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...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

England v Wales LIVE today

A reminder that England v Wales is LIVE today on the BBC Red Button (and I think the website as well) from 6.15pm. Wales' first ever visit to Twickenham (every other Six Nations team has played there before, some twice). Both teams unbeaten so far, England with wins over Italy and Scotland, and Wales with a win over Scotland.

Should be a good game.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The forgotten anniversary?

This weekend England meet Wales at Twickenham. Although England have played New Zealand and every other team in the Six Nations at the "Home of Rugby", this will be the first time they will have played their oldest international rivals at rugby's most famous ground. So it'll be a special day.

But it should also be a special day for one other reason. Wales are England's oldest opponents because their first meeting was also England's first ever international - and that momentous occasion was 25 years ago this year.

A quarter-century of England (and Welsh) international women's rugby. But you should not need reminding of that - you should have seen the celebratory articles on the RFU website and in the rugby press, as well as the retrospectives, the TV specials, the dinners, the parades of former players, the exhibition at the Rugby Museum, the stamps, the special coins?

No? Me neither, oddly enough...

Okay the actual 25th anniversary of the date of that first ever game is still a few weeks off - 5th April in fact - but you'd think that, if anyone was going to make the slightest effort to recognise this, then having the two teams together at Twickenham this weekend in front of the BBC's cameras would be the time to do it. It would be the time to say - look, women's rugby has come a long way and has a history to be proud of!

Or you could just ignore this great publicity opportunity... Yes, much easier to do that...

A video was made of the first ever international 25 years - and to celebrate the anniversary the Welsh RFU have just removed it from their website. Well done Wales - brilliant timing!

***Apparently RFU are planning something... for 5th April. After all the crowds and TV cameras have gone.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Herts Sevens 2012: Enter now!

Entries are now open for Herts Girls Sevens - the biggest and best junior club sevens... anywhere!

The tournament will be at Tring on 29th April. For more information go here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Irish rugby: now the petition

Anger against the perceived incompetence of unfairness of the IRFU is growing - and now a petition has been launched demanding equal treatment. After a few hours the number is signatures is already approaching 200.

To add your name go here.

And, in the meanwhile, the IRFU are replying to the criticisms - see here.

Its rather fun watching this as its opening all sorts of clear dissatisfaction with what is happening in Ireland - annoyances like not having an Irish team in the Sevens, the unaccountable failure to enter the European Championship, the lack of games outside the Six Nations... IRFU really on the defensive. Only good can come from it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teams announced for second IRB Women's Challenge Cup

As the poster on the right reveals, the 12 teams for the second official IRB women's sevens will be...

  • Australia (World champions)
  • Brazil (South American champions)
  • Canada (Winners in Dubai)
  • China (Asian champions)
  • England (European champions)
  • Hong Kong (hosts)
  • Japan (Asian no. 3)
  • Netherlands (European no. 3)
  • Russia (World Cup hosts, European no. 4)
  • Spain (European no. 2)
  • Tunisia (Africa North/West champions)
  • USA (Las Vegas finalists)
How much we can read into this about the 12 who will take part in the women's "tour" that should start next season is debatable. South Africa - who were in Dubai - are not listed, either because they could not make it or because the IRB wanted to be fair and offer a place to another African team (who knows - but probably the former is more likely). Either way, they would be normally expected to be the strongest side on the continent. Their replacements, Tunisia, are the strongest side in the north of the continent - but have rarely played outside Africa before. It is unlikely they will be a major worry for the leading teams.

France - third in Las Vegas - are also absent, still paying for 15 minutes of madness against Portugal last summer. Russia take the fourth European spot as a result.

Similarly Hong Kong have a long history but, as Japan found in Las Vegas, will struggle to match the pace and stamina of the professional teams. All of the pro sides will be in Hong Kong - the inclusion of Netherlands is a step forward, though they will probably still be without Kelly van Harskamp, ScrumQueens leading sevens players of 2011.

In fact the tournament neatly divides itself down the middle into two groups - the "possibles" who could all, in theory, have a shout at at least a semi-final place - Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, Spain and USA - and the rest who, realistically, will have their targets set on bowls and plates.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Irish travel fiasco - "all the French fault" say IRFU

The IRFU were hitting back yesterday at complaints about how they had treated their women's team over the weekend. Apparently the 27-hour horror story was entirely the FFR's fault, as they had put the game in the south of France, moved the game forward three hours and refused to reconsider.

