Letchworth Girls U18s are through to the finals of the RFUW National 10s for the second year running… but this year parents and supporters who could not get to watch last Sunday's qualifying tournament did not have to wait for their heros to get home before they knew the results. They just had to log-on to the internet to follow their daughter's or sister's campaigns online!
Regular match reports, information, and (for the first time) photographs were posted onto the team's award-winning "blog" live – by mobile phone - from the touchline from the moment the team arrive after their two hour journey north to the finish of the event six hours later. And this even became a two-way stream of information when congratulatory messages began to be posted almost as the girls came off the field.
The system was first trailed during the team's tour of Devon last season, but at that time only short text messages could appear. Now that pictures can also be posted its all the more exciting. There were a few teething problems, with the odd photo appearing sideways, but that's all part of the learning process. Apart from that the only limitation is the ability to take good photographs!
That the first use of the system this season was at the team's most exciting and high-profile triumph was a piece of good fortune. Letchworth finished runners-up in the East Midlands qualifier last season, before finishing 5th at the national finals. This year the regional qualifier included West Midlands clubs, which meant the legendary giants of the game Worcester, winners of five of the last six U18 National Cups, as well as last season's tens and sevens titles.
But when it comes to tens Letchworth have an excellent record of their own, a record that the organisers appeared to recognise when they timetabled the tournament to climax with the game between the two clubs – and both teams did indeed reach the final game unbeaten (and therefore already through to the national finals!).
Letchworth had started with a 17-5 win over Melbourne from Derbyshire, followed this up with a 10-7 victory over their great "local" midland rivals Kettering. With no rest they then took on Newbold from Warwickshire, where a 12-12 draw was snatched at the whistle.
With a 30 minute break the team prepared for what was now a crucial game against Old Leamingtonians, also (along with Worcester) unbeaten. A good start for Letchworth was followed by backs to the wall defence and a nail-biting 7-5 win… and certain qualification for the finals in Lichfield in two weeks time.
The final game against Worcester had an element of anti-climax for the tired girls from Letchworth – but they put in a good performance allowing the rampant West Midlanders to score only three tries, far better than any other opponent on the day.
· The Letchworth blog (http://letchworthgirls.blogspot.com) is one of the busiest sites devoted to girls' rugby anywhere, with a worldwide audience. Internet news provider Wikio (http://www.wikio.co.uk/) recently listed it as the 8th "most influential" rugby union blog in the UK, a survey that included services devoted to men's and international rugby, as well as sites managed by professional journalists and newspapers.
photos Janos Schmidt