Monthly Archives: June 2007

Rugby Bits & Bites: Almost the Weekend

• Rugby Magazine finally got it’s E-News entity up and running here (old link also redirects). There’s a women’s profile on Belmont Shore’s Kelly White and an interesting discussion about D-II collegiate teams, focusing on the Iowa State Women.

Worth noting, I’ve been impressed by the ongoing E-News coverage as compared to the old Goff and Rugby Magazine. I don’t believe the Magazine has changed much at all, but Goff’s area is definitely better. I also like the new comments section on each story.

And despite my hope to no longer subscribe to Rugby Magazine last year, when I went to re-subscribe for E-News, the better deal gave me both the online and magazine together. Oh well.

Photo: Rugby Magazine

• Australia’s head coach John Connolly thinks the value of drop-goals should be reduced from three points to one point. I rather agree.

Rugby-Australia coach calls for drop goal points change
Sun Jun 24, 2007 2:33AM BST
SYDNEY, June 24 (Reuters) – Australia coach John Connolly wants the value of drop goals reduced from three points to one to prevent the game being dominated by kicking.

Connolly said the whole purpose of rugby was for teams to try and score tries but the three points available for drop goals was persuading teams to take the easier option.

Connolly, whose Australia team was beaten by South Africa last week following two late drop goals, said he did not want drop goals banned altogether but said they be reduced to just one point, as in rugby league.

“I don’t want this to come across as a case of sour grapes, but I believe field goals should be reduced to just one point,” Connolly wrote in his weekly column with Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper.

“In saying that, I’m taking nothing away from South Africa’s Francois Steyn, who showed incredible courage and skill to slot two late field goals to beat Australia at Newlands last weekend.

“To lose in those circumstances was extremely tough. And it’s worth stating that, over the years, I’ve been on the right side of the ledger more often than not.

“But rugby is about scoring tries and I can see a bigger focus on field goals if the laws are unchanged.”

Drop goals have played the deciding role in some of the biggest matches in international rugby over the past 15 years.

South Africa beat New Zealand in the 1995 World Cup final after a drop goal in extra time from Joel Stransky then England beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final when Jonny Wilkinson landed a drop goal in the last minute of extra time.

Decisive drop goals from Rob Andrew helped England reach the World Cup final in 1991 and knock defending champions Australia out of same competition four years later.

England were eliminated from the 1999 World Cup when South African flyhalf Jannie De Beer booted a record five drop goals in their quarter-final in Paris.

Ironically, Australia, who have often been on the wrong end of matches decided by drop goals, went on to win the 1999 World Cup after Stephen Larkham booted a 50-metre drop goal in their semi-final against South Africa at Twickenham.

“I wasn’t complaining then! But on a serious note, I would prefer to see the law changed,” Connolly said.

• For our ongoing discussion of touch rugby, there was a recent women-only touch tournament in the UK. They are using touch to bring more women’s players into the game.

• Via our friend John Birch in the UK, did you know the 25th anniversary of the first-ever international women’s rugby match was June 13th? France beat the Netherlands, 4-0, at Utrecht. Following this up, John sent me this e-mail about a little project he’s starting and could use your help!

Its a Sunday in June, its raining and I’ve nowt better to do so… I thought I’d try to do something about the complete lack of any listing of women’s internationls (highlighted by the recently ignored 25th anniversary)

So herewith a work in progress – a (not yet) complete listing of all women’s rugby internationals. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_international_rugby. Thus far I’ve reached 1997

If you or any of your readers can fill in any gaps I’d be very grateful. Most RFUs can’t be bothered to list their women’s internationals at all, some start or finish at random dates. USA do best by far – but don’t give match venues!

The game has a long and growing history but no-one knows about it. And I rather object that its easier to find about the international history of the Wallis and Fortuna Islands men’s team that pretty much any women’s national teams…

Thanks John!

• The Philly Women asked me to remind everyone that Pumpkinfest 2007 is on! And sorry, Angelia, my team can’t make it. That’s our first league weekend here in the Midwest.

