, Yorkshire 6
Northumberland 46, Cumbria 12
Warwickshire 0, NLD 32
East Mids 0, Leicestershire 49
North Mids 5, Staffordshire 15
Middlesex 21, Surrey 26
Eastern Counties 0, Hertfordshire 20
Sussex 0, Kent 65
Somerset 52, Gloucestershire 12
Berkshire 5, Cornwall 6
Walkovers for Cheshire, Hampshire, and Dorset & Wilts over Durham, Essex and Devon respectively

Which results in the following official results table:

Somerset Ladies3300138151232015
Kent Ladies330011831872014
Yorkshire Ladies 33005328251013
North Midlands Ladies22001017942010
Surrey Ladies32018543421110
Northumberland Ladies32018342412010
Notts,Lincs & Derby Ladies32017446282010
Staffordshire Ladies2200552728109
Hertfordshire Ladies3201543024019
Cornwall Ladies32011138-27008
Middlesex Ladies31021093673127
Lancashire Ladies3102552233127
Devon Ladies2101503020116
Essex Ladies110025322105
Cheshire Ladies210134304015
Gloucestershire Ladies21013767-30004
Eastern Counties Ladies31021350-37004
East Midland Ladies10011025-15011
Berkshire Ladies2002856-48011
Leicestershire Ladies20021767-50011
Durham Ladies1001327-24000
Dorset & Wilts Ladies2002036-36000
Hampshire Ladies20021982-63000
Cumbria Ladies20021291-79000
Warwickshire Ladies2002085-85000
Sussex Ladies20020148-148000

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Third Test photo diary

The Black Ferns have again published a "photo diary", this time covering yesterday's third test. Again - well worth a look.

The RFU are also promising to post their highlights package shortly. Watch this space!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

IRB Dubai Sevens: almost right, but...

The "experiment" of the IRB's women's challenge sevens seems, going by all reaction so far, to have been a great success and hopefully from here we can go on to a proper women's series (though the barrier to that is likely to be finding a home for the fourth leg, London and Edinburgh not showing much interest).

If we do go on from here then the main improvements would seem to be...

Get the seeding right. Giving Canada a seeding below USA - while true to the World Cup positions in 2009 - seemed otherwise a strange idea by the IRB. The result was a serious imbalance in the pools that was obvious from the moment they were announced, with Spain (who, it should be remembered, lead Canada 14-0 past halfway in their game) losing out. The Spanish would certainly have been a match for the USA.

The best 8 teams in the world? Well, obviously these were not the best eight teams. Even leaving aside New Zealand's refusal to join in the fun, the fact is that China, and particularly Brazil, were heavily outclassed and its possible to come up with half-a-dozen teams that could, perhaps, have equipped themselves better.

However there is, of course, a very good argument for including them in the tournament (in order to represent parts of the world where the game is growing and developing), but if geography is to be allowed to trump ability then why does Asia and South America get a leg up by not - say - the Caribbean or Pacific? Why should China get a free ride into the tournament but not Samoa, or Fiji (either would be stronger than China)? And why Brazil and not, say, Trinidad?

In short, the qualification criteria for any series next season need to be clear and open. It does not do the game, or IRB, any good if decisions of this importance are taken behind closed doors with no explanation.

That aside, an announcement about a series for next year cannot be long coming. Its certainly long overdue.

Honours even as international year ends

So, 8-8 in Esher between New Zealand and England. Highlights should be on the RFU website probably some time tomorrow. Match report up on ScrumQueens now.

While all that was going on, England's sevens team's brave run came to an end in the final against Canada. After a great start, Canada gradually took control and dominated the second half, winning 26-7 and proving that they are by far the world's best women's sevens team,

Even their development side beat France, but could not complete a double, losing to the Netherlands in the Women's Invitational - the first ever Dutch tournament win.

