Wednesday, September 27, 2006

U14 coaches... Your region needs YOU!!!

Claire Sanderson, our Women's Regional Development Manager (erm... I think... "WRDM" anyway) writes:

We’re still struggling for staff for the U14s regional programme in the East Region. At present we have no coaches or managers that have expressed an interest in being involved. If you can find your way to pushing this at the county session at the weekend I would much appreciate it.

Well, consider this "pushing it".

Come on you lot - we're talking about the chance to coach one of the best U14 teams in the country! Seriously. East U14s were fourth place in 2005, and runners-up last season. There are so many talented players out there and all they need is YOU!!

So don't sit back and expect that someone else will step into the breach. You are that "someone else". Don't let your girls down - and help us find the England players of tomorrow.

Drop Claire a line. Now. Say "I am interested in helping out with the U14s". Only takes a moment and you won't regret it.

Women's rugby on the web

Probably the most comprehensive and up-to-date listing directory of women's rugby clubs can now be found here.

By the looks of it this seems to be the private project of one man - Steve Uglow of Canterbury Rugby Club in Kent - and covers not just women's clubs, but al clubs across the country, as well as referees societies, governing bodies, and so on.

He does - with the odd exception - limit himself to just adult clubs that play within a league structure, but even so if you are looking for a fixture or contacts for a tour or whatever this would seem to be a great place to start. And if you are aware of any club websites not included in the list, let Steve know.

Inter-county tournament on 12th November

Great news!

We now have a second county tournament to look forward to. As well as big event at Westcliffe on 3rd December - which will feature all of the East Region's county teams plus possibly a few "guests" as well - we have now been invited to a Thames Valley county festival on 12th November.

This will be in Aylesbury, either at Aylesbury RUFC or nearby RAF Halton. Other counties taking part will include Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and (possibly) Middlesex.

More details will come out nearer the time.

Information from the first county development day

As this is our second year of county rugby, it is possible to compare this year with last and get an idea about how well we are doing, and how healthy the game is in the county.

Of course - as any students of statistics out there would point out - its not a perfect match as this year the day was a week or so earlier than last year (which will have made a difference for the U14s), and at a different location - but taking that into account there are some interesting results.

First dayFirst day(All days)
Number of girls attending:
Number of clubs:
By age (at 1st September):
12 9 5(5)
136 9(12)

Also, looking at girls who have been to a development day in 2005 who came again in 2006...

Girls who were U14s (in 2005) returning in 2006: 76%
Girls who were U17s (in 2005) eligible to return in 2006: 59%*
(*ie. not including those who are now too old)

By age...
11 year-olds (in 2005) returning (as 12 year-olds) in 2006: 87%
12 year-olds (in 2005) returning (as 13 year-olds) in 2006: 60 %
13 year-olds (in 2005) returning (as 14 year-olds) in 2006: 75%
14 year-olds (in 2005) returning (as 15 year-olds) in 2006: 76%
15 year-olds (in 2005) returning (as 16 year-olds) in 2006: 39%

Whether any of this means anything, and if so what, I leave to you to decide.

The pwr of txt

This is just a useful observation/tip.

Last weekend I had to contact all 24 selected U17s to tell them about the first training session. In normal circumstamces this would have been a job that would have had me attached to a phone for hours, what with people engaged, away, etc. etc. And you never can guarantee that messages are passed on properly even if you get through.

However - as we now have mobile numbers for almost everyone - I tried texting instead. Sending one message to 23 numbers took about five minutes, and by the following morning I had had 19 written confirmations. So that's close to an 80% success rate - not bad. The others were then followed up in the "conventional" way.

So the tip is ... if you want to send a short message urgently to a large group of people then text messaging is wonderful. The message gets to the recipient as you sent it, you get a written confirmation they've had it, and it all takes minutes.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

County U17 squad... and now the backs!

