Wednesday, 3 November 1999

Rugby girls are torn off a strip

THE Ohio State University women's rugby team caused a stir when they stripped off their jerseys during a T-shirt promotion on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. But now they have been suspended from playing while the University investigates the matter.

Source Citation
"Rugby Union: Rugby girls are torn off a strip." Mirror [London, England] 3 Nov. 1999

Sunday, 17 October 1999

Lawrence Dallaglio coaches a women's sevens team for Sky TV

THE FUTURE was looking cloudless for Lawrence Dallaglio back in the spring of 1998 when he agreed to be a Guiding Star for a new series on Sky One. The station had already signed up David Seaman to manage a park football side, and a page three girl to teach wannabe page three girls how to, well, how to get undressed, presumably. Dallaglio, meanwhile, was asked to coach the Bancroft Women's Rugby Union Club as they prepared for a big sevens tournament.

A few days' filming, a nice wedge of green in the pocket of his shorts, and an hour's worth of positive publicity for the lantern-jawed England captain. It seemed too easy to be true. But of course, no sooner was the film in the can than the biggest, blackest cloud Dallaglio had ever seen suddenly appeared on the horizon. What Murdoch giveth with one hand, one of the countless others was about to take away.

And so it was that while last week's Guiding Star still looked like a blatant PR exercise, it felt altogether less cosy than originally intended. Try as you might, you could never forget the awful mess into which this rather quiet, self-conscious giant of a man was about to blunder. The central figure was no longer a talented player on the way up, but a daft one in danger of sliding down the other side.

It meant that it was impossible to watch otherwise innocent moments without smirking. His team, for instance, spent a night during the two-day tournament all tucked up together in a large tent. Lawrence, however, decided to sleep elsewhere, and thank heaven for that. Imagine what the Screws would have made of it. Scrum Down! Saucy No 8 scores seven before breakfast! It doesn't bear thinking about.

At least he didn't describe Bancroft's eventual success in the tournament - in fact, it was in the consolation event for also-rans - as "one of the biggest highs of my life". Or if he did, Sky were kind enough to cut it out. But to be fair to Dallaglio, his team's transformation did seem to be a cause for credit.

The previous year, this bunch of apparent no-hopers had finished 60th in a field of 64. Now, despite some embarrassing defeats on day one, they came through on day two to win three matches in a row, and beat the Army, no less, to take the trophy for the Best Of The Rest. BSkyB, cynics may point out, would do anything for ratings, but surely even they would not corrupt an entire rugby tournament in the quest for sexier television. You have to hope not, anyway.

This wholesale transformation in Bancroft's fortunes seemed to have come about as the result of two training sessions with Dallaglio and a lecture on nutrition and exercise from Wasps' diet guru. "I realise," he told them, "that shopping and McDonald's are slightly higher priorities than [exercise] twice a week on your own." If they hadn't been so out of shape, they would probably have killed him. "What about alcohol?" someone asked. Lawrence decided that he would field that one himself. "The general rule," he told them, "is that we don't touch it for two or three days before a game." Now why couldn't he have said something like that to those nasty people from the News of the World?

Dallaglio's international career, of course, is pretty much back on track. He was in the thick of it on Friday, as England ran 100-odd points past Tonga, in yet another match which forced you to wonder whether ITV really took a close look at what they were signing when they bought the rights to the World Cup.

At least there was a crowd for this one, unlike so many of the first- round games. And yes, Wales against Samoa on Thursday also had an audience, and was thoroughly entertaining too, particularly when the referee adopted the Old Trafford approach to injury time - the home side are behind, so keep playing - and the Welsh still couldn't win. But what both ITV and, more pointedly, their advertisers, must be wondering is whether every empty seat at, say, Murrayfield for Scotland v Uruguay represents 10, 100 or even 1,000 empty sofas in Britain's living rooms.

In the same way that many people only watch the Boat Race in case one of the crews sinks, those who watch the early games are probably waiting only for the fights. The Americans are often derided for calling their baseball final the World Series, but it is no less ridiculous to call a tournament the World Cup when everyone knows that by the time of the semi-finals, it will almost certainly be the Tri-Nations Plus One.

Nine, perhaps even 13, sacrificial victims for the major southern-hemisphere sides might have been bearable. Seventeen is a turn-off, in every sense, but no doubt the organisers felt that they had corporate packages to sell, advertisers to accommodate and potential sponsors to keep happy. And that, of course, rather brings us back to Lawrence Dallaglio.

Source Citation
Wood, Greg. "Sport on TV: Dallaglio's delivery brings a smirk to the cynical." Independent on Sunday [London, England] 17 Oct. 1999

Tuesday, 12 October 1999

Daily Mirror gives advice on feeding a women's rugby team

THE Rugby World Cup is dominating the sporting headlines - but many women, as well as men, play their hearts out every week. "It's a great way of keeping fit," says Debbie Cracknell, 34, who plays for Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex. "Eighty minutes on a rugby pitch is far more exciting than spending an evening in the gym. That's why a lot more women are playing rugby now." So why did Debbie write to us? Well, Burnham, who play in Division Four of the National Challenge League (London and Eastern Counties) had a vital game coming up and she wanted to get the players together the night before the big match. It was a chance for their coach, Gig Ingham, to talk tactics and for the girls to relax before the game with Mill Hill. "I've offered to do the cooking but I'm not a great cook and the others arealways teasing me. So I want to surprise them. I need something simple, enough to feed 20 hungry people and it has to be full of energy but low in fat. So there's a real challenge."

LUCY SAYS: The trick when catering for lots of people is to make a couple of meal-in-one dishes. Hot pots are great (but out of the question because although rich in protein, they're not high in carbohydrates). The answer is to make an easy pastadish - lots of it - to which we can add protein such as chicken. It makes sense to make a chicken dish and a vegetarian dish (we opted for trendy stuffed peppers).It's easy to prepare in advance - Debbie and I did that while the other girls trained. And puddings should be scrummy and fun. A simple trifle made with boudoir biscuits is low in fat. We also did baked bananas which are rich in potassium and magnesium (to prevent players getting cramp).So what did the team think? Coach Gig gave the meal the thumbs-up. "This is just the thing they need thenight before a match. It's filling and full of energy but not heavy." Debbie's boyfriend, Paul Smith, added: "I'm so proud of Debbie. I can't believehow good this is!" Simone Collins said: "I love the crunchy texture of the filling in the peppers. With the garlic and chilli, it's not bland like a lot of vegetarian food." "I can't believe I'm asking Debbie, of all people, for a recipe," said Jenny Charnock with a laugh. "But I love this pasta." Karen Mihill, Teresa Barr andClare Hamilton asked: "Can we have some more, please? We'll sweat off the extra ounces in the game tomorrow."


Pasta quills with Tuscan chicken


1kg pasta quills, 32 mini plum tomatoes, quartered, juice 1 lemon, 90ml olive oil, 8 cooked chicken breasts, sliced, 2 x 410g cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 2 x 15g pkt chives, chopped, 2 x 15g pkt tarragon (or basil) chopped, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 bags mixed salad leaves, to serve.

COOK pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain. Tip pasta into a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve. (You can leave for up to six hours. This helps flavours infuse and means you can go out and train with the others, if you want to). To serve, arrange the salad on oval platters and top with the pasta mixture.


Piedmont stuffed peppers


500g couscous, 20 red peppers, tops sliced off and seeds scooped out, 90ml olive oil, 1 bunch spring onions, sliced, 4 cloves garlic, chopped, 2 mild red chillies, seeded and sliced. 2 mild green chillies, seeded and sliced, 4 sticks celery, chopped, 1 head broccoli cut into tiny florets and blanched, 15g pkt coriander, finely chopped, salt and freshly-ground black pepper, 4 x 125g pkt light mozzarella cheese drained and cut into chunks.

