Welcome to this week’s column. There are things good and bad this week, as usual. I have found it difficult to be upbeat this week, some of the reasons for which I outline in “And finally”, but I hope that the news I give here is largely positive and makes you all feel positive about women’s sport.
This week’s stories come from rugby, football, cricket, golf, athletics, netball, winter sports and tennis.
Things are looking up for Notts County. I reported a couple of columns ago that a winding-up order had been issued. This threat now seems to be receding.
The petition has now been adjourned for 49 days. The new Notts County owner, Alan Hardy, attended the hearing.
They still have to find the money to pay off their debt to HMRC.
But there seems to be no exodus of players from the club – in fact they are still making signings. They are also advertising for a physio, so hopefully they will pull through.
Another club seemingly in trouble is Watford Ladies.
Last week they conceded their FA Cup tie against Doncaster Belles without a ball being kicked. The club statement said that this was done,
“in order to ensure necessary preparations were fully in place ahead of the start of the league fixture programme”.
But since then they have appointed a new head coach, Keith Boanas, and held a series of meetings to discuss the future. They have assured the league and their fans that “we believe we’re now on a very firm footing”.
Hopefully the club is in the process of ironing out its problems and will be back on course soon.
Indian Women’s League results
FC Pune City 0-5 Rising Student FC
Aizawl FC 0-3 Eastern Sporting Union FC
Jeppiaar Institute 1-1 Alakhpura FC
FC Pune City 4-0 Aizawl FC
Rising Student FC 7-0 Jeppiaar Institute
Alakhpura FC 0-1 Eastern Sporting Union FC
That concludes the league stage. The semi-finals, which take place on 11 February line-up as follows:
Rising Student FC v FC Pune City
Eastern Sporting Union FC v Alakhpura FC
I’m sorry I’ve only been able to bring the bare results, but it is all the information I have been able to glean. I wish I could have seen some of the action, but I think it’s important just to mention it.
The Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament is underway in Colombo. The top three finishers go through to a “Super-6” section (it’s never simple with the ICC). This is how it stands at the moment:
|Team||Matches played||Won||Lost||tied||No result||Points|
|Papua New Guinea||2||0||2||0||0||0|
Great Britain have made a fine start to the Fed Cup this week.
Britain are seeded third out of the 14 nations taking part in Tallinn and first in their group.
They began their group C campaign with a 3-0 win against Portugal:
Both Heather Watson and Johanna Konta won their singles matches and then Jocelyn Rae and Laura Robson won the doubles to make it 3-0.
Heather Watson beat Ines Murta 6-1 6-1
Johanna Konta beat Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-2 6-4
Rae and Robson beat De Brito and Murta 6-2 6-3
The team then went on to beat Latvia by the same margin
Heather Watson beat Diana Marcinkevica 6-3 6-0
Johanna Konta beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-3
Rae and Robson beat Daniela Vismane and Marcinkevica 6-0 6-7 6-2
Great Britain play Turkey today (Friday). The four group winners will play promotion play-offs on Saturday. The two winning nations will then qualify for World Group II play-offs in April .
The group winners will play-off against the Group B winners on Saturday.
The groups line-up as follows:
Pool A: Poland, Georgia, Austria
Pool B: Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia/Herzegovina
Pool C: Great Britain, Turkey, Latvia, Portugal
Pool D: Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, Estonia
Britain’s Laura Davies equalled the course record with an eight-under-par 65 in the first round of the Oates Vic Open in Victoria, Australia. She hit six birdies and one eagle in the process.
She heads the leaderboard by two going into the second round:
-8 L Davies (Eng), -6 N B Larsen (Den), H Clyburn (Eng), S Gal (Ger), W Hillier (Aus), M Reid (Eng), -5 H-J Choi (Kor), K Kirk (Aus), M Parra (Spa), A Yin (US)
Elise Christie will miss a second World Cup event because of concussion. She was unable to compete in Germany last week and will also miss this weekend’s event in Belarus.
Christie is now focussing on the World Championships which take place in the Netherlands from 10-12 March.
US athlete and former Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson has been banned from athletics for three months after testing positive for a banned diuretic.
She said she was given hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure but didn’t understand the ramifications regarding doping. Her ban has been in place since 1 December.
England were disappointingly well beaten by New Zealand in their second game of the Quad series in Liverpool. They lost the game 61-37. By half-time they were 11 behind and were never going to make up the difference.
They needed to improve greatly if they were to make it a game against Australia. And this they did. They still lost 47-46, but the improvement in their work-rate, shooting and defending will give coach Tracey Neville great heart.
With 10 seconds to go England only needed one goal to take into extra time, but Sharni Layton, so often the thorn in her opponents’ side intercepted to prevent the goal and win the game.
As expected, Australia retained their Quad series title this week, but they were made to fight for it every step of the way by the England Roses.
To some extent Neville will be frustrated. She will wonder how three such different performances were produced. They won in extra time against the Proteas, lost catastrophically to the Silver Ferns and ran the Diamonds close. I don’t envy her trying to draw conclusions from this.
It was also good to see the BBC covering some of the games.
