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 28, 2009

Four-way tie in Six Nations

With the results of today's two Six Nations game finally in (it took nearly six hours before any website managed to publish the result of the Scots game) the Six Nations is now wide open with four teams on four points, though England's points difference is significantly larger - possibly decisively so.
The first game of the day saw Scotland record a narrow 13-10 victory over Italy in Edinburgh. Italy beat Scotland last year - their only Six Nations win to date - and a repeat looked very possible when Licia Stefan opened the scoring for Italy with a try after nineteen minutes. Tanya Griffith replied for Scotland just before half-time, but with their conversion missed the home team went in 5-7 down at the break. 

Italy extended their lead to five point with a penalty early in the second half, but six minutes later Griffith scored her second try to bring the scores level followed two minutes later by Louise Dalgleish’s penalty gave Scotland a lead they held on to the final whistle.

The big game of the day was still to come, however, with Wales fresh from their win over England bidding to win for the first time on French soil. The game broke new ground off the field before it even began. Interest was such that it was broadcast -live and free - on the internet by the French rugby union, the first time the French had webcast any women's international. A complete recording of the game is available (below), though for how long is unclear:

Its pretty painful viewing for any Welsh supporters, however. Kitted out in the new yellow and black Welsh "away kit" (in honour of St David's Day, apparently) Wales went into the game full of confidence but it was France who in total command throughout a first half played almost entirely in the Welsh half, going in 17-0 ahead.

Things did not improve at the start of the second half when second row Clotilde Flaugere scored her second try in the opening minute, but they responded well and in the 59th minute Non Evans scored what would be Wales’s only points after good work from fly half Naomi Thomas put her into space down the right wing. That really was the end of Welsh resistance, however, and a fourth French try rounded off a comfortable 27-5 win for the home team.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sunday's match at Swaffham - REVISED TIMES

We now have confirmation that the kick-off time for the U18s match against Suffolk Sabres at Swaffham will be 2.30pm and we will need everyone to arrive at Swaffham by 1.30pm.

We have, therefore, changed the meeting time at Letchworth to 11.45am.

The address of the club at Swaffham is:

North Pickenham Road
PE37 7QX

and maps and suggested route information can be found on the Swaffham website.

Four-try second half restarts England's six nations

After the first forty minutes of this evening's international in Dublin, England's worst fears seemed confirmed. Ireland were dominant, and well deserving of their 13-5 lead. Ireland had roared away to a 10-0 lead, and although Emily Scarrett had scored a try to reduce the gap, a second penalty had increased Ireland's lead to eight points at the break.

But 40 minutes later it had all changed - and it is possibly not insignificant that it was one of England's Sevens team who turned things round, with Alice Richardson breaking the Irish defence with a "fantastic pass" (according to the RFUW website) to allow 
Fran Matthews through. With the try converted England were within one point of the Irish. A few minutes later, Matthews crossed the line again following a scrum turnover  and England were ahead.

Captain Catherine Spencer extended the lead shortly afterwards, and finally Fiona Pocock touched down in the 70th minute to round off a devastating 24 points in 22 minutes that sees England back on top of the table, and back in the chase for the Six Nations. All eyes now turn to Montauban tomorrow where Wales defend the only remaining 100% record in this year's championship.

Ireland looks forward to tonight's international

Tonight - in the next few minutes - England kick off their next Six Nations game against the unbeaten Irish team - who are sounding quietly confident, though they possibly still see England as the favourites.

The video below appeared on the IRFU website today where it was headlined as one of the top three stories on front page - which shows the sort of support the Irish are beginning to get. It worth watching, not least to learn that the Irish captain only took up the game eight years ago... so she's not been playing that much longer than most of you!

Sevens World Cup starts next week

At 3pm next Friday (our time) the first ever Sevens World Cup kicks off in Dubai. 

Sevens rugby has a pretty low reputation in the UK - its not "real" rugby, and is still largely seen as a bit of end-of-season fun. However, most of the rest of the world (and especially the women's rugby world) rather disagrees. 

This year's Six Nations is the first stage of the qualification process for next year's 15-a-side World Cup in England. Over the next few months about 25 teams from across the world will be competing for the 12 places available in the tournament.

In contrast SEVENTY nations took part in qualifying tournaments for next week's tournament - 33 from Europe alone - with 16 teams making it through. As far as most women in most rugby playing world are concerned Sevens is rugby, and Dubai 2009 is the main event. England 2010 will be merely an interesting curiosity.