PRE HEAT oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Tip couscous into large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to stand 10 mins. Slice a bit off bottom of peppers so they sit neatly in two roasting tins. While couscous is still warm, stir in 60ml olive oil, spring onions, garlic, chillies, celery, broccoli and coriander. Season. Divide couscous mixture between peppers, pop lids back on top, drizzle with 30ml olive oil, roast in preheated oven 30 mins.


Red fruit trifle


175g box sponge boudoir biscuits, 100ml brandy, 250g raspberries, 375g strawberries, hulled and halved, 500g carton low- fat custard, 2 x 450g pots apricot yoghurt, 20 strawberries to decorate.

BREAKthe biscuits into small pieces and scatter in the bottom of 20 wine glasses. Pour over a little brandy followed by the raspberries and strawberries. Mix together the custard and yoghurt and spoon over the fruit. Cover and chill for up to 6 hours. To serve, decorate each portion with a strawberry. (If you don't want to use alcohol, use fresh orange juice instead). KITCHEN TIP: It's easier to make and serve this dish in individual portions - a small wine glass is the perfect size.


Baked bananas


20 bananas, 20 tbsp rum, 20 tbsp clear honey, 20 tbsp Greek yoghurt

PRE HEAT the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Put the bananas in a single layer in a couple of roasting tins and cook until the bananas are blackened (about 10 minutes) then turn them over and cook again until blackened all over. Check them after 5 minutes (the exact cooking time depends on how ripe the bananas are). Remove the bananas from the oven, carefully slit down the middle and pour 1 tbsp each of rum, honey and yoghurt into the slit and serve at once. (If you don't want alcohol, simply leave it out. It's still delicious.) KITCHEN TIP:This is a brilliant last-minute pud which needs no preparation.

Source Citation
Knox, Lucy. "Eating Zone: My rugger girls want something scrummy; EACH week LUCY KNOX offers a Zone reader a food makeover. Today, Lucy helps a women's rugby team with a high-energy, low-fat meal the night before a vital match." Mirror [London, England] 12 Oct. 1999

Tuesday, 17 August 1999

S4C launch TV dram based round women's team

ACTRESS Ffion Dafis is out to prove women's rugby is not all hairy armpits and bulging thighs.

She's going for it as the star of a new TV drama about the sexploits of the women's game.

And the saucy actress is using a stunning Christine Keeler-type pose to promote S4C's new drama.

The television channel hopes the new warts-'n'-all show will have wives and hubbies mauling for the remote control.

Set in a fictional North Wales town, Amdani - it means Go For It - lays bare the sexual antics of the fictional 15 players.

One programme maker said: "It brings the muddy and sexy world of women's rugby alive."

And they kicked off their advertising campaign with Ffion's daring Rucking for Wales poster.

An S4C source said: "This drama focuses on the sexual antics of the girls. Although some of the ladies display skills that Graham Henry would be proud of.

"S4C has never done anything like this before.

"This is the first time a programme has looked at women's rugby both on and off the pitch."

Actor Daffydd Emyr is the team's Romeo coach - a man who manages to get to grips with all his girls.

But all the stars prepared so well for their roles on the field they ended up beating Bethesda RFC in a practice game before filming.

Co-producer Sue Waters added: "It is going to be a very lively series which I hope will appeal to S4C viewers.

"It has been a lot of hard work, but we're also having a lot of fun during the filming."

The hard-hitting series will kick off on September 19.

Source Citation
"Rugby women will try anything for a TV hit." Mirror [London, England] 17 Aug. 1999

Friday, 2 April 1999

Watsonians women's team


WHILE former Tennent's Velvet Premier-ship champions Watsonians have spent most of this season fighting to steer clear of the relegation frame, it has by no means all been doom and gloom down Myreside way.

The club's fledgling women's team is poised to give them something to celebrate in south-west Edinburgh by lifting the Keyline SWRU Division Three title in their first year together.

They need only a victory at home to Aboyne in tomorrow's final league match to add yet another piece of silverware to the club's impressive collection of trophies, and founder Viki Mendelssohn admits their success has caught everyone unawares.

