Harlequins Launches Women And Girl Programmes

At a sunny Stoop this morning Harlequins  formally launched today its Women and Girls programme ahead of the 2017/18 season.
In doing so, the Club has reaffirmed its commitment to growing and developing the women’s game by creating a pathway from grassroots to elite international rugby.
Girls can be introduced to the game through the Harlequins Foundation’s Switch programme and can then become more formally affiliated with the sport through the Harlequin Amateurs girls’ section. 
Developing through minis, junior and teenage rugby, the option to play at a social or elite adult level is available through the Harlequins Ladies third, second and first teams.
The Harlequins first and second teams will compete in the RFU’s elite structures, while the third team will compete within the National Challenge 1 SE West League.

Commenting on the launch, Harlequins Global Development and Academy Director Tony Diprose said: “Developing women’s rugby is a key part of Harlequins’ five-year strategy as the Club looks to support the expansion of the game into new markets. Today is a landmark moment for Harlequins and we are so proud to be able to offer a programme that will enable aspiring girls to play and represent this great club at a high level.”

Formally launching the programme at The Stoop, members of the Harlequins Ladies first, second and third teams inspired the future generation of players by running a coaching session for 50 children on the pitch.
Participants included those on the Harlequins Foundation’s Switch programme, affiliated community clubs, and Harlequins Junior Members.
Under the watchful eyes of Harlequins Ladies co-Head Coaches Karen Findlay and Gary Street, the session was an exciting beginning to this long-term project.
“Today was about putting Harlequins at the forefront of the women’s game,” Street said. “We are all incredibly excited to be part of this venture in driving the development of our sport in a local, national and international environment.
“The interest in women’s rugby is ever increasing and we will be capitalising on the success of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, in which Harlequins has nine representatives, ahead of the inaugural Tyrell’s Premier 15s competition and beyond.”

In February, the RFU confirmed Harlequins’ place in the newly-formed Tyrell’s Premier 15s competition, which kicks off next month.

Having partnered with League and Cup champions Aylesford Bulls Ladies last season, they have been formally brought under the Harlequins umbrella, alongside the Harlequin Amateurs and Harlequins Ladies 3rd XV, for the 2017/18 season. 
Playing their home matches at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, the Club has also confirmed that three matches will take place at The Stoop, against Bristol Ladies, Richmond, and Saracens.

Final Pool Matches Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017

The final pool matches at the Womens Rugby World Cup 2017 take place on Thursday.

This tournament will no doubt favour those countries with strength in depth, at a World Cup where teams are expected to win five matches in 17 days.

England, with a fully  proffesional squad, and great strength in depth, have a big advantage over their rivals, a fact confirmed by their coach Simon Middleton, and it is difficult to imagine that the Red Roses, along with New Zealand, will not make the semi finals.

That leaves the USA, Canada, France and  hosts Ireland to fight it out for the final two places.

Ireland have to beat an inform French team who demolished Australia last Sunday, whilst the host nation struggled to see off Japan.

Canada will probably need a bonus point against New Zealand to have a chance of going through as the best runner up, as the USA are a point ahead of them going in to their last game against England.

So the semi finals could end up with New Zealand playing Canada for the second time in four days, and England facing either France or Ireland.

It’s going to be an epic day on Thursday

Here are the fixtures and the current pool standings 

Canada v New Zealand Billings Park 12pm

Wales v Hong Kong UCD Bowl  5.15pm

England v USA Billings Park 2.30pm

Italy v Spain UCD Bowl 2.45pm

Australia v Japan Billings Park 5pm

France v Ireland UCD Bowl 7.45pm

Day One Round Up Women’s Rugby World Cup 

53 seconds, the time it took England’s Megan Jones to open her try scoring account in the opening game of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

10 tries by the Red Roses saw them romp home against Spain 56-5

The Black Ferns made it a black day for Wales beating them 44-12 out scoring the ladies in red by eight tries to two.

