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...

Friday, December 30, 2011

European Championship mystery

2012 should be the year of the Women's European Rugby Championship. It happens once every four years, in between the World Cups, and normally features the top eight national teams in the A tournament, and all of the rest in a B tournament.

In 2000 10 teams took part, in 2004 this rose to 12, and in 2008 13. But in 2012 only eight teams will be in the championship (see here for fixture information)

The A event, in Italy, will include only four teams - England, France, Italy and Spain - and the B competition will only include Finland, Netherlands, Russia and Sweden. This also means that - for the first time - Scotland, Wales and Ireland do not seem to have entered the European Championship.

Quite why is anyone's guess - but it seems very odd. It is certainly not a positive development step by these Unions (especially Ireland who do not even have the excuse of preparing for the Sevens World Cup).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Women's rugby awards

At this stage regrettably the game does not generate the funding or publicity to justify an award evening with lots of evening dresses and suits at some swanky London venues (or even Salford). Maybe next year. Until then the ScrumQueens Awards for 2011 are well worth a look and - if at all possible - a few comments and debate.

A surprising amount of work and long, agonised debate went into these - especially the young player and 7s awards - while the make up of the related 2011 Team of the Year, also published today, was equally fraught with long discussions into the early hours.

Anyway, take a look - and leave your comments on the ScrumQueens facebook page.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wikipedia threatens coverage of women's rugby - your help needed

The famous internet encyclopaedia "Wikipedia" is threatening to remove an article on a women's national rugby team because it is "not notable" and because the editors have doubts that women play the game.

The article under threat concerns the Laos women's team, but the level of proof being demanded would threaten coverage of almost every other women's national team in the encyclopaedia.  Oddly there are no objections to the page on the Laos men's team, even though this has considerably LESS information than the women's page contains, nor any objections to any pages on western teams - so the editors would seem to be not only openly sexist, but racist as well!

Please could all readers find a few minutes to go to this page, click on "edit" and leave a comment (if you already have a Wikipedia log in first).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wanted: Black Fern sevens players. No previous rugby experience necessary

Anyone else think this advert is just slightly odd?

New Zealand are - finally - forming a women's sevens team (talk about leaving things late!)... but, despite being World Champions at XVs, clearly have no faith at all in their existing young players (or coaches) but are instead trying to attract anyone from any sport.

The Dutch tried a similar idea last year - but that was in a country where rugby is barely known, so trying to attract new talent was understandable. This is a different thing entirely.

It is obviously a reasonable idea to seek to expand a sports player base - and it is true that several leading international players are converts from other sports - but you cannot help but wonder what sort of kick in the teeth this must feel to those currently involved in grass roots rugby in New Zealand, be they teenage players or coaches.

Strange way to go about things....

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Great try compilation from Dubai

Okay - its Spain's tries, not England;s, but as clearly every game was videoed presumably any of the competing nations could do likewise. Anyway, that aside there are some brilliant tries here.

The sheer acceleration of Julia Pla (from about 4:35) is amazing, and the rather undignified penalty given away by Brazil from 3:10 is pretty amusing! But there is much more. Enjoy.

And if you do enjoy that, the full recording of Canada v Spain is well worth watching.

If anyone knows of any other similar compilations, let me know!

So, you want to be a professional rugby player...

A day in the life of the professional Dutch women's rugby sevens team...

Its clearly not all trips to Dubai and Las Vegas - in fact it sounds like its mainly days rolling around in the Amsterdam mud.

And its 2-3 degree colder in Holland than here this time of year!

Now, doesn't a nice warm office somewhere seem so much more attractive...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

"La, La, La! Can't hear you!" BBC response to Sports Personality complaints

If you were annoyed by last week's side-lining of women's sport by the BBC, and angry at he way they tried to palm all the blame off onto a voting system that they created themselves, be prepared to get even angrier when you read the shameful response of their Director of Sport.

A few highlights (or should it be lowlights)...

  • "We stand by the current voting process". Yes, they are going to have a review - because they have been forced to - but nothing will change. 
  • "Having considered a wide range of alternative mechanisms, we remain convinced that the current system is fair, independent and robust." Review? What review? 
  • Nuts and Zoo are included because they "have a readership profile which reaches younger audiences"  Yes - an audience of exclusively men!  "
  • Zoo and Nuts "helps contribute to a balanced panel which is representative of all the BBC's audiences."And in what possible way is an audience of just men "representative of the BBC's audiences?? And really do we want awards decided by readers of soft porn?
  • Sports editors "chosen because of their expertise in the area, their coverage of a wide range of sports throughout the year and the extent of their readership." But does the writer not realise that they are part of the problem? Anyone who has tried to find coverage of the Black Ferns tour in our press - in the very week of this controversy - will know exactly how much "expertise" these dinosaurs have.
  • "We do not include specialist sporting publications given their potential inherent bias to one particular sport nor do we canvas the views of non-sporting publications." So forget it ScrumQueens. Or SportSister. Or any journal or magazine read by women of any age. 
I challenge anyone to come up with a better example of "we know best - go away and do not dare to question us again".


Eighteen England stars now on Twitter

So there is no excuse for not being able to follow what is happening in the England camp. See the column on the left for all the names and links.

Legend in the desert

One former legend had a few days away from the growing cold of winter when she became the first ex-Letchworth Girl to play in the Dubai Sevens.

Jess played for (I think correct me if I am wrong) "RSA Ex-Pat Old Girls" (a team of English students, with some familiar names like India Harvey, while other familiar faces - like Poppy Cleall - also played for other teams) in the third tier Women's Open, and reached the Plate Final (a familiar outcome for a legend in a sevens tournament).

Apparently playing and training in 35 degrees made the return to Loughborough's balmy -5 all the more bracing.

Somerset "county champions"

Its a shade strange to award a "county championship" based on just three rounds of games, but Somerset lead the RFUWs table at the end of this season's senior county programme.

Yorkshire, North Mids and Kent might dispute this - North Mids suffering from cancellations as they only played two games. Each are, however, clearly their own divisional winners - maybe if RFUW could organise a play-off weekend to settle all arguments?

Hertfordshire lost narrowly to Kent - but were otherwise unbeaten. The final weekend's results were:

Lancashire 0, Yorkshire 6
Northumberland 46, Cumbria 12
Warwickshire 0, NLD 32
East Mids 0, Leicestershire 49
North Mids 5, Staffordshire 15
Middlesex 21, Surrey 26
Eastern Counties 0, Hertfordshire 20
Sussex 0, Kent 65
Somerset 52, Gloucestershire 12
Berkshire 5, Cornwall 6
Walkovers for Cheshire, Hampshire, and Dorset & Wilts over Durham, Essex and Devon respectively

Which results in the following official results table:

Somerset Ladies3300138151232015
Kent Ladies330011831872014
Yorkshire Ladies 33005328251013
North Midlands Ladies22001017942010
Surrey Ladies32018543421110
Northumberland Ladies32018342412010
Notts,Lincs & Derby Ladies32017446282010
Staffordshire Ladies2200552728109
Hertfordshire Ladies3201543024019
Cornwall Ladies32011138-27008
Middlesex Ladies31021093673127
Lancashire Ladies3102552233127
Devon Ladies2101503020116
Essex Ladies110025322105
Cheshire Ladies210134304015
Gloucestershire Ladies21013767-30004
Eastern Counties Ladies31021350-37004
East Midland Ladies10011025-15011
Berkshire Ladies2002856-48011
Leicestershire Ladies20021767-50011
Durham Ladies1001327-24000
Dorset & Wilts Ladies2002036-36000
Hampshire Ladies20021982-63000
Cumbria Ladies20021291-79000
Warwickshire Ladies2002085-85000
Sussex Ladies20020148-148000

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Third Test photo diary

The Black Ferns have again published a "photo diary", this time covering yesterday's third test. Again - well worth a look.

The RFU are also promising to post their highlights package shortly. Watch this space!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

IRB Dubai Sevens: almost right, but...

The "experiment" of the IRB's women's challenge sevens seems, going by all reaction so far, to have been a great success and hopefully from here we can go on to a proper women's series (though the barrier to that is likely to be finding a home for the fourth leg, London and Edinburgh not showing much interest).

If we do go on from here then the main improvements would seem to be...

Get the seeding right. Giving Canada a seeding below USA - while true to the World Cup positions in 2009 - seemed otherwise a strange idea by the IRB. The result was a serious imbalance in the pools that was obvious from the moment they were announced, with Spain (who, it should be remembered, lead Canada 14-0 past halfway in their game) losing out. The Spanish would certainly have been a match for the USA.

The best 8 teams in the world? Well, obviously these were not the best eight teams. Even leaving aside New Zealand's refusal to join in the fun, the fact is that China, and particularly Brazil, were heavily outclassed and its possible to come up with half-a-dozen teams that could, perhaps, have equipped themselves better.

However there is, of course, a very good argument for including them in the tournament (in order to represent parts of the world where the game is growing and developing), but if geography is to be allowed to trump ability then why does Asia and South America get a leg up by not - say - the Caribbean or Pacific? Why should China get a free ride into the tournament but not Samoa, or Fiji (either would be stronger than China)? And why Brazil and not, say, Trinidad?

In short, the qualification criteria for any series next season need to be clear and open. It does not do the game, or IRB, any good if decisions of this importance are taken behind closed doors with no explanation.

That aside, an announcement about a series for next year cannot be long coming. Its certainly long overdue.

Honours even as international year ends

So, 8-8 in Esher between New Zealand and England. Highlights should be on the RFU website probably some time tomorrow. Match report up on ScrumQueens now.

While all that was going on, England's sevens team's brave run came to an end in the final against Canada. After a great start, Canada gradually took control and dominated the second half, winning 26-7 and proving that they are by far the world's best women's sevens team,

Even their development side beat France, but could not complete a double, losing to the Netherlands in the Women's Invitational - the first ever Dutch tournament win.

And so a year ends that has seen 95 nations field official women's international rugby teams, at either 7s or 15s - plus a few other countries that have fielded club teams by no national team. Because the media largely ignore it we often forget how big women's rugby is - no other team sport, apart from football, even comes close. This year also saw 54 test matches and over 400 7s internationals - by far the busiest year ever, so the game is also expanding pretty quickly as well.

Unique women's international rugby double-bill

Following England's sensational win over World Champions Australia in the Dubai 7s this morning, we could have a double bill of women's international rugby today.

At 2pm England kick-off the third test against New Zealand - again free live webfeed from which hopefully will work properly this time.

Then, at around 3.20pm England's sevens team is due to play their final against Canada - which should be shown on Sky Sports 1. They have the media rights, and showed the semi. No guarantees... but someone should have a word with them if they fail to show the game.

This does mean that you may have to watch two games on two screens at the same time!
  • In the meanwhile you can view a recording of the 80 minutes from Tuesday - again go to
  • Also a big shout-out of congratulations to Canada, who have reached TWO finals - their reserve, development squad beat France to reach the Women's Invitational final, where they will play the Netherlands. 

Friday, December 02, 2011

Dubai round-up, Day 1

The first day of the first official IRB sevens has finished, largely predictably, but with some surprises.

The first surprise seems to be that felt by the Australian captain (right). Clearly no-one had told her that she would be forced to wear this natty little ensemble instead of the hallowed Green and Gold. She is not happy, is she?

What colour would you call it? Gang-green maybe? Slightly nausea inducing anyway. England's rep, on the other hand, will have already known that she would have to dress like Tommy the Tiger and had already chosen the tactic of hiding in the background instead of standing holding the cup (which, as No. 2 seeds, she should have done).

Anyway, crimes against fashion and good taste aside, the rugby has been competitive. As expected, Pool A was a ding-dong affair with Spain coming so close against Australian, and then throwing away a 14-0 lead to Canada before losing 19-14 from the final play of the game, before Canada beating Australia 14-7 (Australia's only points coming near the end). Any of these three games (with the possible exception of the final one) could have gone either way, which - if anything - shows how badly the IRB got the seeding wrong here. All three teams swept past Brazil with embarrassing ease.

England won Pool B - which is not a huge surprise, though the size of their win over the only serious challengers - USA - was remarkable (31-0), especially after England had only beaten South Africa by three points. Michaela Staniford was the hero, fresh from the Black Fern tests, she scored in every game.

The result is this is that USA will play Canada in one semi-final tomorrow, and England will play Australia - not, I am tempted to say, the semis that the organisers will have wanted, but games full of tension and history Australia will love to get some revenge for the WRWC semi-final defeat - and will probably be favourites to do just that - not least because they already have the experience of playing all their games in the main stadium, while England have bee plying their trade outside, a situation that seems very unfair by tells us where the TV power lies (Sky have the rights to this tournament in the UK and ignored the women's tournament completely).

Elsewhere, Netherlands and France moved pretty easily towards their inevitable final meeting in the Women's Invitational - a game which should see the Dutch record their first major tournament win.

Meanwhile, somewhere a bit warmer...

The Dubai Sevens have begun with the historic first IRB sanctioned women's sevens (World Cup excepted) (see earlier post for details). All seems to be going as expected so far, Spain ran Australia close but - it seems - lost out to dodgy refereeing decisions (according to the Canadians who were watching!), and Canada thumped Brazil. England have also won their opening game against China 26-15, and USA beat South Africa 22-10 - again as expected.

The opening two rounds of Pool A games are on the main pitch, so plenty of information on them - but England's pool is hidden away on Pitch 2 so the information coming out of there is a bit slow (like an hour behind!) - though we hear that apparently Michaela Staniford scored a hat-trick in the opening game.

Also on the back pitches Netherlands, France and Kenya are playing in another tournament. In fact there are five women's sevens tournaments going on, including what is in effect an Arabian Gulf "championship", and an U18 tournament for local girls.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Highlights from the second test

England v New Zealand, last night. For some strange reason this is only available for three days... so enjoy!

Amazing photo from last night's test

Is this one of the best rugby photos ever? It crackles with tension and movement and strength and... well, everything. Its brilliant.
It shows England's Alexandra Matthews (who is still only 18! If she was male she's be a household name and on her way to her first £million!) up against Amanda Murphy. She's clearly just stepped off her right foot - is she going to carry to her left, or dodge right again? Has Murphy got that covered? A moment frozen in time...

A few more from the same photographer - Rob Munro - can be found here. Meanwhile the Black Ferns have another photo diary, this time of the Second Test.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

England go 2-0!

Full report from ScrumQueens - up online within a minute of the whistle!

Great win by the younger end of the England squad - 21-7. Whitewash looks on for the weekend!

Second test - LIVE

Quick reminder that the Second Test starts in 30 minutes - and will be streamed LIVE from FREE!

If you miss it, recordings will be available later on the same page.

Monday, November 28, 2011

BBC fails to recognise women's sport. Again.

The BBC have just announced their shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year... and they are all male.

Okay, we hardly expected any women rugby players, but in a year when there were a fair few British female world champions, not to mention a European win in golf's Solheim Cup (the female Ryder Cup) to have no women at all in the list is nothing short of a disgrace.

In times past the award was entirely in the hands of a public vote - but now a shortlist is produced by votes from Sports Editors of newspapers and magazines... including (and I kid you not here) soft porn "lads mags" such as Zoo and Nuts! No women's journals were invited to vote.

Complaints to the BBC - click here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black future? A Kiwi girls' rugby coach writes...

This is well worth a wider audience. Its a message sent to me from a girls' and women's coach in New Zealand (and as he also published it on a discussion board it already in the public domain). On the plus side it does suggest that England will lift the next World Cup, but that is about the only positive...

John I think England will win the series comfortably. The BFs have managed despite everything being against them in terms of resources, playing opportunities etc etc to keep above England but the great generation of BFs which generated a world dominance have retired and this a green squad. They haven`t even had recent match play (The first game for three months at any level for most players) so the odds were even more stacked against them. To be honest, I`m suprised they only lost 0-10. I would`ve expected England to be way more dominant than that scoreline in the first game. Anyway, if they lose the series 0-3 it might finally make the NZRFU get serious about the women`s programme.

Again, it`s an absolute joke that the 2014 WRWC is back in Europe and the NZRFU should hang their head in shame. The NZFA just hosted the womens U17 football World Cup last year and got many crowds of 10,000 plus including almost 20,000 for the Kiwi girls games at North Harbour Stadium. To put that into perspective, that`s more than the biggest crowd the Japan RFU or Italian RFUs got to the Junior RWCs. It`s also far more than the record for any BF test in NZ when not part of an ABs curtainraiser. Now if the NZFA can get those numbers for U17 womens football why the hell can`t the NZRFU put on a WRWC that beats the hell out of that?

Worse, the hard work of the NZFA is really paying dividends. NZ might have won the RWC and there might be a glow about rugby in NZ at the moment but it`s women`s football which is forging ahead in NZ, not rugby. The womens senior and age group teams have competed at the last few football WCs and have had some pretty big media attention. Many of the big high schools in NZ now have 2 or 3 girls soccer teams. Whereas girls rugby, now having been played in many high schools for 10 years or more is still struggling to put one team on the field every year with some schools playing some years and disappearing others which is a completely unsatisfactory situation. It should be at the stage where big schools have a junior team or B team as well a first XV. But it aint. There STILL isn`t even a national 7s or XVs girls high school champs in NZ! And to top things off during the RWC when Jacques Rogge attended the NZOC`s 100th anniversary with 7s exhibition games, the NZRFU told the media they were looking at crossover athletes because they didn`t believe there was enough talent within rugby`s own ranks. I just about had an apopletic fit!! Talk about dismissing all the hard work that coaches and administrators of womens rugby like myself have put in the last 15-20 years and dismissing any idea that they had to actually build girls rugby and create dreams of Olympic gold for high school girls in NZ. Sorry, you`re not good enough. We`re going to take a bunch of netballers or triathletes cos we think they`ve got more potential.

The BFs may have some match play v England for three years but the reality of womens rugby in NZ under the current NZRFU administration is nothing less than dismal. It shames and pains me to say this, but go England. I hope you give the BFs a towelling (Sorry to the BF players - I`m not against you. I just want you and womens rugby to get a better deal in NZ) It will be the best thing to happen for womens rugby in NZ for a decade.

First test, from a Black Fern perspective

The Black Ferns Facebook page have just published this remarkable photo diary of yesterday's game - from the team hotel, to the ground, the changing rooms, and match.

Lots to look out for - including evidence of a "learn the words of the haka" lesson.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One down, two to go...

10-0 to England!

More detailed reports will appear shortly, but a few impressions...

Emily Scarratt had a blinder - player of the match, deservedly, best game I have seen her play, for England anyway. Reminded me, though, of the time she came up against Letchworth and Nim Parnell in the National 10s... Boom - over the touchline, end of game! Made up for it when we saw her again in the Herts 7s, though!

Natasha Hunt also excellent at scrum-half - should be no.1 in that position - love the speed of pass. Maggie peerless as usual (what would England do without her?). Still worried a bit about Katy McLean, though - great drop, but her kicking is so inconsistent... can't be long before Sarah Hunter takes over?

Friday, November 25, 2011

More England Twitterers

Further to the list of England players you can follow on Twitter that appeared on here a couple of weeks ago, a few more names, including a fairly big one!

Maggie Alphonsi 
Sophie Hemming (Prop)
Marlie Packer (Flanker)
Fiona Pocock (Wing)

Lies, damned lies, and... (part 23. Approximately)

Interesting news article about the IRB's new plan for women's rugby (a copy of the plan would be nice), but in the meanwhile....
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “These are exciting times for Rugby around the world. We have witnessed an 18% growth in participation across the sport since Rugby World Cup 2007"
How on earth does he know? Given the very loose link between many countries player registration data and reality (most especially England's hilarious claims) how can he possibly make such a statement? And with such laser-like accuracy? Not "about 20%", not "more than 15%" - exactly 18% (unless maybe someone said it was about a sixth?).

But also, given the fact that England's wildly inflated totals not only make up a sizeable proportion of the world's alleged rugby player totals, but have apparently been falling (see various panicked initiatives over the past five years or more, many reported on here), how on earth can player numbers be going up this much, if at all?

Wouldn't it be great if someone at the IRB (and RFU) could stop inventing statistics...

England v Black Ferns: Round 1 tomorrow

A reminder that (after the Barbarians/Australia warm-up act) the weekend's big game is on tomorrow at 5pm. The first test is only on Sky, but the next two will be free to all.

Lots of preview articles on Scrumqueens... so no need to add anything here. Should be very close - but I favour England, if for no other reason than they have fewer new faces than the Ferns.

Will be fascinating to see how the coaches manage their squads over three games in a week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

County rugby: Junior festivals

Last weekend saw the first ever official RFUW county festivals for junior teams - though, before RFUW became involved, they had been going on for some years in this part of the country at least, and with plenty of Hertfordshire success!

In London and the South East, as mentioned a couple of days ago, Hertfordshire success continued in the U18s with Simon Shutler bowing out as county coach with yet another county title (we think he never lost a festival as a county coach, either in his U15 days, or with the U18s - he certainly cannot ever remember losing!). The U15s lost their final to Kent (see report), but even so another festival with both of the county's team reaching a final.

Can anyone remember a county festival in the past 6-7 years where Hertfordshire's team failed to at least finish as runners-up? I must confess that I can't - which, for a county with not the most magnificent of sporting traditions, isn't bad. I wonder - have our girls' rugby teams, over the past few years, been the most successful teams that the county had ever produced in any sport?

Anyway - full results from the L&SE tournament are on the Herts blog. So lets look at how things went elsewhere.

North Division
First, congratulations to Lancashire - the only county to do the "double" and win both U15 and U18 titles at their Divisional festivalWith Cumbria, Cheshire and Durham having to combine to create a geographically unlikely team, the Red Rose county only had three opponents, but even so it was an impressive performance. Their U15s lifted their title without conceding a single point (but scoring 94!), while the U18s had some scares but still came through unbeaten.

The scores...

U15 Results
Yorkshire 0 Lancashire 34
Northumberland 21 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 33 Northumberland 5
Lancashire 20 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 27 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Lancashire 40 Northumberland 0

U18 Results
Yorkshire 0 Lancashire 7
Northumberland 0 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 0
Yorkshire 20 Northumberland 5
Lancashire 19 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 7
Yorkshire 0 Cumbria/Cheshire/ Durham 5
Lancashire 5 Northumberland 7

South West Division
The biggest festival was in the South West, where seven teams competed for the U15 crown, and six for the U18. The U15s had a long day - a single round-robin pool, meaning six matches for each team. Cornwall came through this marathon as the only unbeaten team, though Berkshire held them to a draw (but then lost to Devon, but still finished runners-up).

Unfortunately Cornwall were unable to do the double as they did not enter a U18 team at all, so the six remaining teams played off in the same format as London & South East used. However, the far South West triumphed again with Devon taking this title, easily seeing off Dorset & Wilts in the final. Somerset, on the other hand, completed a disappointing day with two wooden spoons.

The scores:
U15 results:
Berkshire 21 Somerset 0
Devon 12 Oxon 0
Berkshire 19 Gloucestershire 5
Cornwall 12 Oxon 7
Berkshire 17 Oxon 5
Berkshire 0 Devon 10
Oxon 28 Somerset 0
Berkshire 5 Dorset &Wilts 0
Gloucestershire 0 Oxon 19
Berkshire 5 Cornwall 5
Gloucestershire 7 Devon 5
Dorset & Wilts 12 Gloucestershire 0
Cornwall 27 Dorset & Wilts 0
Devon 12 Somerset 0
Devon 10 Dorset & Wilts 7
Cornwall 10 Somerset 0
Cornwall 10 Gloucestershire 0
Gloucestershire 0 Somerset 0
Devon 0 Cornwall 5
Somerset 0 Dorset & Wilts 24
Dorset & Wilts 7 Oxon 5

U18 results:
Pool A:
Berkshire 5 Devon 19
Gloucestershire 5 Devon 10
Berkshire 5 Gloucestershire 5

Pool B:
Dorset & Wilts 27 Somerset 0
Dorset & Wilts 15 Ox & Bucks 12
Somerset 0 Ox & Bucks 12

5th/6th: Somerset 5 Berkshire 15
3rd/4th: Ox/Bucks 15 Gloucestershire 19
1st/2nd: Devon 21 Dorset & Wilts 0

Midlands Division
And finally the Midlands. Four U15s and five U18s competed for these titles, with North Midlands (home of Worcester) missing out on a double by two points - the margin of defeat for their U18s against Staffordshire & Warwickshire who went on to take the U18 title. However, the North Midlands U15s had few problems in their event, which saw some very high scoring for short festival matches.

The results:
U15 results:
NLD 5 Leicestershire 29
North Midlands 24 East Midlands 10
NLD 5 North Midlands 34
Leicestershire 10 East Midlands 0
NLD 5 East Midlands 12
Leicestershire 0 North Midlands 38

U18 results:
NLD 5 Leicestershire 0
North Midlands 5 Staffs/Warks 7
East Midlands 0 Staffs/Warks 14
NLD 10 North Midlands 17
East Midlands 0 NLD 22
Leicestershire 0 North Midlands 12
Staffs/Warks 7 NLD 5
Leicestershire 5 East Midlands 0
North Midlands 22 East Midlands 0
Staffs/Warks 19 Leicestershire 0

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Well done Herts!

Congratulations to Herts U18s, winners of the first official London & SE Divisional county championship, with an impressive performance today, winning every game and not conceding a single try.

Herts U15s also reached their final, but lost 10-7 to Kent.

This is all the more impressive when you consider that Herts has players from six different clubs, with six different coaches and playing patterns, all of which has to be brought together. I am not sure that many other counties select from as many teams.

All goes to show that Herts remains one of the leading counties for girls' rugby. Long may it continue, and let's also hope that the on-field success will now be followed by lots of Herts names being selected for the Divisional squads in the New Year.

Go Greens!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Herts juniors favourites for county finals

Despite a somewhat mixed set of performances this season, a very kind draw means that both Herts U15s and U18s are favourites to reach the finals at this weekend's London and South East divisional festival, to be played at Beckenham on Sunday.

The leadings county teams in the Division - in terms of results - have been Surrey and Sussex in the U18s, and Sussex and Kent in the U15s, all of which have 100% records. But Surrey, Sussex and Kent have been drawn together in Pool A for both the U15 and U18 competitions - true Groups of Death where it is impossible to guess who might come out on top!

Hertfordshire, on the other hand, are in Pool B where they will play Hampshire (who have so far lost all of their games at U15) and Essex (who have won only one of four). At U18 Essex have a good record, with a win and a draw, but Hampshire have yet to win a game.

Click here for fixture details

All three Black Fern games to be broadcast/webcast LIVE!

Great news from the RFUW - all three of England's games against the Black Ferns will be available watch live.

  • The opening test on 26th November will still be on Sky (via the Red Button - which is a bit annoying as that makes recording it, or watching it online, impossible), kick off 5pm
  • The second test, on 29th November (at Esher) will available on, kick-off 7pm
  • The third test, on December 3rd, will also be available on, kick-off 3pm

The streaming page will be available from 28th November, and will be accessible free to viewers overseas as well as in the UK. A full recording on the page of the second and third tests will also be available for three days after each game, and edited highlights will also

This is not the first time that England women's internationals have been streamed, five or six years ago some home games were covered by independent, commercial webcasters, but viewers had to pay a subscription fee to watch the live games. This will be the first time that the RFU/RFUW have streamed their own games - and the first time the games have been made available free. Most international games in North America and the Caribbean, as well as occasional games in France and eastern Europe, have been successfully webcast for some years.

  • England will also be playing against Wales at Twickenham in the Six Nations, which means that there is a very good chance that this game will also be broadcast on the BBC.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

England Sevens avoid Group of Death

The day after England announced their very young and inexperienced sevens squad for Dubai (2-3 December) - the result of a clash with the Black Ferns tour, rather than adventurous thinking on the part of the English selectors - the draw for the tournament seems to have been leaked by the Spanish RFU. Though as yet unconfirmed by the IRB, the draw does make sense as it seems to be largely based on the result of the 2009 World Cup - with one important alteration.

If the IRB had kept strictly to the 2009 rankings, Pool A in Dubai would have brought together Australia (winners in 2009), England (5th), Canada (6th), and Brazil (10th) while Pool B would have been USA (3rd=), South Africa (3rd=), Spain (7th), and China (9th).

However, the unbalanced nature of these groups seems to have resulted in a bit of tinkering that moves England from Pool A to Pool B, at the expense of Spain. It has to be said that recent form suggests that Canada and the USA should also have swapped groups, but perhaps IRB's knowledge of the relative form of non-European teams is limited.

The result is that the weaker Pool B should see England's young team win a semi-final place - though whether they will go any further is questionable. Pool A, on the other hand, gives have no room for mistakes for any team with the deciding factor perhaps being the order in which the games are played - whoever plays Brazil last will benefit from knowing what they have to do to make the last four.

The (unconfirmed) pools, as announced by the Spanish RFU, are:

Pool A: Australia, Canada, Spain, Brazil
Pool B: England, USA, South Africa, China

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rugby failing to sell holiday destinations

The Caribbean... . Sun, sand, sea - a holiday paradise. That is the image we have of these islands, isn't it?

Well, anyone following the current North American & Caribbean Sevens in Barbados may be getting a different impression. This (right) is what the pitch looks like near the start of Day 2 - Day 1 ended early with driving, torrential rain and corner flags bent all but horizontal by the wind.

This deluge comes fresh on the back of the recent rain-swept men's World Cup that did so much to encourage potential visitors to ensure that they packed an umbrella, if not a wetsuit, for any antipodean holiday, while England's tour to the south of France earlier this month appeared to take place in a previously unrecorded Mediterranean monsoon season.

Once upon a time it was said that, to make it rain, all you need do was attempt to play cricket, now it seems that in order to end any drought all you need do is organise an international rugby tournament. Anyone venturing to Dubai next month should ensure that pack waterproofs. And flippers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Eight changes as England call up big guns for Ferns

Eight of women's rugby's biggest names are back in the England squad for the series against the Black Fern.

The squad announced today includes 18 players from the party that went to France, but replaces Rosemarie Crowley, Rose Jay, Ceri Large, Sarah McKenna, Harriet Millar-Mills, Isobel Noel-Smith, Tamara Taylor and Lydia Thompson with Maggie Alphonsi, Rachael Burford, Becky Essex, Sophie Hemming, Katy McLean, Claire Purdy, Tamara Taylor, and Nollie Waterman.

However, two new caps from the French tour are retained - Hannah Gallagher and Alex Matthews.

This is clearly a squad that means business. Every player has played at least one test match - following the last Six Nations England have had both the Nations Cup and the French tour to experiment with new players, positions and tactics - five tests and one uncapped international, so there is no need to try anything new. The result is a pretty awesome team.

The challenge, of course, will be to keep the team on top form over a challenging three games in just over a week - but again England's preparation for that could hardly have been better, with four test in a fortnight in Canada and now two in four days in France.

The full squad is:
  • Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens)
  • Rachael Burford (Richmond)
  • Rowena Burnfield (Richmond) 
  • Rochelle Clark (Worcester)
  • Rebecca Essex(Richmond)
  • Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
  • Hannah Gallagher (Saracens)
  • Sophie Hemming (Bristol)
  • Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
  • Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) 
  • Laura Keates (Worcester) 
  • La Toya Mason (Wasps)
  • Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
  • Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
  • Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
  • Marlie Packer (Bristol)
  • Claire Purdy(Wasps) 
  • Alice Richardson (Richmond)
  • Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
  • Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
  • Amy Turner (Richmond)
  • Tamara Taylor(Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
  • Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
  • Kay Wilson (Richmond)
The dates for the three tests are:
  • Nov 26th England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm, live on Sky Sports
  • Nov 29th England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
  • Dec 3rd England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm
Tickets for the game at Twickenham on November 26th are available from and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.

Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29th and December 3rd will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. They can also be purchased in advance at

Counties - looking ahead

After last weekend's results (see below) the senior county teams have one more round of games to look forward to on 4th December:
Lancashire  v Yorkshire; Cheshire  v Durham; Northumberland  v Cumbria; Warwickshire v NLD; East Mids  v Leciestershire; North Mids  v Staffordshire; Middlesex  v Surrey; Eastern Counties  v Hertfordshire; Sussex v Kent; Hampshire  v Essex; Dorset & Wilts v Devon; Somerset  v Gloucestershire; Berkshire  v Cornwall 
The juniors, on the other hand, have divisional festivals on 20th November. Hertfordshire will, of course, be in the London and South East divisions tournament at Beckenham and the current form of their opponents looks like this:

London & SE U18s
1. Surrey (2 wins from 2 games, points difference +78)
2. Sussex (2 wins and 1 draw from 3, +39)
3. Essex (1 win and 1 draw from 3, +2)
4. Kent (1 from 2, -4)
5. Hertfordshire (1 from 2, -14)
6. Hampshire (0 from 2, -50)
7. Middlesex (0 from 4, -91)
8. Eastern Counties (have not played)

London & SE U15s
1. Sussex (4 from 4, +186)
2. Kent (2 from 2, +48)
3. Hertfordshire (1 from 2, +1)
4. Surrey (1 from 2, -16)
5. Middlesex (1 from 4, -90)
6. Essex (1 from 4, -103)
7. Hampshire (0 from 2, -33)
8. Eastern Counties (have not played)

Elsewhere one result (Leicestershire U18s v East Midlands) has not been published, so the Midlands table is not quite complete. However, that aside :

Midlands U18s
1. NLD (3 from 3, +54)
2. Staffs/Warwicks (3 from 4, +64)
3. North Mids (1 from 2, +38)
4. East Mids (0 from 3, -70)
5. Leicestershire (0 from 2, -86)

North U18s
1. Northumberland (2 from 2, +15)
2. Lancashire (1 from 2, +5)
3. Yorkshire (1 from 2, 0)
4. Cumbria/Durham (0 from 2, -20)
5. Cheshire (have not played)

South West U18s
1. Dorset & Wilts  (2 from 2, +112)
2. Berkshire  (3 from 3, +79)
3. Gloucestershire  (3 from 4, +22)
4. Devon  (2 from 3, +51)
5. Oxford/Bucks  (0 from 4, -72)
6. Somerset  (0 from 2, -80)
7. Cornwall  (0 from 2, -102)

Midlands U15s
1. East Mids  (2 from 2, +51)
2. North Mids ( 2 from 2, +18)
3. Leicestershire (0 from 2, -24)
4. NLD (0 from 2, -48)
5. Staffs/Warwicks (have not played)

North U15s
1. Lancashire  (2 from 2, +119)
2. Northumberland  (2 from 2, +53)
3. Yorkshire (0 from 2, -68)
4. Cumbria/Durham (0 from 2, -104)
5. Cheshire (have not played)

South West U15s
1. Devon (4 from 4, +109)
2. Berkshire (2 from 2, +91)
3. Dorset & Wilts (1 from 2 (+1 draw), + 58)
4. Oxford/Bucks  (3 from 4, + 51)
5. Cornwall (0 from 2 (+1 draw), -12)     
6. Gloucestershire (0 from 4, -71)
7. Somerset (0 from 2, -145)

Monday, November 07, 2011

County results: round 2

Adult county results are now on Rugby Roundup, but not (it seems) juniors - so...


After two games, only seven of the 26 counties remain unbeaten with North Midlands and Somerset the stand-out teams. North Mids followed a 53-0 win over Warwickshire in round one with a 48-7 win at Leicestershire last weekend, while Somerset beat Berkshire 50-3 this weekend having beaten Dorset & Wilts 36-0 in round one. However, the biggest win was Middlesex's 83-0 demolition of Sussex, despite having lost to Eastern Counties in their opening game. Overall the major plus is that every county has now managed to get a team on the field.

Hertfordshire recovered from their narrow first round defeat  to Kent with an impressive 22-15 win over Surrey.

  • Lancashire 45-0 Cumbria
  • Durham 0-27 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 20-18 Cheshire
  • Warwickshire  44-20 East Mids
  • Leciestershire  7-48 North Mids
  • NLD  17-36 Staffordshire
  • Essex  25-3 Eastern Counties
  • Middlesex  83-0 Sussex
  • Hertfordshire  22-15 Surrey
  • Hampshire 19-38 Kent
  • Cornwall  beat  Dorset & Wilts (walk-over)
  • Gloucestershire  25-17 Devon
  • Somerset  50-3 Berkshire

Only five U18 counties are unbeaten - Dorset & Wilts, Berkshire, Surrey, NLD and Northumberland. The first three teams seem very strong - Dorset brushed aside Cornwall 64-5 having beaten Somerset 53-0 in round one; Berkshire have yet to concede a point in their three games to date; and Surrey sent Hertfodshire U18s to possibly its biggest ever defeat (certainly at home), winning by 40-5 - but not that much of a surprise given Surrey's 43-0 win against Hampshire in round one. Cheshire and Eastern Counties have yet to get onto the field. A more detailed form guide can be found here.

  • Cumbria / Durham 10-22 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 22-19 Lancashire
  • NLD 22-12 North Mids
  • Leicestershire 0-38 Staffs / Warwick
  • East Mids 0-36 Staffs / Warwick
  • Middlesex 7 -22 Sussex
  • Middlesex 12-47 Essex
  • Sussex 12-7 Essex
  • Hertfordshire 5- 40 Surrey
  • Hampshire 10-17 Kent
  • Cornwall  5-64 Dorset & Wilts
  • Gloucester 14-0 Devon
  • Gloucester 19-14 Oxford / Bucks
  • Devon 29-7 Oxford / Bucks
  • Somerset 0-27 Berkshire

Things are rather more polarised in the U15s with eight out of 23 counties with 100% records. - but Sussex stand out with four wins from four games, scoring 186 points and conceding none. Lancashire, Devon and Berkshire have also scored over 100 points. Hertfordshire came back from defeat in round one with and impressive 45-15 win over Surrey last weekend. Cheshire, Eastern Counties and Staffs/Warwicks have not managed to field any U15 teams so far. A more detailed form guide can be found here

  • Cumbria / Durham 21-50 Northumberland
  • Yorkshire 7-51 Lancashire
  • NLD  lost to North Mids (walk-over)
  • Leciestershire 12-15 East Mids
  • Middlesex 0-43 Sussex
  • Middlesex 5-12 Essex
  • Sussex 67-0 Essex
  • Hertfordshire 45-15 Surrey
  • Hampshire 0-19 Kent
  • Cornwall  17-17 Dorset & Wilts
  • Gloucester 0-38 Devon
  • Gloucester 12-24 Oxford / Bucks
  • Devon 26-5 Oxford / Bucks
  • Somerset 0-87 Berkshire

Watch this - top level women's international sevens!

