Full Time Contracts Sow Seeds For Red Roses To Bloom

The RFU is to introduce women’s full-time 15s contracts this season underlining its commitment to the long-term growth of women’s rugby.

Following its meeting on Wednesday, the RFU Board supported the proposal to introduce women’s contracts for the 15-aside game.

There will be 28 full-time contracts available to England Women, which will come into effect on 1 January.

The Quilter Internationals will be played under the existing EPS agreement.

The 28 contracts will be supplemented by seven elite player squad (EPS) agreements, meaning a total EPS of 35.

The move will continue to drive standards in the game both at a domestic and international level with all England players eligible to play for their clubs in the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition, returning to the RFU for England duties.

With immediate effect, the squad will be based Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre during core periods, providing a permanent base within a high performance training centre.

RFU Chief Executive Steve Brown said: “We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players. This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport.

“We are at a tipping point for women’s rugby globally and it is our ambition to be world number one and drive growth at every level. As an organisation, from top to bottom, we are very much behind this and want to see the continued expansion and growth to realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.”

Under its women and girls strategy, the RFU plans to double the number of participants by 2021, increase the number of women’s teams by more than 75% to 800, the number of active women’s clubs to more than 400, and get more women involved in the sport as referees, coaches and volunteers.

RFU Director of Professional Rugby Nigel Melville said: “As a union we want to lead the way for driving standards in women’s rugby through everything we do. Full-time contracts are a big step in ensuring we have the access to players to develop them and fulfil their potential.

“Bisham Abbey is a world class training facility and it’s a great opportunity to have a permanent base and use of their facilities.”

O2, principal partner of the England team, Chief Marketing Officer Nina Bibby comments: “England Women’s Rugby is vitally important to O2 and seeing our logo on the England Women’s shirt when they step out to represent their country gives our customers and colleagues a huge amount of pride. We look forward to continuing to showcase and celebrate the national women’s game to the largest possible audience. It’s essential girls and young women growing up have the elite role models to look up to, who encourage them to pick up a rugby ball and get involved in the game we all love.”


Bears Clawed Back By Grizzly Quins

A nerve jangling, jaw dropping, pulsating final four minutes brought the home crowd to fever pitch, many checking the location of the nearest defibrillator, as Quins completed an escape act that Houdini would have struggled to match.

With the clock in the red those that had the courage to watch could only do so peering through their fingers, yet Ellie Green was as cool as the vegetable whose colour matched her surname, nailing a conversion to earn Quins what had looked twelve minutes earlier a highly improbable outcome.

Harlequins Ladies v Bristol Bears kicked off at 5.30pm at Twickenham Stoop, and as the low autumn sun began to set in West London, the dewy grass and cool air provided the perfect habitat for the Bears to come out to play

Not normally migratory creatures, the trip up the M4 may well have taken them out of their comfort zone, but a blistering start saw them rack up 26 points, including four tries, a glorious individual effort from Elinor Snowsill being the pick of the bunch, the holders of the Wales number 10 jersey have sorcery in their DNA thats for sure.

It was a first half during which Quins never really got going, they committed far too many errors, and when you add some inconsistent refereeing into the equation, the home side were left with a mountain to climb, as they went in to the half time break nineteen points in arrears.

The second half was a different story with Quins dominating territory and possession, the Bears hadn’t exactly gone into hibernation but they were certainly nursing sore heads as wave after wave of attacks reigned upon them.

Leah Lyons & Shaunagh Brown smashed around the breakdown like a pair of mad Bulls, and on the 46th minute Davina Catlin crashed over for a try to narrow the deficit to 12-26.

With 75 minutes on the clock a fourteen point gap looked unreachable, but not for this bunch, and the Ellie Green show was about to start.

She scored a wonderful try on 76 minutes which she duly converted to make the score 19-26.

Bristol restarted and time was up, but with the ball alive Quins had one more shot, after several phases Lucy Packer went over, and cucumber cool Ellie slotted the conversion to give Quins a share of the spoils, as the stoop crowd gave a collective roar, and checked their pulse rates.

The two points for the draw, plus a try scoring bonus point, could prove to be vital come the spring when qualification for the semi finals is at stake.

