Friday, December 22, 2006

Regional 7s: venues required

May 20th has been set aside by RFUW for regional sevens tournaments at all age groups - U14, U17 and senior. However, unlike regional 10s, RFUW are not organising these events centrally - clubs will not be invited by HQ to bid to host an official regional sevens competition.

So the East Region is taking the initiative and calling for clubs to step forward to host competitions. This initiative is aimed at ensuring that at least one event happens for each age group, as well as co-ordinating bids to avoid several clubs competing with each other!

Last season there were four "regional" junior sevens tournaments in England (but no senior events) prior to National Sevens. The junior events - at Worcester, Darlington, Dorking, and Letchworth - excited (in the latter two cases at least) massive interest with clubs undertaking round trips of up to 200 miles to take part. As a result the Dorking and Letchworth events were possibly the largest and second-largest one-day girls rugby events ever. There is clearly massive interest at junior level at least, and probably senior level as well - especially from clubs who see the National Sevens as really a step too far for inexperienced sides.

So the RPM (John Birch) for East Region wants to know whether any clubs be even faintly interested in hosting (or are you already planning to host) a Sevens competition on 20th May. At least one club - Tabard RFC - have already expressed interest in hosting but may be restricted to hosting an event for just one age group.

There is a small extra incentive of a £500 grant for clubs in Hertfordshire willing to run a junior sevens, but the fact of the matter is that demand is such that - so long as there are not too many competing events - you cannot fail to make a reasonable surplus.

A quick Q&A...

Why are you doing this? What gives you/Herts/East the right to decide anything?
Because no-one else is doing anything, and time is running out. If everyone is assuming that someone else will be running a Sevens in east of England (ie. East, East Midlands or Thames Valley - the area that Letchworth's event drew on last year) then there will be no Sevens at all, anywhere.

Is Letchworth planning to run any event?
No. Last year's Herts 7s was a massive success and great fun to run but a key part of that success was - I feel - that the event moves every year and does not belong to one club. Last year was in effect the third year of the competition and each year it has been bigger and better and that is mainly because each succesive host has seen it as a "special" event and been determined to "do it better than it has ever been done before". If it stayed at one club it not be special, would not evolve and grow, and might almost become a chore. If there was absolutely no interest at all from anyone - if there might otherwise be no junior sevens in East Anglia, East Midlands or Thames Valley - then we MIGHT think about doing it again but I really, really would rather not.

Why is there a grant for holding an event in Hertfordshire but no-where else?
There is a £500 grant available from Herts Sports Partnerships (which Letchworth are holding on to) as an extra incentive for a Herts club to run a junior event. Clearly - and by definition! - this money could not go to a club outside the county, and if no-one steps forward that money just goes back to HSP.

What criteria will be used to decide between bids?
No idea - up to East Forum. My main concern at this stage is to try to ensure that there is at least one viable event - if several clubs step forward it would actually be a nice problem to have and if sufficiently geographically separated there is no reason why there need be only one event - in fact demand was such that you could have easily split last year's event at Letchworth in two and had two perfectly viable and enjoyable competitions.

What would be the minimum requirements to host?
Clearly it depends on the number of entries, but I think for the a senior sevens at least two pitches, for juniors (assuming you run U14s and U17s concurrently) at least three.

What help would a host get?
Nothing can be promised (and outside Herts there's no money!), but I think if a club took on the responsibility for running what was recognised as the region's (or wider area's) event they might reasonably expected to receive as much support from other clubs as possible. Certainly I'd be more than happy to give any help I could including passing on any lessons learnt from last year's event.

Is there any closing date?
Not really - but ideally John would like any (even vague) expressions of interest by 15th January so that the idea can be discussed at the next East forum.

Regional 10s: Venues announced

The venue for the RFUW regional 10s tournaments on Saturday 28th April 2007. have been announced. The senior tournament will be Colchester RFC and the U17 event will be at Hemel Hempsted RFC. There is no U14 event.

Officially these are "London North" heats and will be qualifying tournaments for a National 10s tournament, due to take place "in the Midlands" on 12th or 13th May.

This is the first time there has been official RFUW 10s tournaments, at either regional or national level.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Maggie on top of the world

England and Saracens flanker Margaret Alphonsi was last month named the Women’s Rugby Personality of the Year at the IRB’s awards ceremony, in association with Emirates Airline.

The dynamic 22-year-old was short-listed together with New Zealand fly half Anna Richards and France number eight Delphine Plantet. Alphonsi, who is a rugby development officer for Saracens, played in all of England’s five IRB Rugby World Cup matches this September in Edmonton, Canada, including the 25-17 defeat to New Zealand in the final.

Said Maggie Alphonsi “I am so pleased to have won this award. I have really enjoyed this season, being part of a team that won the Six Nations Grand Slam and finishing as runners-up in the IRB Rugby World Cup final has been terrific, though of course we would have preferred to take the title. This award has certainly capped off a great year.”

She continued, “The whole of the England team worked so hard to get where we are today and it’s a shame that we came so close in the final of the Rugby World Cup and didn’t come away with the prize we desperately wanted.

“Hopefully this award will go some way, for all the members of the squad, towards knowing that what we achieved in Canada has been recognised.

New regulations on abuse by players and officials

Amanda's remarks on her departure about the need to raise standards in the county were echoed today by the issue of new instructions to referees about verbal abuse and the use of obscene and offensive language and gestures by players and match officials.

The new instruction say that the use of obscene and offensive language is contrary to the spirit and ethos of the game as set out in the International Rugby Board’s Playing Charter and the RFU codes of conduct for players and spectators.

The regulatory regime to deal with abuse already exists. RFU Rule 5.12 prohibits any “conduct which is prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the game.” IRB Law 6.A.5 demands that “all players must respect the authority of the referee”. IRB Law 10.4 (k) prohibits “acts contrary to good sportsmanship in the playing enclosure.” That includes any form of verbal abuse and can lead to on field sanction and, in extreme cases, further disciplinary sanctions.

Verbal abuse of opponents carries a recommended disciplinary sanction ranging from a low end of two weeks’ suspension to a maximum of 24 weeks. Verbal abuse of match officials carries a recommended disciplinary sanction ranging from a low end of six weeks’ suspension to a maximum of 24 months. Referees must also always report any unacceptable abuse or offensive language by coaches, spectators or others from the touchline.

RFU Chief Executive RFU, Francis Baron, said, “The Management Board has taken this decision and introduced these steps for all levels of the game from Level 12 through to the Guinness Premiership because it is important that the ethos and culture of the game is maintained. “Although the cases of player to player and player to official abuse are not widespread, they are increasing and that is why these initiatives are being introduced now as a preventative measure.”

RFU Disciplinary Officer, His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett, said, “Clearly in a robust game there will be banter but there is a line that cannot be crossed where it becomes gratuitous and offensive abuse. “That is unnecessary and reflects badly on the image of the game, and players must be aware what is and not acceptable. Serious abuse of players and officials is unacceptable and I welcome the RFU Management Board’s strong action to combat this issue.”

East Region are already planning to review and if necessary tighten up their codes of practice for players, officials and spectators ahead of the regional programme in the New Year.

East Region trials: important information

If you have been nominated to attend the regional trials (see the u17 and u14 lists, published below) on 28th January you MUST confirm that you are going to attend by completing this form and returning it to RFUW by 19th January. If you fail to do so you risk not being allowed to trial, despite being nomiated.

More information on the trial process, including dates and venues, appears on the East website.

Regional trialists: U17 (with additions)

The revised and updated list of girls who have been selected to attend trials for the U17 East Region squad, which will be held at Ely RFC on 28th January is now availabel on the RFUW East region website.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A new year's resolution for Herts clubs?

On her last day in her Hertfordshire role Amanda Bate has asked if in the New Year clubs could seek to promote the highest standards of behaviour.

In particular she asks clubs to...

1. Check that everyone working with girls has an up-to-date CRB check.

2. Please while coaching girls rugby can they also be coached in good sportsmanship. In particular she asks coaches and players to ensure that they..
  • take care to tone down their language,
  • try and win through having good rugby skills, not through intimidating the opposition!

3. Remind parents of the spectators code of conduct and that can be banned from the touchline, by a ref or the club or the county exec - its not just players or coaches who can be disciplined!

4. Reminded coaches and parents that girls rugby is also about developing the girls as people, and that we want them to be enjoying the game. Coaches need to lead by example. Bad feelings between clubs and coaches will rub off on the players, and that is not a positive.

Amanda concludes by saying that Herts has got really good girls rugby going on. It would be a pity to get a bad reputation for poor behaviour from parents, coaches or players. She will be writing to clubs to ask club refs to remember that girls play to the same laws as reagards discipline as boys.

Regional trials: extra invitations

With all nominations and "wildcards" in and processed, the East Region's coaching and management team have decided that there is room to invite a few extra players.

It was previously decided that all players who had been to the 2005/6 PDAs would automatically be invited to trials. This is now being extended and all members of last season's U14 and U17 squads, whether or not they were nominated previously, will now be invited - so long as they are still qualify as junior players and still playing regularly with an East Region club.

