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Worldwide news in brief

A wide ranging "In brief" this week, with stories from the Netherlands, Colombia, USA, Belgium and Italy

Glendale, US club champions for the second year.

Netherlands: Chris Lane leaves the sevens programme, and RUS are “Winter Champions”

The main headline news from the Netherlands last week was the departure of Chris Lane from Rugby Netherlands. A statement from the union said that following the Netherlands failure to qualify for the Olympics and the World Series, grant and sponsorship funding has been "substantially reduced" and the Dutch women's programme "will have to be restructured accordingly".

As a result the Union were forced to end Chris's contract and, after consultation, he left with immediate effect. The Union thanked Chris “for his great commitment and expertise in coaching, training and supervising the Ladies Sevens team and programme.”

Rugby Netherlands hope to have a replacement for Chris in place by January, and there are suggestions that the sevens programme might be run "in collaboration" with other programmes at Rugby Netherlands in the future.

Meanwhile the national fifteens championship has reached its midway point, and the “Winter Championship”, played for between the teams finishing top of the two first-phase pools. RUS from Utrecht took on AAC from Amsterdam over two legs for the “Winterkampioen Ereklasse”, and it was the team from university city who finished on top against the capital city club, narrowly winning both legs - 10-5 at home, and then 3-0 at De Eendracht (home of the Amsterdam 7s) last weekend.

Utrecht’s second club – Utrechtse – were also successful, beating Thor over two legs to finish third in the “Winter Championship”. Despite losing 13-12 at home last weekend, their 19-8 win in Delft – home of Thor – in the first leg was enough. Delft was more in luck with the fifth place playoff, with Delft Dames beating Tilburg 51-10 over two legs. Seventh place will be decided this weekend, but The Bassets look safe having won 78-7 against Diok last weekend.

The top six teams will move onto the third phase of the championship which begins on 29th November. Meanwhile the Bassets and Diok will have to compete for their places in the top division with the top four clubs from the lower league in the “promotion pool”.

Colombia and the positive effect of qualifying for Rio

We reported yesterday how South Africa's National Olympic Committee (SASCOC) had declinced South Africa's place in the Rio Olympics because they did not think they were a medal prospect.

The attitude of the SASCOC towards participation is in marked contrast to that of another continental qualifier, Colombia, who are under no illusions about their chances of winning a medal. However, despite being the outsider in Rio with a ranking well below that of South Africa, wing/fly half Estefanía Ramírez told the English-language Bogata Post this week that simply knowing that they are going to Rio has been an immense positive in itself, and is already proving to be a huge boost to the game.

"Rugby’s profile in the media and for the National Olympic Committee is now much higher” she said. “Qualification should serve to leverage the development of the sport here and get more people playing. Even when we lose by heavy margins, these games help us understand the level we are at and help us improve”

Although from the outside, expectations of Colombian success may not be high, Ramirez says that the team has an informal target of making the quarter-finals and that they are looking to test themselves as often as possible against international opposition in the run-up to the games. Olympic qualification paves the way for further development as the Colombian federation takes advantage of the many programmes afforded them by World Rugby. World Rugby’s Regional Manager for South America, Santiago Ramello, says the Colombian story is a good example of how a country can organise itself and improve its global standing with the help of international bodies.

“Particularly in Medellín, the Colombian Federation has been increasing the number of girls and boys playing recreationally as well as setting up structures to form domestic competitions so that those individuals who perform well can be identified for national selection. The speed at which this has happened has surprised everyone and now Colombia will be represented in a team sport at an Olympic Games for the first time outside of football. The long term aim is to leave a legacy that will let the sport grow in Colombia”.

World Rugby is now using Colombia as a case study in order to grow the game globally. Particular focus is being paid to improving the skills of the various administrations, helping to create a unique but formidable business strategy and assisting teams and individuals with subsidies so that they can play the game without financial concern.

Italy: Di Giandomenico calls his squad together

Italy have no Autumn international this year, but coach Andrea Di Giandomenico and his assistant Tito Cicciò brought together his squad for a three day training camp in Parma last weekend.

The squad was: Ilaria Arrighetti (Federazione Francese); Sara Barattin  (Rugby Casale Asd); Melissa Bettoni (Federazione Francese); Lucia Cammarano (Asd Rugby Monza 1949); Maria Grazia Cioffi (Caravaggio Benevento); Federica Cipolla (Umbria Rugby Ragazze; Arianna Corbucci (All Reds Rugby Roma); Elisa Cucchiella (Rugby Belve Nero Verdi); Michela Este (Benetton Treviso); Margherita Fineschi (Aeroporto Toscana I Medicei); Silvia Folli (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Manuela Furlan (Benetton Treviso); Lucia Gai (Rugby Riviera 1975); Gaia Giacomoli (Rugby Colorno); Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Essi Gladys Florence Homedje (Rugby Forli 1979); Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949); Veronica Madia (Rugby Colorno); Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza 1949); Diletta Nicoletti (Rimini Rugby); Elisa Pillotti (Rugby Parabiago); Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Valentina Ruzza (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Claudia Salvadego (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Michela Sillari (Rugby Colorno); Sofia Stefan (Federazione Francese); Beatrice Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova); Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova).

On Saturday they were also joined by some of the leading U20 players: Giulia Barbieri, Martina Sofo, Federica Violi (from Rugby Colorno), Elisa Bonaldo (from Rugby Calvisano) and Sara Tounesi (from Cremona Rugby).

United States: Glendale champions again

The Glendale Raptors won their second US Women's Premier League title in as many years on Sunday after 26-17 victory over Berkeley All Blues at Infinity Park, their home ground. Hannah Stolba scored 10 points from the boot in the victory, and also forced a penalty try, while Joanna Kitlinksi was awarded Most Valuable Player.

"The players have really developed over the course of the season," Glendale coach Jamie Burke said. "I've been able to watch them grow from the very first practice to this game, and to see them put together all of the things we've worked on – I'm really proud of them." All told, Glendale scored 70 points in defeats of New York and Berkeley over the weekend, and avenged the lone regular season loss to the All Blues in the most important match of the year. "Even though there are 23 people on the roster and 28 on the nationals roster," Burke said, "this team wouldn't be where it is without the 45 players that are at practice night after night, week after week, giving the starting side the competition to really get better."

Twin Cities Amazons, runners-up in 2014, finished third after a 24-12 win over New York. Full match reports are on the US Rugby website.

Belgium: Boitsfort top, but Luxembourg club makes the headlines

The Belgian league reaches its midpoint next weekend and since we last looked the competition, leaders Boitsfort have followed-up their win over second-placed Dendermonde in week four with a 24-0 win over third placed Leuven in week five, and then a 22-5 win away at fourth-placed Antwerp last weekend. Their lead over Dendermonde remains just two points after the “Gazelles” continued their record of picking up a bonus point in every game so far with a 29-8 win against bottom club Coq Mason. The rest of the league are now beginning to fall behind, with an eight point gap now opened up between Dendermonde and third placed Leuven.

However the result of the day came from Division 2. Not all of the clubs in the Belgian leagues are from Belgium, and Luxembourg’s Walferdange were the headline team of Week 6 with a 100-0 win over Schilde – an even more impressive win for the team running second given that Schilde were only two placed behind them at the start of the day.