• A tourney update from an old blogging friend in California …

Hi Blondie,

There’s an excellent 7s tournament series we love here in the Bay area and I was hoping you could help raise awareness of its existence so more women’s clubs might make the trip out to our sunny Pacific Coast. The tourney is Mission Rugby’s Palo Alto 7s Series and runs on a bi-weekly schedule from June-August. The location is in lush & picturesque Palo Alto (near San Francisco). We love this tourney since it’s superbly organized and has some of the top West Coast women’s sides in attendance. See http://www.paloaltosevens.com

Thanks.

Petrie
Berkeley All Blues

Hope you’re doing well Petrie!

And that’s all I’ve got everybody. Have a good weekend!

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Update on the new TU Season, Women’s NA4

Hat tip to K-Train for spotting this first at WomenEagles.com

New Women’s Territorial Union Season Announced
6.28.07 – USA Rugby has released the upcoming schedule for elite Territorial Union matches. Tier 1 teams will play two games away and one home, Tier 2 teams will play 2 home matches and 1 away. The 2008 National All Star Championships will still have all teams attending and will seed them according to their 2007 NASC finish. USA Rugby hopes the new structure and schedule will create more elite playing opportunities and player development. Each territorial union will handle their own player selections for these elite teams. Matches will be held on Sundays to allow team practice on Saturdays and each team will have a weekend off between each venue.

2008 Women’s Territorial Union Competitive Season
BOLD indicates HOME matches.

APRIL 27
Midwest vs. West
Pacific vs. Mid-Atlantic
Northeast vs. South
Southern California vs. Mid-Atlantic 2 (Not sure who is home?)

MAY 11
Midwest vs. Northeast
Pacific vs. Southern California
Mid-Atlantic vs. West

MAY 25
Midwest vs. Pacific
Northeast vs. Mid-Atlantic
South vs. West

JUNE 13-15
National All-Star Championships (NASC)

And three additional updates:

USA vs Canada Series Under Development
6.28.07 – A Canada-USA series of matches is now expected to be organized in August 2007. The event hopes to involve 44-52 of the top players in the Women’s National Team program in cross border competition. Player selections are due to be announced in mid-July. Coaching will be provided by coaches involved in the National Team Program. The series is designed to give players the opportunity to work with the coaching staff and showcase their abilities in international matches. A CanAm series will also give rugby fans a chance to see international competition at home and in nearby Canadian venues.

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Women Eagles to Tour England
6.28.07 – USA Rugby has arranged for a tour to England in December 2007. England has agreed to host up to 3 matches with the Women Eagles. The matches slated so far are against England A and England. A third team is in negotiations. More details available soon!

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Women Eagles Seeking Managers
6.28.07 – The Women’s National Team is looking for several managers to help with the National Team. The WNT is looking to establish a group of managers who would work with General Manager Anne Barry (annebarry8@hotmail.com), and current managers Jane Tierney and Sara Shouse. Candidates should have good organizational skills and be available for travel to team events and matches. Interested individuals should contact Anne Barry for more information.

That is a busy TU season. Like I posted earlier here, I think it’s a good idea competition and team-wise, but I seriously wonder how some of these players will be able to afford all of these travels and time-commitments?

However … perhaps the powers that be will shine friendly on the women’s game. Our male USA Eagles just picked up SONY as a team sponsor.

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Recruiting!

So summer is barely started and fall seems very far away … but my team’s officers discussed last night that we need to be recruiting right now.

So, I thought I’d throw it out there to all of us. Rugby teams everywhere are in the same boat when it comes to recruiting. So we should help each other out.

What does your team do to recruit? What works best for you? What doesn’t work so well? Do you have any niche groups you’ve targeted that worked out really well?

I’ve got a few plans in the works that I think will help our team recruit/promote itself while also helping other women’s teams in our state.

Leave it in the comments! And have a great weekend. I’ll be playing Lakefront 7s in Milwaukee tomorrow, with our mixed Wisconsin-Iowa team under the Gentlemen of Dubuque banner. Should be fun! Here I come rugby tan!

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Thank You Madison Police Officer

Yesterday about 7 p.m., I was driving down a fairly high-traffic divided lane road near our downtown. Lots of cars that speed along at 40 mph plus.

A police squad car had its lights on ahead of me and was stopping cars in the middle of the road … to let a Mama Duck and her little ducklings cross the street. A mother Mallard and probably 5-6 little babies, still so small that they looked more like little brown fuzzballs than ducks.

They crossed our lane, then got stuck on the island for a bit and I gasped as the Mama Duck almost stepped out again into the oncoming traffic in the other lane. But she stayed on the island and then the Police Office in the squad car, circled over and pulled his car in front of traffic again to let her and her babies cross the next two lanes again.

Seriously … it’s moments like this that make you feel better about humanity.

By the way, this reminds me of a story my older brother told me where he stopped traffic on our city’s beltline (multi-lane highway) to also help some ducks cross the street. So good karma for my brother too. 🙂

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Thank the Lord!!

Did you hear? They are back together for a reunion tour! My dreams of becoming the sixth Spice Girl – Spicy Spice – just gained some major momentum.

(just kidding … maybe)

In honor of the World Tour …

If you need to hear Wannabe, I posted it here in January when Mr. Posh Spice announced he was moving to the good ol’ U-S-of-A.

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100,000

We’re approaching 100,000 visitors here at Saturday’s A Rugby Day.

That’s 100,000 visitors in one year and eight months of existence.

Thanks for visiting!

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A Women’s NA4?

So all of the players who attended the National All-Star Championships in Minnesota were told there would be a new Territorial Season starting, in addition to a Women’s NA4.

ERugbyNews interviewed USA Women’s National Team coach Kathy Flores (subscription required) after the NASCs and this new territorial season (April through June):

“We have composed a TU season for 2008, mostly based on seedings from 2006 and current friendlies between teams,” Flores said. “Top-tier teams will play two games away and one home, with the opposite being true for Tier 2 teams. Since this [structure] is experimental, we will review it in the 2008 NASC with a thought to creating a true competitive, championship structure. Hopefully this would lead us into a strong NA4 tournament with our players coming off a competitive season, not just two matches.”

So, the way I read it, we’ll all play our club seasons in the fall towards the club championships, then our spring seasons will be for developmental play within the clubs and territorial for all players who qualify for their territorial teams.

Then two NA4 teams will be selected out of the territorial teams to play two Canadian teams (following the lead of the Men’s NA4). The TU season, NASC, and NA4 create more competition at a higher level for women’s players leading into the next women’s World Cup (something the Eagles always mention not having enough of). There’s also talk of a Eagle tour to Britain. This means they’ll need greater depth in this TU & upwards pool of players.

As many as 52 of these players (plus some who took time off) could be involved in the upcoming Women’s NA4, with an eye toward the 2010 World Cup. But it’s likely Flores will be looking further a-field – even to the U23 ranks.
“Though we hope that players could do both the NA4 and then be available for selection for a December tour, chances are we may be selecting deeper into the pool to cover selections for both events,” Flores said. “If so, it allows the next level of player development opportunities also.”

Overall, it makes sense from a national team standpoint. Give the players in the pool more opportunities and more competition, the best will rise to the top and can then play internationals. It’s essentially expanding what we’re alreading doing, but in a more formal manner. The NA4 is a cool idea too.

That said, how are most of the TU players going to be able to afford this? More games means more money spent. And unlike Canada carding their top players, aka the Athlete Assistance Program, most American women’s players don’t receive a whole lot of help. Most players can only afford to purchase so many airline tickets and miss so many days of work before it starts to take a toll.

Clubs with TU & higher players are also going to feel the loss. Most likely in the colder climates, since most of these clubs can’t even get on a field until April. Spring will truly become “developmental” as clubs work to get their inexperience players on the field and make sure their roster is healthy.

Overall … I like this. I think it’s a good thing. I’m just curious about the growing pains.

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