And so a year ends that has seen 95 nations field official women's international rugby teams, at either 7s or 15s - plus a few other countries that have fielded club teams by no national team. Because the media largely ignore it we often forget how big women's rugby is - no other team sport, apart from football, even comes close. This year also saw 54 test matches and over 400 7s internationals - by far the busiest year ever, so the game is also expanding pretty quickly as well.

Unique women's international rugby double-bill

Following England's sensational win over World Champions Australia in the Dubai 7s this morning, we could have a double bill of women's international rugby today.

At 2pm England kick-off the third test against New Zealand - again free live webfeed from which hopefully will work properly this time.

Then, at around 3.20pm England's sevens team is due to play their final against Canada - which should be shown on Sky Sports 1. They have the media rights, and showed the semi. No guarantees... but someone should have a word with them if they fail to show the game.

This does mean that you may have to watch two games on two screens at the same time!
  • In the meanwhile you can view a recording of the 80 minutes from Tuesday - again go to
  • Also a big shout-out of congratulations to Canada, who have reached TWO finals - their reserve, development squad beat France to reach the Women's Invitational final, where they will play the Netherlands. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Dubai round-up, Day 1

The first day of the first official IRB sevens has finished, largely predictably, but with some surprises.

The first surprise seems to be that felt by the Australian captain (right). Clearly no-one had told her that she would be forced to wear this natty little ensemble instead of the hallowed Green and Gold. She is not happy, is she?

What colour would you call it? Gang-green maybe? Slightly nausea inducing anyway. England's rep, on the other hand, will have already known that she would have to dress like Tommy the Tiger and had already chosen the tactic of hiding in the background instead of standing holding the cup (which, as No. 2 seeds, she should have done).

Anyway, crimes against fashion and good taste aside, the rugby has been competitive. As expected, Pool A was a ding-dong affair with Spain coming so close against Australian, and then throwing away a 14-0 lead to Canada before losing 19-14 from the final play of the game, before Canada beating Australia 14-7 (Australia's only points coming near the end). Any of these three games (with the possible exception of the final one) could have gone either way, which - if anything - shows how badly the IRB got the seeding wrong here. All three teams swept past Brazil with embarrassing ease.

England won Pool B - which is not a huge surprise, though the size of their win over the only serious challengers - USA - was remarkable (31-0), especially after England had only beaten South Africa by three points. Michaela Staniford was the hero, fresh from the Black Fern tests, she scored in every game.

The result is this is that USA will play Canada in one semi-final tomorrow, and England will play Australia - not, I am tempted to say, the semis that the organisers will have wanted, but games full of tension and history Australia will love to get some revenge for the WRWC semi-final defeat - and will probably be favourites to do just that - not least because they already have the experience of playing all their games in the main stadium, while England have bee plying their trade outside, a situation that seems very unfair by tells us where the TV power lies (Sky have the rights to this tournament in the UK and ignored the women's tournament completely).

Elsewhere, Netherlands and France moved pretty easily towards their inevitable final meeting in the Women's Invitational - a game which should see the Dutch record their first major tournament win.

Meanwhile, somewhere a bit warmer...

The Dubai Sevens have begun with the historic first IRB sanctioned women's sevens (World Cup excepted) (see earlier post for details). All seems to be going as expected so far, Spain ran Australia close but - it seems - lost out to dodgy refereeing decisions (according to the Canadians who were watching!), and Canada thumped Brazil. England have also won their opening game against China 26-15, and USA beat South Africa 22-10 - again as expected.

The opening two rounds of Pool A games are on the main pitch, so plenty of information on them - but England's pool is hidden away on Pitch 2 so the information coming out of there is a bit slow (like an hour behind!) - though we hear that apparently Michaela Staniford scored a hat-trick in the opening game.

Also on the back pitches Netherlands, France and Kenya are playing in another tournament. In fact there are five women's sevens tournaments going on, including what is in effect an Arabian Gulf "championship", and an U18 tournament for local girls.

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