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...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Combined GB side planned for Olympics

The final vote to decide whether rugby will be at the 2016 Olympics takes place on 9th October, and today the last possible fly in the ointment was removed when the RFU, RFUW, Scottish, and Welsh RFUs all enthusiastically agreed that they would work together to produce a combined GB team for both the men's and women's tournaments.

Football has got its collective knickers in a complete and rather embarrasing twist for the 2012 Olympics where the three FAs were supposed to come up with combined GB team, but (as none of them trust each other or their game's governing body) have comprehensively failed to do so. The only outstanding question was whether the three national Rugby Unions would be similarly unable to work together. Today's announcement shows that this will not be a problem.

Ireland are not included in the agreement as they would play as the Republic of Ireland. As is the case with other sports organised on an All-Ireland basis, players from Northern Ireland would be able to choose to play for either Ireland or Great Britain (indeed, technically anyone from anywhere in Ireland can decide to play for Great Britain - as several Republic-based boxers have in the past).

Its also worth remembering that sevens is a young woman's game and the core of any Great Britain team at the 2016 Games will currently be around 14 to 17 years old...

New RFU website - signs of improvement, signs of listening?

There are some welcome signs of improvement with the new RFU website. As mentioned last week the new, improved website looks great with all sorts of modern bells and whistles (like newsfeeds and a more readable typeface), but there were problems in the transfer of material from the old to the new site.

Well the good news is that several of these problems seem to have been sorted out. The old RFUW address - - now works again, and the text (but not photographs) from five years worth of news and match reports from the old site has also been moved over - and is also now included in the site search (which means that our illustrious past can now be traced in all its glory!). Women's news items are also beginning to appear alongside men's news - at least under the "England" heading, there hasn't been and girls' or women's news elsewhere yet.

Players from the England women's squad are also being included in a new "featured players" page which is a great step forward, only slightly spoiled by the biographies of the women's squad being at least a year out of date. There is no sign of a new forum yet, though, nor any women's squad below the national team. And the old collection of useful forms and resources has not fully been replaced.

Whether the RFU have been listening to the reviews of its new site, or have made the changes anyway, we will obviously never know but you have to wonder why the site was not properly tested before the launch.

The benefits of integration

All the fuss and bother about men's and women's national rugby governing bodies "integrating" or "merging" must seem a bit dull and uninteresting. Something that happens a long way away and has no effect on the rugby you play.

But it is remarkable what effect these agreements made between aged former players in musty committee rooms can have on your rugby - and how quick these changes can happen. In England we are actually running a little behind most other countries - full "integration" does not arrive until next year, and even then RFUW will retain a degree of independence - so it is interesting to see what effect the full mergers in Scotland, Wales and Ireland have had on their rugby. At all levels.

Scotland was the most recent country to see the men's and women's boards swallow their differences and mutal suspicions when they joined together just months ago, but the effect of the merger is already being seen at grassroots level. One of the first rugby development officer posts to be advertised in Scotland since the merger has gone to a women - Lindsay Smith - who will now be responsible for developing rugby - both boys' and girls' rugby - in Renfrewshire (a large area of the country west of Glasgow). Scottish Rugby Union development targets and schemes - which Lindsay will implement - now include targets (and money!) to develop girls' and women's rugby which will be having an immediate effect on club rugby, and the national team within a few years.

Wales is slightly further down the line, but those who were at this year's RFUW Regional championships will have seen how much Welsh junior rugby has improved since the girls have been fully included inside the WRFU's development programmes. The best Welsh regions are now as strong as the best English regions at both U15 and U18 level. That talent has not quite worked its way through to the U20 level, but improvements in the organisation of the adult team has already seen Wales overtake France to become Europe's number two nation (not bad for a country that failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup!).

Ireland too has seen a huge growth in junior rugby. It is only three or four years ago that Worcester toured a land where junior girls rugby was a rarity - that would not be case now. And - like Wales - even before the new junior talent has moved into the adult game access to better organisation, coaching and resources has seen the Irish national team rise to unheard of heights.

