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
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.
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.
Saturday 24 September
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.
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:
Wasps Ladies 3-39 Bristol Ladies
Saracens Women 57-0 DMP Sharks
Richmond Women 7-53 Lichfield Ladies
Worcester Valkyries 6-27 Aylesford Bulls Ladies
Lichfield 27-14 Saracens Women
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