A History of Women’s Rugby Union – Part 1

rugby ball

My new history series, to be published in four parts by WiSP Sports, delves into the story behind the development of women’s rugby union.  The  first part has just been published.  Here’s the link:


Women’s Sports Column 23-30 September

womens-sport-week-portrait-e1469449420244Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty of things to talk about again this week including stories from tennis, football, cricket, sailing and rugby.  The “And finally” this week is another good new story – and a call to action to all of you out there!


It’s been a big tennis week as the world’s top players are still fighting for the right to play in the WTA Finals tournament in Singapore.

On Sunday, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki beat Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-3 to claim the Pan Pacific Open title in Tokyo for the second time.

It was Osaka’s biggest game and she fought hard, especially in the second set when she came from 5-0 down to take it as far as 6-3.

The Wuhan Open began this week and we are now at the quarter-final stage.

Britain’s number one, Johanna Konta had been playing well up until this stage but she met an in-form Petra Kvitova on 29 September and was blown away.  Kvitova had already put paid to the top seed, Angelique Kerber, in the third round, 6-7 7-5 6-4.

Konta met Kvitova at exactly the wrong time and was well beaten, 6-3 6-4.

In the other quarter finals fourth seed Simona Halep beat eighth seed Madison Keys 6-4 6-2, ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat third seed Agnieszka Radwanska 1-6 7-6 6-4 and tenth seed Dominika Cibulkova beat the unseeded Barbora Strycova 6-3 3-6 6-4.

The semi-final line-up will be Kuznetsova v Cibulkova and Kvitova v Halep.

Britain’s number two, Heather Watson did not even make it through her first match as she was forced to pull out through illness.  She withdrew complaining of dizziness and a stomach bug.  She had already suffered with dizziness at the US Open.



Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI has announced that opening batter Smriti Mandhana will become only the second Indian player to be signed up for Australia’s Women’s Big Bash.  The 20- year old will play for Brisbane Heat.

“It feels great t be a part of Big Bash,” she is quoted as saying.

“I’ve always been looking forward to playing in that tournament. And getting this opportunity to participate at such a young age and getting to gain good experience from it, will help me immensely in the future.

“I’m very fortunate to have been signed with them.”

In other cricket news, Charlotte Edwards has been awarded the Cricket Writers’ Club Women’s Cricket Award at the club’s 70th anniversary ceremony.

This is the first time the women’s prize has been awarded.  Yes, you read correctly – the first time in 70 years.  To put it into context, the first CWC Young Player of the Year Award (this year won by Ben Duckett) was first awarded in 1950……..

The judging panel was chaired by the BBC’s Alison Mitchell.

“Charlotte Edwards has spent much of her career breaking new ground so she is a highly appropriate first winner,” she saidl.

At the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) Awards, Tammy Beaumont was named Women’s Player of the Summer.  Her aggregate of 342 runs was a record for a three-match series.  She followed this with 142 runs in the T20 series and played in the Kent team that won both the Royal London County Championship and the Natwest T20 competition.


Sailing with Abby Ehler

Big news in high performance sailing: For the first time in the 11 year history of the Extreme Sailing Series™, Sharon Ferris-Choat will lead an all-female team at the penultimate event of the year in Lisbon next weekend. The new team are sure to attract plenty of attention with a Thalassa Magenta Racing crew roster that includes some of the world’s most successful female sailors. The race crew will be selected from a star-studded line-up including ocean racers Dee Caffari (GBR), Elodie Mettraux (SUI) and Abby Ehler (GBR); Olympians Sally Barkow (USA), Annie Lush (GBR) and Gemma Jones (NZL); Olympic Silver medalist Annemieke Bes (NED), Nacra 17 World Silver medallist Hannah Diamond (GBR) and 420 World and European champion Annabel Vose (GBR).

Ferris-Choat commented:

“To be the first all-female crew in the Extreme Sailing Series is a proud moment for all the women in our GC32 Squad. We have so many women wanting to compete at an elite level of sailing – there is a absolute need to create this opportunity.”

The event can be followed here: http://www.extremesailingseries.com



Manchester City were crowned champions of FAWSL1 on Sunday after beating Chelsea 2-0 at the Academy Stadium.  They only needed one point to win the title with a game still to go, but they did it in style with a fine win over a lacklustre Chelsea side.

Manchester City Women 2-0 Chelsea Ladies

The first goal came from a Jill Scott header deflected into her own goal by Katie Chapman.  The points, and championship, were sealed five minutes after half-time through a Toni Duggan penalty.  And although the goals sound as if a bit of luck was involved, in truth City were much the better side.