One result of this is that many nations who might not usually associate with rugby are significant rugby powers when it comes to Sevens. From the Six Nations, only three qualified for Dubai - England, France and Italy - the other three European places going to Russia, Netherlands and Spain. And no-one was surprised.

The Asian qualifier resulted in similarly "unusual" names  - Japan, Thailand and China - making it through at the expense of Asia's traditional "giant",  Kazakhstan. And in the Pacific the qualifier was won by Australia... ahead of New Zealand.

And it will be Australia who will open the competition, with a game against China in the main stadium (most of the women's games prior to the semi-finals will be on the second pitch as apparently there is a men's tournament taking place at the same time).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sasha faces a triple summer of international rugby

While Sasha has lost out on an overseas trip with the England U20s this season - because all their games are at home - news today suggests that she will be pretty busy. This is because the U20 Nations Cup has been expanded this year to a four nation tournament, featuring the USA and South Africa along with England and Canada.

The strength of the Canadians and the USA will be well known, but South Africa - though still fairly week at adult level - are also a force to be reckoned with at U20, having drawn a series with the USA 1-1 in February last year.

This will make the tournament, which will run from 9th-18th July (venue not yet announced) a virtual junior world cup as the only significant absentees would be Wales (who took part last time, and were comfortably defeated by both England and Canada) and possibly France -  New Zealand have never fielded an age group national team. 

The format is likely to consist of a round-robin group, with the leading two teams playing off in a final.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A sinner sees the light: journalist discovers women's rugby

As has been mentioned on here in recent weeks, and come to that recent years, the coveage women's rugby gets in newspapers, and on the TV and radio is somewhere below even pathetic - its non-existant.

And, as also suggested, this seemed to be nothing to do with the success of our national teams, the standard of play on offer, of the efforts of the likes of Julia Hutton in the RFUW press office (well, to be honest Julia is the RFUW press office!) but rather more the uneducated prejudice of ignorant rugby writers and commentators who have probably never seen a women's rugby match, international or otherwise.

Well, now that opinion seems to be confirmed as fact. The weekend before last the Telegraph's Welsh rugby correspondent - Graham Clutton - was persuaded (reluctantly by the look of it) to drop by Taffs Well to see the Wales-England game. As his article honestly states, he expected a game of poor quality in front of a non-existant crowd that he would watch for a few minutes before going somewhere more interesting. The result was a conversion of almost spiritual proportions, it seems:
"It was bloody marvellous, from start to finish. Genuine sportsmen (sorry, sportswomen) with a love of the 15-man code (sorry 15 woman) and a genuine, collective desire to win. I am not sure what I expected, but having witnessed a great game of rugby, I now know what to expect on my next visit.

"The quality was outstanding. Barely a tackle was missed as two sides fought for the bragging rights. Barely a pass dropped. It was a contest played at a high tempo between two excellent sides who, between them, provided further confirmation that the growth of the women's game should no longer go unnoticed."
Yeah and verrily! A bit patronising with the parentheses maybe (just call them "players", Graham!) but you cannot expect perfection first time out. And, on the down side, this only sees the light of day in Graham's blog, not in any of his newspaper reports, but heck its getting there.

It also rather confirms my thought that the only way to change the profile of the game is not improve standards, win tournaments and so on. - while that helps its is of no use if no-one knows about it. What the game should be doing is targeting the opinion makers - the top dozen of so rugby writers and commentators. Get them, force them, bribe them to come and see a game, meet the players, and so on. Then we might see some change.

The most exciting weekend of international rugby... ever?

Never has there been a weekend of women's international rugby like the one coming up this weekend. In the space of less than 24 hours three internationals will be played by six of the world's leading nations... and all three are so tight that it is almost impossible to predict the winners.

None more so than the first game, on Friday night. Ireland v England. Until last year - until last month - a game where the only question was how many points England would win by. But all that has changed. In December a below-strength Ireland "President's XV" lost to a full strength England XV by only 19-8, a score which some accounts suggest flattered England.

Now on Friday a full strength Ireland, fresh from wins over France and Italy, will take on... what? Will England select the same team that lost Wales? Or will they draft in some experienced back-up from the sevens squad... and risk key players when the World Cup is only a couple of weeks away? Can England continue to rely on two players, who may be very talented, but have a combined age of less than 40?

It could all come down to defence. England - who have always had a rock-solid defence - have gifted tries in both of their last two internationals, the one against Wales in particular being almost X-rated. In both cases was it inexperience that was to blame?