'It's hard to believe that we've come this far so quickly. It was only in August that I was approached by a number of girls new to the sport about the prospect of forming a team. They had no opportunity to break into the established Edinburgh women's sides, Accies and Wanderers, who are packed with international players,' she said.

'I managed to organise things through Gavin Hastings and we started out with just five players. Now we have a squad of 17 and the numbers are growing all the time. It's great the way we've been accepted by the men. To them, we're just another of the club's XVs.' Skipper Mendelssohn, who also founded the highly-successful Edinburgh Accies women's team ten years ago, has used her renowned powers of persuasion and persistence to recruit a number of rugby celebrities to boost the team's promotion push.

Scott Hastings, now Watsonians' director of rugby, has been along to lend a hand at training, while this week Henry Edwards has taken time off from preparing the Scottish Districts for Sunday's match against Spain to provide some useful pointers.

The ladies' success hasn't suprised their French coach Patrice Langlois, who has been involved in Scottish women's rugby for more than a decade.

He told Sportsmail: 'Generally, the standard of play in women' s rugby has improved dramatically since the World Cup was held here six years ago.

'It's amazing to think that half of the Watsonians girls had never played rugby before this season, but they have an advantage in that they tend to learn quicker than the guys.

'Most of them are at university but they are just as committed to making a go of their rugby. Some of the sides we've played against this year have been physically stronger than us, but we've become technically sound in various areas, particularly in the forwards.

'The girls have all the rugby skills and, perhaps most importantly, we've managed to get their fitness levels up.

'We've only had a handful of seasoned players like Viki and Scotland A hooker Pam Woodman to call upon, but the rugby newcomers have played their part superbly. It has been a real team effort and I'm proud of them.'

Langlois believes his charges will round off their restricted nine-game league programme in style against the team two places below them in the table and enable him to start preparing for life in the elite Division Two.

Despite Scottish rugby's long winter of discontent, the champagne could yet be flowing in the famous old clubhouse.

Source Citation
"Luck be a lady for Watsonians; Myreside welcomes the lasses with a winning touch." Daily Mail [London, England] 2 Apr. 1999

Monday, 8 March 1999

Ireland v England: report

Ireland 0 England 56

THERE was to be no consolation for the defeat at Lansdowne Road at Stradbrook yesterday, where Ireland's women rugby players were routed by a talented England team that ran in ten tries. The Ireland supporters can be relieved only that England's all-round excellence was not matched by their goalkicking.

There were no weak links in the England side. Their mobile pack was able to lay on a stream of possession and, with Jo Yapp and Sue Appleby calling the shots with authority at half back, Ireland's defence was stretched constantly by the incisive running of the England threequarters. The lineout was also a disaster area for Ireland, so much so that kicking to touch was tantamount to handing possession over to England.

England were out of sight at the end of the first quarter, when Nicky Crawford had scored two tries and Chris Diver, Sue Day and Yapp had also crossed. The second half was equally shattering as England ran in five tries, courtesy of Day, with two, Nicky Ponsford, Jayne Molyneux and Teresa O'Reilly.

SCORERS: England: Tries: N Crawford 2 (2min, 6), C Diver (16), S Day 3 (19, 48, 74), J Yapp (38), N Ponsford (45), J Molyneux (53), T O'Reilly (78). Conversions: T Collins, V Huxford, C Frost.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1999

Source Citation
Johnston, Karl. "England's women deny Irish any consolation; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 8 Mar. 1999

Tuesday, 2 March 1999

Minister congratuales England

Matthew Parris,


Which is why Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab, Crewe and Nantwich) comes as such a relief. The veteran "old" Labour rightwinger arrived yesterday arrayed in a new garment. A vast purple wrap, hundreds of square yards of it, covered this substantial lady. She described the "enormous opportunities" presented by the Millennium Dome: "a great public space," she said. Ah, Gwyneth, how true: but not our greatest public space! It lends a whole new meaning to the right to roam.

And a new fascination to the concept of women's rugby, heavily plugged yesterday by the Sports Minister Tony Banks.