A fantastic crowd of just over 4,000 were there to witness City crowned champions for the first time.

Saturday 24 September

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-4 Reading FC Women

Another week, another loss for the Belles as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table and yet to take a point.

Reading were also looking for their first win of the season.  The visitors were two up at half-time through as Emma Follis scored in the ninth minute and defender Nia Jones bagged a second in the 37th.  When Emily Simpkins pulled one back for Belles just after the break, there was still everything to play for.

However, a second for Follis and a fourth for the team from Rachel Rowe secured the points for Reading and saw them jump up the table and out of the relegation zone.


Sunday 25 September

 Birmingham City Ladies 2-1 Liverpool

 Birmingham will need all the confidence boosting they can get if they are to overcome Manchester City in the Continental Tyres Cup Final this weekend.  The win over Liverpool on Sunday was a perfect warm-up.

Corina Schroder scored the first on her Birmingham debut on 50 minutes.  Liverpool levelled it with a Katie Zelem penalty, but Birmingham were not to be outdone and in the 70th minute defender Kerys Harrop scored the winner that takes the Blues to fourth in the table.

Notts County Ladies 2-1 Sunderland AFC ladies

The Lady Pies had to come from behind at home to beat Sunderland on Sunday.  The visitors took the lead in injury time of the first half through Victoria Williams.

But County regrouped and came out refreshed in the second-half.  A header from Rachel Williams levelled the score and Jess Clarke, again with a header, scored a second on 68 minutes to seal the win for County.

Off the pitch pioneering football journalist and broadcaster, Jacqui Oatley was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Wolverhampton this week.

She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree for her contribution to sports broadcasting and for promoting opportunity for women.


Rugby Union

Worcester Valkyries 10 -60 Bristol Ladies.

Bristol is still the team to beat in the Premiership as they made it three from three with a thumping win over Worcester Valkyries at Sixways on Sunday.  They ran in nine tries, taking the bonus point on the way.

Other scores

Saracens Women 34-14 Richmond Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 45-5 DMP Sharks

Wasps Ladies 26-33 Lichfield Ladies

For more information on the above matches, please see my weekend round up for Women’s Sports UK.  


And finally, October 3-10 is Women’s Sports Week (I know, we think every week should be women’s sports week). 

The initiative, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Women in Sport.

Next week, individuals, teams, clubs, companies and organisations all over Britain will be going all-out to promote women’s sport.

Obviously I’ll be there to stick my oar in – probably more than once.  Watch out for my “pithy” comments on Twitter @PennyHopkins3 and articles on my website.

The BBC is contributing with Body Talk, as they describe it, “an intimate and interactive discussion on body image issues for women in and around sport.”

Those taking part include Hannah Cockcroft, So Solid Crew’s [sorry lost me there) Lisa Maffia, Joanna Rowsell Shand, boxer Natasha Jones, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and many more.

The event takes place in Liverpool on 6 October at 2pm and will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport and BBC Radio 1Xtra websites.

If this isn’t for you, can I suggest you read about, watch, talk about and generally big-up women’s sport next week with as many people as possible.  We are getting there, but it’s very, very slow.  The more people who realise that a woman on a pitch, on the touchline, in the press box or the boardroom is not only “normal”, but admirable, the better.  Let’s do it!  Let’s shout about it!

Women’s Sports Column 17-23 September


Welcome to this week’s column.  There’s so much going on, I don’t know where to start.  With the demise of the domestic cricket season comes the new rugby season.  And so, without further ado, let’s tell you what’s coming up; stories from the Paralympics, golf, football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, plus a good-news “And finally” from netball.


It was such a brilliant event; so many remarkable performances and stories.  As I said last week, I just haven’t got the space to devote to it all, but one person I didn’t mention last week I’m going o mention this week.  She hadn’t finished when last week’s column came out – turns out she still had a medal to win.  So my last mention goes to Dame Sarah Storey.  I met her a few months ago at an event and even from this brief conversation and from the event itself I could see just how amazingly driven she is.

She won three gold medals at Rio to take her tally to 14 and has not ruled out competing at Tokyo in 2020.  Even more incredible when you realise she originally competed in the pool in four Paralympics 1992-2004.  At Rio she won two road races, the C5 time trial and the C4-5 road race and on the track she took gold in the C5 3,000m individual pursuit.

I certainly wouldn’t bet against her appearing in Tokyo!


