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...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

European Sevens Championship in England in 2011?

A tantalising suggestion that the FIRA European Sevens Championship could be taking place in England this season - the first time any FIRA tournament will have been played anywhere in the UK or Ireland.

Nothing is confirmed yet, but I have been given details of an (unpublished) letter from FIRA to all unions about the 2011 European Sevens tournaments. There are so many nations who play international sevens in Europe - nearly half of all the active rugby nations in the world - that the continent's regional association has to divide the teams into three divisions, which gets quite complicated. In addition the next Sevens World Cup is in 2013, which implies qualification tournaments in 2012, the seedings and organisation for which will be based on the 2011 results.

So, while the "A" and "B" championships (that is the second and third division) will go on more or less as they do normally, the "Top Ten" championship for the, well, top 10 nations is going to be beefed up a bit. In 2009 none of Europe's representative made even the semi-finals, so the aim must be to try to get continent's leading teams as well prepared as possible in 2013.

With this in mind, instead of a single "Top Ten" tournament this spring, there will be two with the championship being awarded to the best nation across both events, using the same points system as the men's sevens circuit. The first tournament will be in Sweden, but the second will "take place during the last round of the [men's sevens] Grand Prix Series". That last round takes place over two weekends in London and Edinburgh at the end of May - so this could just mean that the top ten European sevens teams will be playing in England for the first time.

Who will they be? At the moment its impossible to say as it depends of how many of the Six Nations enter. Ireland and Scotland women have never been particularly interested in Sevens - neither entered the 2009 World Cup (well, Scotland did but then pulled out). England will definitely take part, as will France and Italy and Wales will probably take part.

However, do not take it for granted that the winners will be a Six Nations team - Sevens is a different world. Spain are an awesome sevens formation - European champions last season - while Netherlands, Russia and sevens specialists Portugal cannot be underestimated. In addition - assuming Scotland and Ireland are absent - Germany and Sweden will be pretty competitive.

No guarantees yet, but if it does take place in England it should be a great weekend.

Are things any different in England?

Interesting article here about the state of women's (and girls') rugby in Ireland.

On the face of it, Ireland are one of the great success stories of recent years. Over the past five years the also-rans of Six Nations rugby have become a real force in the game, and must stand a real chance of winning the runner-up spot in next year's tournament.

However, beneath the surface there are concerns and problems with the game, and room for improvement. And what is interesting is the way many of the complaints of the players in the article could come from anywhere in the world - even New Zealand and, dare I say it, England. Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that the statements could have come from just about any sport anywhere.

What is the answer? Who knows - though I would suggest that complaining long and loud whenever and wherever girls' and women's is treated as being less important than men's is probably a start. Things are getting better, as coverage of the last World Cup showed, but there is still a long, long way to go.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Herts newsletter girls' rugby special

The latest edition of "About Herts" - the quarterly county rugby newsletter - features a massive five page section devoted to the success of girls' and women's rugby in the county. Much of it has appeared on Herts blog, but there are previously unpublished match reports from the first round of county games, plus other articles about the success of the game in the county.

Copies will have been sent to the club and may be lying around the clubhouse, but failing that a PDF can be downloaded from here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

News from Black Fern country - a must read!

Its taken me a little time to pick up on this - and a great shame too - because an excellent new blog, devoted to women's rugby, has been launched in New Zealand.

Women's Rugby NZ launched on 8th September, hitting the ground running with an introduction that began with that question everyone asks - how did the Black Ferns manage to win 4 consecutive world cups if they only played 7 test matches in four years between the last two world cups? Later posts cover every aspect of New Zealand women's and girls' rugby from junior and school level all the way to the national team.

But its not just reports and regurgitated press releases - there's interesting and provocative articles like this one, which gets behind the latest NZRFU player statistics and comes up with some worrying conclusions for the future. Then there's also video, reports from Black Ferns about their World Cup experiences, and even news about a new range of rugby kit designed for women (yes - we have heard it before, but maybe this time...?). And the site looks great too!

Why is it so good? I think the answer to that is contained in the author line for many of the articles. Farah Palmer, Melodie Robinson... this isn't some individual's fan's blog from the sidelines - this is being written by people at the centre of the game.

