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...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rugbygirl - New Zealand's latest website

Rugbygirl is a new website set up to "grow and develop women's rugby in New Zeakand". Aiming to "bring you the latest womens rugby news from around the world so you can keep up to the minute with what's going on" it obviously has a significant New Zealand bias at present and is the second Kiwi site to launch since the World Cup (the other being Women's Rugby NZ).

Both help to fill the southern hemisphere news gap. There are still a few obvious gaps - most we still need dedicated sites from Australia and maybe South Africa - but we are getting there. The other major independent news sites are:

Independence is important as sites run by Unions will obviously never criticise the Union itself, or the IRB, or any official body - so at best you get a very upbeat impression of everything. Reading nothing but official press releases is like living on a diet of marshmallows - okay for a short while. but it gets a bit difficult to digest and you desperately hanker for something savoury and meaty.

Interestingly Rugbygirl is being run by an "incorporated non-profit society" (a charity?) and aims to attract funding to be spent on the game. Good luck with that, guys - I am not aware that any women's rugby websites make any measurable amounts of money at the moment, and hopefully the aim to attract funding will not interfere with your editorial independence.

Schoolgirl answer to French kicking woes?

French women's rugby posters...

Love 'em or hate 'em, they are always original, artistic, very French and just a bit different to anything Twickenham would ever produce - and the one promoting Wednesday's uncapped international in Marseilles just what we have come to expect.

I wait with baited breath to see what they will come up with for the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2014.

Anyway, France disposed of a strong Italian team with almost disrespectful ease, and may have unearthed someone who can kick in the form of Jessy Trémoulière - a late addition to the squad - who plays for  Elite 2 side Romangnat, and may have attracted attention when she single-handedly defeated Bayonne a couple of weeks ago with three penalties, a try and a conversion.

What is more, Jessy (who only turned 19 at the end last month) is rising through the ranks at a rate that can only be described as meteoric - she started playing the game two years ago, having previously had a promising football career. After taking part in a "fun come-and-try-it" session at school, her ability was spotted by her local club, Bonnefort. Attracted by a game that offered so much more (not least contact) Jessy was quickly hooked. Barely 6 months later she was winning the "Young Sports Hopes of Auvergne" award and talking about how her greatest ambition was to play for local Elite side Romangnat... no thought then that she might be pulling on an international jersey! Her only previous international experience prior to yesterday was warming the bench when France U20s played England in February.

Jessy - who has also been picked for the national 7s squad - played the first 60 minutes against Italy, slotting two conversions in five attempts, which may not be a fantastic kicking percentage, but particularly given her experience it is significantly better than more senior French players achieved last year, Whether it will be enough for her to hold her place we shall see - but chances are she will have a run out on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Europe's route to Moscow (and details about the 2012 European Sevens series) released

While not officially confirmed, details about how Europe will decide which of its five nations will go to Moscow have now reached me from two different sources so its a reasonable assumption that they are correct.

2012 will be a huge - and potentially confusing! - year for women's sevens in Europe. 

To begin with, the top 12 - England, Spain, Netherlands, Russia, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine and Switzerland - will play play two tournaments - rather than just one - (on weekends of 16th-17th June and 30th June-1st July) to decide the European Champions.

Meanwhile the rest of Europe will be starting on the road to the Sevens World Cup. Around 24 teams will take part in two tournaments to be played over the weekend of 9th/10th June. Where these tournaments will be is not yet known (as bids are being invited to host the events - and come to that two legs of the European Series as well), but sources in the Finnish RFU suggest that Wales will be taking part and will be competing with Finland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Norway, Malta, Poland, Israel, Georgia, Serbia, Luxembourg and one other team in one of these tournaments. No news about Scotland or Ireland.

The finalists from each of these tournaments will join the Top 12 at the second leg of their series, so - as well  as deciding the European Championship - the tournament will also decide who goes to Moscow. Basically - although the European title will be decided over both legs - Europe's qualifiers for Moscow will be decided based only on the second leg. 

Bizarrely this means that the European Champions could fail to qualify for Moscow if - say - they won the first leg, and then only finished 6th in the second!

Meanwhile the continent's eight leading XVs teams will also be having their European Championship, while the rest (or, at least, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands and Russia) will be competing in a a pre-qualifier in Sweden for the 2014 Womens' Rugby World Cup. Quite how this will work remains even more confusing than the Sevens at this stage... though England (and France) have no worries as they have already qualified.

...And more good news, this time from Africa

Very nearly counted out before they could get onto the field, Uganda's women's seven team - know as the Lady Cranes (all the women's teams in African seemed to be named after animals...) - are now through to the continental qualifier next year.

Uganda's women are the only team from their country to ever qualify for a world cup finals in any sport, but with their Union in financial meltdown getting to Moscow in 2013 seemed dead until an international fundraising appeal raised the money to send them to Botswana.

And they have repaid the faith of their supporters had with a 100% record in their qualifying group today - beating Kenya 17-5, Botswana 17-7 and Madagascar 17-0 - to reach the semi-finals. With the top four going through, this was enough - more than enough - to put the Lady Cranes one step away of repeating their success of 2009.

There is still this weekend's tournament to finish off, and tomorrow they will play Zimbabwe in the semi-finals, while South Africa take on Kenya. These four teams will join Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Morocco  in Morocco next September competing for (probably) two African places at the Sevens World Cup.

A Baltic good news story

One possible downside that Olympic rugby raised was the possibility that 7s would take over as the major form of the game, especially in women's rugby. The policy of the IRB when it comes to qualification for the Women's Rugby World Cup has hardly helped - what with free passes to the finals for USA, Canada and South Africa at the expense of any other nations who wanted to at least compete for a place in the finals.

It is reassuring therefore to see how much playing full 15-a-side rugby remains the ambition of so many players in smaller rugby nations around the world. Botswana - host for this weekend's southern African 7s - aim to form a 15-a-side national team next year, and last weekend all the clubs in Latvia got together to play their country's first ever women's 15s fixture, again with the aim of forming a national team to compete for with other Baltic nations like Lithuania and Finland.

A glance at the pictures appearing in an article in the local press suggests that they have a long way to go when it comes to, well, pretty much everything - in fact they look exactly like teams playing their first 15s match -but you have to admire their commitment, ambition (and range of ages!). Given just a bit of support by the IRB or FIRA and we could well have a new test playing nation in a few years time. As it is one team seems to already have gained a sponsorship deal with the Leeds Building Society, which is a neat achievement for a club side based some 1,500 miles and five countries away...

Largest ever round of autumn internationals starts today

The RFU may think that there are no autumn internationals this year, but they could not be more wrong.Never have we seen so much international activity at this time of year, especially in Europe.

This afternoon France kick the season off with a game against Italy in Nice (6.30pm BST). Italy will be at close to full strength - just a couple of new caps in the front row - while France have a number of interesting young players in their squad.

The French squad then move down the coast a bit to Provence where they have two games against England, who have also picked a young, very experimental, team. RFUW are even insisting that the first game - on Wednesday in Marseilles - is not a full international, so we can expect players like the former Welwyn pairing of Hannah Gallagher and Geri Thomas to have a chance to prove themselves here. The second game next Saturday in Aix-le-Provence - will be a full test match, with everyone in the England team aiming for a place in the squad that will play New Zealand at the end of November.

The day after the France/England test, on Sunday 6th, Scotland travel to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands in game that really could go either way - the Six Nations weakest side against a nation with the world's only professional women rugby players. Its an important game for both nations. Scotland need to pull out of a nose-dive that has seen them win just one of their last 15 internationals (against Sweden in the World Cup), while for Netherlands the target will be next spring's European Trophy, and a place in Europe's qualifier for the 2014 World Cup.

And its not just XVs rugby - this is a huge weekend for the rugby nations east and southern Africa, who gather in Botswana to sort out who four teams will play in the continent's Sevens World Cup qualifier next September. Its an event that the players from the likes of Botswana, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa (among others) will have been preparing for for years, not least because for everyone other than the South Africans this is the only World Cup they have any chance to qualify for (at the moment there is every indication that South Africa will again be given a free pass to the XVs Women's Rugby World Cup without having to worry about having to prove themselves on the field).

Monday, October 24, 2011

News of girls' rugby at Letchworth

"Pottsy" has been in touch to remind me (and everyone) that girls rugby is alive and well at the club. Not quite the heights of a few years ago yet - very much a rebuilding stage in the club's history - but this does mean its also an ideal time for new players to come along and try out the best team sport there is.

Training is on Thursday evenings at 6pm, and 11 o'clock on Sundays (unless there are fixtures). No previous experience required.

Pottsy himself can be reached by email here. Girls of all ages are welcome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Forward pass! Or not...?

Fascinating short film here from the IRB about the forward pass.

Bit of an obvious rule, really? Well no - as the video shows, if a player is running and passes back then their forward momentum can often mean that the ball actually moves forward (in relation to the field). So does that mean its a forward pass? No!

Anyway - check it out.

Saluting Stéphanie Madaule


Well, because I am writing on French domestic rugby each week (or so) for ScrumQueens I have had to do a fair bit of research on the game over there - its partly the reason why there has been a number of French stories on here in recent months.

Women's rugby has been a part of the French sporting scene for longer than pretty much anywhere else - their national championship is 40 years old this season which makes it at least 10 years older than any other national championship (the first British league - and at that time it was a UK-wide competition - did no start until 1986) - and the enthusiasm for the game at club level is remarkable. Live local radio commentary on club games is not unusual, most home international are on TV, and the crowds at home internationals - and major club games - are routinely higher than anything seen over here. They have significantly more registered players than we do in England (though this probably says more about the the mess that is the women's registration process in England than anything else).

Indeed quite why, with all this, the French struggle to compete on the field against England is a bit of a mystery with any answer possibly saying more about attitudes among key people and the general lack of imagination within the French rugby union (FFR) than anything else.

One thing that the French do really well is promote their games - even at club level. Take a look at this example from last weekend, promoting Lille's home game against Bobigny (won my Lille, I am delighted to say as I am becoming a bit of a fan). When did any English club at any level, including the Premiership, ever routinely produce posters advertising their home games, never mind do anything of this quality? Posters advertising England games are rare enough!

Which takes me back to Stéphanie who has set up an advertising agency to advertise and promote women's rugby and women's rugby teams.

I came across her website last week and am increasingly amazed by what she is doing. Not only does she manage to publish national league results on her site some hours before the FFR can manage it (okay, that is a trick that some of us have managed in England too!), but she has launched a range of clothing, carried out photo-shoots at a range of clubs, published some great interviews with players at all levels, and is now moving into the broadcast media as well, getting onto radio and TV promoting the game. How does she find the time? And energy? And. presumably, make money while doing it?

Wouldn't it be amazing if we could have someone like Stéphanie over here? Better still, can RFUW arrange to hire/kidnap her, change her allegiance to England, and install her at Twickenham?

County results: round 1

For unknown reasons county results will not be appearing on Rugby Roundup this year (they are now  there, apparently - I was misinformed. Apologies). However, I have been sent the results of last week's first round games (below). County rugby across the board is now being taken a more seriously than in the past as it is the first step on the way to possible national selection.

So it is  disappointing to see walk-overs. In the seniors Durham (home of a premiership club??) and Sussex were unable to raise teams, while Staffs and Warwickshire cannot enter a U15 side (and have to combine for the U18s), and Cheshire with no junior county teams at all. What happens to girls from these areas, I wonder?

Herts had a mixed weekend - the U18s (with Sydney!) being unbeatable (again - when did they last lose?), while the seniors and U15s were less fortunate.

Meanwhile Sasha was playing back with Eastern Counties seniors and scored a dramatic try - see comments!

  • Cumbria v Durham w/o to Cumbria
  • Cheshire 16 Lancashire 10 
  • Northumberland 10 Yorkshire 27 
  • North Mids 53 Warwickshire 0 
  • Staffordshire 19 Leciestershire 10 
  • East Mids 10 NLD 25 
  • Eastern Counties 10 Middlesex 5 
  • Surrey 44 Hampshire 0 
  • Sussex v Essex - w/o to Essex 
  • Kent 15 Hertfordshire 12 
  • Devon 33 Cornwall 5 
  • Berkshire 12 Gloucestershire 17 
  • Dorset & Wilts 0 Somerset 36
  • Lancashire 12 Cumbria /Durham 20
  • Northumberland 22 Yorkshire 19
  • North Mids 48 Leciestershire 0
  • East Mids 19 NLD 38
  • East Mids 5 Staffs / Warwick 20
  • NLD 25 Staffs / Warwick 0
    (Trianguar - won by NLD)
  • Surrey 43 Hampshire 0
  • Sussex 10 Essex 10
  • Sussex 39 Middlesex 5
  • Essex 17 Middlesex 10
    (Triangular - won by Sussex)
  • Kent 13 Hertfordshire 24
  • Devon 43 Cornwall 0
  • Berkshire 7 Gloucestershire 0 
  • Berkshire 45 Oxford / Bucks 0
  • Gloucestershire v Oxford / Bucks - w/o to Gloucestershire
    (Triangular - won by Gloucestershire)
  • Dorset & Wilts 53 Somerset 0

  • Lancashire 85 Cumbria /Durham 5
  • Northumberland 36 Yorkshire 12
  • North Mids 40 Leciestershire 22
  • East Mids 53 NLD 5
  • Surrey 29 Hampshire 15
  • Sussex 31 Essex 0
  • Sussex 45 Middlesex 0
  • Essex 10 Middlesex 15
    (Triangular - won by Sussex)
  • Kent 32 Hertfordshire 3
  • Devon 29 Cornwall 17
  • Berkshire 14 Gloucestershire 10
  • Berkshire 0 Oxfordshire 33
  • Gloucestershire 5 Oxfordshire 32
    (Triangular - won by Oxfordshire)
  • Dorset & Wilts 63 Somerset 5

Monday, October 17, 2011

U13s "Transition Rugby": At last the rules and training resource!

I mean, the season has only been going six weeks...

All of the video and notes are available from RFUW on CD, but can also be watched (but annoyingly not downloaded - because the speed of the server is awful!) from here.

A number of significant changes have been made to the rules, as circulated at the end of last season - all of which seem to be improvements on the draft rules and may even indicate that someone has been listening. The major differences are....
  • The minimum recommended coaching qualification is now - thank heaven! - Level 1. The ludicrous - and frankly dangerous - idea that the game could be coached by someone with only a tag qualification has been quietly dropped.
  • All penalties that would normally result in scrums will now result in (uncontested) 3-player scrums (not free passes, as first proposed)
  • When the ball goes into touch the game restarts with a free pass (not a scrum as originally proposed).
As a result the game  now looks like rugby union, instead of rugby league!

Much is made of the rather complex tackle rule - like about half of the rules video! Essentially once a player is "gripped" or grabbed below the shoulder the referee calls "tackle". The tackled player can then drive forward, or pass. If they cannot go forward they have to pass (or "make the ball available"), and if they go to ground then you effectively have a ruck. Rucks are restricted to one player per team (not including the tackled player or the tackler). 

If they do not go to ground then you have a maul, though the rules do not call it that (it is still the "tackle"), and again one extra player can join this from each team - so a maul will be a maximum of two players per side - and the defending side cannot try to steal the ball. As a result big, strong girls are going to love this - forget all this passing stuff. What with all the encouragement to tackle above the waist, all you need is a couple of big, "future props" working together and you should be all but unbeatable!

Other matters to note is that the game is for 6-7 players per side, and is on a half-sized pitch going (according to the video) from the 10m line to the try line. This is clearly an error as there are some obvious safety implications here - with the posts being on one touchline - so I'd run games from the 5m line to the 10m line, as in the old U14 game. 