The Evian Championship was won this week with a record low total of -21.  Gee Chun of South Korea beat the previous record by two shots, winning the title by four.  Her compatriots So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park tied for second on -17.

Top British finisher was Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who finished tied twelfth on -5.


This week saw the last round of qualifying fixtures for next year’s Euros.  There were mixed results for the home nations, with the two that had already qualified, England and Scotland, recording impressive wins, while Wales ended with a creditable draw and Northern Ireland were beaten.

20 September 2016

Belgium 0-2 England


England showed a good deal of patience in their final match on Tuesday.  The game took the opposite path to the previous fixture against Estonia.

The first half was poor with few chances for either side.  England needed a draw to finish top of the group, and, at times, it looked as if they would be happy to settle for this.

But in the second half, they came out with renewed vigour.  Whether manager Mark Sampson had decided that the Belgians were there for the taking, it isn’t clear, but it did seem that England had been given the green light to go forward.

Karen Carney, who had a much better game than she had against Estonia, delivered a pinpoint cross to Nikita Parris, who duly obliged with an accurate downward header to score the first goal.

After this there was only going to be one winner with Carney running midfield with renewed confidence.  She scored the second herself with a deflected shot, which wrong-footed the Belgian goalkeeper and the victory was sealed.

It has been announced that England will play France in a friendly in October as part of the build-up to the Euros next year.

It will be played at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster on 21 October.

France will be one of England’s principal rivals for the European title in 2017.  They are currently third in the Fifa rankings.

Iceland 1 -2 Scotland

Scotland cemented their second-place qualifying position with an impressive away win over group winners, Iceland.

The Scots took the lead through a Jane Ross header, but Iceland equalised before half-time through Fanndis Fridriksdottir.

Ross scored her second, and her tenth of the qualifying tournament, from the penalty spot in the second half to give Scotland the win and took them to 21 points.

Iceland still topped the group, also on 21 points, only courtesy of their 4-0 win over Scotland in the reverse fixture.


Not such good news for Scotland’s Under 19s who were unable to field a team to face Serbia in Albania in their European Championship qualifier this week.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) claimed an “outbreak of acute gastroenteritis” affected nine players and eight staff.

The statement on the SFA website continued,

“This was flagged to UEFA via the match delegate on the day of the match and contact was subsequently made with the Albanian FA to verify the developing illness.

“A visit was made by a local doctor near the match venue in Durres and upon submitting his findings, the game was postponed.”

However, since then UEFA has announced it has begun disciplinary proceedings against the SFA, for its alleged “refusal to play”.

To add to the SFA’s woes, the Scottish Daily Record has run a story about Serbian reports that the players were actually too hungover to play.  The Serbia piece asserted that,

“The evening before the match the players were celebrating and drinking alcohol, and failed to sober up for the beginning of the match with Serbia”.

The SFA has strenuously denied these reports and is waiting for the outcome of the UEFA investigation.

Wales 0-0 Austria


 Wales finished their campaign strongly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, with a creditable draw with second-placed finishing Austria in Newport.

Jess Fishlock and Tash Harding both had chances in the first half, but could not make them count.

Austria improved in the second-half, but the game ended in stalemate.

Switzerland 4-0 Northern Ireland


Switzerland never looked in trouble against a depleted Irish side.   They were 2-0 up at the break though goals from Vanessa Bernauer and Rahel Kiwic.

Bernauer scored her second after half-time with Rachel Rinast making it 4-0 to the hosts.

Switzerland finish top of group 6 with a 100% record.  Northern Ireland finished fourth with seven points from eight games.

The draw for the group stage of the finals of the Euros in 2017 will take place in Rotterdam on 8 November.


Off the field, two contrasting reports appeared this week regarding the support (or otherwise) of women’s football in Britain.

On the positive side, energy company SSE has signed a deal to become the official partner of Scotland’s women’s national team and to sponsor the Scottish Women’s Cup.

This is continuing its recent forays into the backing of women’s sport, which began with its sponsorship of the English Women’s FA Cup.

The figures have not been released, but the deal will be in place for four years.  It means that for the first time there will be prize money at stake for the Scottish Women’s Cup final.


In another article, the Daily Mirror reported this week that just £14m of the £1.7bn earned by football TV deals goes towards the development of women’s football – that’s 83p out of every £100.

Young girls, especially are being let down, with the closure of the centres of excellence all over the country to be replaced by 34 regional talent clubs.

I think we all know that however much is paid in lip service by the FA, the girls’ and women’s game will always be the poor relation.  Good to see the issue raised in a red top.   A one-off piece isn’t enough, though.  If you’re involved in football, or have a daughter who would like to play, this will affect you.  Make sure you make your views known to the FA.


And finally in football, Eniola Aluko has signed a new contract with Chelsea.  Although the length of the deal has not been revealed, Aluko is obviously Chelsea through and through, after re-signing from Birmingham for her second spell in 2012.


Good news for West Indies women’s cricket this week.  The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has announced that those on retainer contracts will receive much better packages from October, including an increase in their retainers, sponsorship payments, match fees and captains’ allowances.

Currently there are 11 women on retainers and this will be increased to 15.

CEO of the WICB, Michael Muirhead said that the new packages would

“Serve as an additional incentive for the current set of women” and would also “serve as a drawing card to more women to be attracted to cricket.”


The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the England side to tour West Indies in October.  The squad of 15 contains two players uncapped in 50-overs internationals – left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone and right-arm seamer, Beth Langston, both of whom have already been capped at T20 level.

England are still looking to secure automatic qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup, which takes place in England in 2017.  At the moment they lie third, one point behind West Indies, with four teams qualifying automatically.  They still have two rounds of qualification to go; the last three ODIs in this West Indies tour and then in November, they play three more ODIs in Sri Lanka.

Australia have just become the first country to qualify automatically with a series win over Sri Lanka.

The full squad of 15:

Heather Knight (capt), Anya Shrubsole, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alexandra Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.

West Indies tour fixtures:

Trelawny Stadium, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Saturday 8 October

Monday 10 October

Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

Friday 14 October

Sunday 16 October

Wednesday 19 October

Rugby League

 It was announced this week that the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup will be held alongside the men’s tournament for the first time.

The final for the men’s and women’s games will be played back-to-back on 2 December in Brisbane.

So far, title holders Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have already qualified.

One from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands will still qualify from the Pacific qualifying series, which takes place in October.

Rugby Union

The final round of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series takes place this weekend in Malemort, France.  Expect all the results and details next week, but there are a few salient points to note regarding the Great Britain Lions (England) squad.

Three of those who took part in the Rio Olympics Sevens tournament return: Abby Brown, Katy McLean and captain Amy Wilson Hardy.

The squad also includes a number of new players including Lotte Clapp, Lauren Cattell and Katie Mason, who all played in the 2016 Six Nations.

The remainder of the squad is Lucy Nye, Deborah Fleming, Kelly Smith, Millie Wood, Rachel Woosey and Natasha Brennan.

Pool Games

Saturday 24 September

Pool C

GB  Lions v Belgium KO 10.00am

GB Lions v Italy KO 12.45pm

GB Lions v Ireland KO 3.52pm

The Great Britain Royals (Wales) play in Pool B.

Their squad is Elinor Snowsill (Capt), Sian Williams, Dyddgu Howell, Rhi Parker, Shona Powell Hughes, Jess Kavanagh-Williams, Elen Evans, Keira Bevan, Gemma Rowland, Sinead Breeze, Hannah Jones, Alisha Butchers.

Pool B

GB Royals v Portugal KO 12.06pm

GB Royals v Ukraine KO 2.51pm

GB Royals v Russia KO 3.52pm

A live stream of all matches is available at www.rugbyeurope.tv


The new domestic Premiership season in England started on 10 September.  Each team has now played two matches and at the moment it is Bristol Ladies who lead the way.

Results so far:

10 September

Wasps Ladies 3-39 Bristol Ladies

11 September

Saracens Women 57-0 DMP Sharks

Richmond Women 7-53 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 6-27 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

17 September

Lichfield 27-14 Saracens Women

18 September

Richmond Women 15-31 Worcester Valkyries

DMP Sharks 43-19 Wasps Ladies

Bristol Ladies 42-3 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

The third round of matches takes place this weekend beginning with leaders Bristol taking on the Valkyries at Worcester on Saturday.

I’ll be writing up a regular review of the weekend’s Premiership matches for www.womenssportsuk.com, so I’ll provide a link for that in future columns.

And finally, England Netball has just announced a final batch of tickets has been released for the England v Jamaica game at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on 4 December 2016.  The other two games in the series, in London and Manchester, have sold out, so if you want to see the Roses in action, buy your tickets now!  What great times these are for netball worldwide!!  tickets.sky.com/seats/England-v-Jamaica-4-December

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 September

img-20160915-006702Welcome to this week’s column.  Summer may be slipping away from us here in Britain, but there’s still plenty to look forward to in the world of women’s sport.

