Welcome to this week’s column. Yet again there’s a lot to get through, so here we go. This week’s stories come from hockey, tennis, football, rugby, sevens, boxing, netball, cricket, cycling and to match last week’s Action Woman shortlist, this week we look at the women shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. This week’s “And finally” comes from tennis, and the ever-inspirational Serena Williams.
I am the first to admit that I do not follow hockey with any diligence. Consequently it appears only rarely in the column. This didn’t stop me getting practically hysterical during the Olympic final, but I do realise that I should do more for this under-reported sport.
This is a shout-out to Martin, who regularly reminds me of my lack of hockey knowledge and coverage.
On 26 November Surbiton Ladies beat second-placed Holcome 4-1 which meant they are unbeaten in 50 Premier League matches.
Surbiton’s last defeat was at home to Leicester in February 2014.
Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup
The World Cup takes place between 24 November and 4 December in Santiago, Chile. Sixteen countries are involved, including England.
We are now at the semi-final stage. England lost in the quarter-finals to Spain. The quarter-final results were as follows:
Netherlands 5-0 Germany
Spain 5-3 England
Spain’s goals came from Garcia, Iglesias (2), Amundson, Serrahima
England’s goals came through Sanders, Crowson (2)
Argentina 2-0 USA
Australia 7-2 Belgium
The semi-finals are to be played on 2 December with the final on Sunday 4 December.
And don’t forget, the full Women’s World Cup will be held in London from 7-21 July, 2018. Tickets go on sale in 2017, so keep an eye out for that.
Netherlands 0-1 England
Tilburg 29 November 2016
England’s unbeaten run now stands at 10 matches with this friendly win in Tilburg.
The first-half was tight but produced few chances.
The second-half saw an England improvement and the match was decided by a Jodie Taylor lob with 15 minutes to go.
Under 20s Women’s World Cup
North Korea 2-1 USA
(after extra time)
Japan 1-2 France
(after extra time)
The final will take place on 3 December.
The three-match test series between the England Roses and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls is underway.
Copper Box Arena London
According to reports, Tracy Neville was furious with this England performance and they will need to improve in the next two to get anything at all from the series.
England were 16-12 up after the first quarter, but by half-time they were down 31-27. After the half-time break Jamaica seemed t o go up a gear and stretched away to take the game.
The second game is at Belle Vue in Manchester on Friday 2 December, with the third on Sunday 4 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. I’ll be there for the third game, so look out for a more detailed report next week.
The big news from last weekend’s matches is the first defeat of the season for Bristol as they were thumped by Aylesford Bulls, but second placed Lichfield also slip up and miss out on the chance to close the gap.
26 November 2016
Saracens Women 27-0 Lichfield Ladies
Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women
27 November 2016
Aylesford bulls Ladies 51-5 Bristol Ladies
Wasps Ladies 34-22 DMP Sharks Ladies
For a more in-depth report, please see my latest for Women’s Sports UK.
The Dubai Sevens took place on 1-2 December
England reached the semi-finals. They won their first match 31-7 against Spain and the second against Brazil, 28-7. In the third, Canada took the honours 24-12.
In the quarter-finals they faced Fiji, producing and excellent display to win 19-17. England scored first through a Fisher try which was not converted by Watmore. Tinai made it 5-5 but was unable to add the extras. In the second half Fiji took the lead with a try from A M Roqica, but the conversion was missed. Nagasau made it 15-5 in the 12th minute and this was converted by Tinai. But England were not to be outdone. Tries from Richardson and Watmore and two conversions took the score to 19-17 and a semi-final against favourites, Australia.
Australia took the semi-final 31-10. Two minutes in England were behind through a try from Caslick, which was converted by Dalton. Brown struck back for England, but Richardson was unable to convert. Then Tonegato scored for Australia, but Cherry missed the conversion and at half-time it was 5-12 to Australia. Straight after the break the Aussies scored again, this time through Penitani. The conversion was missed, but not long after Penitani scored her second try, this time complete with the extra two points from Cherry and the score was 5-24. England’s fate was sealed when Brennan went in again, although the conversion was missed. England had the last word with a try from Murphy, converted by Dalton to take the final score to 10-31.
In the Bronze Final England faced Russia. Russia won 17-14 to take third place. Zdrokova began the scoring in the second minute with a try, but Kudinova couldn’t convert. Zdrokova went over for her second just before half-time, again unconverted to take the score to 10-0 to Russia at the break. In the second-half Brennan scored a try for England which was converted by Richardson. Then Russia scored again, this time through Mikhaltsova, converted by Kudiniova. England managed one more try from Fleming, converted by Cattell, but the game was gone.
Ireland lost their first game 27-5 to New Zealand and their second, 24-14 to France. They came back with an excellent 17-17 draw against Fiji.
They played USA in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, winning it 28-5.
And they won the final 14-12 against Spain. Spain took the lead in the final with a try from Garcia which she also converted. They went 12-0 up in the seventh minute through Casado, but Garcia missed the extras. The second-half was a different matter as Ireland fought hard to get back into it. Williams scored a try two minutes in, which was converted by Mulhall. Then Mulhall went over for Ireland’s second to level it at 12-12 and then she put over the conversion to put them in the lead, and to secure the Challenge Trophy.