The FFR had also not told the Irish how long it would take to get across Paris by bus on a Saturday afternoon, so they missed their fast TGV train and had to make do with a slow overnight service that was packed to the gunnels - you can read the details in this Irish Times report.

However, the report does fail to ask a few questions - the most interesting of which is... what the heck were the Irish doing flying to Paris and then taking a train? Its a ***** long way from Paris to the Pyrenees - anything could go wrong (as, indeed, it did).

Pau is not exactly the ends of the earth. It has its own international airport (which the French team flew into a few days before), and if that is a problem there are half-a-dozen others within easy reach. Changing planes at Charles de Gaule would have had the Irish in their hotel within about seven hours of leaving Dublin. As someone responsible for making arrangements for English club sides travelling to the area said - you take a plane to the nearest airport, then a bus. Not a train!

What is more, even if the game had been played at the prearranged time (and supposing this would have been possible - most people there said that it would have been too cold for an evening game), it would only have bought them another three hours. The IRFU's magical mystery tour would still have had the team arriving at 3am for a match that evening.

Truth be told the problem was penny-pinching madness that would never have happened with any men's team.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Travel problem? Could be worse - the Irish RFU might be in charge!

Ireland's game in France on Saturday was undoubtedly the Six Nations game of the weekend (for either sex), but it was an even more amazing performance by the Irish than any of us had previously suspected. Since the game news has leaked out about the truly awful journey the Irish RFU forced its team to undertake - a journey that took 27 hours, and saw the team arrived less than 12 hours before the kick-off.

Over to former Ireland international Shane Byrne, appearing on Irish TV3′s Ireland AM the following morning, to fill in the gruesome details:
"The ladies lost by one point, right down in the south of France. And just to [be] very critical of the IRFU, they had 27 hours travel. They arrived down there [in Pau] at 3 o’clock in the morning [on] the day of the game [that kicked off at 2.30pm]. 
Absolute disgrace. 
You know, these are all part – they’re representing the country. They’re putting on the green jersey for us. And they’re amateur, they do it for the joy of it. And to be treated like that, absolutely terrible. 
They flew into Paris and got the cattle train down to the south of France, when there was umpteen options to fly down south.
You know, I just think it’s a disgrace, in this day and age. We’ve heard long ago when the women’s game was set together that that’s the way they were treated, but nowadays it shouldn’t happen. 
It has to change."
If you treated a racehorse like this before a big race you'd probably be prosecuted for cruelty.

What could the Irish achieve if it wasn't for the Irish RFU?

England highlights

Yes - it was an artificial pitch. Even by the coast in Genoa it was around -2!. If you want to get a glimpse of what it was like where England were supposed to play, go here.

Comments by Gary Street afterwards interesting - the trouble with a highlights reel is the lack of lowlights, and he was clearly not a happy bunny. If you have seen some games with this "A+" team at things like the Nations Cup, however, you will probably know what he means. It is understandable - the Big Guns will be back for the next game and many of these players will have been desperate to do something memorable in the hope of sneaking into the team for Twickenham. Scarratt's try an absolute peach, however, well worth watching again -great run, perfect pass.

A two week gap now until the next round where, as well as England v Wales, Ireland play Italy and Scotland host France.

9,000 - promoting women's rugby the French way

"Malice" = Marie Alice Yahe, French captain
After a weekend of women's international sevens and Six Nations one fact - one number - stood out from everything else.


That was the reported size of the crowd in Pau for France's game against Ireland - to which might be added "at least" as the Irish captain suggested a figure closer to 11,000 might have been closer.

Put it another way - its probably the biggest crowd ever for women's rugby, other than that for the World Cup Final in 2010. Yet, oddly enough, it has not attracted that much comment in France.

Why? Possibly because crowds in France - while not normally this big - are invariably four, five or six thousand. Italian crowds (when games are not moved at the last moment) are often only slightly smaller.

In the UK and Ireland? Well, Lasswade were delighted to have 1,000 for England v Scotland last weekend, while Ashbourne in Ireland would have been the usual friends and family of the Irish team. Crosskeys was probably less than packed for Wales v Scotland, and Esher probably won't have that many more than Lasswade when Ireland visits next month.