This week brings stories from the Paralympics, tennis, athletics, cricket, football, rugby union and a sailing update from Abby Ehler.


 Where to start?  As with the Olympics, there is so much to love, admire or indeed boggle at, that I can only cover a fraction.  So here are a few of my highlights from the last week:

Hannah Cockcroft

One of my sporting heroes, without doubt.  In Rio she has won gold in T34 400m with a world record and 100m.   And she’s still only 24!

Kadeena Cox

Wow, what a story!  To win gold in one Paralympic sport is amazing, but two in different sports?  On 10 September she took gold in the track cycling – the C4-5 time trial (and in a world record time) and then on 14 September she struck gold again, this time in the T38 400m (also a new world record).  Oh, and she also won a bronze in the T38 100m.

I know one shouldn’t refer it back to a person’s medical history and no-one should be labelled, but how can you not be amazed by this woman?  She’s 25 and suffered a stroke in 2014, leading to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  She’s brilliant.


I love canoeing in all forms and Britain has done very well in this Paralympics.  Three golds in a day on 15 September with Jeanette Chippington winning the K1 200m KL1 title, 28 years after her first medal, a silver in the 100m backstroke L4 in Seoul in 1988.  Then Emma Wiggs blew the field away to take the k1 200m KL2 gold.  Thirdly Anne Dickens won gold in the KL3 200m final.  That was three golds in about half an hour!


Numerous medals in swimming.  Seven golds and six silvers.  Bethany Firth took two golds and a silver, Hannah Russell, Steph Millward, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rodgers, Ellie Robinson (just 15) all took golds with Claire Cashmore, Jessica-Jane Appleton, Rebecca Redfern, Steph Slater and Harriet Lee took silvers.

I’m sorry I’ve just concentrated on gold medals and silvers; every competitor has a story, a performance to be proud of and a unique experience.  Without descending into the mawkish, it’s exciting, awe-inspiring and moving.


Germany’s Angelique Kerber went to world number one in the rankings this week when Serena Williams was knocked out of the US Open in the semi finals.  She then went on to win the title, beating the Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3 4-6 6-4.

Kerber had already won the Australian Open in January and was runner-up at Wimbledon, but Pliskova was in a rich vein of form, having beaten Williams in the semi in straight sets 6-2 7-6.

Kerber was not to be denied though, becoming the first German to win the US Open since Steffi Graf in 1996.

The women’s doubles title was taken by twelfth seeds Bethany Mattek-Sands (US) and Lucie Safarova (CZ).  They beat the top seeded French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 2-6 7-6 6-4.

In other tennis news, the result of Maria Sharapova’s appeal against her two-year doping ban will be revealed in the first week of October.

Sharapova was banned by the ITF after testing positive for the banned substance, Meldonium, at the 2016 Australian Open.  She had been taking the drug since 2006, but it has only been listed as a banned substance since January this year.


In athletics, the testing and re-testing of samples from the 2008 Olympics is still causing many medals to be re-awarded.  The latest is set to go to British javelin thrower, Goldie Sayers.  The silver medallist, Russia’s Maria Abakumova, will be disqualified after her re-test showed positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol.  Sayers, who finished fourth, will now receive a bronze medal.

Sayers has long been a critic of doping in athletics, particularly the systematic state-sponsored scheme employed by Russia.  In May 2016 she said she had considered withdrawing from the Rio games if Russian athletes were allowed to compete.


In cricket, the ECB has announced that England’s women will complete their busy year with a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in November.  The three games will take place at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on Saturday 12, Tuesday 15 and Thursday 17 November.

It will be England’s last series in the ICC Women’s Championship, the qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Cup, which will be held in England.

At the moment England is placed in third on 19 points.  Sri Lanka lies eighth.

Before the series takes place, England will have a six-day training camp in Abu Dhabi from 1-7 November.


England 5-0 Estonia

Carter (3), Scott, J, Carney (pen)

Meadow Lane, Nottingham

Attendance 7,052.

I was at Meadow Lane on 15 September for England’s latest qualifier.  England have already qualified for next year’s Euros, but Mark Sampson is obviously keen to send a signal to the other top teams in Europe that England will be a force to contend with next year.

The first half-hour was excellent from England.  They came out quickly and never gave Estonia a chance to gain a toe-hold, let alone a foot-hold.  There were some lovely passing moves, close control was good, as was communication.

They were 3-0 up at half time with two goals from Danielle Carter and a Jill Scott header.