Birthday girl Alhambra Nievas refereed the USA v Italy which resulted in a star spangled win for the Eagles

Canada demolished Hong Kong 98-0 scoring sixteen tries in the process 

The most exciting match of the day saw hosts 

Ireland narrowly defeat Australia 19-17, in a six try thriller which gave the Wallaroos a losing bonus point

Finally as the sun set on a glorious day in the Dublin the ladies from the land of the rising sun were soundly defeated by France and Makiko Tomita of Japanreceived a red card.

Twelve tries and a 72-14 win for the Blues

Boks Whistle Blower To Referee World Cup Opener


South Africa’s top female referee Aimee Barrett-Theron will celebrate Women’s Day on a memorable note on Wednesday as she takes charge of the opening match of the Women’s Rugby World Cup between defending champions, England, and Spain in Dublin.


Aimee and Cwengile Jadezweni, who was also a member of the referee panel at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Manchester last year, have been in Ireland since last Thursday preparing for the international spectacle, which runs from 9 to 26 August.


Jadezweni has been named an assistant referee for the match between France and Japan on Wednesday after being called up as a late replacement to the referee panel.


Barrett-Theron’s appointment as the referee for the opening match follows on an incredible two seasons in which she officiated at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the Women’s Six Nations and the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series, while she also took the whistle in Women’s Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in New Zealand in April.


Her other notable achievements include becoming the first female referee to take charge of an U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week match in July and in the FNB Varsity Shield, presented by Steinhoff International.


“It is an honour to be named as the referee for the opening match of the World Cup and to be part of this fantastic showcase of women’s rugby,” said Barrett-Theron.


“It is also a special way to celebrate Women’s Day.


“I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to officiate matches between some of the World Cup teams in New Zealand earlier in the year, and that was the perfect preparation going into the tournament.”


Barrett-Theron, who has become an inspirational figure for many young female referees, also offered advice to young women with aspirations to follow in her footsteps and said: “The last few seasons have been an incredible journey for me, and I encourage anyone who wants to take up refereeing to believe in themselves and do their best. If you give everything, anything is possible in life.”

Answering Irelands Call 

Last weekend the day came, as indeed did the hour, and despite the absence of the power and the glory, I finally answered Irelands call.

I was there specifically to attend matchday two of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, but having been denied match accreditation it gave me time to explore and reflect,on the matter of the Irish and their rugby.

As I headed out of Dublin on the DART railway, meandering southwards down the east coast of Ireland, towards Greystones,the sheer beauty of the landscape instantly puts you in a relaxed and nostalgic mood.

I was expecting a young group of people to board the train at Lansdowne Road station singing “Mustang Sally” or “Take me to the river”, but young people have no sense of “Commitments” these days.

Ireland is a complex country, (now there’s an understatement), its rugby DNA is etched in the velvety green landscape, even though it is not the major sport here.

Wherever you go there are a set of rugby posts not too far away, the map below shows, the affiliated rugby clubs of the Emerald Isle, each dot shows not only a team, but also a community, with a sense of unity and belonging.

We all know that Ireland’s political landscape has not been as relaxed and soothing as my DART journey, and yet north and south have always been united on the international rugby field.

Trevor Ringland the great Ulster and Ireland wing once said

” I refused to let symbols like flags and songs to be hijacked by extremists on both sides”

“To me, rugby was trying to build bridges while others were destroying them, we were   finding a way of working together in friendship”.

The unique Irish rugby humour is of course legendary, from the crowds chant in far off days of “kick ahead Ireland any f*****g head” to more subtle latter day fare.

The humour and the friendliness were in bountiful supply at University College yesterday there must be an awful lot of Blarney Stone induced chapped lips in the Dublin area.

Okay so they can’t organise media accreditation to save their lives but when you see how the Dublin bus service runs it explains a lot.

So finally as I bring this article to a close  in an Irish pub, unbelievably one of the original member of the Commitments is performing in a wonderful jazz set.

The evening ends with rugby and music in harmony, with the Blues as France beat Australia and Cry me a river echoes from Searsons pub into the dark Dublin night.

Leigh Halfpenny Joins Scarlets 

LeighHalfpenny  returns to Wales after a three-year spell with France giants Toulon and a third tour with the British & Irish Lions

“I’m delighted to be coming back to play in Wales,” said Halfpenny. “I would like to thank the Scarlets and the WRU for giving me the opportunity to sign a National Dual Contract and can’t wait to get started.”

His return to Wales, where he previously excelled with Cardiff Blues between 2008-2014, has delighted national team head coach, Warren Gatland.

“It is great news for Welsh rugby that Leigh Halfpenny is returning to play his rugby in Wales,” said Gatland. “The NDC system helps us to bring these players back and I look forward to seeing him play for the Scarlets.”

His sentiments were fully endorsed by WRU chief executive, Martin Phillips, who added: “I’m delighted that we are able to announce Leigh’s return to Wales. His signature rubber stamps our commitment to the game here in Wales by having our best players playing their rugby on home soil which is vital to the future health of our game.

“We have made no secret of that and the importance both on and off the field at regional and national level in Welsh players playing their rugby in Wales.”

Wayne Pivac, who guided the Scarlets to Guinness Pro12 glory last season, believes Halfpenny is a vital piece in the Scarlets jigsaw as he looks to bring future success to the region.

“Leigh joining is great news for the club, the supporters, the team and the region as a whole,” said Pivac.

“With the experience of Liam [Williams] and DTH [van der Merwe] moving on at the end of last season we’ve added some new players to the squad, some exciting young talent, and a guy like Leigh brings a lot of experience to the squad that he will share with those young players.

“It has worked out really well and we look forward to welcoming Leigh and he’s really excited to be joining the Scarlets because of the way we play the game.”

Scarlets General Manager of Rugby, Jon Daniels, echoed his thoughts, by adding: “We are delighted to finally be in a position to confirm that Leigh Halfpenny will be joining us at the Scarlets for the forthcoming season and beyond.

“He is a proven performer on the international stage and his qualities both on and off the pitch will be a great addition to our squad as we endeavour to build on the success of last season.”

Emmanuel Macron Leads France’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Bid

On September 25, In London, President Emmanuel Macron will head the French delegation to submit his country’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup before the World Rugby Council.

Bernard Laporte, president of  the France Rugby federation stated:

“He (Macron) will have an active role, he will have the floor, it’s clear that it adds weight to our bid”

Macron is a big sports fan he attended the Top 14 final at Stade de France in June, and was a pretty good footballer himself back in the seventies.

France will provide World Rugby with two financial guarantees.

Firstly the French government will guarantee 171 million Euros, approx. £150 million, which is greater than the sum required to have the right to bid for the tournament.

“This commitment reflects the support of the President of the Republic for the candidacy of France for the organization of the 2023 World Cup,” said Bernard Laporte.

The tournament fee will be largely covered by the forecast revenue of 477 million Euros, of which 373 million will come from ticket sales.

The second financial guarantee is provided by a major French private bank to cover commitments of the organisation costs of the tournament, amounting to 236 million euros (the equivalent of 207 million pounds sterling).

Claude Atcher, director of the bid says, “These two financial commitments give credibility to the dossier presented by France which presents a most attractive and secure economic offer, which will benefit the whole of the world rugby.”

In total, the France bid provides World Rugby with more than 400 million euros of firm, unconditional and irrevocable financial guarantees.

Nine modern stadiums built or renovated for 2016 Euros, with top class media facilities are another huge plus of the French bid.

France plan to run the 2023 tournament from 15 September to 4 November with matches in Lille, Paris, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Saint-Etienne, Lyon, Nice and Marseille.

It’s a pretty impressive bid which South Africa, and Ireland in particular will struggle to match.

The “winner” be announced on November 15 2017.