Dubai Women’s Sevens Final
New Zealand 17-5 Australia
New Zealand came out on top in the gold medal match in Dubai.
New Zealand took the lead with a try from Woodman after two minutes. Nathan-Wong missed the conversion. Just one minute later Cordero-Tufuga went over again, but again it went unconverted. Australia came back into with a try through Cherry but Sykes missed the conversion. But New Zealand were not finished and a second from Cordero-Tufuga, this time converted by Nathan-Wong saw New Zealand take the title 17-5.
Round Two of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be in Sydney on 3-4 February 2017.
Katie Taylor’s professional career got off to a perfect start on Saturday when she stopped her Polish opponent, Karina Kopinska in the third round.
Her second bout will be against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf on 10 December in Manchester. Obenauf has only suffered one defeat in ten contests and should provide a much stiffer test for Taylor.
Anne Keothavong has been appointed GB Fed Cup captain and senior national women’s coach.
She takes over from Judy Murray as Fed Cup captain.
GB begins its Fed Cup campaign in Estonia in February 2017.
In a surprise move, Johanna Konta has split with her coach of two years, Esteban Carill.
2016 has been Konta’s breakthrough year, a year in which she won her first WTA Tour title at Stanford and reached a career-high world ranking of ten.
The big cricket news this week is undoubtedly the announcement that former England captain, Charlotte Edwards, is to leave Kent.
In a press release issued by Kent CCC Edwards is quoted,
“I would like to thank everyone at Kent County Cricket Club for all their support over the past 18 years. I’m immensely proud to have played for the county and what the team has achieved within that time.
“Kent is very much seen as one of the leading counties within the women’s game due to it consistently producing players to the England Pathway.
“It’s been a really tough decision to leave Kent but ultimately I feel it’s the right decision for me and more importantly the current team. Having won the double in 2016 I feel this is a fitting end to my time as a Kent cricketer.”
Edwards joined Kent in 2000 and with them has won seven County Championships.
Her personal record speaks for itself. In her Kent career she played 136 matches and scored 6,164 runs at an average of 61.64. She made 40 half-centuries and 14 centuries.
She also took 124 wickets at an average of 17.51 and claimed 81 catches.
Edwards will, undoubtedly, stay in cricket and it remains to be seen just what her next move will be.
Bad news this week from Dame Sarah Storey. You may remember that it was only in June that I attended the launch of Storey’s all-women Podium Ambition team at Café Ventoux in Leicestershire.
It was expected that the café would be the base for the 2017 season, but after just one season the team has had to disband due to lack of sponsorship funding. In an interview with The Mixed Zone Storey says,
“We have been unable to secure sufficient cash input to remain a UCI-registered team. We spent the last 12 months searching for a title sponsor to start with us from 2017, but despite many brands being interested, there was nothing concrete in place in time for the deadline to register the team again.
“Barney and I spent 2016 covering the lion’s share of the budget ourselves and without that money in our savings now, we don’t have a back-up. The cost of running even a small UCI team is significant and we weren’t going to continue struggling.”
It is well worth reading the whole article, so here’s the link.
The news is unbelievably disappointing. At the launch there was a good deal of optimism and good will. Chris Boardman was there with his bikes and the team looked good. But unfortunately, it’s just another example of the woeful levels of corporate investment in women’s sport. And the scary thing is that if some of the biggest names in the sport, Dame Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Chris Boardman, can’t attract sponsorship, what chance does any lesser, but aspiring name have?
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016
In what has been a stellar year for sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is 16-strong. There are six women on the list:
Nicola Adams (Boxing)
Sophie Christiansen (Equestrian)
Kadeena Cox (Athletics and cycling)
Laura Kenny (Cycling)
Kate Richardson-Walsh (Hockey)
Dame Sarah Storey (Cycling)
The public vote for this award via telephone during the live show on 18 December.
In the Young Personality of the Year award the shortlist is 10. Out of these, eight are women/girls:
Ellie Downie (Gymnastics and winner of the 2015 award)
Sophie Ecclestone (Cricket)
Ellie Robinson (Swimming)
Lauren Rowles (Rowing)
Georgia Stanway (Football)
Jess Stretton (Archery)
Rebekah Tiler (Weight lifting)
Amy Tinkler (Gymnastics)
This award is decided by expert panel.
And Finally, Serena Williams has written an open letter in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue. In it she re-iterates her themes of equality and fairness.
The Guardian has reprinted the letter:
The first two responses in the comments section are:
“Jason Stoltenberg was a much better tennis player than Serena Williams. Williams would struggle to get a couple of games off him. But Williams has made much more money than Stoltenberg. What’s her beef?”
“‘My dream was to be the best tennis player in the world.’ Well she quite clearly failed in that regard. She wouldn’t even beat the 200th-ranked male tennis player. Why does she continue trotting out this garbage? She should be happy with what she’s achieved.”
Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is the standard in a “quality” newspaper. Needless to say quite a few responses have been removed by the moderator, and many others are worse than those listed. Missing the point? Er, yes, just slightly. The world should be grateful for women like Serena speaking up, telling her story and making her case. In the twenty-first century any woman speaking out is still met with hostility, cynicism and scorn. I’m happy to post the link to this letter and encourage all of you to read it.