The names of almost all of the U17 squad have now been released. In addition to the forwards - whose names appeared on Thursday - the following 11 backs will also be in this season's county squad:

Lana Block (Welwyn); Charisse Fallon (Welwyn); Hannah Gallagher (Welwyn); Victoria Hampshire (Hertford); Harriet Lilley (Welwyn); Rosie Randfield (Letchworth); Alex Robertson (Saracens); Casey Shults (Welwyn); Natalie Threlfall (Letchworth); Sophie-Jane Tyler (Hertford); Megan Williams (Welwyn)

This may not be quite the final list as there are still a few girls who were unable to get to trials who need to be seen and maybe added to the final line up.

In the end 52 girls from eight clubs attended U17 trials this season - or let the selectors know that they wanted to be considered but were unable to take part - compared with 53 from nine last season. Watford RFC sent girls for the first time, but this season there were no girls from Bishops Stortford or Cheshunt.

Of the 24 names announced so far, 11 were in last season's U17 squad, and five made it into the squad having missed out last year. Three girls were selected who had never attended trials before, and finally five girls made the great step up from U14 rugby last season straight into the county U17 squad.

Congratulations to everyone.

The first training session for the U17s will be this Wednesday at the University of Hertfodshire Sports Village from 7.30 to 9.30

As last season there will also be a county "B" team, and all girls who came to trials but missed out are invited back to county training on 15th October at St Christopher School in Letchworth. Remember - last season the "B" team were the region's County Team of the Year after beating Oxfordshire 1st XV, as well as pushing the Essex to the limits, so there is a lot to play for yet!

As last season there will a squad will not be selected at this stage from the U14s - so if you are a U14 and did not get to Stevenage last week there is still a chance to get into the county team! So come along on Sunday 15th October!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

County U17 squad selections: Forwards

Everyone who attended trials will also be contacted in writing, but as the first county training session is next Wednesday (at Hatfield Sports Village - see here for all training dates) we will be emailing those selected and also publishing the names here.

As some backs have yet to be seen by selectors the full county U17 squad list is not yet finalised. However, the forwards have now been selected, and appear below:

Ema Burgess (Hertford); Frances Dawson(Welwyn); Claire Foster (Hitchin); Milly Fuggles (Hertford); Hayley Guilder (Letchworth); Hannah Marques (Welwyn); Sophie Newman (Hertford); Naomi Parnell (Letchworth); Katie Pearcey (Hertford); Hannah Smith (Hertford); Geri Thomas (Fullers); Mel Waite (Hitchin); Laura Watson (Letchworth)

Congratulations to everyone selected.

Of the thirteen girls chosen, nine were in the U17 squad last season. The four new faces are Katie Pearcey and Hannah Smith (who both missed out on selection for the U17s last season), and Frances Dawson and Laura Watson who have made the jump from U14 rugby last season straight into this season's county U17 squad - an impressive performance.

If you missed out this time please come along to the next development day on October 15th at St Christopher School, Letchworth as we will be looking for form a county "B" squad as well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

World Cup: Kiwis complete hat trick of titles

In the end it was a problem that had been hinted at in the games with the USA and Canada - and even right back to Wales - an inability to turn possession and territory into points.

Without question England possess the strongest pack in world rugby. For the first thirty minutes or so they pushed the New Zealanders around, almost at will, with almost the entire first half taking place not only in the Kiwi half, but inside their 22. In particular England successfully targeted - and all but neutralised - New Zealand's full back and possibly leading player of the tournament, Amiria Marsh.

But despite all that pressure the only reward was a single penalty early on. New Zealand, on the other hand, found their way into the England half maybe three or four times, scored a try just before half time, and came in at he break leading 10-3.

The English tactics of keeping the ball with the forwards worked much of the time, but the few times it was released to the New Zealand backs they looked devastating, slicing through the English defence at times with amazing speed. And it was a flowing backs move at the start of the second half that lead to their second try, and a 15-3 lead.

This was soon cut to 15-10 when English pressure finally resulted in a penalty try, but from then on it was the turn on of the New Zealanders to put on the pressure. With the English tight five beginning to showing the effect of all the hard work they'd put in, the boot was now on the other foot and a classic forwards try, driving from a line out, extended the Kiwi lead to 10 points with only minutes to spare.