Will the same thing happen in England? We can only hope it will - but what seems planned is different to the Home Nations. All of the above three countries seem to benefit enormously from a "big bang" new beginning - we won't be getting that. It will be a slow and careful integration which almost seems designed to leave things as little changed as possible. It seems designed to be almost unnoticeable - a change in national shirt design here, the disappearance of separate men's and women's news on the website - but will there be changes to the regional structure? Will we have a single team of development officers covering both sexes? Will you notice the difference in the same way as your Scots, Welsh and Irish counterparts have? At this point we don't know...

Women's international rugby's first dedicated website is launched

The first independent website dedicated to women's rugby worldwide has been launched.

In a massive step forward for the women's game Scrum Queens is a brand new website. Edited by a professional journalist - the former Irish Women's RFU's press officer Alison Donnelly - it includes contributions from across the rugby world and will aim to cover all aspects of international women's rugby.

There have been a few attempts to do this before, but they have often tended to be "Official" sites promoting (and never questioning) a particular organisation (such as the IRB), or have had a bias towards news from a single nation or point of view, or have been the voice of a single person.

Scrum Queens is much more than that. Alison has said that she and her team will not fall into the trap of simply regurgitating national RFU press releases - as so many other sites do (even supposing they cover women's rugby at all) - but will write attempting to see both sides of the story. Her growing team of writers come from all parts of the world, not just major nations such as England or the USA, but growing nations such as Singapore and Kenya as well.

For anyone with any interest in the game this is a Must Read. Bookmark it. Sign up to its feeds on Twitter and Facebook. Tell your friends. And celebrate the amazing and diverse international world of women's rugby.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Belated congrats to Chloe!

My apologies to Chloe Baker, who also made her county debut on Sunday but who I failed to mention when the squads were announced last week.

So - extra special congrats to Chloe who won her county place less than a month after joining the U18s - something of a record I think. With a start like that to her rugby career Chloe could go a very long way indeed!

Video: Why do I play rugby

This is really rather good. Wendy at YSC found it - its a promotional video for Yale University's rugby team but instead of the usual its a short, well produced, nicely understated piece where one of their players says why they play the game.

See if you agree...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A sunny day in Hampshire

Letchworth's super six - including four county debuts

Pictures from today's county games in Hampshire can now be found here.

Hampshire won both games (results), but highlights included a try for Sydney on debut for the U15s, and nearly a try for Bubbles for the U18s as well... disallowed for some technicality.

Well done to everyone!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dreams come true in BC

Japan are on tour in Canada at the moment, in preparation for the Asian World Cup qualifier in a few weeks time. As a gentle warm-up to the tour a small club team call Burnaby Lake were asked to give them a game - a bit like (in European terms) Hitchin being asked to give someone like Sweden a game*.

To say that the girls of Burnaby Lake rose to the challenge sounds like an understatement as, with only one player borrowed from another club, they managed to beat possibly Asia's second strongest team (with, if they had such things, a probable world ranking of around 15 or so) in the last seconds of what sounds a very exciting game.

If anything, though, the result may be a testament to preparation. Burnaby Lake got ready by playing against their men's team. All goes to show what effective training can achieve.

*Actually this is not so unlikely. About 10 years ago Hitchin Ladies did play against a national team - Japan in fact - but at cricket. And Hitchin won, bowling out Japan for 14!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

News from the other half

A reminder that our "other half" this season - Saracens - also have a blog ( which has just started up this season with a short welcome message.

Drop by and say hello....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A tale of babies and bathwater?

Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh wonder of wonders! Thank you, thank you, thank you RFU, I thought.

Why such effusions of pleasure and happiness? Because at last - at long last - it is dead. We have suffered, complained, banged out collective heads on desks, wept in frustration and despair but now - at last - at long, long last it is dead.

