Sunday, 22 August 2010
The Women’s world cup began on Friday and the hope is high for an English victory at the end of the tournament. The hurdle of the New Zealand “Black Ferns” is a potentially slippery one. This is a team that has played 53 games and won 50 of them. Then there are the knockout stages of the competition where form and consistency can sometimes be overturned by bloody-mindedness and a bit of heart and passion. Ask countless favourites who fail at the final hurdle when the pressure comes on and there is nowhere to go.
This is a real problem for the England side. People on the whole are talking about who will win; England or New Zealand. If anything motivates teams to perform, it is the suggestion they do not exist in any other entity than as a stepping stone to the forgone conclusion. As Ireland showed in their tough defence this is not as easy as many are suggesting.
There is a bigger picture here and that is the health of the women’s game. If you look first at New Zealand the land of rugby. This year they pulled its women’s version of the NPC completion in a search to make budget cuts. Major figures from the women’s game in New Zealand see this decision as potentially fatal for the women’s game in New Zealand, League and other sports may become more attractive to the disappointed players. The decision to provide them no competitive rugby in a World cup year is a major handicap for success. Such is the depth of talent they will still sit as the team to beat, however the long term effects of this decision may mean an end to their dominance. England sits astride the world with a massive playing budget which really should see their investment sit well. Yet the women’s game in England is not a healthy one in my opinion. From my own experience the numbers are not growing and when you take away the elite level and the premiership, where even there some teams struggle to field sides, below them is league after league of mismatched teams and threadbare administration.
I am of the opinion that the women’s game needs a complete overhaul of its structure from the top down. With the teams so spread around the need for county teams is vital and some tough decisions on bringing clubs together to raise the quality of the game is essential. I am not an expert but if you take Buckinghamshire with its clubs all whom struggle to produce decent numbers for games. Why not create two county teams one north and one south combining the clubs in the area and in that way raising the numbers for training and matches and therefore improving the consitancy. These are tough decisions and some clubs would suffer but the long term health of the women’s game is in dire need of proper restructuring and nurturing. Competitions like the national 7s have been in rapid decline when only 8 years ago they were big events that drew people in and represented all that was best about the game. You cannot say that 7’s is in decline because the growth of weekends like the Bournemouth 7’s proving this is not the case.
Where do the answers for these problems lie? Well I can assure you I don’t have them but I don’t think it can be denied they exist. The solutions lie in the hands of the women who play week in week out. Whether on the back of the women’s world cup they can raise not only the profile but the issues they face in the game is up to those who wish to see it continue.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
|This is how long I will last.|
We are currently into week 3 of our pre-season, so that is six sessions. I have managed to attend 5 and as a result my ankles now barely function and my knee’s feel like they have been hit with hammers for about 3 days. The only thing getting me through it is work is quite so not too much heavy lifting and lots of ice. So what have I noticed this year that is different to the previous? Well to start with our opening session was hosted by a current England international and a woman well to be fair it was two current internationals who were both women! To be honest, I feel this is an exceptionally good thing for us as a club and in a selfish way the fact she is a prop means I am hoping to get some considerable tips to take into the season.
The coach is now away with England carrying out international duty and will be until September so coaching has continued under all manner of different people. I even did a bit myself one Thursday. I only have one issue at the moment and that is SAQ (speed, agility, quickness). My reason being, as someone carrying an excess baggage of around 5st hopping and jumping over hurdles is the main reason for my now non-functioning legs. I am not one to duck out but I think to save my joints for the coming season, I am going to have to avoid the hurdles. I have never encountered the pain I am getting and that is the only thing that has changed. That and very hard ground do not combine well for my 37 year old joints. Also, I don’t think I have done as many press ups in my life as we have done in the last 3 weeks, and boy am I crap at press ups!!!
So what am I seeing at the moment as the main issues? Well on the whole our handling is terrible and our vision can only be compared to that of Stevie wonder. I think fitness plays a major role in both of these things but the basic skills really need to be honed. At our level you don’t need to have fancy lineout options and 10 attacking moves simple basic rugby executed well will bring about scoring opportunities. Create 4 phases of quick ball at this level and you should score. That said we need to find in us some patience, a lot of our handling errors come from trying to score of every pass we make. The truth is we need to get used to stretching people and teams from one part of the field to the other in order to create the chances. These may not happen first time, but with good crisp clean passing and depth they will come, in our haste to do something magical we are missing the continuity required to open teams up.