That is about it - the full rules are here. There are some significant improvements and - taken as a whole - this is far better and safer game than originally implied. Once you get beyond the introductory rules video, there are some really good drills and teaching ideas here - including some emphasis on proper tackling technique and evasive and ball skills. As a means of introducing players to the game it is has real potential.

However, kicking is still banned, which is mad partly because girls coming up from the minis will be kicking, but mainly because kicking is the great weakness of the girls (and women's) game. To ban any kicking at all until U15 rugby (now from school year 9) is plain stupid. Where on earth are the goal kickers of the future to come from? 

But one big problem remains. This is an openly and avowedly introductory game and will be a significant step back for girls moving up from minis.The requirement that girls who already play rugby must also go through this makes no sense at all. Not only do you risk these players being bored, but a couple of good ex-minis in a training group or game - girls who can hit and tackle properly - has the potential to destroy the introduction that it is supposed to be.

Would it not be more sensible to offer two routes into U15 rugby? A direct path into the game for those moving up from the minis, and "Transition Rugby" for those starting to play at secondary school age. That is - after all - what we have had this season. As RFUW have clearly listened already, why can they not listen just a little bit more?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Club relaunch, French style

You have to admire the sense of humour of the French team from Herm, on the border with Spain, who call themselves the "Pachys" - hence Pachys D'Herm (ie. Pachyderm).

You also have to admire them a bit because, after being formed in 1989, following a charity game involving the wives and girlfriends of players from Herm's men's team, the "Pachys" recorded five French championship wins and uncovered 32 French internationals before a sudden collapse in player numbers saw them unable to complete their season in 2008-9.

Now they are back. Well, nearly - they are just one division away from the "Top 10" and - as part of the final push - have hired a publicity company that specialises in women's rugby (Promotion du Rugby Feminin) to mastermind a campaign to attract new players and support.

The results are interesting, from the website, the official video to some striking posters and other publicity photos. There is even a very watchable "making of" video.

Its all pretty impressive - and hopefully will help return one of France's oldest clubs back to the top,

Age regulations (Part 2) - what makes an adult?

And so it continues... There is clearly something seriously wrong with the drafting of RFUW regulations on age bands because misunderstandings continue. Recently I highlighted continuing problems about what makes an U18, caused by RFUW continuing to use their own badly worded definition instead of the RFU's rather clearer one. Now I hear that the definition of what makes an adult - or more to the point when you can start playing adult rugby - is still not properly understood.

I don't have a copy of the latest Yearbook, but I have to say this is odd because I thought this one really had been cleared up, not least because Hayley played adult rugby under these regulations some years ago with no real problems. And the regulation is (shock, horror!) a really good, sensible one.

Essentially it is very simple. Anyone can play adult rugby from the day they turn 18. This means that, in their final U18 season, any girl can also play adult rugby from the date of their 18th birthday - whilst also retaining their U18 status.

There are a few minor exceptions - for example you cannot play representative rugby in both age groups (you have to choose), and you cannot play two games in the same weekend (so if you turn out in an adult game in Saturday you cannot play a U18 game on Sunday). But that is about it.

You can play your U18 and adult rugby at different clubs. Being selected for an adult representative team (county, say) does not prevent you playing U18 rugby at club, or division. You genuinely do get the best of both worlds.

The idea behind this is also great. It is so that girls get to taste and try out the adult game, maybe guesting for a couple of adult teams, while still keeping a firm home base in the U18 game. Obviously girls born in September get more opportunity to use this rule than those with birthdays in later in the season, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Quite why this is misunderstood - or even not known about at all (even by officials in CBs) - beats me. Maybe RFUW need to issue some clarification about all this - say at the start of each season?

Monday, October 10, 2011

England back at Esher again for Black Ferns games

England have confirmed the dates and venues for the visit of New Zealand in November... but have again wasted an opportunity to spread the game to a wider audience.

It is great that the first game in the series - at Twickenham on November 26th  will be screened live on Sky Sports, following the men's Barbarians v Australia fixture (a game that is tactlessly (and inaccurately) being marketed by the RFU as the "only international this Autumn" - not least because Barbarians games are not test matches, whereas the women's game they are choosing to ignore is).

However, the other two tests will both be at - Esher RFC (again) on November 29th and December 3rd and will not be televised by anyone, and presumably not webcast either as neither RFU nor RFUW seem to have arrived in the 21st century yet. The best we might hope for is some highlights. I wouldn't hold your breath on that, however

This is unlike, say, the USA, Canada or even the Cayman Islands, all of whose unions almost routinely webcast their internationals. Doesn't Twickenham find it just slightly embarrassing that tiny little Unions in some of the remotest parts of the world can manage this new technology thing just fine, but England - richest union in the world, with 2.5 million players (allegedly) - can't? What exactly is the problem?

Its not as if Esher is in the middle of no-where - and indeed that is the other problem. The RFUW have not exactly pushed the boundaries and used this tour to spread the game, have they? Esher is less than 10 miles from Twickenham and firmly within the M25. So anyone in South West London gets to see all three internationals on their doorstep, while the rest of the country (for the second and third tests) will have to put up with a match report and photograph on ScrumQueens.

When England travel to New Zealand in 18 months time or so, will all their games be in Wellington? No - I would be amazed if they were all on the same island.

England are also going to France for a couple of games next month... and are they both their games in Paris? No! In fact, in a move akin to the RFUW playing the Black Fern games in Newcastle or Manchester, the French "Autumn tests" will be played in the south of France with an "uncapped friendly" in Marseilles on 2nd November and a "full on" test in Aix-en-Provence on the 5th.

France will also be playing Italy the previous week (29th October) in Nice...well over 100 miles away from Marsailles in south-east France. In addition, France's three home Six Nations games will be played in Calais, Clermont Ferrand (central France), and Pau (south west). Add in their international venues in the past couple of years and most Frenchwomen will have had at least one international nearby (within 50-100 miles at worst) in the past 2-3 years.

Time was when England were almost as adventurous - they made it all the way to Leeds in 1997! - but the last time England travelled further north than St Albans was when they found their way to the remote outpost of civilisation that is Northampton in 2001.

When last questioned on this policy a few years ago, RFUW claimed it was not their fault and blamed international regulations about airports and hotels. So for those of you in Newcastle and Manchester who thought you had airports and hotels you'd better check they are really there. And if they are then clearly they are not remotely as good as those to be found in Clermont Ferrand and Pau.

  • One other confirmed Autumn International will be Scotland's visit to Netherlands on 6th November, probably in Amsterdam. Considering recent Scottish form it could be a very close game indeed... Wales and Ireland have no games currently announced.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Catching up with our "pro"

Just a quick update about the ex-Legend who is now as near as dammit to being a "professional" rugby player - Rosie Randfield.

In theory Rosie is in the army, but her actual soldiering seems to be pretty minimal these days as she tours the country (and the odd neighbouring country) playing both 15s and 7s rugby union.

And when there is no rugby union to be had, Rosie switches code to play league - most recently last weekend when she turned out for the Combined Services against England Students. The only report I could find is a Navy report so no-one who is not in the Navy gets a mention, but going by the pictures Randy had a pretty good game, with her team winning 28-18.

Festivals? What festivals?

Remember the youth calendar for this year? If not its actually online.

You will recall the (very welcome) new development this season was the appearance of a number of festivals across the season, all to be organised by the Divisions with competitions for various levels of club - developed, developing, etc.

The first festivals are but weeks away (4th December) which raises the question.... where are they? As anyone who has ever organised a festival will say, you need at least a couple of months of lead in to make any such event a success - especially if its a new event - just let everyone know its on, get entries, organise ground, volunteers (BTW on the subject of volunteers, please go here - the RFU are carrying out an important survey), etc. etc. - but not only do I not hear any news of any such events, I am told that for some clubs in this area the 4th December has already been changed to a league weekend.

In fact the only festivals anyone has confirmed with me are the "traditional" end of season tournaments - Herts 7s on 29th April, Worthing 10s on 6th May, and the National 7s on 12th May (though there is also a possible Worcester tournament, annoying likely to clash with Herts 7s). Beyond that... nothing.

Unless anyone knows different?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

More on the rise of girls' rugby league

Just to show that girls' rugby league is not just growing in the North East, here is the story of spectacular growth in the North West.

And this only a day after reading something I never thought I'd see. Worcester Girls' - Worcester Girls' (who some of us think of as the biggest, best, most successful, most well run girls'club on the planet) - have had to cancel this weekend's U18 home game because they do not have enough players.

Worcester do not have enough players. Let us pause to take the implications of that in...

Scary, isn't it? I mean, for the future of junior rugby union?

In the meanwhile, back to the North West and the obvious question. While The North may indeed be - for Twickenham at least - "a land far, far away of which they know little", clearly the inhabitants of this land are doing something right. Maybe someone should be, perhaps, finding out about it and learning from this success?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Changes to Autumn international fixtures

While the New Zealand games remain on track (with the November 26th fixture at Twickenham to be shown live in Sky), there are some subtle changes to information about the other games, as first released by the French rugby union back in July (but still not an official peep from the RFUW, where the information remains a state secret).

Essentially both of the England v France autumn tests will now be in France -  Marseille, November 2nd and Aix-en-Provence, 5th. In addition, France will play Italy in Nice on October 29th.

England's U20 game with France will now be in Périgord-Agenais on 10th March 2012- and France will also play Wales (as will, presumably, England), which means we could have an (unofficial) U20 Three Nations - if someone wants to award points.

Mêlée spontanée - les mains loin!

Pity the poor French rugby referee who - thanks to the demands of the French language police - will now, presumably, have to shout out the above tongue twister (eight syllables) instead of the rather more direct "ruck - hands away" (three) that we are used to.

This is one little gem to be found in the French government's response to the World Cup - Ballon ovale… Prêts pour la mêlée ? - a guide to the "correct" French words to be used when talking or writing about rugby.

Other interesting French words for English rugby terminology include raffut for
"hand-off" - an odd choice for a word that normally means "racket" (as in the sense of a loud noise or argument - hullabaloo would be another equivalent). Indeed you wonder how much the French government's language experts know about the game as they kindly give us French translations for "goal average", "sparring partner" and "time-out" but nothing at all for "maul", "scrum/scrummage", or "bottle" (in the sense of the verb describing what New Zealand men's rugby teams normally do).

Even so - much here to impress a teacher or examiner for anyone who is doing GCSE French!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Want to break a rugby world record?

Now here is an opportunity for any well organised rugby club, or school, or any other large-ish group wanting a bit of publicity and maybe a chance to raise some sponsorship money.

A great way to achieve these aims is to set a World Record. Trouble is that this is normally quite hard, if not dangerous, requiring skill, talent, ability, training etc. etc. But maybe not always.

There is a record for the World's Largest Rugby Scrum. You may have thought that this was limited to eight players per side, but no - Leamington Spa RFC set a new record last month (with the help of the BBC) with a scrum including 361 "players", beating the around 200 that had attempted the same thing in Ashbourne (Ireland) a few days before, and the 68 New Zealanders who set the first record.

Actually, the word "players" is stretching things a bit as, apart maybe from the two front rows that make contact with each other, everyone else seems to be parents, grandparents, children, and anyone else capable of bending down and leaning on someone in front of them (in fact not even leaning - just vaguely touching seems to count).

Really - that is it. It sounds taxing - dangerous even - but watch the video (above) and you will see is that all you need are enough bodies, a modicum of organisation, and someone from Guinness World Records with a counter to check that the scrum "obeys the laws of the game" (personally I cannot find anything in the laws that remotely allows this, but what the heck - publicity is publicity), even though you sort of suspect that she really has no idea. I mean you'd think the very minimum qualification would be to be a rugby referee? Never mind - a record is a record.

So there you go. Simple. Forget four minute miles, 24 hour rugby matches, or power-lifting. Indeed forget any training at all. All you need is you and your club mates, family and friends, a rugby ball, a field, and within a couple of hours you too could all be Guinness World Record holders.

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