In practice this means that the following six names will be added to the U17 trial list:

From the 2005/6 U17 squad:
COOK, Georgia
KELLY, Carla

From the 2005/6 U14 squad:
WOODHAM, Celestine

Friday, December 15, 2006

Girls have a "fantastic evening" at Saracens

Girls from across the county who desended on Saracens' Bramley Road ground last night had a "fantastic evening" according to Amanda Bate, the county's Rugby Development Officer - who was at her last event before moving "upstairs" to a regional job at RFUW.

From the start of next month Amanda will become the Womens Rugby Development Manager for the east and south-east of England, so we will not lose her entirely. However instead of dealing with one county she will be responsible for about 11 or 12!

Last night girls of all ages demonstarted how successgful Amanda has been in Herts when they took part in an excellent coaching session with players from Saracen's women's team, which included England star Maggie Alphonsi, before everyone repaired inside to take on board a small feast that the Saracens club had laid on.

The evening also allowed the county to express its thanks to the Local Community Network for the support it has given to the county, and individual clubs, over the past season and to show how effective that support has been.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Girls rugby partnership up and running in Welwyn-Hatfield

Welwyn Warriors week just got better! After winning through to the quarter finals of the National Cup, the club has been awarded £1,000 by The Herts Sports Partnership to help the club with its Club/School links programme.

Team Manager Dave Marques was absolutely delighted. ‘This is fantastic news! It means we can really get our Girls Rugby Development programme going. Welwyn Warriors is the most successful team in the County and we intend to make it even better! We couldn’t have achieved this without the help of so many people. Jo Higson Welwyn-Hatfield’s Sports Partnership Manager & Colin Smyth, Sports Development officer from Welwyn-Hatfield Council and Amanda Bate & Pete Engledow from the RFU, they have given us so much help & support, we couldn’t have done it without them! On top of that Gary Peterkin and everyone at Welwyn Rugby club who work so hard to ensure the girls success. When I met with Matt Eames from HSP he is just as enthusiastic as we are!’

The money will be spent providing rugby coaching to girls in years 5 & 6 and 9 & 10. These age groups are the clubs ‘Key targets’ as the WRFU has a scheme in place for years 7 & 8 and Saracens are running a community coaching programme across Welwyn-Hatfield as well, so girls rugby is really getting a huge boost! Some of the money will be spent on extra equipment which will also be a massive help to the girls group. Assistant Team manager Pete McCullough felt it is a vindication of the hard work Welwyn has put in over the last few months. ‘Our U14 girls are the cornerstone of the County team as are the U17 girls. We have 8 U14s and 9 U17 girls going for regional trials in January as well as girls in the England talent development group. This is the club to be at now, it will be even more so after this great funding. Thank you HSP!’! Our partner schools are so fired up for working with us on this, we’re certain we’ll be the biggest & most successful club in the region by 2009 but this isn’t just a ‘one off’ scheme, we intend to keep the school links going on a permanent basis’.

Fullerians is running a similar scheme in SW Herts so across the County girls rugby is getting a higher profile. The WRFU is really driving the game forward and other sports should look to the RFU model for how to take Sport forward in Hertfordshire. Welwyn Warriors is actively seeking new girls to join them and get into rugby so any girls from yr 5 upwards, interested in joining Warriors, pls ring Dave on 0786 676 5411.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Celebrate girls' rugby (Part 2)

Date for your diary: 14th January.

Last year Herts Girls provided the "Guard of Honour" at the start of a Saracens game at Vicarage Road when Saracens dedicated a match to the promotion and celebration of the game in the county. It was a good day and everyone there have an great time, so Sarries are doing it again.

The game is a crucial European game against French side Narbonne, and will kick-off at 3pm.

Tickets will be discounted to £14 for adults and £9 for juniors - but its actually cheaper to order online. The first 20 to arrive on the day will form the Guard.

Celebrate girls' rugby (Part 1): This Thursday!

A reminder that THIS THURSDAY there will be a special evening at Saracens RFC (Bramley Road, Southgate) to celebrate girls rugby in Hertfordshire.

There will be drills and exercises with the Saracens women's team, who will also give a short presentation on what its like to play for (arguably) the strongest women's rugby team in the land, there will also be food, and photographs, and the usual "stuff".

Its not just a "County Squad" event - everyone who plays in the county is invited. It promises to be a fun evening - so don't miss it. The event "kicks of" and 7.30 with the drills and training activities, which go on until around 9 o'clock, and the evening itself is due to finish around 10pm.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A photographic look back at Westcliff

Dozens of pictures of all kinds can now be viewed on this commercial photography site.

Click on Rugby / Westcliff / 2006 / Essex Girls Rugby Festival.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Herts 1:2 in National Cup qualifier

Hertfordshire's best ever year in the National Cup continued today with local clubs taking both qualifying places in the rearranged South East qualifier held at Letchworth.

A last minute withdrawl from Surrey side Cramberley left four teams in the contest - Letchworth, Welwyn, Saracens/Fullerians and last year's South-East League champions Worthing.

Letchworth and Worthing kicked off early in order to get the fixtures through before nightfall, and their performance gave the other Herts sides some useful pointers on how to play the unknown Sussex team. Letchworth dominated up front, which starved Worthing's fast and talented backline of useful ball for most of the game and in the end the host side were probably far more comfortable winners than the 10-7 scoreline suggests, Worthing's only score coming at the end of the game.

Welwyn played the south coast side next - and, with the help fresh legs, strolled to a 48-0 win. Meanwhile the hosts match faced Saracens/Fullerians and recorded a second victory - and again a more comfortable win than 10-5 might suggest, and despite playing with only 14 in the second half owing to one player falling ill.

With two teams going through Letchworth had now qualified but still had to face Welwyn, who need a win to guarantee their place in the next round. The first half was an exciting, closely matched affair with Welwyn edging it 10-5 before going on to stretch their lead against a tiring home team to 34-5 by the end.

Saracens/Fullerians were Welwyns last opponents. Coming out of a narrow loss to Worthing, Saracens performed superbly under the floodlights holding Welwyn to the narrowest wining margin of the day - 17-0.

So on 4th February three Herts teams will be playing in the southern finals of the National Cup - Herts Barbarians U14s, Welwyn U17s, and Letchworth U17s. Can one of them take the next step to national glory? We shall see...

Letchworth 10, Worthing 7
Welwyn 48, Worthing 0
Letchworth 10, Saracens/Fullerians 5
Saracens/Fullerians 10, Worthing 19
Letchworth 5, Welwyn 34
Saracens/Fullerians 0, Welwyn 17

South East Qualifier P W L F A Pts

Photgraphs from some of todays games can be found here

Regional trialists: U14

The cmplete list of girls from Eastern Counties, Essex, and Hertfordshire have been selected to attend the U14 regional trials at Ely RFC on Sunday 28th January is now availabel on the East Region website

County fixture on 17th December cancelled

Unfortunately the proposed county games for 17th December have now had to be cancelled as first Essex and then Eastern Counties have announced that they are unavailable to play us on that date.

Our apologies about the uncertainty that this has caused, and leaving this announcement until today - but right up until a few hours ago a game against one or the other still seemed possible.

Once we are through January and know where we stand with the regional squad we hope to revive the county programme.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Last minute withdrawl complicates U17 National Cup

The last minute withdrawl of Cramberleigh from has resulted in some changes to tomorrow afternoon's National Cup round at Letchworth. The good news is that we are at least guaranteed at least one Hertfordshire team getting into the semi finals as three of the four sides competing for two places will now be from Herts.

The revised draw for the round has now been published on the Letchworth blog.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Extra county U17 fixture (?)

Vicky has asked is it would be possible to organise an extra county fixture on Sunday 17th December, joining Essex who are hosting Kent on that date. At this stage its probably just an U17 venture unless Simon wishes to enter his U14s as well.

The major barrier to this - a planned game betwen Welwyn and Letchworth - has now been removed as Welwyn have cancelled the fixture.

However this is obviously very short notice and an extra game beyond the dates agreed at the start of the season and so players will not have been asked to keep the date free. So if anyone is unavailable because families have booked a day's Christmas shopping or a trip to the grandparents or whatever that is understandable. The county would not want to ask your to disrupt your Christmas arrangements, not least because we do not want lots of unhappy parents (and grandparents!).

This fixture will also not affect selections for the regional trials for any counties (Essex, Eastern Counties, or Herts), because these will have already been selected and announced this coming weekend.

Equally clubs had been told that this was a club date, and so it would be unfair and unreasonable to ask them to cancel anything they may have arranged for this date.

Mainly because of all this uncertainty it is likely that the entire squad will not be available so we need to know as soon as possible - really by the weekend at the latest - who will be.

Could you please therefore let Vicky know ( if you or county squad girls at your club are available for 17th December. If we do not receive a positive reply from any player - either directly or via their club - by this Sunday (10th) we will assume they are unavailable.

This deadline is being set so that Vicky has time to find players to fill in any key gaps that may occour if she is a few players short, but also to give clubs at least a week's firm notice of what definately is (or is not) happening.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Girls rugby represented on county Elite Athlete Support Programme

Ten athletes - including rugby's representative Megan Williams from Welwyn - will receive individual nutrition consultations, physiotherapy assessments, individual and small group training sessions with a strength and conditioning coach and performance lifestyle advice. The programme has a value of approximately £800 per athlete but will be free of charge for the athletes.