And there is an extra threat with Ireland - the boot of Nimah Briggs, probably the best goal-kicker (certainly the most on-form) in Europe at the moment. England gave away several penalties against Wales that went unpunished, with Nimah on the field this may not be the case this time. On the other hand, Ireland's defence is far from water-tight - Italy lead twice against them two weeks ago - and we know that Emily Scarrett only needs the slightest sniff of a opening to break through and score. Its all too close to call!

Then on Saturday afternoon its the battle at the other end of the table - Scotland and Italy for the wooden spoon, and a ticket to Sweden for the World Cup play-off. Italy won last year - in Italy - for what remains their only Six Nations win. Can they do it again in Scotland? Or will the Scots finally get it together?

And after that - another battle for the title. Wales go to France with the Grand Slam a realistic possibility. They've beat France three times in the last four years, including twice last year, but have never won in France - and they have never had this level of pressure and expecation on them - win and the Slam is there for the taking, lose and even the Six Nations title could disappear. France, at home, will be the narrow underdogs - but if a French rugby team is anything it is unpredictable.

By Sunday evening the Six Nations could be a two horse race - or four nations could be neck-and-neck. Which will it be? According to the poll, you think Wales will come out ahead. Will you be right?

Monday, February 23, 2009

A weekend of Canadian rugby?

As you know, we are expecting to play a Canadian team on Sunday 22nd... but does anyone fancy a game against another Canadian team (a school in this case) the day before?

Saracens are hosting their own North American visitors and need a few more girls to make up a full XV - with it being a Saturday quite a few girls work I expect. Kick-off will be at 1pm at Southgate.

If you are interested please let Simon at Saracens or me know asap, especially if you are likely to need transport.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

News from the regions

News from Sleaford, where Jess and Sasha were playing for East U18s against Yorkshire. Convincing win for East. Sasha was prop this time, and Jess, who again played the full game - was at flanker. She says "We won 59-12 against Yorkshire, definitely not as strong as last year. The backs must take the credit for the points with a score just about every time the ball was shipped out, after some hard graft from the forwards. conceded a few penalties in the first half, got a "team warning" first phase of second half, Frankie came in, was penalised for not rolling away and despite the fact she'd been on the field 30 seconds!  All round good performance, one more training now until the festival squad is announced!" (More pictures here).

Nearer to home Hayley turned out for the East Seniors against Thames Valley. There seems to be no correlation between the strength of junior and senior teams and Thames Valley, one of the weaker junior regions, turned out to be a strong and well drilled adult team. Hayley was on the bench for the first half, which began promisingly for East but finished with them trailing 15-10, thanks to a string of penalties awarded against them.

Hayley joined the fray for the second half, which also began well, Hayley in close support as East pulled the game back to 15-15 in the first five minutes. However, that was more or less that and the rest of the game was played almost entirely in the East half with Hayley touching the ball once (I think), but getting lots of tackling practice. 

With a penalty count that reached almost absurd levels, East could not hold Thames Valley back. Fortunately Hayley had obviously learnt from her last visit to Tabard RFC and refrained from seeking clarification from the referee, confining herself to occasional waved arm as Thames Valley went on to win 28-15.

Despite that Hayley reported that the captain was still quite pleased with this result as last season East failed to score any tries at all!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sasha erbyn 'r Ddraig Goch!*

Sasha has made the England team for the first U20 international of the season, on 14th April at... erm... (sorry, where is it being played Sasha? RFUW not very forthcoming on this useful snipet of knowledge!).

Virtually all of the starting XV seem to be players who have represented England before so she is starting on the bench - and technically will not get her cap (do they actually give out caps, I wonder?) until she gets onto the field - but it is an achievement to get straight into the 22 for the first game of the season, especially from a squad of 36. Sasha will also have some familiar company from her touchline position - including Nat McClarnon and Lizell Heather.

*Sasha versus [well, literally "against"] the Red Dragon!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rugby - a new option for education after 16

The RFUW today announced the creation of a new Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) scheme, for women, which will be run by Hartpury College, where Joe is currently a student.

This will be a "pilot" scheme, suppported by RFUW,  Hartpury College and Gloucester Rugby Club, aimed at developing talented rugby players, "providing them with the best chance possible to become selected to represent their country at senior level whilst also gaining important academic qualifications", according the the RFUW's press release.