For Monday mornings, Mr Banks chooses a wicked little black suit, three-piece, which he wears with a puckered face and sourly deadpan expression. Apropos of nothing much, Mr Banks offered his congratulations "to the England women's rugby team, on their victory over Scotland". Mr Banks's felicitations will raise a cheer in the ladies' shower room.

"I was there," he declared grimly. "And it was in fact very, very enjoyable rugby and I'd encourage people to go to women's rugby." Sadly, Mrs Dunwoody looked unconvinced.


Friday, 26 February 1999

England's women rugby players have to beg for time off work to play for their country

The Spice Girls have a lot to answer for. Mention Girl Power and the images which spring to mind - certain minds anyway - are Geri's patriotic little number at the Brit Awards and Scary's tongue. Which is distinctly unfair on those 15 genuine Sportys, otherwise known as the England women's rugby team, putting their less famous bodies on the line for their country this weekend for less than the price of a free CD.

Never let it be said that all English international rugby players lead privileged lives. What would the national reaction have been had Martin Johnson prepared for last weekend's Calcutta Cup match by climbing mountains in the Lake District and paying his own way to Twickenham? Or if Mike Catt walked his neighbours' dogs to help with the rent?Their female equivalents have been doing precisely that this week, without a murmur of complaint. Every rolling maul at the Athletic Ground in Richmond, where England face Scotland on Sunday, will involve a role model for the women's game.

Take Teresa Andrews, the lock, winning her first cap at the age of 22. A talented athlete, she is one of the new faces being drafted in with an eye to the 2002 World Cup. Over six feet tall with pace befitting a former schoolgirl hurdler, she has all the physical attributes but her staggering commitment is what really gives the game away.

Her job as a trainee instructor at an outdoor centre near Coniston Water owned by the University of Birmingham necessitates whole days spent literally up hill and down dale, followed by evening training sessions at her club, Waterloo, which is over two hours' drive away. A fresh arrival on the England scene, she has yet to receive a penny in financial help and has to beg time off at weekends.

'I'll have to work every weekend after all this is over, but it's worth it,' she insists.

At least all that yomping must keep her fit?

'It's the wrong sort of fitness; walking up a mountain slowly doesn't give you the sort of power you need.'

The only Amazons in Lakeland used to be those contained within the pages of Arthur Ransome's Swallows And Amazons; these days they are for real.

Andrews's story is instructive all round. The daughter of an English father and Danish mother, she grew up in a completely 'non-sporty family. The only person they could find who might have been was a great aunt who died falling off a mountain.'

Until 1995 she had never played rugby. On Sunday she will share an England dressing-room with players of the stature of Gill Burns and Emma Mitchell, both involved at the inaugural World Cup in 1991.

Burns, 34, has been England captain for five years - 'I feel like I'm nearing the end' - and made her debut back in 1988. Her fairytale moment came in 1994 as a member of the World Cup-winning side which, all too briefly, generated as much nationwide publicity as New Zealand's triumph in Amsterdam last year did on the other side of the globe.

Burns has seen the game come on in leaps and bounds since 1988. 'It's just not recognisable. Watching the videos now . . . well, it isn't laughable but we've come on so much. We were really cross-country runners, athletes and hockey players who had come together and were trying to learn a new game.'

As with the men, the road ahead is paved with fitness targets. Rex Hazeldine has been offering advice from Loughborough and the WRFU's performance director Carol Isherwood confirms that Lottery funding of Pounds 200,000 will help towards, for example, gym fees, kit and physiotherapy. There is still a way to go. The England squad will only gather tomorrow, just 24 hours before playing the Scots, who beat them last year.

This is the first fully fledged women's Five Nations Championship, yet England have not played any com- petitive rugby since their 4411 defeat against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-finals last April.

Isherwood also reports difficulties in persuading employers to release players, even when their costs are all reimbursed.

'We have to change the way that people look at sport in this country,' she adds.

And that includes, as ever, the opposite sex. Are men still sceptical?