Towards the end of the first half focus slipped.  Sampson will be aware that better sides would have taken advantage of this and when they came out in the second they had regained concentration.

However, the game was disrupted in the second-half with substitutions and England found it harder to put moves together.  There were too much convoluted play, and although they had plenty of chances, there was never going to be the hatful of goals that the first half promised.

They did score two though, with Carter claiming her hat-trick and Karen Carney calmly slotting home a penalty for the fifth for a comprehensive win.

Poor Siobhan Chamberlain was reduced to running on the spot to get warm.

Quite rightly, Carter was Player of the Match; her record stands at two caps, two hat-tricks, but my other stand-out player was Gemma Davison.  She flew down the right wing in the first half; her markers hadn’t got a clue how to deal with her.  With fifteen minutes to go until half-time, she had obviously had so much fun on the right that she swapped wings with Demi Stokes to cause mayhem on the left.  Truly the best half of football I have seen from Davison.

Wales 3-0 Israel

Ward (2), Estcourt


Wales put in an impressive display to beat Israel.  Wales record scorer, Helen Ward, scored two with Charlie Estcourt adding a third in the second half.  Jess Fishlock also missed a penalty.

Although Wales are third in Pool H, they cannot qualify for next year’s finals.

Sad news from football this week as it was announced that Sylvia Gore, the scorer of the first official goal for the England’s women team, has died from cancer at the age of 71.

In 1972 she scored England’s first goal in a 3-2 win against Scotland in Greenock.

Gore had a career in football that spanned over 60 years.  As a player she once scored 134 goals in a season.  After her playing career ended, she went on to become Wales manager.  She was also an FA Women’s committee member for 20 years.  Earlier this year she was unveiled as a Manchester City Women’s FC Club Ambassador.

Rugby Union

England Rugby has announced the Elite Player Squad for 2016/17 season.  As reported in an earlier column, this will be the first time England has awarded 15-a-side professional contracts.

The 54 names are split into full-time, part-time, short-term and non-contracted players.  38 contracts have so far been awarded.

The move is with the Women’s Rugby World Cup in mind, which takes place in Ireland in August 2017, where England will be looking to retain their title.

Full time contracts – 18
Claire Allan (Saracens)
Abbie Brown (Bristol)
Rachael Burford (n/a)
Amy Cokayne (Lichfield)
Heather Fisher (n/a)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Megan Jones (Bristol)
Alex Matthews (Richmond)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol)

Part time – 9
Natasha Brennan (n/a)
Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
Lotte Clapp (Saracens)
Deborah Fleming (Saracens)
Katie Mason (Bristol)
Fran Matthews (Richmond)
Kelly Smith (Worcester Valkyries)
Millie Wood (Lichfield)
Rachael Woosey (Darlington Mowden Park)

Short Term – 11
Emily Braund (Lichfield)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries)
Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls)
Sarah Hunter (Bristol)
Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries)
LaToya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park)
Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)

Non Contracted – 16
Sasha Acheson (Bristol)
Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park)
Sarah Bern (Bristol)
Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Cleall (Bristol)
Emma Croker (Richmond)
Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)
Abby Dow (Wasps)
Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park)
Ceri Large (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Leitch (Bristol)
Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls)
Alice Richardson (n/a)
Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls)
Joanne Watmore (n/a)

England’s upcoming fixtures:

 Old Mutual Wealth Series:

England v France, Wednesday 9 November,The Twickenham Stoop 7.30pm

England v New Zealand, Saturday 19 November, The Twickenham Stoop 12pm

England v Canada, Saturday 26 November,Twickenham 5.05pm
Free entry after the men’s game

Also one-off:

Ireland v England, Sunday 13 November,University College Dublin 2pm

Sailing news from Abby Ehler

Paralympics from the British side: Helena Lucas, who became Britain’s first Paralympic sailing champion winning gold at London 2012 sailing the 2.4mR, 1-person keelboat is defending her Gold medal and currently leading the fleet, with more racing scheduled over the next few days, weather permitting.  In the 3-person Keelboat, Hannah Stodel and her team mates who have been together for 4 consecutive Games are currently placed 5th in the fleet with 5 races to go and all to play for.

In the single handed offshore racing circuit, Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Sophie Faguet (FRA) are 150 miles from their finish, having been at sea since September 10th up against gruelling conditions as they race from the Azores to France in the 15-strong fleet. The teams are expected into Douarnenez, near Brest this weekend.  Justine is currently lying in a respectable 7th place, neck and neck with 3 other competitors, so it will be a nail biting finish for the leading pack.