There were plenty of positives, the sign of a good side is one that grinds out a result when playing not particularly well, also the senior players were extremely vocal and held it all together as the new partnerships and combinations bed in, which enevitably takes time.

Also Quins did not concede a single point from the thirty eighth minute onwards.

This squad will never give up and never give in, and when everything clicks, then we will all be in for a real treat.

I’ve never had to queue to get out of a women’s rugby match before, Saturday at the Stoop may have ended in a draw, but there was one convincing winner, the women’s game itself.

Harlequins Ladies This Is Their Time

Rachel Burford has descended from the Cape Town mists engulfing table mountain, Deborah McCormack has packed away her surfboard at Bondi beach, and Leanne Riley has recovered from her lung busting Tour de France cycle stage.

As the scorching summer sun falls gently towards Autumn, the brown arid playing fields have turned back into the green green grass of home, and we find ourselves on the very cusp of another Tyrrells Premier 15s season.

The disappointment of an agonisingly narrow loss in last seasons final has been put to bed, gone but certainly not forgotten, and it will provide extra motivation, for players management and fans, if any were needed, for the new campaign.

Even in summer training you could sense and feel the determination to go one better this season, and as the sessions have increased in their intensity, the squad are looking fitter than ever, there is an eager freshness and anticipation, everyone can’t wait for the season to start.

Gary Street and Karen Findlay are shrewd cookies, never resting on their laurels, and constantly evolving training methods and routines, there is so much going on at their sessions it is difficult to keep up, but it is this attention to detail and the constant freshness they impart, that gives the playing group such great preparation.

Quins start their 2018/19 Tyrrells Premier 15s campaign away to Gloucester Hartbury on September 8, before they entertain Bristol Bears, at Twickenham Stoop, on Saturday 15 September, a 5.30pm kick off, following the mens premiership match against Bath.

Further matches at the Stoop will take place against Saracens, Wasps, and Richmond, with the remaining home league fixtures taking place at Surrey Sports Park, in Guildford.

Fresh faces of real quality have been brought in during the off-season including Scottish international Jade Konkel and Irish prop sensation Leah Lyons.

Harlequins will inevitably be one of the “big scalps” that always make opponent raise their own game, and there is no doubt there will be a huge improvement from many of the sides that did not challenge for honours last season.

As Autumn light fades into winter darkness there will be some some huge battles ahead, times of joy, and times of having to dig deep, lie ahead in an effort to ensure that when the days lengthen in early spring, they are in the driving seat for a home semi final.

All that is long way off as the group head to Gloucester on Saturday, the road is long with many a winding turn and I for one will be delighted and privileged to join them on their journey maybe for Harlequins ladies, this is their time.

Cyathea Medullaris Engulf Wallaroos In Garden Of Eden

With a title like that it would appear that I have lost the plot, well let me explain.

Cyathea medullaris is the Latin name for the Black Fern, a plant indigenous to, you’d never guess, New Zealand.

The women’s rugby variety defeated a gutsy Wallaroos team in the second instalment of the Trans-Tasman series, with Australia losing to the reigning World Champions, New Zealand 17-45 on Saturday afternoon at Eden Park.

With the gusty Auckland wind behind them, it didn’t take long for the Black Ferns  pack to assume control and following a TMO review in the third minute, NZ prop Aldora Itunu got was awarded a try to give the home side a 0-5 lead.

The Black Ferns utilised their  pack to gain an early advantage, scoring a second try at the hands of Pip Love, to further extend the lead, taking the score to 0-12.

The Aussies struck back after a great step from Wallaroo’s flyhalf Trilleen Pomare off the back of a maul saw the visitors touchdown, with Australia trailing 5-12 fifteen minutes into the match.

An impressive defensive effort from the Wallaroos managed to contain New Zealand but under constant pressure they conceded penalties and eventually Black Ferns lock  Eloise Blackwell crossed over in the corner to increase the lead to 5-19.

With seconds remaining in the first half, Wallaroos Captain, Liz Patu, powered her way over for a try, taking the score to 10-19 at the break.

The second half saw New Zealand continue to ask questions of the Wallaroos defence with an opening try from the Black Ferns outside centre Theresa Fitzpatrick.

Kendra Cocksedge followed with another try, taking advantage of Wallaroo Emily Robinson’s sin binning to extend the score to 10-33.

31 Test cap veteran winger Renee Wickliffe then touched down taking New Zealand’s lead to 38 – 10, and almost immediately wing, Selica Winiata crossed the whitewash taking the score line to 45 – 10.

Australia’s  Hana Ngaha coming fresh off the bench had the final say, driving over in the corner, to close the gap, with Fenella Hake adding the coversion, the match finishing 17-45.

3 mins: Aldora Itunu try AUS 0–5 NZ

11 mins: Pip Love try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 0–12 NZ
16 mins: Trilleen Pomare try AUS 5–12 NZ
21 mins: Eloise Blackwell try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 5–19 NZ
40 mins: Liz Patu try AUS 10–19 NZ
44 mins: Theresa Fitzpatrick try Kendra Cocksedge AUS 10–26 NZ
50 mins: Emily Robinson Yellow Card
50 mins: Kendra Cocksedge try Kendra Cocksedge AUS 10–33 NZ
58 mins: Renee Wickliffe try AUS 10–38 NZ
66 mins: Selica Winiata try Kendra Cocksedge AUS 10–45 NZ
71 mins: Hana Ngaha try Fenella Hake con AUS 17–NZ 45

Jacinda Ardern NZ Prime Minister Presents The Trophy

Buildcorp Wallaroos:
1. Emily Robinson, 2. Liz Patu (C), 3. Evelyn Horomia, 4. Michelle Milward, 5. Rebecca Clough, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Georgia O’Neill, 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Cobie-jane Morgan, 10. Trilleen Pomare, 11. Samantha Treherne, 12. Sarah Riordan, 13. Atasi Lafai, 14. Mhicca Carter, 15. Mahalia Murphy, 16. Darryl Wickliffe, 17. Melissa Fatu, 18. Hana Ngaha, 19. Alisha Hewett, 20. Kiri Lingman, 21. Fenella Hake, 22. Crystal Maguire, 23. Shanice Parker.

Black Ferns:
1. Pip Love, 2. Fiao’o Faamausili (C), 3. Aldora Itunu, 4. Eloise Blackwell, 5. Charmaine Smith, 6. Charmaine McMenamin, 7.Les Elder, 8. Aroha Savage, 9. Kendra Cocksedge, (VC), 10. Ruahei Demant, 11. Alena Saili, 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13. Stacey Waaka, 14.Renee Wickliffe, 15. Selica Winiata (VC) 16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 17. Cristo Tofa, 18. Leilani Perese/Aleisha Nelson, 19. Jackie Patea-Fereti, 20. Linda Itunu, 21. Kristina Sue, 22. Krysten Cottrell, 23. Chelsea Alley

Black Ferns Beat Wallaroos In Front Of A World Record Crowd In Sydney

The Black Ferns held out to defeat a strong Wallaroo’s outfit in the opening match of the two Test Trans-Tasman Series with Australia eventually going down 11-31.

Australia had nine debutants in a match that was played in front of a world record crowd of 28,842, the highest ever for a Women’s International.

Both sides traded blows in the opening exchanges, and it took 10 mins for the first points to be scored, with scrum half Kendra Cocksedge crossing for New Zealand’s first try to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

Australia’s Emily Robinson registered the first points for the home side with a penalty in the 21st minute to lower the gap to 3-7.

Tries from New Zealand captain, Faio’o Faamausili and Aldora Itunu increased the lead to 3-19 at the break, despite some strong defensive efforts from the Buildcorp Wallaroos.

The second half saw New Zealand continue to ask defensive questions of the Wallaroos with two further tries to Fiao’o Faamausili, ending Australian hopes.

However, it was Australia who had the final word, Alisha Hewitt came off the bench who to finish off a try, following a dynamic run from Shanice Parker and Emily Chancellor, reducing the deficit to AUS 11–31 NZ.

Wallaroo’s Head Coach, Dwayne Nestor said: “We didn’t let the game go and there willl be a lot of positives that will have come out of the game.

“We’ll go back and look at the footage and pick out the good things as well as those things that we can fix, it all about getting into the right attitude for next week.