The programme is a joint venture between the Herts Sports Partnership, University of Hertfordshire and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

The athletes are aged between 14 and 17 years of age and have either been selected to represent England, are part of a national development squad or have competed in national competitions. All training sessions take place at the £15m state of the art Hertfordshire Sports Village.

The programme was officially launched by Lisa Wooding (Hockey Bronze medallist in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, 2006) on the 20th November. Following the launch, the athletes were given advice by Dawn Airton (Athlete Support Manager for the English Institute of Sport and ex-England Rugby player) and Lisa on managing their time to juggle their busy training schedules, education commitments and a social life with a “Performance Lifestyle” workshop.

The English Institute of Sport fully endorse the programme and have been very supportive of the scheme. Dawn Airton says: “Its great to see a programme that will support athletes on their pathway to World Class success. This programme fully embraces the principles of the EIS by providing talented athletes in Hertfordshire with sports science services that aims to make a difference to their performance.”

Fiona Castree from the Herts Sports Partnership says: “this is a fantastic opportunity for these athletes to receive top class support services to help them reach their full potential in their chosen sport.”

“We are very fortunate to have been able to form a partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to set up this new programme.”

Nick Brooking, Director of Sport at the University of Hertfordshire says: “We are delighted to be able to contribute expertise to this programme which provides a valuable first step for these genuinely talented young people towards the national level programmes and schemes that are also run here.”

Simon Gardner, Senior Development Manager, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority says: “The Authority is very pleased to be able to support these talented athletes in their training. I look forward to following their progress representing their country at future international sporting events such as the London 2012 Olympics.”

Nominate a volunteer for county awards

Amanda Bate writes:

Above is the link to the nomination form and details of the categories for YOU, YES YOU, to nominate a volunteer for an award.

In girls rugby, I would like to see Clive nominated and I will be nominating him, but others can as well to strengthen the case, but John Birch could do with recognition, and Luke, and what about the youngsters in your club who have coaching/refs awards and are putting them into practice?

Dave Marques is a great administrator for girls rugby at Welwyn, Vicki Hopcroft for Tabard, Chris Fishlock has been coaching in girls rugby for a long time, Jacky Shutler seems to be a shaker and mover for youth at you can see the list is endless and those I have mentioned are just the people who sprung to my mind...

Last year at the awards rugby did very well, lets clean up again with the awards in 2007!

Please pass this onto your club execs, and please take action, don't leave it up to someone else! and more than one person can nominate the same volunteer. "

Monday, December 04, 2006

Herts County rugby: options for the future

With the Westcliff tournament now over, the main representative focus now turns to regional rugby. Hopefully we'll still be able to offer something at county level for those juniors that do not make regional squad (ie. most of them!) - certainly something like last season's inter-county sevens tournament, perhaps.

But this is also a good chance to take stock and look at where we are and where the county programme should go in the future.

At U14 level the county programme is a lifeline for many girls as it often provides the only opportunity they get to play competitive full sized rugby. Hopefully this will get better in the future, but at present there seems little dispute about the purpose and organisation of the U14 programme.

At U17 level its a different matter mainly because we in Herts we are being so sucecssful - both on the field in terms of results (yesterday's "blip" against Essex aside!), but also in terms of attracting players.

Amanda Bate, our "leader" (whatever her real title may be!) is shortly to move on to greater things in the RFUW and as a parting present she has gathered together some questions that have been floating around recently which are very pertenant to the question of What Happens Next. Taking this as an opportunity her ideas have been expanded below to include some of the other views that have been expressed or discussed informally of late.

In the end there are no "right" answers here. The county programme is a curious thing in some respects as it has more evolved that been created by the centre, and maybe as a result RFUW give little guidance on these matters. So at the minute its up to us - up to you. Be you players, coaches, parents, or adminsitrators its YOUR programme. What sort of animal should it be?

You can add your views to this blog and start an open discussion here, or maybe talk about it at your club and send a representative to the next meeting, or exchange views by email. Up to you. But the main thing is to make your views known. And also maybe consider how fortunate we are to be in a position to ask these questions - to have so many options is a sign of strength.

And you may have ideas and views above and beyond what appears here. If so - lets hear them!

1. What is the county team for?

As is mentioned above, at U14 level this is currently very clear - but at U17s it is less so. Is it an elite programme, or a development initiative. Can it be both? or are the two aims incompatible?

Amanda thinks it can do both as it develops girls who want to go far, and it is also a place for the best players in the county. What do you think? Can one programme/squad achieve both aims? Regional rugby is now seen as an "elite" programme - what should the priority be at county level?

2. Is it about winning, or taking part?

This is related to the above, so once that is decided, what do should the philosophy of the U17 programme be? Much the same as this year - a squad coached and managed to win? Or (as with the U14s, and come to that most counties other than maybe Herts and Essex!) an emphasis on participation, on strenghening the base by giving higher quality playing opportunities for girls of the right standard?

Is "playing to win" appropriate for this level (both considering the age of those taking part, but also the position of county rugby in the RFUW's development scheme)? Is concenbtraing on development only popular outside of Herts and Essex because other counties' have low numbers at club level?

3. 1st and 2nd XVs - or separate County and Barbarian/Development squads?

Amanda asks whether we run a separate Barbarians/development side in future and if so whether it should have its own kit, management, etc. - and, as numbers grow, its own selection policy?

Or do we follow the pattern from the boys' junior game and merge the county and Barbarians so as to have a much bigger county squad from which two teams - a 1st and 2nd XV - are selected for each tournament or fixture?

Arguments for the current pattern include the fact that it fits in the regional programme, and that (returning to the first question) it allows the County Squad to be an elite programme while the Barbarians concentrate on development. Would a larger squad be more difficult to manage and risk diluting the quality of the team? Would it restrict the opportunities for new players who appear on the scene after county trials but can now join the Barbarians?

On the other hand the alternative side asks whether this is selling the Barbarians short? Given the "scratch" nature of yesterday's side, and the similarly impressive performance of 12 months ago, there are more players capable of playing at county level in Hertfordshire than the squad of 25. Would a larger squad - fielding two fifteens - be better able to bring on this talent and produce a second string that capable of beating many other counties? Might one year we finish a tournament with a Herts 1:2?

What is best for girls on the fringes - maybe just good enough to get into the county squad by not the starting XV? Are they be better served by training with the elite, or would they be better making a name for themselves as part of a county squad's 2nd XV.

Are players slighly lower down the ladder better served in a separate Barbarian squad? Or would a single squad make it easier for players develop and move between sides? Are the girls better served with players able to "relax" and concentrate on training knowing which team they are in from the start, or by having to constantly compete for places in the 1st and 2nd team?

Would a larger squad allow county rugby to continue throughout the year - ie. even if 15 girls were lost to region from a 40 or 45 player squad, enough would be left to make a viable squad.

[PS - Late additional information. Worcestershire appear to have a U17 squad of 46, with six coaches, drawn from three clubs]

Click here to make your views know!

Senior regional news

While the regions' juniors were busy knocking lumps off each other at Westcliff, their elders were keeping busy.

Over 30 players turned up for the first senior women's trial, switched at less than 48 hours notice to Letchworth RFC. Despite the short notice apparently everyone expected turned up, the play was of a very high standard, and all in all the day went very well.

The turnout may seem low by as you will have seen earlier there were three teams of East Region women out in the middle east playing the the Dubai Sevens. Saracens II had an early finish, but both Saracens I and the unofficial East Region team made it to the final day.

Saracens went out to eventual winners Greater Little Rock USA 12-7 in the Trophy semi-finals, but East made it through to the Plate Final were they lost 5-0 to Arabian Gulf RFU - the "national team" for the host region (though almost entirely composed of ex-pts by the look of things).

All of these players - and a few more - will be at the second senior trial on 28th January at King's School, Ely. The junior trials are also the same day, but at Ely RFC.

New award scheme for community clubs

This month sees the launch of one of our new recognition schemes; the ''President's XV Awards''.
The President's XV Award scheme seeks to identify and reward best practice in community rugby clubs with 45 projects receiving recognition for making an outstanding contribution to the development of grassroots rugby.

There are 15 categories that have been specially selected by the RFU President, Bob Rogers, that clubs can nominate themselves for. Reflecting the four themes of Community Rugby; More People, Better Places, Access for All and Enjoyment, all rugby clubs within England are eligible to nominate projects, as long as they have been run in a voluntary capacity by the club within the past 12 months. The closing date for nomination forms is the 1st February 2007.

Rugby World, the world's biggest selling rugby magazine, will be the official media partner of the President's XV scheme and will highlight the best of the bunch in their pages this season.

The winning club in each of the 15 award categories will receive £500, with two highly commended projects in each category each receiving £100 for their club. The winners, judged by a Panel including the RFU President, will be announced during April, with a booklet providing case studies of the fifteen winning, and two highly commended, projects in each category will be published and distributed to the game in May.

We want to receive as many nominations from clubs as we possibly can; if you can advertise this new awards scheme to all the clubs in your area, directing them towards the volunteering section of the RFU website (; that would be great. If you want any more information on the President’s XV scheme, contact Carly Jackson ( on 0208 831 6742.

What brings players into the game? What drives them away?