What is it that is different about France? A number of things:
  • Women's internationals in France move around. It's part of an FFR policy to bring les bleus to everyone, so that over a three or four year period everyone in France will have had an international - U20, women's - near enough to attend.
  • In France it is an honour to host a game
  • Because every region has its international, every region wants to do it better than every other region. They got 4,000 - we'll get 5,000!
  • As a result the games are not just rugby matches, or even sporting events. They are Occasions - opportunities to demonstrate regional pride, to show themselves off to the nation (and beyond). Everyone is involved - not just the host club and union, but local schools, councils - everyone. You would have to have been living under a rock in Pau this weekend (or Riom last week) not to know the game was on.
In the UK & Ireland, on the other hand...
  • Games rarely move. England hardly ever venture beyond the M25. Ireland always play at Ashbourne.  Wales invariably play in South East Wales. Most Scots games are at one of a handful of grounds, all quite near to each other.
  • The impression you get is that it seems to be hard to get a club to host a game "please, please will you host our women's international".
  • Games pass by almost unnoticed. If there is any promotional effort undertaken its done only by the host club, with maybe some help from the Union. So only the local rugby people are reached - if that. Schools, colleges, councils, local media - no involvement. At all.
Its a difference in regional and national culture, but its also its a difference in attitude. France and Italy want to sell the game, create an occasion and get the crowds - in the UK and Ireland whether anyone turns up and watches is incidental - because, perhaps, they do not think of women's rugby as a spectator sport - so the convenience of players and administrators is all that matters.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wales - sunshine capital of Europe

A quick look at the forecasts for this weekend's women's Six Nations reveals that - if you want a dry, warm day watching the rugby, then forget Italy or the south of France - head instead for south Wales!

Ireland are out in the Pyrenees today, playing France in the rugby hotspot that is Pau. Except its not that hot today - minus 5 in fact - which has resulted in the kick-off being brought forward as it is due to get much colder this evening.

Meanwhile in Italy its even colder - temperatures of minus 8 are forecast for Milan, where England are due to face Italy tomorrow.

This leaves the south Wales village of Crosskeys as European rugby's sunshine capital as Wales and Scotland risk sunstroke with the thermometers hitting a blistering +5 at kick-off tomorrow, and a zero risk of rain. So pack the suntan oil!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Las Vegas Sevens kicks off

Netherlands kicked-off the 2012 Las Vegas Sevens a couple of hours ago, with that amazing desert mountain backdrop. The first round of games went to form - Netherlands, USA and Canada winning fairly easily, and France sneaking home against Maple Leafs (worth watching the replay).

The second round of game kicks off at about 7pm UK time, while the crucial final pool games start at 10pm. Go here to watch live.

IRB plan for the next five years

The IRB plan for women's rugby has finally been published, some months after the IRB first announced it, but its still worth a look.

The report claims that women's rugby is now played by 200,000 players in 110 countries - in both cases probably a bit of an underestimate, but rather more accurate than most IRB data on the subject in recent years. The report highlights how much interest and enthusiasm for the game has increased in recent years - but that there are still perception problems that get in the way of the game's expansion. One problem is that women's rugby tends to be seen as a financial burden by many in the game - even though research shows that, in fact, women's sport is a major missed commercial opportunity.

Interestingly (because this blog has been banging on about it for years) the report also specifically looks at U12 girls' rugby, and whether there should be more girls-only rugby at that age (rather than forcing girls to play mixed rugby).

It is no surprise to see that over the next five years- which takes us up to 2016 - the IRB's main thrust will be sevens, developing elite women's programmes in all Unions, with the aim of increasing player numbers. In fact there are some really ambitious targets for 2016...

  • 400,000 players
  • Women's rugby in every Union, with women's rugby represented on all Unions, regional bodies, and the IRB
  • An official XVs calendar from 2012
  • Women's sevens World Series by 2013
  • Age grade regional (ie. continental) sevens tournaments
  • Women's sevens at the Youth Olympics in 2014
  • Women's rugby to be a "commercially viable product" by 2014, with increased TV coverage
Which is all pretty impressive. Quite what would happen in a Union failed to develop the women's game - or actively refused to support the game (as with Iran) isn't covered - one would hope that there would  ultimately be some sanctions.

