Under the Posts – Women’s Rugby News for Feb 1-14 where we’re covering two weeks and it begins with a revamped Six Nations kicking off in April. We also received final dates for the European Championships, and Asia Rugby has canceled their championship and qualifier due to COVID-19 travel & quarantine restrictions. So two steps forward and one step back for the 2021 Rugby Cup.
In 7s news, Madrid 7s announces back-to-back tournaments Feb 20-21 & Feb 27-28. Rugby Canada has appointed an independent investigator to review a complaint against head 7s coach John Tait.
Back to XVs news, USA has announced their World Cup Performance squad as well as assembly dates, we review Round 11 & 12 of Allianz Premier 15s (upsets galore!), the WPL has canceled their spring season, Zimbabwe announced a mentoring program as well as aspirations around players under contract and training at a high performance center.
We wrap it all up with 16 player features and 10 media.
Featured Women’s Rugby News
Big announcements over the last two weeks including new dates for the Six Nations including a shortened format starting in April! Also confirmed this week was the last two matches to conclude the European Championships where the overall winner will move on the European Rugby World Cup Qualifiers. In bad news, Asia Rugby canceled their regional championships including a RWC qualifier due to “COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions”.
Weekly Women’s Rugby News
- Madrid 7s announces back-to-back weekends of matches including Spain, USA, Kenya, France, Poland and Russia
- Kenya has received a cash infusion just in time for Madrid 7s and the Olympics
- Rugby Canada has appointed an independent investigator who is looking into a complaint against head 7s coach John Tait
- Spain and Russia have announced their rosters ahead of their European Championship clash
- USA has announced a 51 player 2021 World Cup Performance Squad along with assembly dates
- Samoa is concerned their amateur status could affect their preparations for the 2021 Rugby World Cup
- South Africa will double their training camp in the next few weeks as they ramp up ahead of the 2021 Rugby World Cup
- Uganda has announced tentative dates for a regional 10s competition
- Round 11 & 12 in Allianz Premier 15s was full of upsets but Saracens and Harlequins are still on top of the table
- WPL has canceled their spring season but is considering a partial season or looking at the fall
- We give an update Spain’s Iberdrola and Honor B competitions
- Egypt beat Syria in the final of the first women’s Arab 7s
- David Parsley joins the fight for women’s rugby broadcasting
- WRCRA shares a Q&A with Dr. Donna Duffy, Director of the Female BRAIN project in North Carolina
- Zimbabwe introduces a compulsory mentor program for coaches and administrators and also announces aspirations for contracted players
- Spains has revealed their fan chosen XVs Team of the Decade
- Ireland honors Beibhinn Parsons, Louise Galvin and Fiona Coghlan.
Women’s Rugby Player Features
- Talking Rugby Union features Hollie Davidson, World Rugby referee
- England’s Katty Daley-McLean was “overwhelmed” by reaction to her retirement
- Zimbabwe’s Catherine Muranganwa credits rugby with saving her and her teammates from becoming child brides in a nation where early marriage remains common
- England’s Mercedes Foy recently led a two-day rugby camp in the Cayman Islands
- Sarah Rendell of Rugby World hopes the changes to the shortened Six Nations format are temporary
- England’s Sarah Hunter suggests that a shortened Six Nations format could work if it complements an International global calendar
- England’s Maggie Alphonsi opens up about the social media abuse she’s received but notes it won’t stop her voice
- Goff Rugby includes Vanesha McGee, Nancy Fitz, Keenya Warner and MA Sorenson on the All-Time American list
Women’s Rugby Media/Podcasts/Videos
- Spain’s Alhambra Nievas speaks with Asia Rugby about next generation of referees
- Ireland’s Niamh Briggs talks about the current status of women’s rugby
- Eagles Overseas talks with USA head Rob Cain about their plans for the World Cup year
- Women’s Rugby Pod has two episodes including recapping Premier 15s action with New Zealand’s Melodie Robinson and Exeter’s Amy Garnett
- Brew with Beckett talks with England’s Rachael Burford about Girls Rugby Club
- Ruck ‘n’ Roll catches up with journalist Jessica Hayden
- Greaux Rugby features USA’s Tosan Tutse-Tonwe and his thoughts on the direction of media in rugby
- Rugby Uncovered has Wasp Megan Jones on to talk about coaching and her guilty pleasures
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Just when the World Cup qualification process seemed to be back on the rails its has been hit with another setback after @asiarugby today cancelled the regional championship and qualifier, due to take place in Hong Kong next month. https://t.co/mT486YCjCe pic.twitter.com/4xfv6XRQXw— Scrumqueens - Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) February 10, 2021
Two steps forward, one step back…we received new dates for the Six Nations and Europe Championships but then Asia Rugby Championships were cancelled.
But let’s celebrate where we can, the Six Nations matches are back on the calendar! The format is similar to the recent Autumn Nations Cup, culminating in a grand final weekend to crown the Six Nations Champions 2021. The format will comprise of two pools of three teams with each team playing one home and one away fixture. Once the pool round matches are complete, teams will face off against the opposing ranked team from the other pool in the play-offs matches, i.e. 1st place Pool A v 1st place Pool B.
The European Championships have two matches remaining and the winner of the competition will head into the Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualifiers. Spain will host Russia on February 20 and Spain will play the Netherlands on February 27. The fixture between Netherlands and Russia was played earlier in the year with Russia winning 27-21.
Now for the bad news, the Asia Championship and World Cup qualifier have cancelled the tournament due to “COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions”. The tournament was scheduled for March 5, 9 and 13 between Japan, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan. “Asia Rugby, participating unions and World Rugby continue to work closely to determine alternative hosting solutions.”
Test News – 7s
We’ve been waiting for news on Madrid 7s and we finally have it! The tournament will take place over back-to-back weekends Feb 20-21 and Feb 27-28. Six teams include the hosts Spain, USA, Kenya, France, Poland and Russia.
This will be the perfect testing ground for COVID protocols ahead of any other 7s tournaments this year.
Kenya has received a cash infusion ahead of Madrid 7s and the Olympics.
“We have always struggled in preparation for major games because of funding. It is important to have funds for training, equipment and allowances for players. This support from Kenya Charity Sweepstake is a timely boost. We are now motivated knowing that we can train and prepare well for the Olympics,” Lioness Captain Philadelphia Olando said.
Canada has shuffled their 7s staff after complaint on John Tait was received from one of his players. Tait has been removed and a independent investigator has been appointed.
Sandro Fiorino, National Senior Women’s 15s Head Coach, has temporarily relocated to Langford and is acting as interim Head Coach to oversee training. Fiorino is being assisted by National Senior Women’s 15s Assistant Coach Maria Gallo. Fiorino will be with the 7s team until April and both coaches will maintain their roles with the National Women’s 15s team as they prepare for RWC 2021 later in the year.
Mick Byrne will assume the role of National Senior Women’s 7s interim Head Coach through to the Olympic Games.
Test News – XVs
Spain and Russia have named their sides ahead of the European Championships. The overall winner of this tournament will join those continuing to qualify for the 2021 Rugby World Cup.
Russia currently leads the series as they defeated Netherlands earlier in the year.
USA’s Rob Cain has announced 51 players for his 2021 World Cup Performance Squad. In preparation they will hold two 7-week training blocks before departing for the World Cup in New Zealand at the beginning of August.
The first training block runs from March 13 to May 2 and features the bulk of players named to the Performance Squad with consideration for those who have club commitments in the UK and Sevens Residency. At the end of May, the squad will filter down to 40 players who will assemble for a final World Cup Residency from May 31 to July 21. The official World Cup team will be selected once Residency concludes.
Samoa is fearful that quarantine restrictions could force some players to make themselves unavailable for their World Cup campaign.
All of the players are amateurs and coach Ramsey Tomokino said if they had to spend a month in quarantine on top of the World Cup proper it could be a bridge too far.
“It would mean some players might have to leave their jobs or just say no because their employment is their livelihood, and that is the difference between the men’s and the women’s game, where we’re not full-time professional athletes.
“It would hit us pretty hard actually if that was the case.”
South Africa continues their two-and-a-half-month training at Stellenbosch ahead of the 2021 Rugby World Cup. The squad will be doubled from Sunday, 14 March, to Sunday, 28 March for scrimmages and other events.
Uganda has announced tentative dates for a 10s competition.
Premier 15s is back and Round 11 & 12 didn’t disappoint! It started with Exeter hosting Harlequins in a frigid and windy match where Exeter squeaked out a win 7-6.
Then in Round 12, Loughborough surprised the Harlequins 20-17 and Exeter continued their winning ways defeating Worcester 17-10.
The table finally has some movement in the middle with Exeter moving into 5th, Wasps at 4th, Loughborough in 3rd, Harlequins in 2nd and Saracens sitting on top. But now all of the teams are only separated by a few points so upcoming fixtures are crucial.
USA’s WPL has announced the 2021 XVs spring season has been postponed and they are now looking towards a possible partial season or the fall.
The Iberdrola and Honor B competitions continue in Spain. In the Iberdrola division, U.S. Sevilla CR sits on the top of the table but is chased by Comp. Cisernos and CR Majadahonda.
Honor B sees CR Sant Cugat on top with El Salvador RC and XV Hortaleza in the hunt.
Egypt have beaten Syria in the final of the first women’s Arab 7s 31-0. Participating teams included Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and UAE.
UAE, like Egypt, were returning to the field after a long absence (in their case just under 8 years), while relative newcomers Syria and Lebanon were continuing to build on their sevens debuts in 2018.
David Parsley of INews talked with Exeter Chiefs Chairman Tony Rowe about the mystery behind why women’s rugby doesn’t have a consistent broadcast partner. Parlesy and Rowe couldn’t help wondering…
…why more people are not able to watch. Premier 15s should be available on a major broadcaster, but not one is biting. They should. This is excellent rugby from players who work no less hard than their male counterparts. Harder in some ways as due to the lack of cash in the game – which is down to that lack of broadcaster interest and half-hearted RFU support – the vast majority of players have to balance a rugby career with jobs outside the game.
WRCRA shared a Q&A with Dr. Donna Duffy, Director of the Female BRAIN Project at the University of North Carolina. The focus of the Q&A is on how to reduce head injuries and create a plan for when head injuries occur, creating a “culture of care” with athletes.
Zimbabwe has spent lockdown to revamp their structures including mentoring programs where women will be included on men’s coaching staff and they are looking to introduce a Women’s Super Six League in 2021. This would include players coming under contract at a high performance center!
Spain has named their XVs women’s team of the decade after allowing fans to vote. Some big names on that list!
Ireland’s Beibhinn Parsons was named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year.
Retiring women’s Sevens player, Louise Galvin was awarded this year’s Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s 7’s Player of the Year. The Kerry native, called time on her career in October 2020, having played in 96 World Series games for her country, scoring 22 tries.
Leinster and UL Bohemians’ Fiona Coghlan will be inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.
#AsiaRugbyLive S3 Episode 2 #GiveRugbyaTRY Becoming a match official— Asia Rugby (@asiarugby) February 10, 2021
We speak to
Alhambra Nievas @WorldRugby Referee Talent Development Manager
Christabelle Lim @sgrugbyunion
Dilroy Fernando @SriLankaRugby_
Joining us on Thursday 11 February 2021 #AsiaRugby pic.twitter.com/wQwr2K1fQP