Monday, 10 December 1990

Plenty of impact but no punch - Women's Regional Championship, South-east 8, Midlands and North Thames 8.


LONDON escaped the worst of the early winter blizzards but it was still parky enough yesterday to discourage thought of outdoor pursuits. At Wasps, however, two sets of rugby players supplied their own riposte to the mardy: faint hearts never achieved a thing.

No less than the men, England's women players can achieve an awful lot next year. World Cups beckon both and if the women's competition is the less regarded, to the point of ignorance among the larger sporting public, the practitioners of a growing code feel they too can leave their thumb print on 1991.

Sudbury yesterday saw a regional set-to between the the South-east and the Midlands and North Thames. Twice the South-east (chiefly Richmond) went ahead with tries; twice the North Thames side (mainly Wasps) levelled the score. From the comfort of the clubhouse there seemed to be as they say in the men's game no quarter asked nor given.

What immediately strikes the observer about women's rugby is ahem how much more gentlemanly it is. Obviously the women cannot run as fast, pass as far, or kick as long. Neither do they show any inclination to punch as hard. There were apologies in the bar afterwards, and even apologies on the pitch during the game.

'The Women's RFU have always had a strong philosophy on violence,' said Karen Almond, the Wasps' fly-half and Great Britain captain, who missed the game through injury. 'We try to play it hard but fair.' Indeed, the solitary fall from grace yesterday was a head-high tackle by the South's Pat Harris.

The Hull-born Almond, who supported the rugby league team of that name in her youth, helped to get the women's section at Wasps off the ground in 1984 with three friends from Loughborough University, where they had all completed physical-education courses. There are now 91 women's teams in England and Wales and a further nine in Scotland, eight of them at universities.

Like her peers, the British captain believes the World Cup is a boon, just the thing to amend some perceptions of women's rugby. 'Some men are very supportive, most women's teams are coached by them. But you can find a chauvinist attitude that women should be in the kitchen, not out playing.

'We are breaking it down bit by bit. I have played in quite a few curtain-raisers before tournaments and you can hear men in the crowd changing their minds during the game as they see we can actually tackle.'

Nine countries, including Sweden, the United States, Japan, Spain and Canada, will definitely participate in the World Cup, to be staged in Wales next spring with the final at Cardiff on April 14. Another three France, New Zealand, and the Soviet Union have yet to confirm.

Midlands and North Thames: Davies; Turner, Ewing, Smith, Stirrup; Ross, Briddon; Burgess, Mitchell, Bennett, O'Kelly, Williets, Robson, Stennett, Harding.

South-east: Bond; Thomas, John, Cooper, Chambers; Isherwood, Edwards; Harrington, Mills, Prangnall, Francis, Gurney, Harris, McMahon, Davies.

Source Citation
"Rugby Union: Plenty of impact but no punch - Women's Regional Championship, South-east 8, Midlands and North Thames 8." Guardian [London, England] 10 Dec. 1990:

Wednesday, 28 November 1990

World Cup: financial problems

Organisers have decided to go ahead with next year's inaugural Women's World Cup even though the newly formed Women's Rugby World Cup Committee still needs a backer to supply a minimum of Pounds 100,000 for the tournament at Cardiff from April 6-14.

Source Citation
"Sport in Brief: Rugby Union." Guardian [London, England] 28 Nov. 1990

World Cup: announcement

David Hands

THE men's game took nearly 120 years (adopting the formation of the Rugby Football Union as a starting point) to develop a World Cup competition; the women's game has managed it within a generation, though the tournament unveiled yesterday still awaits as does the men's event a main sponsor.

The inaugural women's World Cup, which will be staged in Wales next April, has grown out of the European Cup held in France in 1988. Several other countries expressed an interest in joining France, Britain, Italy and The Netherlands in an international tournament and the Women's Rugby Football Union (WRFU), which organises the game in England, Scotland and Wales, responded to the challenge.

At simultaneous briefings in Richmond and Cardiff yesterday, WRFU officials said the tournament will open on April 6 with pool games, which will be curtain-raisers to men's matches. The final will be on the Cardiff club ground on April 14.

Of the 14 countries where women play rugby on an organised basis, Germany declined an invitation because their development remains comparatively limited; but England and Wales will join the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Japan, while acceptances are expected from New Zealand, France and the Soviet Union.

``The women's game is expanding all over the world,'' Deborah Griffin, who chairs the organising committe, said. Although its roots are oldest in the United States, the expansion in England and Wales since the formation in 1983 of the WRFU is considerable: from 12 to between 90 and 100 clubs, organised in a four-division national league and with a regional competition.