'Yeah, in a word,' says the Saracens and England fly-half Susie Appleby, currently walking other people's dogs prior to starting a job with the Metropolitan Police. Her father, Northumberland's representative on the Rugby Football Union committee, turns out to be an enlightened 'Old Fart' and she is working on the rest.

'There's still the old school that say women shouldn't play rugby. I don't know if they'll ever change. All I say to them is: come and watch a game.'

Andrews reports an equally mixed reaction.

'I've got a few rugby-playing male friends who are impressed. But you also get: 'Is it proper tackling, proper pitch, kit as well?' '

A few 'girlie' stories do still surface. The England A lock Linda Uttley was introduced to the game through a chance remark in her local hairdresser's; last year a second-row playing for Eastern Suburbs in Sydney complained of back pains after a game and was found to be pregnant.

Motherhood and rugby are scarcely perfect bedfellows, so three cheers for Maxine Edwards, mother of a six-year-old, who props for England A in Sunday's curtain-raiser. Could childbirth be any more demanding than playing in the front row?

'I said that,' laughs her team-mate Nicky Goodwin, 'but everyone goes: 'It's nothing like it, shut up'.'

But there is a serious side as the women's game approaches the next century, namely how much extra training young women, already juggling busy careers and social lives, can be asked to do for a sport which may leave them richer in body and soul but nowhere else.

'That's a problem for all international sports for women,' says Burns, a PE teacher. 'It's ridiculous, really, but I think most of the girls who play international rugby actually go to work in order to play. There are big sacrifices but, if people aren't prepared to make them, they're not committed enough.'

Posh and her mates would last five seconds, max.

Source Citation
"The poor woman's Five Nations: Forget overpaid pros, England's women rugby players have to beg for time off work to play for their country. Robert Kitson joins the former World Cup champions in preparation for Sunday's first Five Nations encounter with Scotland." Guardian [London, England] 26 Feb. 1999

Monday, 22 February 1999

Girls rugby only at Millennium Youth Games

HUNDREDS of girls' football and rugby teams are to compete in a national sports festival for youngsters to mark the millennium - while boys are forced to stand on the touchline.

The traditionally male preserves of rugby and football are among eight sports that will make up the Millennium Youth Games, launched today by Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, and Sally Gunnell, the Olympic hurdler; yet most boys will not be allowed to take part. The football tournament is limited to girls and children with learning disabilities, while boys can play rugby only at under-11 level - and even then in mixed-sex sides. A netball competition will also be girls-only, while hockey, athletics, swimming, basketball and tennis will give both sexes a chance.

More than 300,000 children under 15 are expected to take part in the Pounds 4.3million games next year, part of the Pounds 100million Millennium Festival that will be announced today by Mr Smith. The games are being organised by Sport England, until recently the Sports Council for England, and are partly funded by BAA, a sponsor of the Millennium Dome.

Boys have been left out of the football and rugby competitions because organisers believed that girls needed a stage on which to prove their skills at these male-oriented sports. Both have become increasingly popular among girls, with more than 3,000 girls' football teams in Britain.

Anita White, director of development at Sport England, said: "There are lots of leagues, cups and competitions - almost too many - for boys to play in, but what we are hearing all the time is that girls want to play but don't have the opportunity. We are giving them a chance to shine and show that they can play football and rugby to a very high standard as well."

Helen Ames, national youth development officer at the Women's Rugby Football Union, said the games would deliver a massive boost to women's rugby. "It is going to be a tremendous competition that will give girls a chance to play rugby as never before," she said.

The Millennium Youth Games will be one of the main projects in the Millennium Festival, which is designed to ensure that all parts of the United Kingdom can participate fully in the celebrations. Mr Smith said on GMTV yesterday: "I want to make sure that the millennium is something to celebrate everywhere. I sometimes get annoyed with the national press, that they seem to think that the only thing happening for the millennium is the Dome in Greenwich. That's going to be wonderful but there's a lot else happening as well."

Sport in schools, page 37

Copyright (C) The Times, 1999

Source Citation
Henderson, Mark. "Girls get a sporting chance to shine." Times [London, England] 22 Feb. 1999