But England were not finished. With 77 minutes on the clock the fresh legs of Helen Clayton finally drove the England pack over the New Zealand line. With Shelley Rae slotting the extras the score was 20-17 as the game moved into injury time. Could we have a fairy tale ending?

No, in short. Desperate attempts by England to win back the ball from the restart lead to their being penalised from offside and pushed well back into their own half. Now having to run the ball from deep saw England turned over, and the ball in the Black Fern backs' hands - and finally into the hands of Amiria Marsh. For once free of English pressure she touched down in the corner to complete what was, ultimately, a deserved 25-17 New Zealand win.

So England have been frustrated by New Zealand again. What is the answer? Well, Sue Day, talking straight after the match, thinks its you! :

"If I can just add the big thing that is chaging in England, I think, is that girls are playing from a much younger age and some of the talent coming through is very exciting. They play the right kind of rugby - really good, exciting rugby - and I'm really looking forward to those players coming through when I'm sitting on the sidelines in a few years time"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunny Stevenage hosts the first county day

Over sixty girls worked hard in sweltering conditions in sunny Stevenage this afternoon - and left quite a problem for county coaches selecting teams for the forthcoming season. Around twenty U14s attended and should form the basis of a useful junior squad, while 44 U17s demonstrated their skills in a mini four-team "tournament".

In the latter the biggest winner was possibly the heat and humidity, with the pace of games slowing noticably as the afternoon wore on, but the girls from Welwyn (aided by Hitchin) impressed and seemed to be continuing where they left off last season. Letchworth, Saracens, Fullerians, and Hertford provided the bulk of the other participants.

A squad of around 25 will now be selected for the U17s, but the intention is to also run a development team as well. For the U14s training will continue for the girls attending, but it is not too late for other U14s to come foreward and stake a claim for a place in the county side at the next development day next month.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

County trials & development day: REMINDER!!

Remember - this Sunday trials (for U17s) and a development day (for U14s) will be held at Stevenage rugby club, registration at 1.30pm.

Vicky Lowe (U17 Head Coach) writes:

Hopefully you've been able to access the registration forms and the girls/coaches will have them all filled out before the day....this will speed up registration which will give coaches more time to warm up their teams.

Just to recap the format for the trials. The plan is to run 10 a side matches, most girls will be playing in club teams. I appreciate that not all clubs are able to bring a 10 a side team that are all experienced enough to be at the trials, so what we have asked clubs to do is link up to form mixed teams. Can I stress at this point that trials are not to be seen as competition between clubs, Luke, myself and the spotters are
looking at individual girls and the club (or school) they play for is irrelevant.

So we're asking the coaches to take responsibility for warming up their players and then we'll get everyone together, give you a schedule for the matches then we'll get cracking!

I'd also like to say we put a lot of thought into the trial format for this year. We looked at how trials are run in other counties and discussed the format with Peter Engledow. I realise there will always be teething problems but myself and Luke feel this will give us the best opportunity to spot talented rugby players. And I do expect this year to be more competitive than last year....and thats a good thing. For girls county rugby to be taken seriously we need to make it more competitive, more elitist and give our girls the best opportunity to progress further at regional and representative level.

I understand that some girls at your clubs may be very new to rugby, and if you feel the trials are not for them don't bring them. The matches will be full contact (though scrums may well be uncontested and will be decided on the day). The plan is to run development sessions, like last year, at the same time the county team train Sunday October 15th, Sunday November 12th and Sunday December 3rd). This will provide a fantastic opportunity for new players to gain experience and more coaching.

If anyone has questions or queries feel free to get in touch, my number is 07739 968499.

So far I've got numbers from 4 clubs (Fullers, Hertford, Letchworth and Sarries). Can the other clubs email me asap with numbers, or say which club you've linked with so we can work out a match schedule before Sunday.