Joe has provided more detail and says that it is a further education/college course - so academically the same sort of level as the course that Lissell and Hayley at Shuttleworth - and so as well as a qualification in itself it can also provide a pathway to a higher education course.

Successful applicants will combine studying at Hartpury (either relevent A-levels or a National Diploma in Sport) with between 16 - 20 hours of rugby and atheletic development each week. This will be a combination of weight training, speed training, skill development and analysis, game time, conditioning and structured rugby sessions. Several of of Joe's county and region players have already successfully applications for the sceme Joe says it is proving very popular.

More information about Hartpury can be found here, the AASE course here,  and the the aase in women's rugby here.

The AASE co-ordinator at Hartpury is Barry Maddocks (who is also the RFUW CCO for the SWN region), and he can be contacted at if anyone has any queries about the programme. Or why not ask Joe next time you see him? 

URGENT: County rugby, Sunday

There is a turn-up-and-play "county" game in Kent this Sunday for girls not in the regional squads - but both Herts and Kent need to know if you are going to play. The game is at Gravesend RFC, kick off at 1.30. If you can play please let Peter McCullough know, copying in Jedda - the Kent Secretary  who is organising the day. Jedda can also be reached at 07903 682154.

Both U15s and U18s are invited, and the games are open to ANYONE - you do not need to have been members of the any of this season's county teams or squads. More details on Herts County Blog.

A new boot design?

This picture has been doing the rounds over the past week or so - some using the image as an amusing joke aimed at women's rugby.

But this is clearly unfair - after all, you only need to look closely at the picture of see the truth. As I am sure Joe would confirm, this boot would never be allowed on a rugby field because... it has the wrong studs.

Yes - examine the footwear carefully and you will clearly see that this is a football/soccer boot!

Indeed I would go so far as to suggest that this must be the boot of choice for most strikers and goalkeepers. After all, it explains so much - like the inability of leading footballers to remain on their feet when faced with even the most innocuous of challenges (or, in extreme cases, when a defender breathes on them too hard). It also explains why, when they fall over,  they roll around for not apparent reason such agony - after all not only is a broken heel distressing for a fashion conscious soccer star, but coming down from that height really could damage an ankle.

Is the National Sevens on the move?

A curious notice was published yesterday by RFUW. It confirms the date of the National Sevens... but not the venue:
"The RFUW National 7’s will go ahead in the same format as last year on the same weekend, 23rd and 24th May (as detailed in the calendar), venue details are just being finalised and as soon as they are we will email all club contacts with the relevant details and the application form."
You'd have thought that the venue for the tournament would have been agreed months ago - even last year, if it was staying at the same place - so why is it only being finalised now?

Or am I reading too much into this?

Could you be "Last Woman Standing" - or do you know someone who could?

Did any of you watch Last Man Standing on BBC3 last year?

The BBC are now planning a women's version, to be filmed this summer, and want volunteers. Obviously you would have to be at least 18, but maybe if you are not old enough yourself you might know someone who is... or maybe get the BBC to put you down for series 2..

The letter from the BBC says:
I'm the Casting Producer on a BBC series called Last Woman Standing and am looking for 5 physically fit women who may be interested in travelling the world, living with local people and competing in adventurous new sports over the course of 4 months - an amazing chance of a lifetime. Your help in spreading the word would be most gratefully received and I will certainly try yoursuggestions.

The filming will take place over the summer holidays, from mid May to early September. If you know of anyone who this may appeal to and are able to spread the word or help in any way I would be most grateful. I have attached a flyer with relevant information which I hope finds you well.

Kind regards 
Gemma Yardley 
Casting Producer - Last Woman Standing 
020 8008 4989 

Six Nations video discovery: England v Italy and Wales

One reason for the lack of video highlights of England's games this season has been that the company who has videoed (and even offered live webcasts) of the games for the last couple of years (and the last World Cup) - - are not covering them this year.

The reason seems to be that another company - SportUK - now have an exclusive contract. No live webcasts, however - just short highlights, a couple of minutes each

v Italy

and v Wales

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mercy! Sacked for winning too well...

Actually this story is a few weeks old but as I'm in Scotland for a few days, and things are fairly quiet as the rugby world takes its breath in preparation for the next round of the Six Nations, its useful to keep the blog ticking over... and its also kinda interesting.

