Under the Posts – Week of Mar 19, 2017

The pools and match schedule have been announced for the first ever round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Japan, the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens on 22-23 April.
The pools and match schedule have been announced for the first ever round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Japan, the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens on 22-23 April.

The top headlines from last week include England winning the Grand Slam, more on the boycott of USA Women’s National Hockey team, what teams are doing to prepare for the WRWC and looking ahead to Hong Kong 7s and Kitakyushu 7s.

As a reminder, we are doing weekly posts recapping the top women’s rugby news. Can’t wait a week? Join us on Twitter or on our Facebook page as we will be posting daily.

Owen Williams was playing for Cardiff Blues in the World Club Tens out in Singapore three years ago when he sustained serious spinal damage in a freak incident which left him paralyzed from the chest down and wheelchair-bound.

Supporters started the “Stay Strong For Ows” campaign which turned into the Stay Strong For Ows Foundation and has been established as part of the Cardiff Blues Regional Charitable Trust. Williams now looks forward to becoming a part of the trust so he can pass on his support.

While refereeing can be very rewarding and a way to give back, it has meant more for Philippa Greenwood. Greenwood had just turned 40, was a divorced, part-time single mum, working for the United Kingdom Foreign Office and says that after “a rough few years” she found refereeing at just the right time.

Having opted to take charge of a men’s match as her first game two weeks after qualifying, Philippa says, “It was worse than giving birth to my daughter. If I could have pressed a button to beam me up off that pitch I would have done.”

Fortunately, a referee observer talked her down, told her to take some time to read the Laws book and then go and watch another first-time referee in action.

“That was great advice because it made me realise that we all make mistakes, at whatever level of the game. At my next game I felt so much better and now I referee every other weekend.

“The experience and the positive feedback has had such an impact on my life. I now think ‘If you can take charge of 30 burly men on a rugby pitch there’s nothing you can’t do!’”

France finished their Women’s Six Nations campaign on a high as they defeated Wales 39-19. France finishes third overall, behind England and Ireland.

The Women’s Sevens World Series Qualifier will take place in Hong Kong in April and is crucial for teams trying to make their way onto the HSBC circuit. South Africa head coach Renfred Dazel says one of his squad’s main goals is to top their pool. They will face Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Italy.

Ireland camp up short in their bid for a Grand Slam as England bested them 34-7. As Ireland looks forward to hosting the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup and second place in the Women’s Six Nations puts them on the front foot to compete with the best.

Hong Kong Head Coach Anna Richards is optimistic ahead of the Women’s Sevens World Series Qualifier in Hong Kong. They’ve just returned from training camp in New Zealand where they faced off with the Black Ferns.

As they look to Hong Kong, they have been drawn in Pool B against Argentina, Kenya and Belgium. They fight for a place on the circuit as a core team.

ScrumQueens has crunched the numbers for the viewing audiences for the 2017 Women’s Six Nations. Could it be the turning point, the year that women’s rugby changed and went mainstream?

Records paying attendances for home Women’s Six Nations games were broken in England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, while France recorded their second biggest crowd. TV audiences also responded with both RTE in Ireland and France 4 reportedly delighted with viewing figures and audience share (unfortunately Sky and Eurosport Italia do not publish ratings).

Kitakyushu Sevens in Japan will take place April 22-23, this is the fourth stop of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. Pool A sees New Zealand, Russia, France and Japan. Pool B pits Australia, Fiji, Ireland and Brazil. Pool C includes Canada, USA, Spain and England.

The USA Women’s Premier League has been eight teams for since 2009, but expands to ten teams this year! This is a huge step forward as Beantown joins the Atlanta Harlequins, DC Furies, New York Rugby, and Twin Cities Amazons in the East; Chicago North Shore joins the West and will compete against the Berkeley All Blues, Glendale Raptors, Oregon Sports Union, and San Diego Surfers.

Competition starts in the fall and the WPL Championships will take place at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 10-12, 2017.

World champions England captured the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam over Ireland, while Scotland won two matches in a single Championship for the first time in more than a decade.

Ireland head coach Tom Tierney is “happy enough” with second place in the Women’s Six Nations.

“I suppose that first 50 minutes, we were defending for most of it. It just took its toll on us, and unfortunately when they got that second try, the shackles were off with them and they showed how good they are. We were chasing shadows for a bit of that second half, but credit due to the girls,” said Tierney.

“We knew we were going to be up against a hugely physical English team, that can play both types of game. A kicking game and a running game. They’re definitely going to be the favourites for the World Cup.”

New Zealand Rugby has started a new campaign to take mental illness head on. The campaign features stories from 133 cap All Blacks legend Keven Mealamu, All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith, Black Ferns Sevens star Ruby Tui, former Chiefs and Junior All Blacks prop James McGougan, the Sunwolves’ Liaki Moli and former international referee Chris Pollock.

NZ Rugby education manager Dr Nathan Price said New Zealand has sobering statistics around mental health. One in five Kiwis experience mental illness each year and our youth suicide rate is one of the highest in the OECD.

Lisa Frazer was recently named Head Coach of the Jamaican Rugby Women’s National Team. She is the first woman to be named as a head coach in the country and one of only a very few women in the position around the world. Rugby Americas North sat down with her to learn a bit more about her journey to this position.

139 days (as of March 23) and counting to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup!

USA has named their assembly team for the CAN-AM series against Canada. 34 athletes are available and head coach Pete Steinberg will look to take a young team to the pitch against a more experienced Canadian side.

Rugby Canada has also announced their training camp as well ahead of the CAN-AM series. This training camp also kicks off a busy spring for Canada as they will also travel to New Zealand for a three-game tour to face New Zealand, England and Australia.

ScrumQueens gives us a rundown of what Australia, New Zealand, Spain, USA and Canada are doing ahead of the WRWC in August.

The England Rugby Football Union has been shortlisted for four awards at the prestigious Women’s Sports Trust ceremony in May. Public voting will decide the winners which will be announced at the #BeAGameChanger 2017 awards in London on Thursday, May 11.

Not rugby, but we have to pay attention! The USA Women’s Hockey team is boycotting the IIHF Women’s World Championship over improved wages and resources. It appears the US Hockey is in the wrong and the women’s national team is collecting lots of support, the NHL Players’ Association and Major League Baseball Players’ Association have both issued statements among others.

US Hockey tried to find backups for the World Championships but replacement players stood fast and didn’t accept the invites.

Dunkin’ Donuts has also come out with a statement of support for the USA Women’s National Hockey Team.

Venues for the 2016-17 College Spring Playoffs have been announced, featuring five hosting schools and a first-time rugby facility.

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