Would be nice if they made their RSS feed a bit easier to find, but other than that rather geeky, technical point its brilliant. So if you DO want to know why the Black Ferns dominate World Rugby, start here!

S'no(w) chance of play for Old Girls

Its official. Wonky has been forced to call off today's long awaited reunion fixture for the Former Legends owing to the small matter of a couple of inches of snow, plus overnight temperatures in double figures. That is minus double figures.

Instead all players and camp followers are invited to a get-together at the White Lion in Baldock tonight, at 7pm - which is probably where just about everyone would have ended up anyway even if the match had taken place.

Attempts will be made to organise another game - maybe around Easter. Although looking back at previous Easters... 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Forget the snow... remember the summer

Because three tries from the World Cup are among the IRB's shortlist of 18 competing for "try of the year" (well "televised try of the year" is we are being entirely honest - hence the lack of any women in any previous shortlists, and the almost certain absence of any next year as well).

Anyway, the three tries (see below) are from Danielle Waterman (v USA), Australia's Cobie-Jane Morgan (Australia v Wales), and Huriana Manuel (New Zealand v Australia). To my mind it is the last of the three that is probably the best - Danielle seems to benefit from some awful American tackling (or the lack thereof), while Cobie-Jane was the third beneficiary of the 20 minutes of Welsh suicide that opened (and, to all intents and purposes, also closed) their World Cup campaign. Well taken though it is, the Welsh defence is a bit of a shambles. Huriana's try is, of the other hand, scored against a well organised defence and is also a true team effort.

However, make your own mind up and then email "Try 12" (or 11, or 10) to Or, if you want to check out the men's tries that are up for the award, go here.

(Thanks to ScrumQueens)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gloucester 10s: Joe invites the world to come and play

Joe has now circulated his invitation to clubs to attend the Gloucestershire Girls’ rugby 10s tournament - and has asked for it to be circulated as widely as possible. So here it is. Tell everyone!

Easter 2010 saw Girls’ rugby teams from around the UK descend upon Harptury College in Gloucestershire for the second annual Gloucester City 10s, a 2 day rugby festival organised and operated by Gloucester Girls Rugby Charitable Trust Fund (GGRCTF). The event was a huge success both on and off the field with approximately 500 girls participating over the weekend, the event managed to attract substantial support from a number of well known sponsors. Regrettably by Summer 2010 the charity was in the process of being wound up and any chance of the annual event continuing seemed unlikely

However the show must go on and with the support of both the Gloucestershire Rugby Football Union and Hartpury College, the event returns in 2011. The competition now under the name of 'Gloucestershire 10s' is being organised by a volunteer management team who now invite entries from interested clubs.

The 2011 event will be held over Easter weekend with an under 15 tournament on Saturday 23 April and an under 18 tournament on Sunday 24 April. Clubs may enter both U15 and U18 teams, and there are up to 16 team places available in each age group. The management team are pleased to announce a new pricing structure for the 2011 event, with the standard entry fee reflecting a reduction of £15 on last years price. This is an open tournament and has the potential to be the largest Girls 10s festival in South West England. Please find attached a copy of tournament invite letter, entry form and rules & regulations documents. If you are interested in entering, please follow the instructions outlined with these documents. If you have difficulty opening the attached files please contact Joe Randall, Event Manager by email (

The tournament management team is keen to hear from businesses or organisations that are interested in getting involved with the tournament. For information on possible sponsorship opportunities please contact a member of the management team using the details below.

It would be appreciated if you could forward this message to any teams clubs you feel might be interested in entering a team.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Kind regards,

Joe Randall

Sunday, December 12, 2010

County round-up

Results from a few games are still to come in, but there was one clear winner this weekend - the weather.

Hertfordshire game v Kent, which should have been played at Thetford, was moved to Saracens (Eastern Counties did not travel) - but other counties were not so lucky. Other U15 and U18 games in Devon (v Dorset), Hampshire (v Surrey), Lancashire (v Cumbria), North Midlands (v NLD) and Northumberland (v Cheshire) were all cancelled - which is going to make selections for the Divisional trials a bit of a challenge as they will have to be based on a single match last month.

At U15 level, Sussex - another of the counties that have benefited from unsanctioned fixtures - used that extra experience to win a three-way fixture, blowing away Middlesex 43-0 before slipping past Berkshire 24-20. Berkshire recovered to beat Middlesex 17-5.