The goplayrugby pilot is researching player drop out and return. We want thousands of people to take part nationally from both inside and outside rugby to give us quantitative information. This will provide a valuable data, alongside more detailed face-to-face research, to create a picture of how best to recruit players that will inform volunteers and executive staff. A very short (seven question) and simple on-line survey has been created with incentives for completion:

Win Tickets! Clubs will be using the build up to the Rugby World Cup to recruit more players, especially adults, to grassroots rugby. We need your help to research why players leave and what will bring them back to rugby. Not only will your information help design the best recruitment campaign, but you can enter a draw to win tickets for an England Six Nations game. To take part visit and tell all your friends too!

Photos from the Essex county tournament

Herts U17s compete in the line out against Yorkshire

Eastern Counties U17s work hard to retain the ball against Herts

The heroic Barbarians ... with guests!

The victorious U14s... still unbeaten at 12-a-aide!

The disappointed U17s... next year we'll put it right!
For 21 more action shots from U17 and Barbarian games see here

Sunday, December 03, 2006

U14s take the honours as U17s fall at final hurdle

Westcliff RFC in Essex hosted the "Essex County Tournament" today with Hertfordshire providing three teams, as they did at Hitchin last year. But this was a much bigger affair with six teams competing in each age group.

In Pool B the U17s Hertfordshire Barbarians could not quite match the glories of last year when the "B" string famously defeated Oxfordshire, but they certainly ran Thames Valley county champions Buckinghamshire close, going down 10-5 to a try in the final seconds before giving Essex a scare or two in a 10-0 defeat.

The main county squad, on the other hand, took Pool A with some ease - though Yorkshire put up a huge battle before going down 7-0. Eastern Counties showed some real promise - but in the first ever competitive game could not hold the Herts girls who ran out 22-0 winners.

Meanwhile the U14s won their group by first beating a physically large Bucks U14 team 19-5 with tries from Courtney Arberry, Sam Voyce and Sydnie Grace, and Clare Shutler adding two Conversions. They then beat Eastern Counties (Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambs) 31-0 with Clare Shutler scoring three Tries and three Conversions, and other Tries from Megan Childs and Millie Porter.
Barbarian heros
With Essex U14 and U17 winning their groups it was going to be the local rivals against each other in both finals. But before that "Barbarians" played off against Eastern Counties - but after a break and their earlier heroics they were distinctly slow out of the starting stalls and 12-0 before the game was more than a few minutes old. A much better second half performance restricted the Easterns to only one more try, however.

So to the finals, and the U14s were on first. All previous U14 games between Herts and Essex have been extremely close and this was exactly the same. Essex scored an early Try, which they converted to go 7-0 up. Herts then scored Tries from Clare Shutler, which she converted, and Alice Nee to lead 12-7 at the break. In a very tense second half, Herts defence withstood the Essex onslaught and crucially Milly Porter just won a sprint to the Herts try line, following a perfectly judged Essex kick, to prevent the home side evening up the score.

So that was one-nil to Herts. Could the U17s complete the double?

At half time it looked certain that they would. They went into the break 5-0 up, and it could easily have been a much larger lead as Herts had dominated pretty much all phases of play. But a very different side seemed to start the second period which took place entirely within the Herts half. An Essex pack that had been going backwards suddenly seemed to win every scrum, whoever had the put in, and most of the lineouts too. History is made - Herts conceed first ever tryThe home side's confidence grew with every phase, and in the end a Herts defensive line that had stood definant and unbroken for two years finally broke. With the scores level the final play was a Herts lineout on their own 5m line - and it was in the end no surprise to see it stolen and an Essex forward crash over for winning score.

And so it was only the U14 Herts Captain Clare Shutler who could lift a Winners trophy for the county in the clubhouse afterwards. But however disappointing the outcome was for the U17s, they had still played well throughout most of the tournament until the final few minutes - and the Barbarians had again shown the incredible depth of talent in the county.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

News from Dubai...

Some of your may know that some of our senior players from Hertfordshire and East Region are in Dubai at the moment playing in the Dubai International Ladies Sevens. Sixteeen teams from around the world are taking part. Quite who the heck they actually are is anyone's guess as the website is less than informative, but anyway the first round of games took place yesterday.

Saracens have sent two teams - and the first team are through to the semi-finals tomorrow having strolled through their group, running up well over 100 points in three games without conceeding any, and having a prett easy quarter final today. This puts them through to a semi-final against an all-but US "national" team calling itself "Greater Little Rock"

The Americans have already truned over our East region side. While not an "official" team, everyone in the squad - including the manager and physio - were involved with East last year.
They had begun well in the midday heat (well, 11 am anyway) with a 50-0 win over Wadi Wadi, but after that it looks like they had some problems going down 22-5 to MGUS in the afternoon before being turned over by an "Greater Little Rock" 22-7.

That should have put them into the plate and a game against "Sisters of Soccer" this evening, who have so far failed to score a point in the competition. If they've won that one (and they shoudl have done) they could face our third side - "Saracens II" - in the plate semi-finals tomorrow lunchtime. However, Saracens II have yet to win a game so far...

More news when it leaks out...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Herts girls to pull on the red rose

Congratulations to Sarah Mckenna and Hannah Clark for making the England U19’s squad. Both girls played their junior rugby for Fullerians, before joining OA saints , and are both the product of the county and regional route to elite rugby.

This is Sarah’s second year in the squad , but the first time for Hannah after three years of trying (which goes to show hard work and determination count as much as talent).

Clive Cramphorn ( head of OA saints junior section ) said “all those involved with the saints are delighted and proud of the girls and wish them every success in the coming year”. Clive also added that Charlie White formerly of Welwyn Warriors ( also a county and regional player) made the final 44 but did not make the final squad , and did fantastically well in her first trial .

Take control...

... become a referee!

There is a new "Entry Level Referee Award Course" (ELRA) being sponsored by the RFU and the next course in Hertfordshire will be held at:

Sir Frederic Osborn School
Herns Lane,
Welwyn Garden City
Herts AL7 2AF

The course will be over four evenings (Tuesdays 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th January 2007 (6.30pm – 9.30pm)) and includes:

Laws of Rugby Union
Roles, responsibilities and attitudes
Contextual Judgement
Health and Safety
Communication and Positioning
Child Protection
Theory into Practice
Game management and Control
Practical refereeing

Closing date for applications 13th December!
For more information and an application see the RFU website

Showcasing girls rugby

There are two events coming up in December designed to "showcase" the development of the game, and also give girls a chance to meet top adult players or play in front of a good crowd.

On 14th December all girls are invited to Saracens ground (Bramley Road, Southgate) to have a session with the Saracens women's team as well as get some publicity photographs taken showing how many girls are now playing the game.

And on 19th December U17 girls are invited to Hertford to play an exhibition game ahead of a men's county U23 match.

In both cases it promises to be an enjoyable evening, with refreshments provided, and a great opportunity to show what you have achieved and the quality and depth of girls rugby in the county.

BUT we need good numbers to commit to the events if they are to go ahead. If you are at Westcliff on Sunday please let the coaches know whenther you can get to Saracens or Hertford. If you are not at Westcliff then let your club know or drop a line to Amanda Bate as soon as possible.

Emerging School tournament

Hertfordshire's first ever inter-school tournament will take place at Welwyn on 7th February. For the first event 14 schools from all parts of the county who have shown the most interest or enthusiasm for the game have been invited to take part.

This year the competition is an U14 event and aim of the project is to get MORE girls into rugby, and MORE schools playing competitive rugby - its not about getting existing girls playing in more competitions. Though of course these girls are very likely to take part... they need to be encouraged to get more of their friends involved.

Senior regional trials: change of venue

Due to the weather and ground conditions Sunday's (3rd December) senior trials will now take place at Letchworth Garden City RFC and not St Christopher School, as previously arranged.

This is only about a mile east of St Christopher on the main road - behind the North Herts Leisure Centre. See map below.

Please park at the rugby club or the Leisure Centre - but not in the football club car park next door to the rugby club as your car will be locked in when the football finishes!

Start times and all other arrangements will be as previously announced.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Interesting Fact....

While on the subject of regional rugby just occasionally people are given to ask why they have to pay to be part of the programme. "Boys don't" we hear.

Well, consider. The profit RFU make from ONE home international would keep the RFUW running for at least TWENTY YEARS. Or - some might suggest - roughly how long it will be before the England men's team is capable of winning anything again. I could not possibly comment on that...

In fact that may be a low estimate if anything. From some figures I have heard, taking TV revenue into account as well, a single game might fund RFUW for knocking on for half a century!

As it is nearly 10% of RFUW's budget goes into the regional programme. The rest? Well our England heros did not get to Canada on foot, and did not do so brilliantly based on luck.

New rugby coaching blog

Its worth anyone's while I think taking a look at "Put me in coach" - a new blog that has appeared which majors on coaching, including some videos as well as opinion pieces, suggestions etc.

Its American again - but then all the best rugby blogs are. I mean isn't there ANYONE out there in these islands will to run some rugby-related UK blogs other than me and Vincent? Come on guys - its not that hard!

But I digress.

No this is SERIOUSLY good stuff - and well written to boot. What is more the women's game gets equal prominence (which, if we are honest, wouldn't happen over here). Drop by. Enjoy. And learn.

Senior Regional trials this weekend in Letchworth

But not AT Letchworth - rather at St Christopher School in Letchworth.

Actually anyone attending really should have submitted their trials forms by now - but if you somehow didn't know about the trials please contact the RPM for East (ie. me) by Saturday at the latest and we'll try to squeeze you in.

U17 National Cup to be replayed at Letchworth

With grounds still unplayable at Saracens at Welwyn, Letchworth will be hosting the rearranged first round of the U17 National Cup on 10th December. With barely 10 days notice it'll be a bit of a challenge, and they will not be saying "no" to any help that might be offered - but on the big "plus" is that at least the event is still in Hertfordshire!

Start times etc. have yet to be confirmed, but almost all of the host's minis and juniors are away so potentially the tournament could start significantly earlier than the 1.30 planned for last weekend. How early will depend on those travelling long distances.

We've already got one Herts team into the semi-finals of the U14s - with three in the running at this event let's hope we can get two through from the U17s!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

URGENT NOTICE: U17 County & Barbarian training changes.

Tomorrow night's training at Welwyn is no longer take place as planned cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. There is a slight chance that an alternative venue will be found.

If no alternative venue is possible...
  • A County U17 squad session will still go ahead. Meet at Welwyn at 6.30. Bring trainnig kit just in case it is possible to do any outdoor training. However, Luke and Vicky will be preparing a session on strategy and tactics and the starting XV will be heavily influenced by who attends tomorrow night.
  • The Barbarian training session will be cancelled.

More news will appear here as it becomes available.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mixed fortunes for Herts teams in National Cup

A rain-drenched Welwyn was the venue for the South East qualifer for the first ever U14 National Cup on Sunday, with three teams playing for two places in the next round - Welwyn, "Cramberley" (from Surrey), and "Herts Barbarians" (a scratch side made up of everyone else from Herts outside of Welwyn, plus some girls from Eastern Counties!).

The hope was that the two Hertfordshire teams would make it through, and the opening game between the two "home" teams was incredibly close - Welwyn desparately unlucky to go down by a single try.

Unfortunately Welwyn then had to play again. The disappointment of the first game - and the strength-sapping mud - did not help when up against one of the best U14 sides in the south of England (National 7s winners last year) and they went down 17-0.

The boot was on the other foot, however, for the next game as the "Barbarians" took full advantage of a good rest and sneaked home 10-5 in an really exciting game that ended in the gathering gloom of a winter's evening. So the Barbarians at least take the Herts flag forward when they get to do it all again on 4th February!

"Gloom" and "having to do it all again" were also the emotions felt by the our three U17 entrants as their tournament at Saracens (or "Lake Bramley" as it may now be called) was called off just as everyone was setting off (well, everyone in Hertfordshire. We suspect that other teams due to take part had already been travelling for a while before they heard). Quite what will happen now is anyone's guess as - with county and regional dates already in place - there are not that may opportunities to rearrange the contest before 4th February. Watch this space...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"Start Rugby" - and help develop your girls team!

A number of courses - particular aimed at volunteers who may want to be more "hands on" in their involvement - are coming up in the north of the county.

Letchworth are hosting a "Start Rugby" course on the evening of 15th January, a repeat of a course which took place at Welwyn on 11th October.

This is a new course aimed at anyone interested in helping to coach or introduce new players to the game, but perhaps not interested or able to commit to become a fully qualified coach at this stage. As such its ideal for any parents or players who want to get more involved in helping the game - and girls' section - develop and grow. The course takes just one evening, is apparently quite active and hands on, and at the end of it you take away not only the experience but a big pack of drills and games for groups of all sizes.

There is also a "tag" rugby traning course coming up at Royston RFC on 12th February, and sessions on "tackle safety & coaching contact" at Letchworth on 11th December and Stevenage on 19th March.

Clubs will normally pay all course fees - so if you are interested contact your club's coach training officer.

County tournament (3rd December): Details

Venue: Westcliff RFC, Aviation Way, Southend on Sea, Essex

Registration 9.30-10.00

The final draw and pools will be posted at the registration tent on the day.

Under 14’s 2 x pools of 3 teams, Under 17’s 2 x pools of 4 teams, winners of each pool will meet in the final. The two second placed teams in each group will meet to decide the 3rd & 4th placings.

Trophies will be awarded to the two winning teams, and Medals will be awarded to all the girls who have taken part in the festival.

4 Points for a win
2 Points for a draw
1 Point for a loss
Bonus points will be awarded if you score 4 or more tries in a game.

In the event of a final being drawn, time permitting then 5 minutes each way of extra time shall be played. If there is still a draw after extra time, then it will be decided by sudden death penalty kicks (Welwyn girls will like that!).

Tournament Rules:
Under 17’s
15 a side, full size pitches, ten minutes each way. U17 laws apply

Under 14’s
10 a side - 5 Forwards and 5 Backs half size pitch, ten minutes each way. U14 laws apply.
Conversions shall be taken after each try.

County girls meet England star

Wednesday evening was another highlight for the county U17 squad, when they met Margaret Alphonsi, Saracens and England No7.

"Margaret is a fantastic role model for these young players," said Amanda Bate, Rugby Development Officer with The Herts Sports Partnership. "She proves to them that a person can work and study and still play top level rugby."

Margaret is currently studying for her Masters in Sports Psychology, and is also Rugby Development Officer for Saracens (Amateur )RFC, as well as fitting in training on 5 days each week.

Maragaret talked to the girls about the importance of goal setting, in her introduction to Sports Psychology, showing them how they could raise their game as individuals and as a team.

The squad put this into action and set the team goal of not conceding any tries on 3rd December, as well as winning the tournament.

Margaret's talk on Sports Psychology is just one of a series in the athlete support programme run by the Herts Sports Partnership. For more details contact .

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stocking filler? World Cup DVD

Just released!

Relive the colour and atmosphere of the best women's rugby world cup ever, with exclusive behind behind the scenes footage, the story of the three qualifying rounds, highlights of the two compelling semi-finals and then the knife-edge final that went down to the wire to decide the World champions.

93 minutes of action for only £11.99.

Buy one for your club so that they can show show something different on the big screen instead of the usual ancient highlights!

A familiar face in a new role

Amanda Bate, who has been responsible for managing the development of girls rugby in Hertfordshire over the past 3-4 years will be moving on on 3rd January... but not far. Because Amanda has been appointed the new Women's Rugby Development Manager for the East and South East of England - so we'll still see plenty of her!

So congratulations to Amanda!

Who will replace her at county level has yet to be announced.

Hertfordshire girls invited to train with Saracens women

On the 14th December any girls who play rugby in Hertfordshire are invited to attend a training session with the Saracens women players, including England players Maggie Alphonsi and Karen Andrew, at the Saracens RFC, Bramley Rd, Southgate. Training will be from 7.30pm to 9pm.

Afterwards there will be a free hot meal for all players, (adults may buy it for £1 a go), the bar will be open, and there will be photos taken with the Saracens women (which will be better organised than the session with the men's team!). The event will finish at 10pm.

For the photos we will need the county girls in their drill tops or county kit, which will highlight both giels rugby generally and the Saracens themselves.

If you can attend please tell your club asap, who will then contact Amanda Bate - who is organising the evening. She will need to know how many adults, coaches and parents, how many u17's, and how many u14's by Friday 1st December.

U17 county training

Vicky has passed on a few details about upcoming sessions.

The next is this Wednesday 22nd (tomorrow) at the Sports Village 7.30 - around 9pm. Please be there promptly so we can get started straight away. We are very lucky to have Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens and England) doing a presentation for us on Sports Psychology and goal setting.....its going to be really useful looking ahead to the December 3rd tournament. So the session will not be a physical one....please bring a pen and paper to scirbble stuff on and lots and lots of enthusiasm!! And if any parents want to join us they are more than welcome to stay.

Luke and I have been talking since the Grove tournament and we feel it is vital that we have one more outdoor training session to get things sorted before December 3rd. So we are asking you to come to an extra session the following Wednesday 29th November to be held at Welwyn RFC from 6.30 to 9pm. This will be THE MOST IMPORTANT session we have had all season so please make every effort to come along. We need to talk about our game plan for the tournament and then put it into action on the pitch. Luke and I will be chosing our starting 15 for the tournament and we are also having to chose 15 of you to go to regional trials in January so every effort will be noticed.

Let me know asap about both these sessions, either by email or by phone (07739 968499). See you this Wednesday at the Sports Village.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Scrum in senior rugby: IRB make changes.

The IRB have announced some changed to the "engage" in senior rugby. This will not affect juniors, or come to that most leagues outside the premiership as these are currently played to U19 laws. Indeed to an extent the rule changes brings the elite game closer to the practices at U19. Referees will also wish to take note.

Its all a bit technical, but changes are:

1. The new Law to be applied for the scrum engagement will be: The referee will call "crouch" then "touch". The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop's outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call "pause". Following a pause the referee will then call "engage". The front rows may then engage. The "engage" call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready. This is a change to Law 20.1(h). Presently law 20.1 (h) stipulates a "crouch, pause,engage" sequence.

2. The scrum must be stationary and the middle line of the scrum must be parallel to the goal lines. A team must not shove the scrum away from the mark before the ball is thrown in. This reinforces current Law 20.1(k).