Wales v New Zealand
After the Quad series was over the Silver Ferns played two tests against Wales this week. Although Wales are improving as a netballing nation, in truth it wasn’t much of a contest. It was, however, a chance for netball fans to see Wales play one of the world’s best teams in Wales.
Wales 27-92 New Zealand
Wales 39-72 New Zealand
Wales were somewhat overawed in the first game, but fought well in the second to produce a much-improved display. Wales will now be working towards the Commonwealth Games which take place on the Gold Coast in 2018.
There were wins for England, Wales and Ireland in the first round of the Six Nations last weekend.
Scotland 15-22 Ireland
Broadwood Stadium 3 February
Ireland took a bonus point win in the first game of the 2017 Championship to leave them top of the table after the first round of matches.
Scotland scored first through Jade Konkel, powering over after just five minutes. Sarah Law scored the conversion to make it 7-0 to the home side.
Then Ireland had a period of sustained pressure which resulted in Sene Naoupu going over from close range. The conversion was missed.
Ireland then scored their second, this time through Alison Miller, who went over in the corner, but the conversion was missed again.
Scotland hit back as Player of the Match Konkel went over again. Law missed the conversion but then put over a penalty to make it 15-10 to the Scots at half-time.
After the break the Scots went down to 14 when Lindsey Smith was sin-binned. Ireland took advantage and scored a try through Lindsay Peat that went unconverted. The score was tied at 15-15.
Scotland had their chances to take the game away from the visitors, but first Law then Helen Nelson missed kickable penalties.
But Ireland made them pay and in the 82nd minute, Jenny Murphy crashed over under the posts to take the game. Stapleton kicked the conversion and it was 15-22.
Scotland will see this as a definite chance missed to win their first championship game in seven years.
Italy 8-20 Wales
Stadio Comunale Pacifico Carotti, 4 February
Wales scored first with a penalty from Elinor Snowsill after eight minutes.
Prop Caryl Thomas then crashed over for the first try of the afternoon with Snowsill adding the conversion and it was 10-0 after 20 minutes.
Italy came back into it with a penalty from the boot of Michela Sillari, which was followed up soon after by a try for the home side through Manuela Furlan after good work from Isabella Locatelli.
Italy were unable to convert the try, however, and went in at the break 8-10 down.
Early in the second-half Wales stretched their lead as Dyddgu Hywel went in and then a third try came soon after from a driving Welsh maul and scored by captain Carys Phillips.
Italy did their best to pull it back, but were unable to breach the Wales defence again.
England 26-13 France
Twickenham 4 February
England came from 13-0 down at half-time to take the win at Twickenham on Saturday.
Shannon Izar drew first blood for the French as she intercepted a Katy McLean pass and ran 70m to score. The conversion was missed but it was 5-0.
Emily Scarratt missed a penalty, but then Christelle Le Duff put one over in front of the posts to take it to 8-0.
Gaelle Mignot powered over from a maul for France’s second try of the half to go in 13-0 up at the break.
England came out for the second-half with renewed vigour and took the initiative from the off.
First Scarratt scored a penalty, then Danielle Waterman went in for England’s first try, converted by Scarratt to take it to a 10-13 game.
France then conceded another penalty for a high tackle. Scarratt slotted home again and the game was level.
Another penalty saw England go in front for the first time and a second for another infringement at the scrum took the lead to six.
Amy Wilson-Hardy scored England’s second try, again converted by Scarratt to make the final score 26-13.
This weekend Tamara Taylor will make her 100th appearance for England when they face Wales on Sunday.
This weekend’s Six Nations fixtures:
Saturday 11 February
Wales v England
Cardiff Arms Park
France v Scotland
Sunday 12 February
Italy v Ireland
Stadio Tommaso Fattori
I have to confess I’m feeling a bit low about the women’s sports world at the moment. I won’t turn it into a rant as I don’t think I’ve got the energy, but it just seems to me that for every step forward there are two back. Those in the “bubble” (I have mentioned this before), still maintain that great progress is being made, but you only have to look at two things to see that it’s not quite as easy as that; one is media coverage, the other the response to media coverage.
I’ve seen both that has caused me pain this week. Firstly, the success of the expansion of netball has led Sport England to reward it with £16.9m of funding. How was this greeted in the press? I saw two articles, by women, one which said that no amount of money would make her go back to netball and the other by a woman who plays netball, who wrote a supposedly tongue-in-cheek piece on why netball isn’t “cool” and not “as much fun” as basketball.
The responses to coverage are even more depressing. Women’s cricket journalist, Raf Nicholson, wrote a great piece this week for Cricinfo on the pros and cons of cricket double-headers. There were some good and interesting comments on the piece at the bottom. But the one that stood out was a man who thought this would be the correct platform to tell us all that women (in general, not cricketers or any specific group) will never be any good at sport because they get pregnant. This wasn’t a one sentence reply either – it was lengthy. Why this chap thought this was the place to air this view isn’t clear, but it was the comment that drew the eye.
Consequently, this week my store of optimism is at a low ebb. Hopefully next week I’ll be back to my normal self and celebrating the world of women’s sport to the full!