In the only other result so far published Leicestershire recovered from their mauling by Hertfordshire last month to beat Essex 49-5.

At U18 level Berkshire seem to have come out on top in the same triangular with a 19-10 win over Sussex, who in turn beat Middlesex 27-0. However the result of the day was Hertfordshire 60-0 trashing of Kent.

A couple of results are still awaited, but the main conclusion from this weekend is again how amazingly good our county's girls are. If the London & SE Divisional squads are not packed with Herts girls in the New Year then something will be very wrong!

"Brilliant" Syd try defeats Kent

News from Herts U15 game with Kent where a try from Syd ensured the defeat of Kent today.

A long period of forward play had just resulted in Hertfordshire's first try, when Sydney caught the resulting restart. From there, to quote one spectator, Syd went on a "brilliant ... run down the line from Kent, evading and handing off several to score under the post".

The resulting conversion put Herts 12-7 ahead, which was to be the final score - a truly impressive win over a county that has been playing a series of extra unsanctioned matches in recent weeks. We shall now wait to see who gets to go to the Divisional trials - but at least one Letchworth girls looks a pretty safe bet!

How to deal with an interviewer...

Not really relevant to the usual coverage on this blog, but this cannot be missed. A masterclass from Saracens coach on how to deal with an annoying interviewer. Brilliant.

Dream Team: more details for the 20th

The big game is just over a week away now. Warm-up starts at 7pm, with a kick-off at around 7.30, and sundry seasonal extras.

If all goes well (ie. injuries etc. permitting) the Letchworth team could look something like this (actual positins to be decided - or indeed swapped around during the game)...

Rosie Randall
Carla Kelly
Sasha Acheson
Fern Glenister
Jess Robinson
Steph Crome
Lizell Heather
Hayley Guilder
Natalie Threlfall
Laura "Bubbles" Barnard
Katie Alcock
Nikki Alcock
Chloe Baker
Mel Hobbs
Randy Randfield

Coaches: Wonky and Joe Randall

...which looks a pretty awesome team! Don't miss it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Double blow for schoolgirl rugby in North Herts

Threatened cuts to School Sports Partnerships nationwide have been well covered in the press and on TV in recent weeks - a scheme that has been a very significant effect on introducing girls to rugby in the county (most of the inter-school tournaments would probably have never happened without our local schemes), however news in this week's Comet could result in an even bigger blow, especially in our area.

If the report on Page 2 is correct, North Herts District Council will be withdrawing all funding from Herts Youth Games - presumably from 2012, if not 2011. Even leaving aside the huge irony involved in cancelling support for the biggest local multi-sport event in the same year that the Olympics are taking place less than 40 miles away, this could have a major effect on rugby in schools - especially primary schools.

Herts Youth Games includes tag rugby tournaments for both boys and girls - indeed overall the Games tend to favour girls sport, with significantly more girls events than boys, providing support at just the age when many girls start to give up sport. What is more by having a girls rugby event in a male-dominated sport like rugby it encourages girls to try out a sport that they might never normally consider.

Yes, its tag. Yes, the current HYG is a U11 event which doesn't quite work with current RFUW age bands, but anything that puts rugby balls in the hands of schoolgirls cannot be bad. And every spring just about every primary school in the area puts together a boys AND a girls team, and takes part in at least one - often more than one - tag tournament, with the top girls going into the North Herts team.

The question and worry must be that - without that HYG goal to aim at - will schools bother? And if they do, without the carrot of a girls competition, even if they do will they bother putting together girls teams, or involving girls?

And - of course - it goes without saying that Letchworth Girls would never have come into existence without Herts Youth Games.  HYG works on so many levels - it would be a huge blow if it disappeared.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gloucester 10s 2011 - now under new management!

A familiar face has taken over the running of one of the best weekends of club rugby.

Joe Randall - coach of our girls team from 2005-2007 (and hopefully to be involved with the Old Girls game) - has taken over the management of the Gloucester 10s tournament.

Gloucester 10s was first played in 2009 as a replacement for the popular (but unaccountably cancelled) RFUW National 10s, which had been a popular event for the previous 2-3 seasons. It has been an even bigger success than the old Nationals, and with Joe in charge promises to be just as great an event this season.

The new season has resulted in some rethinking about its dates, but after some thought next week Joe and Gloucester RFU will be inviting entries to the 2011 tournament, to be held again at Hartpury College on 23rd-24th April (probably U18s on Day 1, and U15s Day 2).

Letchworth took part in the first edition in 2009, but we were unable to go in 2010 as our partners last season - Saracens - did not wish to attend. Hopefully we will have sufficient players on our own this year - it may just be a question of transport.

Return of the Legends

Great news today that the "Old Girls" match on 20th December is now definitely ON!

The game was thrown into doubt last week when the original opponents for the "Legends Reunited" - Welwyn Old Girls - pulled out because they were unable to raise any sort of team. However, great work behind the scenes by Wonky and Amanda Bate has resulted in a replacement team being formed.

This will largely be based around a core of players from Hitchin (so a nice bit of local rivalry!) plus some other players from other local clubs. Kick-off should be at around 7.30, with suitable festive additions to the evening (including warming half-time refreshments).

So - if you want to play (for either side!) - please get back to me or Wonky, and failing that why not come along  and watch and take part in what should be a fun evening!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Fixture dates 2011-12

In perhaps the most remarkable symbol of the new world we have joined since the "merger" between RFU and RFUW, the dates for club, county and divisional fixtures for next season have been published - at least six months earlier than RFUW ever managed on their own (indeed it has not been unknown in the past for the structure to not be finalised until after the season had started!).

Club training/matches: Sept 4*, 11*, 18*; Oct 2, 9, 23, 30; Nov 13, 20, 27; Dec 4, 18; Jan 1*, 8, 15, 29; Feb 5, 26; Mar 4, 11 (U15 only), 18, 25(U18 only); Apr 8*, 15 (Easter), 22, 29 (*= training only)

County: Sept 25 (training/development/trials); Oct 16 (match); Nov 6 (match); Dec 11 (match)

Division: Jan 22 (trials); Feb 12 (training), 19 (match); Mar 11 (U18 match); 25 (U15 training); Apr 1 (U15 tournament, U18 match)

Nationals 7s: May 8

Divisional dates will also, obviously, be used for club fixtures and training - but not for league matches as the "Youth Structured Season" booklet also says that "Club and cluster matches should take place on Club Training or Match (CMT) dates only" (ie. the club dates above).

The major things to note are the extra county fixture (but the lack of any training dates); that the number of club weekends is roughly that same, and that the National 7s is at the start of May - which implies a Herts 7s on 29th April... unless RFUW change their minds again!

New season, new structure, new controversy

Well, its not taken long...

Only a few weeks into the new-style girls' season and it has been discovered that some counties are playing fast-and-loose with the new rules, which is resulting in angry letters to RFUW.

What is the problem? Well, you will know that this season RFUW have taken over the management and structure of the county programme, organising all games and dictating when and how many training session there should be. In some areas this was unpopular as the new programme was much shorter than many counties had had in the past, and some counties asked RFUW is they could organise some extra games and training sessions.

The answer was clear - no.

Trouble is that other counties seem to have managed to get around this rule by, basically, ignoring it. So - for example - when Hertfordshire next play on 12th December it will be their second fixture, after two or three training sessions. It will be the same for Eastern Counties, who will be their hosts. However for the third team in the triangular - Kent - it will (according to their own website) be their fourth fixture, after at least four training sessions. They - like Surrey (if their website is correct) - have been playing extra fixtures on their "training" weekends, and organising additional midweek training sessions.

In the past such initiative might have been applauded - but for counties following RFUW's rules this will seem a bit unfair (to put it mildly). And with places in the new divisional squad trials being dependent on county performances... well, having had twice as many games and training sessions is hardly going to be a disadvantage to the players involved.

Clearly this would not have been a problem if RFUW had based their new season on the best county programmes - keeping the popular tournaments that had developed - as the demand for extra fixtures would not have happened, but having made the rules they did it is up to them to enforce them, especially when the breaches are so blatant. After all, if they do nothing (or just issue a weak "tut, tut") next season could be interesting... not to say chaotic...

In the meanwhile if this season's London Divisional squad is dominated by girls from Surrey, Kent and other counties who have organised unsanctioned fixtures, don't be too surprised.

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