Look forward to seeing you all there.....don't forget boots and mouthguards (girls will not be able to play without them).

World Cup Final LIVE on Sky!

If you have Sky then set your videos / DVDs / whatever - or be prepared for a blearly start to the week - because the World Cup Final between England and New Zealand will be on Sky Sports 3 live from 11.55pm on Sunday night.

So not exactly a huge build-up to the game anticipated being as it starts at midnight, but even so its good to see.

The semi-finals also went out on Sky last night - 24 hours after the matches actually took place, but broadcast "as live" so you saw the entire games. Basically it seems to be the same coverage as the 24.7 internet broadcasts - Sky have not gone to the trouble of actually having reporters out there or anything.

Both teams should be fully up-to-strength and England seem confident that they can steal it. So remember to tune in - could be a memorable night!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

World Cup: England 80 minutes from glory!

It nearly all went horribly wrong in the last few minutes, but England are in the World Cup Final on Sunday after a 20-14 win over Canada. At 17-0 up early in the second half everything seemed to be running to script. A Canadian try reduced the deficit, but on 73 minutes Charlotte Barras went over for her second try of the game and that seemed that.

But the Canadians had not read the script and came storming back. With most of England's first choice forwards now on the bench Canada came within inches of stealing the match - a last ditch tackle by Kim Shaylor denying a third Canadian try in the 79th minute - and England hung on.

New Zealand had few problems overcoming France in the other semi (40-10) and so the two teams will meet on Sunday in a repeat of the 2002 final.

Up until yesterday England seemed to be the form side - each perfromance better than the last while the Kiwis seemed to have peaked early. And it may well be that England relaxed too soon here, taking the place in the final for granted.

Where they have met common opposition New Zealand (Canada and France) have produced more convincing wins that England have managed, and must start on Sunday clear favourites. But if anyone can stop them it is England.

Incidentally you may be wondering - does all this matter? How would an England win affect me? Well, about 13 years ago the same two countries met in a women's world cup final where New Zealand started as favourites. It was also a time when the English men's team was pretty hopeless, and so when the England team won - and on TV too (thanks to a last minute change of mind at the BBC) - an event that had been ignored up until then suddenly grabbed headlines. Stars were born. Bouyed up on this the separate women's and men's governing bodies merged, with the women getting a cut of all of the men's sponsorship deals, and inclusion in TV contracts. The game remains now one of the highest profile women's team sports, with its national team taking part in an open-top bus ride through London last summer after they beat Australia. Before the win the sport struggled to raise even regional teams, now virtually every county has a side.

That sport was cricket, not rugby. But it shows why winning things like the World Cup is important. The parallels between women's rugby today and women's cricket in 1993 are remarkable - and if England win on Sunday it could be your sport that gets the open top bus treatment in 10 years time or so. And you might even be on the bus!

So - come on England!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

World Cup: England through to semi-finals!

The long wait until midnight last night was rewarded by what in the end was a remarkably comfortable win by England over France to gain a well deserved semi-final berth. A dominant English forward display meant that France rarely threatened the English line.

England's first try can on eight minute from wing Danielle Waterman, picking up from behind a stong forward drive, and similar forward pressure - this time a scrum - saw the a second try by Danielle just before half time. With Sue Day scoring two more tries within ten minutes of the restart England were home and dry. The final score was 27-8, but that barely reflects the English dominance - it wasn't until the 71st minute that France made any impact on the scoreboard.

Elsewhere perhaps the performance of the night came from Scotland. With two wins under their belts already a semi-final berth was there for the taking - just New Zealand stood in their way! In a terrific game the Scots held off the Kiwi charge for 56 minutes knowing that a single bonus point would see them into the semis. But then the dam burst, with New Zealanders running in three tries in six minutes to take the game but - to Scotland's credit - not a bonus point.

In the remaining games Canada beat Kazakhstan 45-5, Ireland beat South Africa 37-0, Spain made up for a things in the earlier game with a 14-12 winover Samoa, and the USA continued to do well with a 10-6 win of over Australia.

So who went through? The USA finished sixth thanks on nine points, but Scotland, France and Canada finishing on 10 - so it was down to tries scored... and it was Scotland lost out.

So on Tuesday England play Canada (at midnight our time again) after New Zealand have taken on France, which should give us the much anticipated Anglo-Kiwi final next Sunday.


One remarkable, and hiterto uncommented on fact, is that this semi-final line up is exactly the same as four years ago (when England beat Canada 53-10 and New Zealand beat France 30-0). In addition the three teams of the four teams competing for 5th to 8th place are also the same as four years ago (USA, Australia and Scotland being joined by Ireland this time instead of Spain).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Latest county newsletter published

The sixth county newsletter - and the first of the new season - has been published.

The latest edition headlines the trials and development day at Stevenage on 17th, but also includes a summary of the main news items of the summer and a diary of key dates for the season and a contact listing of county coaches and managers.

Also now available is the registration form for the county day. Every player attending the day must arrive with a completed form as it provides important information for the organisers as well as essential parental permissions.

Female forwards day!

Old Albanians Rugby Club (Harpenden Road, St Albans) are running a special "forwards day" on Saturday 16th September 2006 from 9am-1pm to learn more about the skills involved in Forwards Rugby.

Females aged 18 and over of all abilities are welcome to come along and get quality coaching on scrummaging, line outs, specific training and conditioning and back row moves, plus more.
Cost: £5 to include BBQ lunch

For more details or to come along, contact Karina Page on 07921189900 or

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

County trials: What you need to know...

The season's barely started but trials are already only a week and a half away (though if you think that is early its worth bearing in mind that Essex held their trials the better part of two months ago, so we have some cathing up to do!).

So what's the lowdown?

Where and when... Stevenage Rugby Club, from 2.00 to c4.00. Registration from 1.30 - forms will be distributed beforehand. You are asked not to arrive too much before 1.30 so as not to collide with the tail end of Stevenage's morning training.

Bring with you... Registration form with parental permissions signed; rugby boots; gumshield. Gumshields are now compulsory in all girls' rugby so if you do not have one, or have incorrect footwear, or you do not have written parental permission you will not be allowed to trial!! Full stop. No exceptions.

What's going to happen? See the earlier note on this. Clubs are requested to contact Vicky and Luke with details of expected numbers of U17 trialists as soon as possible. If you have fewer than 10 girls then if possible please make arrangements to combine with another club before the trials. This can be organised on the day, but the more that can be done beforehand the smoother things will run.

What if someone cannot make the 17th? If one of your U17s cannot make the trials on the 17th for any reason then he tell Luke now! He and Vicky will then try to make arrangements to watch them before the trials.

Enjoy. We have listened and learned and the aim is that the day should be as fun and enjoyable as possible, whether you are selected for the county squad or not. That's partly why we've moved away from drills with the U17s. You come to rugby to play rugby, not to do drills!

There will be a newsletter out hopefully by the weekend, though it will contain nothing that has not appeared on this blog.

World Cup: England march on...

A throughly professional and effective performance by England saw them run in twelve tries against South Africa and rack up the largest total by any team in the world cup so far... until Canada beat it a couple of hours later!

74-8 was the score at Ellerslie Rugby Park in Edmonton, with the try scoring bonus point wrapped up before half time thanks to a brace of tries from Nicky Crawford, one from captain Sue Day, and another from Shelly Rae - who is now the tournament's highest scorer with 27 points thanks to the eight conversions she also kicked.

Another eight tries followed in the second half, including a three more from left wing Sue Day who was clearly having the sort of day that most people can only dream about. The only blot on the copybook came on 62 minutes when the South African pack managed to drive their flanker over the line for their only try of the game.

Anyway - lots of comment and more detailed reports will appear on the RFUW website and elsewhere (hopefully) - but the questionis... where does this leave things?

Because England were not the only team playing impressively. In the game of the night France - England's next opponents - put in an impressive performance, complete with try bonus, beating Australia 24-10. In fact that scoreline flatters Australia a bit - France were 17-0 up at half time with three tries already on the board, and had their bonus point wrapped up and pocketed before the Aussies had managed to cross their line for the one and only time.

Its not as if Australia are a poor side - though they are not the giants of the women's game as their men are - they racked up 68 points against South Africa last Thursday, only two tries less than England last night. Also if England have the tournaments best scorer then France have the second best - right-wing Catherine Devilliers, who has score five tries so far.

Elsewhere New Zealand ran in 50 unanswered points against Samoa, Canada destroyed a woeful Spain 79-0, the USA came back from their defeat against England to beat Ireland 24-11 and Scotland continued their 100% record with a 32-17 win over Kazakhstan.

Which leaves us with only four unbeaten teams, three (New Zealand, France and Scotland) on maximum 10 points and England one behind on 9. However with New Zealand also playing Scotland on Friday as well as France playing Engalnd only two teams can hope to finish the pool stage unbeaten. So there is hope yet for Samoa (who should destroy Spain), Canada (who will be too much for Kazakhstan) and either the USA or Australia who provide the warm-up act before the France/England battle.

Predictions? England should have enough to get by France - just. Certainly not by 30+ points they managed in Paris! And England know that they HAVE to win - defeat will almost certainly see them out before the semi-final stage. France - onthe other hand - can still qualify even if they lose, and just a single bonus point should be enough to secure a top four place.

My guess (my hope?) is that as Saturday dawns we will see a final pool table looking like this:

1. New Zealand (15); 2. England (13); 3. France (11); 4=. Canada, Scotland (10); 6=. Samoa, USA (9); 8. Australia (6); 9. Ireland (5); 10=. Kazakhstan, South Africa, Spain (0).

New title - wider coveage

At last nights ever so slightly sparsely attended county meeting (thank you Tabard, Welwyn, Saracens, OAs and Letchworth for turning up, and for Hitchin for at least sending apologies - but where were the rest of you?) it was requested that this blog broaden its scope a bit and so (da-da-da-dah!!!) a slight change of title.

So what difference will it make? Well basically material I receive connected with the adult game will now appear here as well. I won't be doing a retrospective search and adding "old" news - ie. anything from the adult game that happened or was announced before today - because that way a degree of madness lies, but any new stuff I get will appear here. So spread the word!

I'll grant you that my links with the adult game is not as good as with the junior, so I'll be relying on people telling me things a bit more!

Monday, September 04, 2006

World Cup: Free "highlights" available

Roughly 90-second clips from each of the games in the opening phase if the World Cup can now be downloaded. Click here now to see the best women rugby players in the world in action!
And tonight its round two with England aiming to get maximum points against South Africa. The coach - Geoff Richards - is ringing the changes a bit so as to rest some players before the crucial game with France on Friday. Is this wise? Log in tonight to find out!

URGENT: Feedback wanted on last year's regional programme

If you were in a regional squad last season Claire Sanderson at RFUW wants to know what you though about the experience.

There is a meeting in Loughborough on 12th September, but if you cannot make it (and most will not be able to) please contact Claire ( by 6th September with your comments, views, experience, recommendations, suggestions... ANYTHING AT ALL!!

In the end it is YOUR programme designed to make you a better player, and what people like Claire want to know is if it is working and how it could be made better.

So drop her a line. Now!

County trials: How far could rugby take you?

If you are a U17 then about 7,000 miles... or the west coast of the USA to be exact!

If you need an incentive to get into the county or regional team then how about being part of the first ever girls' rugby tour of the USA and Canada?

Today it has been announced that the RFUW have given permission for the official East Region's girls' U18 squad to take visit North America in July 2008. It will be the U18 squad because, as you will remember, age bands change next season. This means that it will effectively be the same as the U17 squad that is selected this season.

Ideas in the ambitious plan includes possible participation in a USA's West Coast championship (to be held in Washington State) or a similar inter-state tournament to be followed by games with at least one Canadian provincial team. The tour will take place in July 2008 as this best co-incides with both the US and Canadian seasons.

And - of course - the first stage in selection for the tour will be the county trials in Stevenage on the 17th - because "closed" regional trails mean that if you are not in a county squad its unlikely you'll make the regional squad.

Why North America? Because girls' rugby is a a BIG thing over there – a quarter of all American rugby players are women, and the attitude to the female game in the USA in particular seems to be hugely positive. East can expect a warm welcome, with plenty of top quality rugby in two different countries.

Clearly there will be a lot to do before then. Such tours are not "free" and there is a great deal of planning to do. But with the better part of two years to plan and fund raise for the trip it should be a event that you will remember forever.

And the first step to getting on that plane is only two weeks away...

As for the U14s the problem we face is that there is not the range of opposition available for the younger age group. This is also a huge step into the unknown, so we need to get it right. And if do and all goes well then we can expect future tours to follow - in both direction. So the intention is that you will get a chance - next time!

Friday, September 01, 2006

What's it like to be an international rugby player?

You cannot get a better idea that three blogs which a couple of players are doing during the World Cup. Okay, they are US players (scrumhalves Lee Knight and Claudia Braymer, and prop Jamie Burke) but its still really great stuff.

You can almost smell the Ralgex!

Take a look!

County trials: a day not to be missed!

County trials are only two week away - and it it promises to be an great afternoon's rugby.

For the under 14s it will be the first chance for those taking up the game this year to meet and work with other girls from across the county. And for the more experienced U14s its going to be time for them to step up and take on the role of leading new county team - possibly for the next two years, thanks to the age group changes next season.

For the under 17s the coaches have decided to replace the rather stale round of drills (which tend only to highlight girls who are good at drills) with more matchplay. A 10-a-side inter-club tournament is therefore planned. Clubs with fewer than 10 U17s (or with spare playerws in exces of 10) will combine together - so even if you are the only U17 at your club you should stil come along.

Registration at Stevenage RFC will begin at 1.30 with the aim for 2.00 start, and a 4.00 finish. Directions can be found here.

World Cup: England begin with a win.

England have started their World Cup campaign with a win, but it was a frustrating night for everyone on both sides of the Atlantic.

Followers of the game around the world attempting to use the internet-based live broadcast were faced with blank screens for part or all of some of the first round games - including England's match. Australia's game with South Africa was unavailable until the second half, and there were reports from some viewers of problems with the Katakhstan/Samoa feed as well.

Then - just as everyone was taking their seat's for the game of the night- a power cut at England's ground cut transmission before it had begun. Second half coverage was promised but whether this came on I cannot confirm as your correspondent had given up by that point.

The good news is that the semi-finals and final will be on Sky - assuming England get there.

They should do - but fact is that last night it was well into the second half before England broke the deadlock, and it was not until the the USA were reduced to 14 players by a sin-binning that England were able to force their way across the Americans' line. And in a game dominated by the forwards and robust defending it was not until the last minute before England were able cross the line again.

The size of England's task was emphasised by 66-7 thrashing New Zealand gave to Canada earlier in the day. Canada beat the USA only a few weeks ago, and are seeded two places above them for this tournament. On this evidence there is a gap of some 30 points between the top two seeds.

But teams can peak too early in tournament like this. England's Six Nations had a shaky start as well, with England going behind to Wales at OAs before eventually winning the game - and then then tournament - quite comfortably. Hopefully this is just eveidence of a slow start again.

Elsewhere Australia beat England's next opponents - South Africa - by 68-12, a margin of victory that England should significantly exceed on Monday if they are to show progress. France - England's final pool opponents - beat Ireland 43-0, and play Australia next. Scotland recorded a comfortable win over Spain and may have a good chance of a semi-final place, while in the final game Samoa prepared for their game with the Kiwis on Monday with a 20-5 win over Kazakhstan.
  • More photographs, a detailed match report, and reaction from the England camp can be found on the RFUW website.