Queens of Herts

PUBLISHED: 10:56 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

The team

The team

The girls sevens tournament at Letchworth Garden City was a huge success with eight hours of quality rugby on Sunday. The second Hertfordshire Sevens saw nearly 300 girls from across East Anglia and the East Midlands at Baldock Road and included the firs

The girls' sevens tournament at Letchworth Garden City was a huge success with eight hours of quality rugby on Sunday.

The second Hertfordshire Sevens saw nearly 300 girls from across East Anglia and the East Midlands at Baldock Road and included the first visit of Anglia TV cameras to the club for years.

With teams travelling from as far away as Norwich and Nottingham, it was one of the biggest girls' rugby tournaments in the country.

The eventual winners of the two main cup competitions were Welwyn (under-14s) and Basildon (under-17s).

Hertford, featuring girls from Stevenage, were runners-up in the latter for the second year running.

Saracens performed well beyond expectations in the former but could not prevent unstoppable Welwyn from adding more silverware to their collection.

The home teams had a mixed day. The under-17 team reached the semi-finals of the cup without conceding a try but tired legs were their undoing against a strong and more experienced Hertford side.

A combined Letchworth B and Saracens under-17 team performed well but eventually finished third in the shield.

It was left to the under-14s to ensure that at least some Letchworth girls went home with medals when they snatched runners-up spot in the bowl competition.

Captain Nikki Alcock led her team onto the field for the 50th and last time.

The scrum-half only started playing the game in September 2004 but since then has only missed one match weekend (owing to illness).

In just under two years, Nikki has appeared in at least six festivals and has also turned out for North Herts, Hertfordshire and the East Region.

Next year presents a whole new challenge for Nikki as she moves up to the under-17 team where she will be competing for the number nine jersey against a familiar face - her sister Katie!

This season still is not over yet for Letchworth's girls.

The under-17s now have a week off but they - and Welwyn - go to Harpenden on May 29 for the national sevens where they will take on the best in the country.

* Letchworth's girls' rugby section have been awarded a grant of £2,650 from the Local Network Fund to help them continue to develop and expand opportunities for girls' rugby in the area.

The Local Network Fund is an initiative resulting from the Government's Every Child Matters strategy which aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people.

It is run locally by the Hertfordshire Community Foundation.

Girls' sport is one of the main areas targeted by the fund.

John Birch, manager of the girls' section at Letchworth, said: "These girls are trail-blazers.

"When it comes to boys, many of their dads will have played but few girls will have mums who played the game. That requires a different approach and higher levels of investment and support.

"At least a third of all girls who have sampled rugby at Letchworth over the past couple of years have gone on to play for the club."

Birch added: "If we can establish girls' rugby in a fairly small town like Letchworth, then so can any other club in any other town.

"The players are out there and so is the funding. Clubs without girls' rugby sections really do not know what they are missing!"

Girls' rugby at Letchworth was launched in September 2004 and followed taking over the management of the district's girls' tag team at the Herts Youth Games the previous spring.

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