On the subject of the world sevens series, there is more information than we have had before.For example, there will be at least four tournaments per year, with 12 teams at each event - again as this blog suspected. The top 12 teams at the 2013 World Cup will make up the compete in the following season - but after that there will be promotion and relegation.

Half of the teams for the Olympics will be the various 2015 regional champions - but the other six teams will be selected via a worldwide qualification process, so in theory there might be only one European team in Rio... or there might be as many as seven!

There is also a commitment to more test matches and XVs tournaments - and a competition model is included. Interestingly this includes an annual Asian XVs - even though this rarely happens - but does NOT include the Caribbean XVs, despite this being a firmly established annual event.

Finally, from the end of this year, it is intended that there will be official rankings for teams both at sevens and fifteens... which should be interesting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Live women's international rugby - this weekend!

With the probability of frozen pitches again this weekend it could be a good time for relaxing at home and watching some of the world's best players in action from the comfort of your laptop.

On Friday (and continuing to Sunday) the Las Vegas Sevens will feature several of the world's best women's sevens teams. Can Canada repeat in 2012 their all-conquering performance of last year? Watch here from 4pm Friday. Full schedule here (add eight hours for GMT).

Then, Saturday...

Okay, you will not actually be able to watch this - it'll just be a radio transmission (in in French) but at least you'll be able to follow the score, more or less, especially as one of the commentators has said that they will give us occasional updates in English. Go here from 2.30GMT. *(note time change)*

Finally on Sunday, according to Italian RFU, Italy v England will be streamed live by Probably - truth is the site does not normally do live streaming, but why not log-in at 3.30pm GMT and find out?

And if you cannot wait until the weekend, watch the highlights of England's demolition of Scotland:

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Saracens to run girls coaching day

England's young guns make perfect start

England's up-and-coming generation stepped up and gave their team the perfect start to the Six Nations. A nine-try 47-0 demolition of Scotland put England in pole position after the first round of games in this year's championship.

Admittedly the result was no real surprise - Scotland have not scored a point in this fixture since 2009 - but the young players (several technically still U20s) were clinical in their execution of the home team in front on a packed stand at Lasswade RFC. In fact the only player who seemed to perform less than perfectly was captain  Katy McLean who was only able to convert one of her nine kicks, which meant that England failed to hit 50 points against Scotland for the first time in four years.

It will be interesting to see whether Gary Street stays with this team for the next game against Italy, the Six Nations other less than challenging opposition (though they have been improving of late). Earlier in the afternoon France strolled to a 32-0 win over their continental rivals - four tries to nil in this case, as their kicker - Aurelie Bailon - was rather more on form. Played in sub-zero conditions, France's young team out-muscled opponents who normally have a reputation for being physically stronger.

Next weekend France take on Ireland and, in the other game, Scotland will play Wales.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

International Sevens ready to begin

While the Six Nations captures all the headlines (metaphorically of course - since when was the last time any women's rugby captured any real newspaper coverage?) major women's sevens teams are making their final preparations for the start of a vital year which lead up to qualification for next year's Sevens World Cup.

Six of the world's major teams will meet in Las Vegas next weekend, and at least one of them will be looking forward to a significant change of climate. Its been a bit nippy in the Netherlands over the past week - far more so than here - and this picture shows the world's only professional women's rugby team packing up and leaving. From -18 overnight, to +18 later today - quite a change!

Also taking part will be the USA, Canada, France, Brazil and Japan - as well as the US and Canadian second string teams.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Six Nations 2012 is underway (sort of)

Ireland and Wales kicked off today to begin this year's Six Nations... but came to a premature end when the game was called off at half-time due to a frozen pitch.

  • 12 min: Ireland 7, Wales 0 (try from Alison Miller (pictured right), converted by Niamh Briggs)
  • 31 min: Ireland 7, Wales 3. Wales, down to 14, score with a penalty.
  • 40 min: Ireland 10, Wales 3. Penalty (Briggs)
  • Half time. Match abandoned.
Apparently if 60 minutes had been played the result would have stood. For now it has been announced that the Six Nations fixtures committee will agree a new date early next week for a replay at Ashbourne RFC.

There is a certain irony that the two teams that play least may, in this years Six Nations, have to play most!

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory