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, March 30, 2011

Why women's sevens matters

With the season fast approaching its usual hectic climax, its worth remembering that for most of the world Sevens is more than a bit of end-of-season fun. Much, much, more.

The inclusion of women's rugby in the Olympics from 2016 has had no noticeable affect on the game in the UK or Ireland, a fact that makes the "Home Countries" almost unique around the world. Only maybe New Zealand are seemingly as unexcited (or uninterested) by the prospect of seeing their players take part in the world's biggest sports event.

Elsewhere in the world it is a very different story - as this excellent review by the IRB describes. Interest and participation in women's rugby is exploding across Asia - in Hong Kong and Singapore one rugby player in three is now female, while player numbers in China are exploding, encouraged by an Olympic Committee that sees women's rugby as a great possible route to medal success. And its the same elsewhere - Brazil is pumping funding into its women's team; the Netherlands team is almost full time, training four times a week; France (going by the Six Nations) seems prioritising selection for its sevens squad ahead of its 15s; Canada similarly seem to be putting noticeably more emphasis on its sevens than its 15s. And so on.

On the other hand - from the Home Nations - only England are even taking part in this year's European Sevens championship, and that is the only sevens tournament England are entering (unlike France and the Netherlands, who have already been to both the Las Vegas and Hong Kong Sevens). In fact the only European nations not playing women's sevens this year will be Ireland, Scotland and Wales!

On the rare occasions when Home Nations unions have even mentioned it there seems to be an almost arrogant belief that there is no need to do anything yet - that they will be able to roll up to the qualification tournaments and take their rightful place at the 2013 World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics. Well, as the IRB article suggests, they could be in for an awful shock...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rugger Girls: Part 15. Take-over.


Fifteenth chapter of the summary of the history of women's rugby in France, from the book "Rugger Girls"("Des Filles en Ovalie"), written by Jacques B. Corti and Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen. Published weekly(ish) by French women's rugby blog Des Filles en Ovalie.

As the Presidency of the AFRF was in Tulle, the FFR mandated Marc Gosse, then Chairman of the Limousin, and Vice President of the FFR to complete the integration process. "My role was to transfer all of the assets of their association to the FFR", he says today. "It was a difficult year. I had get through it all".

Marc Gosse had to work with Nadine Leterre, as well as Tulliste, Deputy Secretary of the AFRF, to succeed. The latter is today sparing with his comments on this episode. Fifteen years later, he sums it up in a sentence: "It can be better to be in a small home on your own than a great house with many others."

Claude Izoard's summary is equally terse, but equally clear: "In 1990 the FFR threw us out. AFRF's leaders were not invited to join."

If it was possible to guess what effect this transition might have on this small house, another aspect is more unexpected. Viviane Bérodier provided a first element: "As Secretary of the FFRF I took a weekend bringing all the archives available to Brive". Second element. The Declaration of Marc Gosse: "Nothing was given. I did not see anything. Zilch."

Since there were now no archives to deal with, they could at least conclude with the merger itself.

Marc Gosse summarizes his feelings at the end: "I had great difficulty with this process. There were many problems. Men occupied all the seats on the FFR. It implemented a national championship. It appointed technical staff." And Nadine Leterre: "They put their people in the positions."

The first consequence, according to Marie-Céline Bernard: "The FFR appointed people who did not know the women's game many levels of contacts were lost. Some of us were retained. But in general we were drowned, isolated. Nobody knew where to go."

Claude Izoard today takes a nostalgic view of this: "We led the fight to get the girls back into the FFR, even if everyone in the Fed did not always agree. Then they put their structure."

During this disruptive period, René Layral, Chairman of Lyonnais, became President of the National Women's Committee.

Extract from the book "Des Filles en Ovalie", Editions Atlantica (2005), Written by Jacques B. Corti / Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen.


Not quite Invictus...

Even so, one ex-Legend has just made her directorial debut. Guess who (answer at the end)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letchworth Girls Fixtures

As we hurtle towards Easter and - all to soon - the end of the season, it is worth reflecting that there is still a lot of rugby to be played, particularly in the round of tournaments that traditionally round off the girls' season.

The U15s calendar for the remaining weekends is as follows :

Sunday 27th March : Training/Charity day at Letchworth
Sunday 3rd April : Training/Mothers day at Letchworth
Sunday 10th April : Team Building - Herts Mariners Base
Sunday 17th April : match vs. Hertford at Hertford RFC
Saturday 23rd April : Gloucester 10s
Sunday 1st May : Worthing 10s
Sunday 8th May : Herts Sevens at Camelot RFC, Hemel Hempstead
Saturday 14th May : RFUW National Sevens at Lichfield RFC*

* Currently, Letchworth Girls are first reserve for the RFUW Sevens tournament so, if any team pulls out, they will get an entry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Newmarket Festival

Letchworth U15s paid a visit to Newmarket RFC on Sunday, 20th March for the Newmarket Festival and had a thoroughly good day out.

I'm told that they played with some style in securing an unbeaten run of games through the day :

Letchworth 15 v 0 Royston
Letchworth 35 v 0 Wymondham
Letchworth 15 v 5 Newmarket

Many thanks to Newmarket RFC for a very enjoyable festival.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rugger Girls: Part 14. Merger.


Fourteenth chapter of the summary of the history of women's rugby in France, from the book "Rugger Girls"("Des Filles en Ovalie"), written by Jacques B. Corti and Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen. Published weekly(ish) by French women's rugby blog Des Filles en Ovalie.

The FFRF became the victim of its own success. The projects were flourishing. Ambitions too. But financial realities were less exciting.

Among the big ideas, on October 8, 1988, they created the "International Confederation of Women's Rugby", (CIRF), with Nadine Leterre took the chair. The goal was to organize the schedule and develop relationships. "The fact that we started working on the Confederation really made ​​a difference in the FFR," recalls Nadine Leterre.

Then it happened. Albert Ferrasse accepted the integration of women's rugby in the FFR.

For 17 years the issue had not been resolved. The, in less than a year after this presidential decision, integration happens. The last meeting of the FFRF was held June 4, 1989. At Bourg-en-Bresse, of course, where they signed a contract to merge with the FFR.

In July, at the FFR Congress in Bordeaux, Albert Ferrasse made the official announcement of the integration of women in the FFR would come into effect the end of this year 1989. About this crucial decision the former president said little when he spoke about it in March 2005. "Oh you know, I am 88. This is all long ago. But I'm glad I did it. You know how I am. I make ​​a decision, and voila! "

Extract from the book "Des Filles en Ovalie", Editions Atlantica (2005), Written by Jacques B. Corti / Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen.

The mysteries of national team selection

Many of the readers who have been following the performances of our Divisional teams on the county blog will have been pleased to see that the adult team won their title on Sunday with a clean 100% sweep over their rivals. On the same day the U18s remained unbeaten after two of their games, and are favourites to lift their title next month, while Syd and her Divisional U15 colleagues also looked good when they won their first match a couple of weeks ago.

This overwhelming dominance by the country's largest division (in terms of players and population) is probably no great surprise... or maybe it should be if you've been watching the performances of the national U20 team.

Take a look at their last squad. Ten of the starting 15 for the game against Scotland were from the South West, and 11 of the overall 22. London & South East provided five players, three of whom began on the bench.

Now check-out again where South West finished in the Divisional championship - yep, last. The U18s have done slightly better, drawing with London & SE and narrowly beating Midlands - but that is a Midlands team that lost to North, who L&SE blew away this weekend.

Admittedly, L&SE have Maggie Alphonsi in charge of them - and it is more than likely that she is both a genius on and off the field - but even so... its all a bit odd...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six nations 2011: Six from six for England

Position Nation Games Points Table
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Difference Tries
1  England 5 5 0 0 223 8 215 35 10
2  France 5 4 0 1 113 51 62 16 8
3  Ireland 5 2 0 3 74 70 4 12 4
4  Wales 5 2 0 3 64 72 -8 9 4
5  Italy 5 2 0 3 68 130 -62 8 4
6  Scotland 5 0 0 4 20 231 -211 3 0

And so its all over – and, frankly to no-one’s surprise, England have won their sixth successive title, and their fifth Grand Slam in six years.

It was an outcome never seriously in doubt. England were rarely pushed, which is actually the biggest concern because they were hardly faultless – especially the backline which in both televised games made way too many unforced errors. Trouble is that this hardly matters if you still win 89-0, but it would matter if the opposition was New Zealand…

Fortunately France look like they will be a test for England in the next year or so, if their young team can continue to develop… and if they can find someone who can kick. Really embarrassing is only word to describe the French kicking throughout the tournament.

Ireland and Wales have also new, young teams – and also showed great promise, though Wales’ loss of their coach mid-season was a remarkable (and unexplained) blow.

It was a blow perhaps not unrelated to their unexpected loss to Italy – but the fact is that Italy have now won six of their last 10 internationals, better than anyone in the tournament other than England and France. They are no longer the push-overs of the Six Nations – they have learnt how to win, and that confidence means that they are now a worry to everyone (except maybe England).

Scotland, on the other hand, are only learning how to lose. They have only won one of their last 18 internationals – and this Six Nations can only be described as a disaster. Every game lost, and four of the five by record margins. It is difficult to see how they can turn all this round – how much confidence can you have if you lose your games by an average of over 45 points per game!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Go see a Legend this weekend!

A great chance this weekend to go along and support the former legend who is currently playing at a higher level than any other.

Cfn Rosie Randfield (REME) is now an integral part of the British Army's Women's Rugby team, a team whose fixture list includes Premiership clubs and international teams.

Rosie has already played against Scotland A this season, and is due to play both the Netherlands and Sweden before the season is out (after which she is likely to have a full Sevens programme).

However, this weekend her five month tour of England and northern Europe brings her (nearly) home as she and her Army colleagues take on Old Albanians at St Albans on Saturday (not sure about the kick-off time yet - will add it here when I know).

I'm sure she'd appreciate some of her former team-mates supporting her from the touchline, so get down there if you can!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rugger Girls: Part 13 - The first European Championship


Thirteenth chapter of the summary of the history of women's rugby in France, from the book "Rugger Girls"("Des Filles en Ovalie"), written by Jacques B. Corti and Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen. Published weekly(ish) by French women's rugby blog Des Filles en Ovalie.

One single sentence from sums up the situation at the time: "The FFRF [French Women's Rugby Federation] had no money but large ambitions."

A championship of France with its four well-structured regions existed, a successful national team, the stock of goodwill the FFR was good. He was time to try something special. This was achieved in 1988 with the first European championship for women's rugby. Held in Bourg-en-Bresse, played for the Henry Fléchon Trophy, the first continental competition was a resounding success.

The FFRF newsletter appeared in a white cover on which was written in large letters "88 women's rugby European Cup" inside which you can read this:

"If the FFRF has decided to entrust the organization of this great event at Bresse Violets club is in memory of its recently departed president, Henry Fléchon. He was the instigator of the first international (...) and his greatest wish was to organize a European Cup. "

The French women were given the best preparations, including three tournament jerseys - one for each match. A real luxury. "It was unbelievable," recalls Vivian Berodia. "The other teams had one jersey and their girls had to wash their's for the next day. "

To top all this the FFRF unveiled its new badge: a rooster.

From 21 to 23 May 1988, the four national teams of France clash: Holland (Nederlanse Rugby Bond), Italy (Unione Italiana Sport Populare, and the Lega Nazionale Rugby) and Great Britain (Women's Rugby Football Union).

Altogether 1,500 people were present at the games. The final classification was consistent with the results from past years: 1.France, 2.Great Britain, 3. Holland, 4. Italy.

Extract from the book "Des Filles en Ovalie", Editions Atlantica (2005), Written by Jacques Corte / Yaneth Pinilla B. Foreword by Serge Betsen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Six Nations: They think it’s all over…

Because, lets face it, it is.

Position Nation Games Points Table
Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Difference Tries
1  England 4 4 0 0 192 8 184 30 8
2  France 4 3 0 1 98 51 47 13 6
3  Ireland 4 2 0 2 74 39 35 12 4
4  Wales 4 2 0 2 64 57 7 9 4
5  Italy 4 1 0 3 42 130 -88 5 2
6  Scotland 4 0 0 4 20 205 -185 3 0
Its theoretically possible for France to pip England to the title, but to do that England would not only have to lose to Ireland next weekend (while France beat Wales), but each match would have to be won by a margin of around 70 points. Which is just not going to happen.

England clinched their title in as impressive a way as its possible to imagine. Though an easy win over Scotland was expected, 89-0 – their biggest win ever over Scotland and their third largest win over anyone – exceeded pretty much everyone’s expectations. When a team is 41-0 up at half-time they often ease off in the second half, but not England who (if anything) upped the pace. Indeed, with Katy McLean having a very off day with the boot, only converting 7 of the 15 tries, if anything the scoreline flattered Scotland a bit.

France, meanwhile, struggled to see off a strong Italian challenge, winning 28-20 (three tries to two). Italy have been very impressive this year against everyone except England (to the extent that you are forced to wonder whether they are defeated by England’s reputation as much as anything else) and will start as clear favourites against Scotland next weekend.

Finally Wales overcame the slight handicap of having their coach resign just before the game (for reasons that are currently unknown, but presumably not good) to beat Ireland 15-14 in what sounds like the game of the championship. With the Irish also losing by only two points to France a few weeks ago its has been a desperately frustrating season for a young and exciting squad who really could have a great future.

Wales have also come a long way in their four games. Other than slipping against Italy, it has been a distinct improvement on recent years – their game against France next weekend should be interesting.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Syd helps London & SE to historic win.

News from Syd that she played all of the second half for London & SE Division in their historic first ever U15 fixture, which they won - beating South West 27-10 at Newbury. This means that London & SE teams remain unbeaten at all ages, and have recorded two wins and a draw over the South West.

Which, considering how many South West names there are in the England U20 squad (and how few London & SE players) is pretty impressive!

Syd didn't score (quiz question - when was the last time Sydney failed to cross the line in a rugby match?) but reports that she did come close of a number of occasions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Six Nations Reminder: England live on BBC TV tomorrow!

A reminder that England's Women's Six Nations game against Scotland at Twickenham will be shown live on BBC TV (kick-off 5.15pm), though only via the Red Button and not (apparently) on Freeview. It is possible that the game may also be available online.

Its a pity that it is this particular game, being as the only question worth debating against the favourites for the Wooden Spoon will be the size of England's win, which should be in excess of 50 points (indeed if it isn't a few questions may need to be asked). The English back line, panicked into making all sorts of silly mistakes against France (as they were against New Zealand) should have rather more time to relax and throw the ball around, so it should be good to watch if not maybe wildly competitive.

All of the games in this round take place tomorrow - a bit of a change as they have been pretty spread out up until now and the two earlier games - between Italy and France at Benevento, and Wales and Ireland at Cross Keys - should be over by the time England kick off, which means that in theory England could lift the title by winning at Twickenham. Admittedly this would require wins by both Italy and Wales, which is a shade unlikely - though France are giving a run out for most of their fringe players, which is a bit risky against the team that shocked Wales two weeks ago.

That games was a bit of a set-back for Wales who had been looking happier than they have been for some years up until then. They will be wanting to put things right again, but frankly a Welsh win is no more likely than an Italian as Ireland are at full strength and looking a very good side.

In fact the Women's Six Nations is rapidly evolving into two divisions, with only France and Ireland seriously capable of troubling England and all three sides now significantly ahead of the rest.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our first Divisional star!

Sydney will be off to Newbury on Sunday to take part in the first ever Divisional U15 game, when London and the South East take on the South West.

Syd is one of only two Hertfordshire girls in the Division's squad for the game, and will start on the bench - but she can expect game time as this will be the U15s only warm-up game before their festival at Hartpury on 16/17th April, after which a national training squad will be selected.

This will be the third London & SE squad to play the South West - the seniors won 15-5, and the U18s drew 15-15.

Saracens Rugby Camp coming to Letchworth

As part of the Saracens Club Partnership Programme, Saracens will be returning to Letchworth RFC on Monday, 11th April for a One Day Skills Intensive Clinic aimed at U7 – U16 playing age groups.

The camp provides organised, educational and structured activities utilising award winning coaches from the Saracens Community team and has been designed to provide young players with a total rugby experience, contributing to their personal development on and off the field. The Saracens coaches will instil some of the values that drive professional players, urging young talent to play with passion and commitment, respect and discipline whilst focusing on their individual and unit skill development.

To reserve a place on the camp, contact Saracens at or by phone on 01707 285026

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rugger Girls: Part 12: France's greatest player makes her debut


Twelfth chapter of the summary of the history of women's rugby in France, from the book "Rugger Girls"("Des Filles en Ovalie"), written by Jacques B. Corti and Yaneth Pinilla Foreword by Serge Betsen. Published weekly(ish) by French women's rugby blog Des Filles en Ovalie.

The reputation of some players begins to grow. Although they were not yet any "stars", many players had become representatives for their clubs. Sylvie Girard, Corinne Marbleu, Andree Forest (who in 1986 had achieved 20 years of active rugby!) all develop a minor local celebrity. The twins Nicole and Monique Fraysse also become key parts of Toulouse's growing domination at club level.

However, it was also the time when a whole new generation of players appears. In 1986 there emerged a girl considered, even today, as the best French player of all time - and one of the world's best. The "very charismatic," Nathalie Amiel.

She first played in 1982 at a rugby school, but in 1984 found herself unable to continue playing - at 15 nothing was available. But in this case someone ensured that all the doors were not closed. Former International, ex-captain of AS Béziers, and past coach of Perpignan and Clermont-Ferrand, Olivier Saïsset, found her somewhere to develop her game.

In 1986, at the age of 16, she was selected to play for France. It was against Great Britain and she had to seek a waiver to play with adults. It was the beginning of a great career.

Extract from the book "Des Filles en Ovalie", Editions Atlantica (2005), Written by Jacques Corte / Yaneth Pinilla B. Foreword by Serge Betsen.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hertford Girls win the day

On Sunday, Letchworth girls played Hertford girls in an entertaining U15s match at Legends Lane. The game was notable for the open running rugby and determination to win shown by both sides in a good-natured contest.

Although Letchworth took an early lead, they were soon pegged back by Hertford as the sides exchanged scores in the first quarter of the match. Moving into the second quarter, Hertford steadily built themselves a lead which, by the interval, had reached 25-15. The second half followed a similar pattern and even though Letchworth were continuing to press - and score - right through to the end, Hertford deservedly ran out winners by 50-30.

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