Yes - the RFU website. The worst, most out-of-date, most bl***dy awful website ever to be inflicted on the world by any major sport is no more. While the RFU were wasting time, money and heaven knows what is more on their launch of This is Rugby (see below) they also launched a New website!

That said there a few teeny, tiny snags. Like none of the old links work. Only a year ago the RFUW launched a special, easy-to-remember URL for women's rugby information - - with pencils and t-shirts and stuff and guess what? It doesn't work anymore. The new women's page is to be found at the slightly less snappy

This does rather go against every guideline on the subject of web design that you would ever wish to think of. Which is a bit of a worry. This concern grows as you go deeper. Annoying though the old site was there was quite a lot of information on there, all be it well hidden most of the time and dreadfully badly laid out. Match reports, news, forms, team lists, and the invaluable and extremely useful "forum". Well, unless I am mistaken, its all gone!!! All of it. Well, 99.99% of it anyway.

Not only does a search for "Letchworth Girls" now reveal nothing (which some may suggest is a Good Thing!) but even the recent England match reports from the Nations Cup have gone. In fact all the old records have gone - in fact the amount of information on the site about women's and girls' rugby is now very small and even more hidden than in the past. Click on "England" and - unlike any other major rugby nation - you only get news about the men's team.

Perhaps its early days - perhaps the other information will be converted over the next few weeks. I really hope so. The old site was badly designed, but had loads of useful information on it. The new site seems well designed but seems to contain zilch of any value.

Out of the frying pan into the fire? Babies and bathwater?

Recycling an old joke

What do you call 100 consultants lying at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start!

Okay, an (originally American) old joke and normally applied to lawyers (or more latterly bankers), but there are times when some professions surpass themselves. The recent coming together of one of society's most despised professions with the "57 old f*rts" of the RFU (© former England captain Will Carling) did have a huge potential for expensive disaster, and so it has proved.

Total Flanker reports that the collected genius of some of the nation's finest consultants has been hard at work trying to work out what rugby's "core values" are. Quite why is anyone's guess, but the practical upshot of their (no doubt very expensive) labours is that the key features of rugby union are (roll of drums please)...
  • Teamwork
  • Respect
  • Enjoyment
  • Discipline
  • Sportsmanship
Like, yeah. That really sums up rugby, doesn't it? And - frankly - hockey, netball, cricket, tug-of-war and ultimate frisbee! Indeed I challenge anyone to think of any team sport that that list of words does not apply to - it even works for football (well, in theory at least).

This is all part of the RFU's latest campaign - This is Rugby - so it is a great pity that it kicks off with a meaningless series of platitudes that says that the game is exactly the same as any other sport. Hopefully the campaign will recover from this false start - could hardly do worse....

Basford are no more... welcome back Rochford

News from Essex where the county's only(?) - certainly biggest - team have now reformed as Rochford Girls.

When we started South Essex boasted three girls teams - Basildon, Westcliff and Rochford. We worked quite closely with Rochford in our first season - they even helped out our U17s (as they then were) when we entered the National Sevens for the first time and also developed a very friendly rivalry with Westcliff. However, the three separate teams gradually came together to form a very powerful (if "unofficial") cluster which became known as "Basford" - so powerful, in fact, that the cluster and the county team became virtually identical!

We had a number of memorable battles with the Basford cluster - sometimes coming out on top (as at the National Sevens in 2007), sometimes being slightly less successful (such as the National Sevens in 2008!) - but apparently the end of last season saw the departure of most of the Basildon girls in the cluster as a result of which the team has now moved completely over to Rochford.

Fixtures against Rochford are planned for later in the season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Laura makes U18 county squad

Congratulations to Laura who has made the U18 squad after her first appearance at a Hertfordshire county trial. She will be joined in the squad by Jess and Natalie, who have obviously both played at this level before.

The full squad can be seen on the Herts Blog.

The Hall of Fame has also been updated to include the U18 and U15 selections.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ellah and Sydney picked for county debuts

Ellah and Sydney have been selected for the county U15s squad to play Hampshire on 27th September. They will be the first Letchworth girls to play for the county at U15 level - though a fair few did play for U14s before the age bands changed in 2007.

Unfortunately this is a one-off friendly organised at short notice to replace the Sussex Festival, which has been cancelled due to a lack of referees(?!), so only enough players to form a single team have been picked. However, all U15s have been promised games so everyone else will get a chance later in the season.

The game is away in Hampshire, but county are arranging for a team coach.

No news yet about what the U18s will be doing.

Sunday training at Saracens

This weekend we are holding another joint training session with Saracens but this time it will be at their ground in Southgate (N14 4AB). As always, parking is likely to be an issue with very limited space available in the club car park so please be careful to abide by the restrictions on parking (particularly regarding parking on pavements/kerbs) in adjacent streets - illegally parked cars do get towed away in this area.

Training is due to start at 12.30pm so will everyone please meet at the Letchworth club by 11.30am. If you need a lift - or are travelling direct to Saracens - please let Mike know!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Image of the game survey

In the light of recent controversies the RFU want to know what you think about how the game may (or may not) have been damaged. They have therefore launched a short survey (click here) to collect information about how widespread "cheating" or "unsportsmanlike" behaviour is at all levels of the game - and what you think could be done to reduce or eliminate it.

Fortunately on-field cheating and gamesmanship is pretty rare in the girls game - in fact I can only think of one blatant example of outright poor sportsmanship (when a visiting coach was overheard to tell his players and - we suspected from their subsequent behaviour - supporters as well, to deliberately "wind up" certain players in our team) - though off-field problem of bigger clubs poaching talented players from smaller rivals keeps rearing its head.

It should take no more than five minutes to fill it in - please find the time. But be quick - you only have a couple of weeks to do so.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Government vetting scheme: behind the headlines

The airwaves and newspapers are full of headlines today about the new vetting scheme being launched by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority which will (it has been suggested) require anyone giving a lift to anyone else's children to have a criminal check - and, moreover, pay £64 (which the ISA calls a "small") to have it done.

The facts seem to be that the ISA is setting up a database of everyone who works with any organisation (commercial or voluntary) who comes into contact with children (and also "vulnerable adults) - it effectively brings together several databases that already exist. This will include all coaches and club officials - and will be in addition to their requirement to have a current CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) check - the ISA does not, it seem, replace the CRB. And you do not need to re-register (unlike the CRB, which has to be renewed) - once registered you are registered for life.

What it does do is rather broaden (though only slightly) the definition of who a "volunteer"is, and also introduce the element of a fine (£5,000) for anyone not having a check done. In the past it has been unclear about whether or not everyone, for example, who gives a lift to children should have a CRB - now there is no doubt.

However - the main thing to note is that it is reported that it will take up to six years for the regulations to come fully into effect, so you will not need to register this weekend! And it only applies if you are asked to give a lift by someone at the club, or if the club organises some sort of pooling system - "private" arrangements are excluded.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Girls get full page in club newsletter

The club have published a start of season "newsletter", and we've be given a full page promoting the section.

The newsletter covers all sections of the club, and includes news about the development of the new pitches and is well worth a read. Paper copies will probably be available at the club, but in the meanwhile you can see an electronic version here.

Herts County wants YOU - even if you are new to the game

A call has gone out for all girls to go along to the county "trials" on Sunday - especially U15s - even is they are new to the game. Greg Maxwell, the Herts U15 head coach, says:
"Please could every Under 15 girl come to Welwyn this Sunday for county training. We are very keen to have two teams this year so everyone will play for Herts no matter if new to rugby or an old hand.

It is very important for girls' rugby in Hertfordshire that everyone comes along. I have heard that some girls think they are not ready for county rugby yet - but we coach the girls and look after them while they are in the county set up. They also get to meet new girls and new friends.

Players from Letchworth have gone from complete beginners in September to county and regional honours - even, in one case, regional "player of the year" - just a few months later. So don't miss out. If you haven't been to Welwyn RFC before ask Mike, Heather, or one of the coaches for details. Lifts will also be arranged if needed.

*Any former players (ie. anyone aged 18 or over) are also reminded that the Women's county trials are also on Sunday, starting at 1.30pm at Stevenage RFC. Please support the adult county team as well - its very new (only in its second year) and needs your support!

Even if you are going to be away at college or university it would do no harm for them to know about you - you might get games during vacations. They also have plans for a tour to Devon and Cornwall in the spring - so again don't miss out!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Across the Atlantic the great experiment begins...

Boys rugby teams seem to consider any away games outside Hertfordshire to be a "long way" - even Tring is considered a major trek. For our games, anything in Hertfordshire is "local" and trips two or three counties away are normal. However something over 100 miles or so - Hampshire, say - might be a "long way". As you move up the ladder in the adult game you might reach the heights of the Premiership with fixtures up in the Borders or South West - 250 miles or more. A long slog to play a rugby game?

Well, how about adding an extra "0" to that? And then some. That is the task facing clubs in possibly the most ambitious club rugby projects in the women's game - the USA Women's Rugby Premier League - which kicked off last weekend.

There have been national championships before, bringing the regional champions together to a single locations - but not a regular league with teams from as far apart as Oregon, California, Minnesota, and New England (check out an atlas - suffice to say they are a long way apart!). The early stages will group the teams into effectively East and West "Conferences", but that will still see a team from Minnesota having an away game against Berkeley in California - a cool 2,000 miles away. And a couple of years ago we thought we had it tough when our U18 registered over 3,000 miles in a season - these teams will exceed that in a weekend!

And all this in what is, obviously, an amatuer game - and moreover not a staggeringly wealthy one (when we had the U19s Nations Cup here in the summer the USA team had to stay in Buckinghamshire to save money). What is more these are indeed "ordinary" clubs supported by their own membership - not representative XVs backed by their regional unions. The theory, like our own Premiership, is to have the top teams playing hard rugby every (in this case) fortnight, thus raising the standard of the game as a whole (including the national team). Will it succeed? I guess we will have to wait a few years to find out - but you have to admire USA Rugby for their ambition and the players for their devotion to the game.

So next time you have to get up early on a Sunday morning to travel to Basford, or Hartpury, or wherever remember - it could be worse!

*One of the leading teams (if not the leading team) is "Beantown" from Boston in Massachusets. I just mention them as whenever I see the name my mind seems to stick an extra "o" in there. Beanotown women's rugby team - Dennis the Menace's worst nightmare?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Life after Letch

Carla was the first of last season's "Letchworth graduates" to make their adult debut this season when she turned out for Hitchin in a friendly at Hertford today.

Looking very trim and fit in the unfamiliar red of Hitchin, Carla was also playing in a very unfamiliar position - full-back - a slight change after five years of playing mainly hooker and second row. She even got the game started, kicking off as Hitchin presumably aimed to use the kicking skills that Carala had been unable to use through most of her Letchworth career (first season excepted).

Hertford are a division above Hitchin, and it rather showed for most of the game - Hitchin very hesitant and lacking in confidence (I dread to think what one of two former Letchworth coaches would have said!) and at times Carla looked a bit unsure about where she should be. An elbow in the eye didn't help matters for the former Legend (she gave up her kicking duties after that), but in the second half her team mates began to play a little better and Carla even got in a few runs. Her uncompromising tackling style was also on show, and it was that which brought her game to a premature end with the familiar shoulder injury about 10 minutes before the end.

Elle was also there to watch - a training injury putting her on the sidelines - while Hayley, just back from her summer in Lincolnshire, was unable to make it. Hopefully both will be on the field again soon.

*If anyone has any news of the rugby activities of any other former Legends please let me know!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Letchworth "the highlight of our rugby tour"

I've received a short note from John LaBoyne, who runs the Yetis team from Canada that we hosted last season. They are planning their next tour in 2011, but probably visiting Wales or Ireland.