Moira Swinbank, a director of John Taylor International, the event managers, expressed confidence that, once television coverage was confirmed, either a main sponsor or four special-category sponsors would be found to contribute the Pounds 100,000 the WRFU seeks for the running of the tournament.

It will be staged in Wales because of the accessibility of grounds and the enthusiastic support offered by the Sports Council for Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff RFC, as well as the civic authorities. A silver trophy has already been purchased for presentation to the winners but, thus far, lacks a name; I wonder if William Webb Ellis had a daughter?

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Women's game on the ball; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 28 Nov. 1990.

Monday, 9 April 1990

Barry Trowbridge

Richmond 3 Wasps 10

IT TOOK Wasps until the 49th minute of the second half to take firm control of the Women's Rugby Football Union National Cup final at the Rosslyn Park ground at Roehampton yesterday although any result other than their victory, by a try and two dropped goals to a penalty goal would have been a travesty.

Until that point, when Helen Harding, the Wasps scrum half, linked with her No.8, Heather Stirrup, to score in the right hand corner Richmond were always in with a statistical chance of stealing the day, although given that they spent all but minutes of the last hour in their own half, it never looked all that likely.

Karen Almond, the England and Great Britain captain and Wasps stand off, was the difference between the teams. Deadly accurate with her tactical kicking, she always had plenty of time to consider the options and invariably chose correctly. Her personal tally was the two dropped goals after 25 minutes and two minutes into the eight added on at the end of the first period; she narrowly missed three more attempts.

Richmond opened enthusiastically and were rewarded with a penalty goal by Deirdre Mills, their stand off, after four minutes but Wasps were soon into their stride and took territorial control they were never to lose despite Richmond's superiority in the scrum.

As a game of rugby, it was no spectacle, neither side having a player behind the scrum capable of creating openings and numerous injuries breaking up what little flow there was.

The result means that Wasps have achieved the league and cup double this season remarkable considering they lost several key players at the start of the year to Saracens.

SCORERS: Richmond: Penalty goal: Mills. Wasps: Try: Harding. Dropped goals: Almond 2.

RICHMOND: A McMahon; K Penney, P Harris, E Davies, D Francis; D Mills, D Dorling; D Grantham (rep: J Holloway), S Wachholz-Dorrington, J Watts, C Isherwood, A Cooper, H Devine, C Rhys, M Harrington.

WASPS: V Moore; C Stennett, H Maskell, C Willets, A O'Kelly; K Almond, H Harding; S Ewing, A Turner, B Davies, H Bewsy, A Parsons, P Durkan, S Martineau, H Stirrup.

Referee: A Evans (London).

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Almond takes Wasps to league and cup double; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 9 Apr. 1990

Sunday, 8 April 1990

Brother and sister internationals

Colin Calder

A BROTHER and sister from Biggar, Lanarkshire, are setting a record in the male-dominated world of rugby, writes Colin Calder.

Forget about the Hastings brothers; the latest family duo to represent Scotland is Darren and Anna Burns.

Darren, 17, yesterday played for the Scottish under-18 XV against Japan. Big sister Anna, 19, is in the pool for the Scottish women's game against north-east England later this month.

Women's rugby is becoming more popular, particularly at universities. Anna, who is studying at St Andrews, took up the sport in October, and with the help of Darren's coaching, has developed into an effective second-row forward.

She admitted tying her long, blonde hair back to prevent it being pulled by opponents, although she had witnessed ``little evidence of dirty play. I have only heard of a couple of cases of biting during a ruck''.

The only injury Anna has received in the scrum is a sore face from the stubble of other girls who shaved their legs]

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Girl in the scrum; Scotland." Sunday Times [London, England] 8 Apr. 1990

Saturday, 10 March 1990

Women's Rugby Football Union Student Cup

Oxford won the women's university rugby match at Iffley Road yesterday, beating Cambridge 22-0. They play Loughborough University at Southgate tomorrow in the inaugural final of the Women's Rugby Football Union Student Cup.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Cambridge suffer; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 10 Mar. 1990

Saturday, 24 February 1990

National league decider: Richmond v Wasps

Richmond play Wasps at the Athletic Ground tomorrow in a match which will decide the first division in the Women's Rugby Football Union league. Both clubs have lost once but Richmond have slightly the better points aggregate. Proceeds from the match will go to the appeal fund for Romanian rugby.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Two London referees bound for Australia; Rugby Union." Times [London, England]