3. The front rows must crouch so that when they meet, each player's head and shoulders are no lower than their hips. This will ensure that both front rows are at as suitable horizontal height. This reinforces current Law 20.1(g).

The Law change will come into effect on January 1, 2007 with recommendations 2 and 3 coming into effect concurrently. This Lawchange will also go hand in hand with the zero tolerance policy on crooked feeds to the scrum that will come into effect on January 1, 2007.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

East regional league?

Girls' leagues are beginnnig to spring up in varius parts of the country. There's one in the North East, another in the North West, Surrey/Hampshire, Thames Valley...

So the question of whether we should have one in East has come up, and will be discussed in at a regional meeting in January, and at a county meeting next week.

One possible idea has already been circulated, based on Thames Valley's "cluster" leagues - details here - but this will proabbly not be the only idea on the tables and other views would be very welcome.

Comments and suggestions can be posted here, or submitted via you club representative on the county forum.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Venues for East Region programme 2006-7

All venues for the East Region programme are now pretty much in place.

In a region as big as this we'll never come up with any location that works for everyone, but the aim has been to try to get training and trials as close to the centre of the region as possible, while match locations are designed to minimise the need unnecessary travel for our visitors.

So many thanks to the clubs who have offered the facilities, and especially the assistance of Vincent Acheson from Eastern Counties and Phil Robson from Essex.


Trials: 3rd December - St Christopher School, Letchworth, Herts
28th January - King's School, Ely, Cambs

Training: 3rd February, 17th February, 10th March - all at Culford School, nr Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Matches: 11th February vs South East - Basildon RFC, Essex
25th February vs North East - Ely RFC, Cambs
18th March vs East Midlands - Away, TBC (probably Leicestershire)


Trials: 28th January - Ely RFC, Cambs

Training: 11th February, 25th February, 11th March, 22nd April - all at Culford School, nr Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk

Matches: 18th March vs East Midlands - Away, TBC (probably Leicestershire)
1st April vs North East, and Yorkshire - Ely RFC, Cambs

Monday, November 13, 2006

"Defence wins titles" says U14 county coach

Defence wins Titles - a quote from the successful Wasps team of a few years ago, now taken on successfully by Hertfordshire's U14 Girls!

On Sunday a squad of 17 U14 girls went to Grove RFC in Oxfordshire to compete against Oxon, Middlesex and Essex. This was the first time an official team had represented the County at this age group. The girls looked very smart in their shirts borrowed for the day from their male counterparts. (pictures to follow from some parents hopefully, and some action shots?)

A big thanks to all the girls who rotated this duty against the other Counties on the day. Without their selfless support for rugby most of the squad would only have been able to get half a game in each match, and we would have been playing on half a pitch. Their exemplary attitude is a testament to the true amateur rugby ethos flowing through the girls game.

In their first game against Oxon a strong line-up took to the field. In order to ensure the game was the full 12 a side, full pitch version, 3 of the Herts. squad played for Oxon. From the kick off it was evident that both teams possessed strong defences, but the Herts. girls had stronger runners throughout the team and were able to strike from a number of positions across the backs. The forwards fought for superiority and were able to win the team a good supply of ball which allowed Herts. to keep Oxon pinned in their own half rarely breaking out into the Herts. half. Two tries in each half, all scored out wide by breaks from backs with support earned the win.

The second game the girls knew would be tough against a well drilled Essex side, containing some Regional players from last season. Again two Herts. girls played for the opposition to ensure the game could be played on a full pitch. As in the first game defences were on top and the game rarely moved out of the middle of the field. The pressure of the defences caused handling errors on both sides. Both teams found it hard to break through, though slowly Herts. were able to recycle ball and apply pressure eventually leading to the break for the only try of the game. The second half saw both teams defend strongly again the defences caused many handling errors. Herts. for the second match running preventing the opposition from entering their 22m area.

The final game saw the girls take on a new Middlesex squad which grew in numbers as the competition went on. All the girls who had played for the opposition in the first two games played for Hertfordshire in this game. In a tense first half, Middlesex took the game to Herts. with some very powerful runners. The Herts. girls made it to half time with resolute defending keeping the 22m area from being breached. Changes at half time and a talk by the coaches saw the girls come out focused for the second half. A couple of early penalties conceded by Middlesex saw Herts. able to apply pressure in the opponents 22m. A blind side break saw a try disallowed, with even the Essex coaches questioning the Refs. decision. The fitness of the girls, who mostly started playing this season, also now started to tell. The disallowed try gave the girls more momentum and with Middlesex regularly conceding penalties Herts. were able to cross three time in the left hand corner to win the match.

The girls showed great spirit in their games. Some handling and continuity was wonderful. Defence was very solid and in parts awesome. Considering that many are new to rugby this season they have great potential. The one thing we did ask but which they failed to do completely was score by the posts to make conversions easier! Obviously a communication problem here because most tries were scored by the corner flags. We mean the goal posts!!!

County teams dominant at Oxon tournament

Hertfordshire's county teams produced faultless performances at Sunday's tournament at Grove in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire had clearly gone to great lengths to put the event together at very short notice - four weeks ago it wasn't on anyone's calendar at all! The loss of Herts proposed fixture with Bucks was the spark, and Oxfordshire's agreement to step into the breach - combined with the willingness of Essex and Middlesex to relocate their fixture 100 miles or so west - resulted in an excellent afternoon's rugby, and a perfect "warm-up" to the Main Event at Westcliff next month.

And it was our girls who dominated the day - which is remarkable when you consider that most of their opponents have been playing together competitively for some weeks, or even months in Essex's case.

At Under 17 level a brave Oxfordshire side were unfortunately no match for the speed and flair of the Herts team who ran in some 40 unanswered points before an injury forced an early closure in the second half.

Essex were expected to be a tougher opposition - with their pack looking particular big. But after their initial attack was repulsed Herts gradually increased their dominance and eventually ran out 15-0 winners.

Herts U14 Girls deservedly won their four County Tournament by first class defending which achieved a shut-out against the three sides they played. The team was well led by Clare Shutler who was presented with the winner’s trophy afterwards.

In the first game Herts beat hosts Oxfordshire 22-0 with tries from Clare, Emma Wilson, Sam Voyle and Alice Nee, the latter two also making notable crunching tackles on the opposition. Clare also converted a try.

In the second game against arch-rivals Essex, Clare was the key difference and her try gave Herts a hard fought 5-0 win.

In the final game Herts were 0-0 at half-time with Middlesex, until Courtney Arberry took the game by the scruff of the neck with her exceptional tackling and then scoring two tries. Becky Dawson added a late third try and the game ended 15-0 to Herts.

  • Interesting fact: Not only are out U17s still unbeaten (at both XV-a-side and 7-a-side) since they were formed last season, but no-one has yet scored at try against in the larger sided game!
  • And the U14s have also won every full-sided game they have played to date, though they did conceed one try last year. Their record is marred by a single 7s defeat to a "Surrey" team that actually included several Herts players...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sunday's County tournament at Grove RFC. Details.

Here is a link to Grove RFC

The day will consist of four Counties playing each other in friendlies - loaning to increase number from the more fortunate teams - and sharing players if needed. The aim of the day is to have as as many girls as possible turn up and enjoy playing rugby.

The arrival time can be anytime from 11am with the first matches should start at about 1 pm. Players can bring a sensible packed lunch but food and drinks for sale in the club house all day. There will be made space available to do any pre match training and also and warm ups. we have the use of at least 3 (sahred) changing rooms.

The U14s will be able to play 10 mins each way as they have 3 games each.

The U17s have 2 matches each can play for 20 mins each way, or - if Middlesex can field an U17s squad - 3 games each 15 mins each way.

Timetable Of Events

  • 11 am Teams To Arrive At Clubhouse
  • 11.30am All Coaches and Managers to meet in the clubhouse to discuss numbers ect.
  • 11.45 am Girls to eat small snack bought with them as an early lunch.
  • 12.00 Noon Girls to get changed and assemble outside front of clubhouse to be assigned a space on the field to warm up and do any pre match coaching with their coaches.
  • 1 pm First Matches to kick off on either pitch 1, 2 or 3.

Assuming all three pitches are playable the schedule will be:

Pitch One (U14s)

1 pm Oxon V Herts
1.45 Oxon V Middlesex
2.30 Oxon V Essex

Pitch 2 (U14s)

1.00 Essex V Middlesex
1.45 Herts V Essex
2.30 Herts V Middlesex

Pitch 3 (U17s)

1.00 Oxon V Herts
2.00 Essex V Herts
3.00 Oxon V Essex

Referees take your pick!

An alternative schedule will be used if fewer pitches are free.

Finish By 4pm. Food Provied in Club House for all players. Food and drink available to purchase for all visitors

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Senior competition structure 2007/8

A Competitions Review Group (CRG) has spent the last yer looking at the structure or senior cups and leagues and has now issued some proposals for next season. These do not actually seem to be on the website (well I cannot find them) but can be summarised as follows:

  • The current "Premier 1" will become "The Championship". This will become a "closed" league of eight "geographically spread" teams, thus enabling all players to be able to play top level rugby.
  • Championship clubs required to sustain development plans that would make them responsible for the growth and development of rugby in their region (not just their club). Failure to do so would result in relegation and replacement by another club.

  • Below this there will be two leagues of eight - "Premier 1 North" and "Premier 1 South",
  • Feeding these leagues would be Premier North 2 and Premier Midlands 2 (feeding Preimer 1 North), and Premier South East 2 and Premier South West 2 (feeding Premier 1 South).
  • And below that league here would be a regional leagues structure of two or three levels.

  • The top four teams in the Championship will play off for the "Super Cup".
  • The winners of Premier 1 North and South would play-off for the "Premiership Cup"
  • There would be a "Regional Cup" available for other teams to enter.

  • In addition the top 88-100 players will be invited to play in a "Super League" consisting of three English and one Celtic qualified teams.
  • All "Premier" leagues to play to full IRB rules, other leagues to play to U19 rules.

Comments to by 14th November (yes - next week!)

Herts U17s in national top 30

Two girls from Welwyn - Hannah Gallagher and Megan Williams - have been selected for the national "TDG" (Training Development Group) at U17s, part of a select group of 30 who will get special training and development support over the coming months.

They will be joined there by one familar face - Sasha Acheson - who is registered at Sudbury but plays much of her rugby with Letchworth.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Herts clubs to clash in National Cup

The National Cup draws have been announced. The first round will be in the form of small "festivals" which will take place on 26th November. In both cases Herts teams ate in the "South East" group:

In the U14 Cup - the first time there has been an official tournament for this age - Herts Barbarians (a combined county U14 side) will take on Welwyn, Uttlesford (Essex), and "Cramberleigh" (Cranleigh & Camberley combined, from Surrey) at Welwyn RFC.

In the U17 Cup Saracens/Fullerians, Letchworth, and Welwyn will take on Uttlesford, "Cramberleigh (again!), and Worthing (Sussex) at Saracens.

There will be four of these "festivals" taking place across the country in each age group and the top teams will play in the second round early next year to produce a "North" and "South" winner, who will meet in a national final after Easter.

Guide to grants

A new and unique online "Funding Guide" for all grant aid relating to Hertfordshire was has been launched on 18 October 2006.

The site available at It takes would-be grant seekers through sources of local advice, and the chance to narrow down a search for local charities, to make the findings more relevant to what the searcher is looking for. It is a simple interface and, because it is online, it can be kept up to date.

There's a heck of a lot of money out there to be had for the price of a postage stamp, a little imagination, and some ink! Take a look at one recent example - West Herts Hockey Club, have just picked up a Sportsmatch award of £5,000 for "a development programs for girls. Funding provides for additional training sessions for younger girl players at the club and facilitates trials and taster sessions aimed at girls new to the sport. The training and recruitment programme forms parts of an ambitious overall club development plan."

So, which club out there reading this does not do something like that?

RFU announce a "Coach Licence Scheme"

No, nothing to do with the ensuring that your club transport has an up-to-date MoT!

The RFU want to ensure that all coaches working within the game regularly update their knowledge, skills and understanding. As a result they are proposing a "Coach Licensing System" and are inviting feedback that will help shape the Rugby Coaching Licence.

The consultation will take two forms; firstly, through access to the proposals on line (follow the above link), with an opportunity email responses ( Secondly a series of consultation meetings will take place, where the plans will be outlined, and coaches will have the opportunity to feedback, and make further recommendations.

All feedback will be collated throughout the autumn to be presented to the RFU Coaching Sub-Committee for further discussion in spring 2007, before final proposals are made to the RFU Council.

The consultation meetings in our area are below. All coaches are encouraged to attend:

London North
Chelmsford RFC, Essex, Monday 20th November, 7pm
University of Herts, Wednesday 29th November, 7pm

Monday, November 06, 2006

East Region senior trials - no excuses for missing out!

Because this year they are in Hertfordshire! At the St Christopher School in Letchworth on Sunday 3rd December, from c11.00am - 2.00pm (timings to be confirmed). Directions can be found here

Also - to ensure as many players as possible can be seen - there will actually be two days of trials with a second trial on 28th January in Cambridgeshire. If at all possible you will need to attend both dates - if you cannot make one of the dates you must notify Alan Brown or Wendy le Grave.

Regional rugby has never had a higher profile than this year. For the first time every player in the country - outside the top 44 - will be taking part, including all of the England U19 squad. The regional programme is now a firm part of the games developmental route - so the standard of rugby you will experience will make going to trials well worth the effort.

To meet this challenge a whole new coaching and management team has been appointed in the region (as you will have seen from the earlier news item) dedicated to build on previous successes that have seen the region grow to become one of the strongest in the country - with its players even building a reputation overseas!

All regional dates and venues can be found in the key dates page of this blog.

See the world, play rugby - an invitation.

Malcolm Baker, who many will know from his work with the East Region, is promoting a new women's rugby touring team "that will soon become the most well know and well travelled team from the home counties" has been formed - and its open to everyone, whoever you currently play for.


The Boudiccas Ladies WRFC was founded in July 2006, after players from the East Region squad were invited to play in the Stockholm 10s in Sweden. Despite being beaten in the semi-finals the players returned to the UK keen to compete in more competitions. From this idea Boudicca Ladies Touring Squad was founded.

There is no requirement to be part of the East Region Squad - the players range from Division 4 players to England U19s internationals. All that is needed is :
  1. All with a flare to travel, compete and win
  2. A love of 7s, 10s and 15 a side rugby
  3. Team spirt

The Teams Motto is “ BRING IT ON

The first tournament played as the Boudiccas was three weeks ago in Italy “The Rovigo 7s” where we lost in a very close final by one conversion. One of our wingers Sarah Stimpson holds the record for the quickest try to be scored in this tournament of only nine seconds from kick off.

The team will be competing on the womens 7s , 10s 15s circuits so far the tournaments below are confirmed with a few more to follow:

  • Nov-06 Dubai 7s (UAE)
  • Dec-06 Dubai 7s (UAE)
  • Apr-07 Isle of Man 7s & 15s (Isle of Man)
  • May-07 Amsterdam 7s (Holland)
  • Jun-07 Rock n rugby 7s (Spain)
  • Jun-07 Flanders Open 10's (Belgium)
  • Jul-07 Stockholm 10s (Sweden)
  • Aug-07 Scandinavian 7's (Denmark)
  • Aug-07 International Krusevac 7s (Serbia)
  • Oct-07 Rovigo 7s (Italy)

    The team travel to Dubai with only one thing on our minds and that is to win on the biggest 7s stage for women. With a squad of 24 players keep your eyes open at Dubai for Libby Peak, Holly Le Grave and Sarah McKenna all who play for England.

    We are always looking for more players who also enjoy rugby tours - maybe your one of them, or you have team mates who are too.

    How many times have you wanted to go on rugby tour but you don’t have enough players to do it??? Well here is your chance.

    For more information contact Malcolm on 0776 369 8685, or write to him at 27 Rainsthorpe, South Wootton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE30 3UF. Or have a look at the team website.

  • Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    Herts to play major role in next East Region programme

    There are a number of familar faces among this season's East Region management and coaching team, including:

    • John Birch (Programme Manager) from Letchworth - and current Herts junior team manager
    • Simon Lascelles (Senior Coach) from OAs
    • Clive Cramphorn (U17s Lead Coach) from OAs (and formerly Welwyn) and current Herts Barbarians coach
    • Mike Crump (U17s Coach) from Letchworth
    • Simon Shutler (U14s Coach) from Saracens - and current Herts U14 lead coach

    Other staff will be:

    Mike Redding (Coach Developer); Malcolm Baker (Senior Manager); Alan Brown (Senior Lead Coach & Welfare Manager); Wendy Le Grave (Senior Coach); Cathy Acheson (U17s Manager); Ian McCready (U17s Coach); Tina Turner (U14s Manager); Pete Turner (U14s Lead Coach); Andy Marshall (U14s Coach)

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    12th November fixture: Details confirmed!

    On 12th November the county U17 and U14 teams will be playing Oxfordshire and Essex (plus, possibly, Middlesex if they can get teams) at Grove Rugby Club (Cane Lane, Grove, OX12 0AA) - which is a small village about 2-3 miles south west of Abingdon.

    The journey and directions etc. will obviously depend on where you are starting from, but from the middle of the county the distance is about 80 miles with a journey time of just over two hours - slightly more if you are in the north and east, slightly less in the south and west.

    Kick-off time will be 12.30. Coaches will announce detais of when they expect you to arrive shortly.

    Note: U17 Barbarians (ie. all U17s not in the county squad) will be training at OAs in St Albans.

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    What do you think you are?

    As part of their coaching guidance the RFUW's have produced a list of the abilities a person should ideally have to play in any given position on the field.

    Its a bit technical - but particularly for U17s - it may be useful as a guide to what skills you may need to improve to play in your chosen position.

    For U14s it may just be a useful indicator of where you might be able to play.