Basically a sports coach in the US has been sacked for, essentially, winning too well. Okay, that's my interpretation. Essentially he seems to have taken over a pretty duff basketball team and turned them round to the extent that they won a match 100 points to nil. Now, my guess is that over here (and I dare say in most of the rest of the world) he'd be  well on his way to coaching regional or national teams. In this likes of Australia he'd be a national hero. In the US he was sacked. 

Apparently they have some sort of tradition over there which means that if you are winning by too much you have to allow the other team to score, or give them a chance by taking all your best players off, or something - even in professional sport (in American Football I believe they call it "taking a knee"). I know we have this thing in junior rugby, where if you are winning by over 50 points the game can be stopped, but I'm not sure that is quite the same thing. 

Anyway there is a TV report about it here, which is also interesting because of the extremely bright female reporter who clearly understands how ludicrous it all is and the two arrogant, brainless, well, male bimbos (difficult to think of a better term) she has to work with. She probably deserves some sort of medal just for getting through a day with them.

So - what do you think? Was the coach right? What would you do - should you do - in such a situations?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Have your say on local sport

There is a free seminar looking at sport in North Hertfordshire, looking at facilities and priorities for development next month - 5th March at Plinston Hall, 6.30-9.00 - and with a free buffet as well!

The programme for the evening includes:
  • 6.30   Welcome
  • 6.40   The Changing Role of Herts Sports Partnership
  • 7.00   What Did We Achieve in 2008? 
  • 7.15    Targets and Priorities for 2009 Consultation
  • 8.00   North Herts Sports Facilities Improvement Strategy- Have Your Say 
  • 9.20   Summary and close 
If you are interested please let me know, or email Leanne Fair at NHDC - email or phone 01462 474560.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wales v England: highlights

BBC Wales have posted the highlights of Saturday's dramatic and historic game at Taffs Well. The video is just under two minutes, but all the main scores are included - including the two penalty kicks at the end of the game. Also some great photos to be found here.

However, as with Ireland's equally remarkable win the week before, the weekend's press seem to have comprehensively ignored the event (which I guess England will be rather pleased about!). Quite what the heck women's rugby, or sport in general, has to do in order to break through into the conciousness of TV, radio and newspaper sports editors I really don't know. I suppose they'd say that "there isn't any interest" - but how do they know? 

No reply yet from the BBC to my complaint about their lack of coverage last week, incidentally. Has anyone else complained? You might make mention of this weekend's events, perhaps, if you do. My guess is that one factor behind all this is that people do not complain enough.

Pleased to see that its not me who finds this lack of coverage annoying. Want to know about women in sport? is a new blog from a writer in Devon that is highlighting major news stories about all women's sport (and especially those stories that the media as a whole ignores - because the problem is not just rugby). Worth a look, not least because it includes this blog in a list of only five or six sources - so clearly a writer with taste and discernment as well as talent!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meanwhile in St Albans...

Sasha and Jess were playing for East Region U18s, who seem to have a comortable 34-0 win over Thames Valley (pictures here). Sasha was playing No.8, and it looks like Jess was flanker (see below) but... beyond that I have no idea. 
Maybe Jess or Sasha might care to report back on the game?

The East Senior team are due to play their first game next week. Unfortunately Hayley missed a hastily arranged senior training session this weekend as she was ill yesterday (as some of you will know), so it will be interesting to see whether she gets into the team.

Comfortable win for France ends round 2 of the Six Nations

The second round of the most exciting and unpredictable six nations ever ended with something of a rarity - a game going to form, with France comfortable defeating Scotland in Arras this afternoon. France were rarely troubled, leading with a penalty in the opening minutes, opening up a 15-7 lead by halftime, and eventually running out winners 25-12 (SRU match report).

So after two rounds of games the table looks like this:
Position Nation Games Points Table
played won drawn lost for against
1 Wales 2 2 0 0 47 25 4
2 Ireland 2 2 0 0 42 22 4
3 England 2 1 0 1 85 29 2
4 France 2 1 0 1 30 29 2
5 Scotland 2 0 0 2 22 56 0
6 Italy 2 0 0 2 30 104 0
Remarkably, two weeks into the tournament...
  • England have not only missed out on a fourth Grand Slam, they will also - for the first time since 1998 - not win the Triple Crown.
  • The only teams now capable of winning a Grand Slam have never previously won the championship - in fact Ireland have never finished higher than fourth.
  • A tournament where the most interesting question is normally who will finish second can now realistically go any of four ways... 
On the subject of which I am trying out the online opinion poll gadget (top of the column on the left) - so who do you think will win?

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