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...

Monday, July 02, 2012

Goodbye, RFUW - we are now one game

Today rugby in England became a single, unified, game. Its taken a long time - three or four years since "integration" began. Outwardly we have been one game for a while - England's women players have been playing under the RFU rose for some time - but today the final moves behind the scenes took place. All of the RFUW's staff have now moved to roles within the RFU.

All of the statements today have been positive - RFU Chief Executive Officer Ian Ritchie said: “We are very much looking forward to combining knowledge and resources and to welcoming new colleagues from the RFUW. This is a progressive move to make the Union even more inclusive going forwards, with our ultimate aim to broaden the reach of the game to the widest possible audience. Joining forces with the RFUW will allow us to do that”, while the new RFU Head of Performance (Women's) - ex RFUW MD Nichola Ponsford was also positive - “Of the many positive changes I've seen over the years, integration is certainly a high point. It is a recognition of the hard work and commitment of the organisation’s staff and volunteers, the vision for the game set early on and the commitment shown to overcome all the challenges."

And with reason - the resources potentially available to the women's and girls' game now dwarf anything that it has ever known before. However, it remains potential - and women's and girls' rugby will still have to fight for those funds, and there is always the risk that the demands of the bigger men's professional game will swamp the amateur women's. That, after all, has been the tale in some other countries - from France to New Zealand. Indeed its actually quite hard to think of countries where a merger has been a total positive. Japan probably? Wales possibly? Ireland, perhaps?

By and large the "integration" has gone well - so far - with increased media profile via access to RFU contracts, for example - but there have been negatives, like being swept up in the problem reducing player numbers - an entirely MALE problem - but which has resulted in the U13 game being forced on the girls' game to solve a problem that did not exist. It was a policy brought in just to increase some statistics - to give the impression that player numbers were growing, and it seems from the outside to only make sense as part of something to benefit the whole RFU because surely no-one who knew anything about girls' rugby would have introduced it voluntarily.

However, integration does now mean that all of the petty personal rivalries and personality clashes that can affect a small organisation should no longer be possible. The expertise is there - and the grants too, as a unified games with a single governing body will be a bigger attraction. 

Integration is a risk, but there was no other choice - and  if those who play women's and girls' rugby are willing to fight their corner it will work.

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