Last season's tour took them right across England, ending with a guest appearence at a big inter-schools sevens tournament where they even had a "min-international" against a Romanian team. However, despite all that guess what leg of the tour was voted by every tour member as the highlight of their visit to England? Yes - the weekend they spent in Letchworth!

Whether it was the on-field mini-festival we put on, or the post game celebrations, or the evening's "entertainment" that followed - or a combination of the lot - isn't clear though other reports suggest that the girls learnt about whole branches of English culture that were previously unsuspected.

Good news is that they all recovered sufficiently to have a productive season, with (if you remember any names) Cheryl Robison now playing for the University of Alberta and Ruth Dyck being selected to captain the British Columbia U17s - so maybe some names to look out for next time the Canadian national teams tour over here.

More positive international news

The firsts keep coming for women's rugby. On the same day (21st November) that England will play New Zealand at Twickenham in the first men's and women's rugby "double bill*", France will be making their first ever appearance at the Stade de France where they will be taking on Canada.

Unlike at Twickenham, the French women will play first before their men's game (in this case against Samoa) so it will be interesting to see who gets the bigger crowd!

The game will be a repeat of the last World Cup's third place match (just as the Twickenham game will replay the 2006 final) - but last month's game in the Nation's Cup may be fresher in both team's memories. France shocked Canada that day, winning 12-7 despite Canada scoring the only try.

*Though, to be pedantic about it, this will not be the first time England women have played after a men's international at Twickenham - they have done so on at least two other occasions in the past - but it is the first time that the two games have been promoted and advertised as an official "double bill".

Friday, September 04, 2009

"Letchworth Saracens" training this Sunday

Important training session this Sunday (12.30) - the first joint session with Saracens in preparation for our entry in the Thames Valley League. There is a second session in a fortnight's time at Saracens, then the league kicks off on 4th October.

As you'll have seen below the league includes five teams - one from each of the four counties in the Thames Valley region - and we'll play each of them home and away. In theory the opposition are not the county teams, but teams based on clusters of small clubs in each county (so Berks Baa Baas should not be Reading in disguise!).

Our combined squads with Saracens should be big enough to form a match squad and guarantee that everyone gets to play proper 15 (or 13) a-side rugby against a good standard of opposition throughout the season (or at least the part of the season that regional weekends do not get in the way of), and the two weekends of training will important in bringing the two squads together, and seeing who plays best in which position.

In between the TV League games we will be playing and training as Letchworth.

Fixtures 2009-2010

Fixtures for this season have now been published - clearly with a fair few gaps (as usual) which will be filled in as the season moves forward. All dates include U15 and U18 games.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another breakthrough for women's rugby

It has been a remarkable 12 months for women's rugby - the first Sevens World Cup, and Olympic bid based on true equality between the men's and women's game, the appointment of the IRB's first official (Susan Carthy) charged with promoting the women's rugby, the most competitive women's Six Nations ever, and now a major breakthrough. The first woman to be appointed to the the body that, in effect, runs the world game.

The very male nature of the IRB's Executive Committee was mentioned on here just over a year ago - along with several other problems that the IRB then faced with their Olympic bid. This breakthrough clears most of them away (or at least the ones which the IRB have power to do anything about - the attitudes of national Unions may take a bit longer to sort out!).

The woman who will making history - Carol Isherwood - will be no stranger to anyone who has been involved with women's rugby. Carol was the first captain of Great Britain and England, and was the RFUW's Director of Rugby until she suddenly left in January last year. The strength of women's rugby in England is in no small way due to Carol's efforts.

The growth of women's rugby is also beginning to have an effect on the rugby media with the launch by of a dedicated women's rugby news website - Ladies Rugby - which, it is claimed, with cover worldwide news on the women's game. With the forthcoming launch of Scrumqueens as well women's rugby may at last get the coverage it deserves.

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory