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, March 02, 2009

World Cup Sevens preview: Pool A

The World Cup opens on Friday with first round of games from Pool A, featuring Australia, Netherlands, France, China - and, as with most of the pools, who the qualifiers will be is not as clear cut as it might first appear. Pool A is also significant as the runner-up is seeded to play against the winner of England's group in the quarter finals, while the winner will probably plays the runner-up... and then New Zealand in the semi final. Not the easiest of draws!

Australia are not normally a major power in XVs rugby. They finished an uninspiring seventh at the last world cup and rarely play international rugby. However they were a revelation in the sevens qualifer. The team was created by bringing together talented sportswomen from several sports, and especially touch rugby (or "Touch") - which is a very  serious sport in its own right in Australia. This "manufactured" team shocked everyone by beating the "unbeatable" New Zealand team in the initial group, then did it again in the final the following day. However, since the qualifier the Australian VII have not played any further games so... are they still as good as they were for that one weekend last July?

Netherlands are typical of many "minor" European nations who are a different thing entirely at sevens - they finished runners up in European qualifier, behind only England. On their day they can beat almost anyone but they do tend to be unpredictable, typified by last month's warm-up event in Malaga where they beat Spain comfortably in the qualifying pool only to lose to the same team in the semi-finals.

France are almost as unpredictable as Netherlands. In 2007 they were clearly the best team in Europe, beating England twice in that year's championship - but then a year later only scraping into the top six in order to qualify for Dubai, and only three weeks ago finished a disappointing second behind Spain in Malaga. Actually that is pretty typical for all French rugby teams, come to think of it. 

China qualified third from Asia. Normally a major power in Asian rugby they were on the end of a shock semi-final defeat at the hands of unheralded Thailand. Since then China finished a disappointing last in San Deigo, losing by a wide margin to Canada and the USA, though they did finish within two points of New Zealand.

So - should be Australia and France through... but maybe not?

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