“I’m really positive about where we are as a side. There are changes we can easily make in order to have a much better game and we will come back a much stronger side next week”

There will be very little time for celebration of commiseration as the Wallaroo’s take on the New Zealand Black Ferns again next week, in the second instalment of the International double-header at Eden Park, Auckland.


10 mins: Kendra Cocksedge try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 0–7 NZ

21 mins: Emily Robinson pen AUS 3–7 NZ

28 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try AUS 3–12 NZ

32 mins: Grace Hamilton Yellow Card

42 mins: Aldora Itunu try Kendra Cocksedge con AUS 3–19 NZ


48 mins: Emily Robinson pen AUS 6–19 NZ

59 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try AUS 3–24 NZ

68 mins: Fiao’o Faamausili try Kendra Cocksedge AUS 6–31 NZ

72 mins: Alisha Hewett try AUS 11–31 NZ

75 mins: Jackie Patea-Fereti Yellow Card

Buildcorp Wallaroos:

1. Emily Robinson, 2. Liz Patu, 3. Evelyn Horomia, 4. Michelle Milward, 5. Rebecca Clough, 6. Emily Chancellor, 7. Georgia O’Neill, 8. Grace Hamilton, 9. Cobie-Jane Morgan, 10. Trileen Pomare, 11. Samantha Treherne, 12. Crystal Maguire, 13 Atasi Lafai, 14. Mhicca Carter, 15 Mahalia Murphy, 16. Darryl Wickliffe, 17. Melissa Fatu, 18. Hana Ngaha, 19 Alisha Hewett, 20. Kiri Lingman, 21. Alice Tonumaivao, 22. Fenella Hake, 23. Shanice Parker

Black Ferns:

1. Phillipa Love, 2. Fiao’o Faamausili ©, 3. Aldora Itunu, 4. Eloise Blackwell, 5. Charmaine Smith, 6. Charmaine McMenamin, 7. Les Elder,  8. Aroha Savage, 9. Kendra Cocksedge (vc), 10. Ruahei Demant, 11. Alena Saili, 12. Theresa Fitzpatrick, 13. Stacey Waaka, 14. Renee Wickliffe, 15. Selica Winiata (vc), 16. Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, 17. Cristo Tofa, 18. Leilani Perese, 19. Jackie Patea-Fereti, 20. Linda Itunu, 21. Kristina Sue, 22. Krysten Cottrell, 23. Chelsea Alley (15)

Alhambra The Final Whistle

There are some sporting lives that transcend the very game itself, individuals who find themselves, through no fault of their own, as pathfinders for their gender, their country and even their sport.

Responsibilities of this nature can weigh heavily on the broadest of shoulders, but some can carry the load with dignity, grace, poise eloquence and no little skill.

One such individual is Alhambra Nievas-Gonzalez.

Rugby is fortunate to have Ali in its ranks, the values, ethics and all that is good about the game, will continue to shine through in whatever role she turns her hand to, now that she has hung up her whistle.

She has broken down barriers, and prejudices, that have eased the way for those that follow her.

Those referees, of which there are many, have been inspired by her actions, deeds and her example, and as a result, they will not have to suffer such gender scrutiny and intense publicity thanks to her efforts.

We can be eternally grateful that Ali chose our sport in which to grace her presence, those of us who have met her, and watched her on the field of play, can count ourselves lucky, those of us who are privileged enough to call her our friend can feel truly blessed.

As humble and content driving the tractor during the family olive harvest in Granada, as she is performing at the biggest events in the greatest stadiums in the world, Alhambra has closed one chapter of her life, and what a brilliant read it has been.

Gracias amigo hasta pronto.

NSW Revealed As Location For Australian Women’s Rugby World Cup Bid 2021

The Newcastle and Hunter region would host the world’s showpiece event in Women’s Rugby, with the region’s world class sporting facilities and hotels, combined with its offering as one of Australia’s most popular tourism hubs, being the foundations for the bid.  
Competing teams and fans will experience the best of Australia; a lively cosmopolitan major events city, paired with one of Australia’s premier food and wine locations.

Matches would be played at Maitland No. 1 Sportsground and Newcastle Sportsground No 2 with the Finals to be held at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Teams, officials and tournament staff will be accommodated in true “Athletes Village” style in the heart of the Hunter as the best Rugby players battle it out to become World Champions.