    Props (1, 3):-

    • Basic knowledge of scrummaging
    • Ability to take and retain ball in contact
    • Decent level of upper body strength for lifting
    • Decent basic handling skills
    • Good body position and ability to make impact at the breakdown

    Hookers (2):-

    • Solid basic throwing technique
    • Able to strike for the ball in the scrum (flexibility and technique)
    • Good level of fitness
    • Work rate and ability to tackle
    • Good support and ability to link play
    • Good “Go Forward” skills

    Second Row (4, 5):-

    • Athleticism (lineout jumping)
    • Good aerial ability (handling)
    • Good size and impact at the breakdown
    • Dynamic work rate (not just plodding!)
    • Decent handling ability

    Blind Side (6) :-

    • Physical impact and power
    • Strong tackler
    • Good ball retention
    • Impact at the collision
    • Good handling ability
    • Good support lines and link work
    • Good communication (defence)

    Open Side (7):-

    • High levels of work rate
    • Strong in the tackle
    • Pressurize opposition
    • Support to ball carrier
    • Ball winner – especially on floor
    • Good handling for link support
    • Good communicator

    Number 8 :-

    • Physical impact in defence and attack
    • Good ball carrier
    • Strong in the tackle
    • Good ball retention
    • Ability to stay strong in the tackle, especially if isolated
    • Good decision maker
    • Good communicator
    • Ability to offload

    Scrum half (9) :-

    • Good passing skills (off two hands if possible)
    • Excellent decision maker
    • Strong communicator (attack and defence)
    • Ability to run with the ball (sniping)
    • Good kicking skills
    • Confidence

    Fly half (10):-

    • Good all round ability
    • Excellent decision maker
    • Good hands
    • Good kicking skills
    • Vision and “heads up” play
    • Good communicator
    • Confidence

    Centres (12, 13):-

    • Strong in defence
    • Decent hands
    • Decent kicking skills
    • Good ball retention
    • Good communicators
    • Good evasive skills
    • Ability to offload

    Wingers (11, 14):-

    • Excellent evasive skills
    • Good pace
    • Ability to defend 1v1
    • Kicking skills (able to chip and re-gather?)
    • Willingness to work off the ball – not just stay on wing
    • Act as extra defensive cover off blind side wing

    Full backs (15):-

    • Good communicator
    • Safe under high ball
    • Good individual defence
    • Decent kicking skills
    • Good pace
    • Ability to read a game
    • Good support and entry lines in attack

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Herts at Saracens

    Many thanks to everyone who gave up part of their half term to come down to Hatfield today.

    Hope you got something out of it, and our apologies for the less than effective organisation by our hosts. I suspect Amanda will be having words with a few people...

    Still some good pictures came out of it - and I gather that everyone who went down enjoyed the experience. And the new kit looks fantastic - as you can see!

    Its gets its first "outing" on 12th November - and at this very moment I'm sure Amanda is drawing up a bid for similar kit for the U14s.

    Regional 7s and 10s - bid now for Hertfordshire!

    The RFUW are now inviting bids for clubs to run the regional "Sevens" and "Tens" tournaments next April.

    The 10s tournaments will take place over the weekend of 28/29th April (the same weekend as the Herts Mini Festival and Herts Tens), with one event for seniors and one for U17s. Eight tournaments are planned across the country with winners qualifying for a National Tens that will take place on 13th May (venue to be decided).

    There will also be similar arrangements in place for regional 7s tournaments due to take place om the weekend of 19/20 May, though there will also be a U14 sa well as a U17 SevensArequest for bids for those events has yet to be issued but can be expected fairly soon. So start thinking about it now!

    The key thing - as far as Hertfordshire is concerned - is to ensure that at least one club (and ideally just one club) in the county puts in a bid for the Tens, and another for the Sevens. Or to put it another way, if no-one steps forward don't complain if you find yourselves on the road to in North Walsham next Spring!

    RFUW will providing a lot of support - including Medals & trophies, Match Balls, official team entry invites, tournament rules & regs, a tournament check-list, tournament format, support in initial stages of tournament preparation, and sponsorship advice. Clubs essentially just have to supply the facilities and officials - and get to keep the entry fees, and the income from any sponsorship deals.

    In short its a great deal - so lets make sure we get some bids in!

    Application forms should have been sent to all clubs today, and also will be on the RFUW website soon. If you have not had one contact

    But also note - applications to host the Tens (senior, U17 or both) have to be in by 13th November - so there is no time to delay!!

    Senior competitions 2007-8: RFUW proposals

    The Competition’s Review Group (CRG) was set up 12 months ago to look at the Competition Structure for the 2007/08 Season, we gathered feedback from the RFUW Conference and also gave your club a chance to sit on the review group as well as write in with your concerns and ideas. To all those clubs who responded, we would like to thank you very much for your input.


    The major issues that arose from the feedback were;

    • Traveling at Premiership 2 level was increasing as this league is National.
    • Some teams want the opportunity to play at a higher level but are stuck due to the amount of clubs in their area.
    • Standard of referees / lack of referees.
    • Cup Competition and teams not willing to play if they feel they may lose a fixture. 50% of fixtures were being cancelled.
    • Cup - no clubs wishing to play the top teams in Premiership 1.
    • Lack of players at grass root rugby.
    • Rearrangement of fixtures.
    • Increase the number of leagues that can play to the full IRB Rules as opposed to U19 laws.
    • Lack of quality coaches / coaching opportunities.
    • London clubs sending weakened side to play matches in the North.
    • The calendar being disrupted by England so clubs feel a lack of continuity.
    • Problems with play offs.

    Some of these points have already been addressed as follows;

    • We have successfully launched a referee’s recruitment programme.
    • The onus of rearranging fixtures at National Challenge 1 and below has been given to the clubs and it is up to both teams to agree to rearrange a fixture, if one team refuses the fixture stands on the original date.
    • We have run a number of women only coaching courses designed for coaches who are coaching within the women’s game.

    These targets are also in the new RFUW strategic plan.

    Previous CRG Changes & Success

    Three years ago the CRG brought in new guidelines including reducing and matching the number of players to get matches played and U19 IRB Laws for Division 2 and below, These have proved very successful we went from 65% of matches being completed to:

    • Season 03/04 – 80% completed 679/844 games played
    • Season 04/05 – 90% completed 722/854 games played
    • Season 05/06 – 84% completed 822/978 games played

    Although there was a dip last season we must take into account that there were 48 players removed from League Rugby and due to the World Cup we had a very compacted calendar with the running of the Super League alongside the League Programme.

    2007/08 Proposals

    Taking into account the feedback we received we have put together the following proposals. It is imperative that we still run a National league (Currently Premiership 1) that has a geographical spread of clubs which enables all players the opportunity to play top class rugby. Whilst this league is not currently a closed shop, there is a strict criteria to this league, clubs who do not keep to this criteria will find themselves removed and replaced where possible.

    We have looked at changing the names of the leagues to help the partners we work with these include the referee societies, where there has been some confusion regarding the playing rules.

    The proposals could mean a movement in leagues for a number of clubs, these clubs would be expected to fill in their “Intention to Affiliate” forms with the guidance of the League Criteria as to which league they feel they would be best suited.

    Proposals: League

    1. Change the titles of the leagues to help our partners.

    The current Premier 1 league to be known as ‘The Championship’.
    The current Premier 2 to be Premier 1 and National 1 leagues become Premier 2.

    2. Current Premiership 2 – Regionalized to Premier 1 North and Premier 1 South.

    • Reduces traveling with an increase in Leagues to give clubs the opportunity to play higher up the leagues.
    • Increases the number of teams that can play full IRB Rules.

    3. Close the Championship so we have a geographical spread of clubs which enables all players the opportunity to play top class rugby.

    Proposals: Cup

    The Championship – Top 4 teams to play at the end of the season for a “Super Cup” this will offer further competition to help aid the development of the Elite Squads.

    Premiership 1 North and South – The winners of the two leagues will play off for the Premiership Cup.

    Regional Cup - Available to all other teams to enter on a regional basis.

    Super League – The top 88 - 100 players to play in a Super League competition (3 x English qualified teams; 1 x Celtic qualified team).


    Championship (Full IRB Rules) – Will consist of 8 geographically spread clubs, this is to enable players to have the opportunity of playing top class rugby wherever they are situated in the Country.

    Relegation - Closed League providing all the clubs sustain their development plans and continue to grow and develop rugby within their region. Any club failing to do this will be removed and the option of going into the Championship will be offered to the Premiership Champions.


    Play offs – winner of Premier Cup to play off with bottom of Championship.

    Premiership 1 North and Premiership 1 South (Full IRB Rules) – Will consist of a maximum of 8 sides.

    Clubs will qualify for the North league if they play their rugby in the North or the Midlands Leagues.

    Clubs will qualify for the South League if they play their rugby in the South East or South West Leagues.

    The winners of the league will playoff in the Premiership Cup to find the Premiership Champions.

    Relegation - There will be a minimum of 1 side and a maximum of two sides relegated from each league at the end of the season.

    Premiership 2 (Full IRB Rules) - North, Midlands, South East, South West.

    Promotion – Winning sides will be promoted to Premiership North and South respectively.

    Relegation –There will be a minimum of 1 side and a maximum of 2 sides relegated from each league at the end of the season. These teams will go into their regional league depending on their geographic location.

    National Challenge 1 (U19 Laws) - North, Midlands, South East and South West, 15 a side.

    National Challenge 2 and below (U19 Laws) - Teams can match numbers.

    All leagues where possible will be produced with a geographical spread that will hopefully reduce traveling eg, North East, Midlands West.

    Please send any comments regarding these proposals by 14th November 2006 to:

    Competition Review Group, RFUW, Rugby House, Rugby Road, Twickenham, TW1 1DS or e-mail to