Source: Mike Lee KLC Fotos

A hectic 8 May in the World of Rugby

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There was an astonishing amount of news from on and off the rugby field on one single day. Here is a cross-section in alphabetical order. You can decide your own order of importance.

Africa Cup

The Cup continues to delight and frustrate. Once more only four nations are taking part; we still await a meaningful enlargement. Within the four competing nations South Africa again look to be way ahead of the other three, Cameroon, Kenya and Madagascar.

On the plus side, the size and enthusiasm of the crowd in Antananarivo was a wonderful advertisement for the game in Africa.

Results to date:

South Africa 55 Cameroon 0; Madagascar 29 Kenya 22; South Africa 63 Kenya 5; Madagascar 12 Cameroon 5

Belgium has set up U16 and U18 squads.

This is the next sensible step towards reintroducing the national 15s to the European Championship. Amongst several initiatives, two Under 16 and Under 18 teams will meet the Netherlands in ’s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) on 1 June.

Five training sessions are taking place at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Brussels, ending on 29 May.

GB 7s

Meg Jones and Ellie Kildunne (England) are to join GB 7s. The relationship between the three unions, SRU, RFU and WRU, with the GB squad management is necessarily complicated. Each has its own set of priorities; all parties, players, coaching staffs and boards, need to be in agreement on every issue.

In the event, only these two Red Roses have opted to switch across for the Grand Final of the HSBC World Series (GB lie 8th) and the Paris Olympics. In theory the number might have been larger. We are left wondering whether other contracted Red Roses were not prepared to make the move or whether other arguments prevailed.

Now we await news of final selections. Any chance the new prospects might not make the cut? Hoho.

Ireland

IRFU’s ‘Women in Rugby’ Conference is confirmed for 8 September. When first announced back in March it seemed like a belated attempt by the Union to make up for its lack of support for the women’s game over recent times. An official statement reading: “The conference will examine the 30-year journey taken by some trailblazing women to get us where we are today” enhances that view.

The conference will include all manner of workshops and panel discussions on the women’s game as it is now and across the next 30 years. People from inside and beyond rugby will take part.

At the same time annual awards have been announced. The Energia AIL Women’s Player of the Season is the indefatigable Lindsay Peat of Railway Union.

Transatlantic Junior Quad series

First news comes of an imaginative new series involving Under 20 teams from Canada, England, USA and Wales. It will take place across 14-24 July in Cardiff. Like so many initiatives, the concern is about the relative strengths of the participants. (This week England U20s beat Wales U20s 45-5. Earlier England had lost to France 74-0). To that end, the series will take on a Festival air.

A similar meet-up in planned for the U18s, also in Cardiff, set for 20-28 July. Details to come.

Under 20s Six Nations

An inaugural and much anticipated 6N tournament at age-group level is announced for 4th, 9th and 14th July, to be held in Parma. To offset any discrepancies in experience at this level, up to three Under 23 players will be permitted in each squad.

LJ Lewis, England’s head coach, has outlined the difficulties she has had in arranging sufficient fixtures for her team. This initiative will be an important advance, not so much for England and France, but for the four other nations. Hence this cautious start.

All of this on one day!

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