From last week's Elche Sevens, Spain v Netherlands. No sound - which slightly spoils the atmosphere - but great play from both teams. Most of Spain's other games are also available.

(Spain won by 12-10 - the final Spanish try is converted off-camera).

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Autumn internationals... part 1

And so ends the first part of this autumn's women's internationals... now its time to take a breath before New Zealand arrive. However, before it all gets lost and forgotten in the inevitable fuss and hoopla that will accompany the arrival of the Black Ferns, its worthwhile looking back on the past couple of weeks.

Losing both games on their French tour is not what England would have expected, but it was refreshing to see the management take a risk and leave some big names at home so that the stars of the future could have a taste of the game at the highest level. Having winning as an absolute priority, and always picking the absolute best team available for every game, is all well and good but flirts with disaster as often the entire squad plays, ages, and retires together.

Now England have five new players with international experience who could be in the team for 2018, never mind 2014, which is a huge positive. Hopefully England will continue to allow these five, and other up-and-coming players, to develop their careers over the next year. The only fear might be that we may get a repeat of what seemed to happen after the Sevens squad failed to win its first warm-up tournament in the spring - the panicked jettisoning of the policy of the long build-up to 2013 and the drafting in of established players to ensure that England won every game thereafter. RFUW need to hold their nerve - after all its not the results this season that matter, its the ones in 2014.

And puncturing complacency is not a bad thing - as is seeing England's biggest European rivals turn a corner. Its six or seven years now since the Six Nations was last truly competitive, but the next tournament could be one of the best for some time. France, buoyed up maybe by the success of their men's team, found a consistency and self-belief that was remarkable. Not only did they win all three internationals, in the space of just eight days, but they also took part in a highly competitive Elche Sevens tournament in Spain at the same time (raising the question of why England were not there - after all, their men's team were).

A significant factor in French success was rediscovering players who could kick. The return of Aureile Bailon to the team - absent throughout last season - and the discovery of the remarkable Jessy Trémoulière gave extra strength to any already exciting backline. Trémoulière is, of course, yet another international goal kicker who has converted to the game from another code - when will Unions see that girls need to include kicking in their game from the earliest years? In particular, if English girls do not kick a ball before the age of 13, where will our future international full-backs and fly-halves come from?

The week was about more than England and France, however. Scotland started their season with something that they have seen little of for some years - a win, and a convincing one too, in Amsterdam, by 33-10. Admittedly the Dutch are rather concentrating on Sevens at present, and their best players were all at Elche where they finished runners-up to to the hosts. It was just the result that Spain needed - and had to achieve as they prepare for the IRB Sevens in Dubai (if nothing else it justified their selection).

Perhaps the only country that finished the week with negatives would be Italy. A team that has performed so well in recent Six Nations was beaten with embarrassing ease by a young French team, a result that follows on from their disappointing European Trophy performance. They may struggle to repeat their recent performances in the next Six Nations.

But until then we have the Black Ferns tour, Dubai Sevens - plus international sevens and fifteens tournaments across the globe from the Caribbean to Indo-China. The world's second biggest women's team sport rarely stops these days!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

England downed... by French kicking!

England have just lost the test match in France by 16-15, despite outscoring their hosts by two tries to one. Three French penalties and a converted try were enough to sneak past England - who had lead for almost the entire game.

Given the nature of the teams (many of England's leading players were rested for this short tour) it does not mean a sudden change in world rankings, but maybe the real significance is that first line above. France scored three penalties and a conversion in conditions that were pretty awful (heavy rain - again).

Considering that eight months ago or so France's penalty takers would not have reliably kicked the skin of a rice pudding this is a remarkable turn round - especially if you recall that their kicking display in the midweek game was also pretty good.

No news yet as to who it was who kicked England to defeat, but this does suggest that the Six Nations could actually be quite competitive this year - which would be no bad thing.
  • It is interesting to learn that the golden French boot belonged to Aureile Bailon, who is not exactly new to the French team as this was he 28th cap. However she missed all of last season, but now seems to be back with a bang, not to say a boot. With Jessy Trémoulière (who impressed everyone on Wednesday) also in the team, France are building a challenging team.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Follow England from the inside

Either because of a change of policy at RFUW, or maybe because they have not noticed yet, the social media has at last made an impact on the England team.

Its not quite the blog or tour diary, like the Americans and Canadians have managed in recent years, but some of England's players have begun to embrace Twitter. So for the first time you can follow the ups and downs of being part of the team from the inside, including occasional unguarded unofficial photos, like this flattering image of Michaela Staniford after Wednesday's uncapped friendly against France.

England players and officials tweeting at the moment include:

Amy Turner (hooker and for scrum-half)
Sarah Hunter (captain and No. 8)
Alice Richardson (fly/centre)
Claire Allen (centre)
Kim Oliver (fly/centre)
La Toya Mason (scrum-half)
Natasha Hunt (scrum-half)
Claire Purdy (prop)
Isabelle Noel-Smith (Flanker)

Janice Anastasi (vice-chair of RFUW)

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory