Welcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get through again this week in a short, but perfectly formed story of the week. It’s the time of year when we see one awards ceremony after another, but the two biggies have to be BT Action Woman of the Year (women are winning that one!) and, of course, BBC Sports Personality of the Year (somewhat less of a chance of a woman winning that one). The BT awards have been and gone – news below, but the opportunity to vote for your BBC SPOTY is still to come. I cover the runners and riders, so to speak, in this week’s “and finally”. Other news comes from cycling, tennis, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, horse racing, taekwondo, curling and football.
Last weekend’s results in the Premier 15s were:
Loughborough Lightning 43-33 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
DMP Sharks 3-26 Bristol Ladies
Firwood Waterloo Ladies 12-12 Worcester Valkyries
Richmond Women 0-44 Wasps Ladies
Harlequins Ladies 19-28 Saracens Women
After nine games, Saracens are top with 44 points, winning all of their games and missing out on just one bonus point. Harlequins are second with 40, with Wasps seven points further back on 33. At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries are marooned on two points. Second from bottom are Firwood Waterloo on seven, with DMP Sharks one place above them on 13.
This weekend’s fixtures sees second placed Quins take on Wasps at Surrey Sports Park, while Saracens are at home to struggling Firwood Waterloo. Here are the fixtures in full:
Harlequins Ladies v Wasps: Surrey Sports Park 1pm
Saracens Women v Firwood Waterloo Ladies: Allianz Park 2pm
Worcester Valkyries v Loughborough Lightning: Sixways Stadium 2pm
Gloucester-Hartpury Women v DMP Sharks: TBC 4pm
Richmond Women v Bristol Ladies: Richmond Athletic Ground 2.30pm
Rugby union coverage
Meanwhile, there have been a couple of good news stories regarding the TV coverage of women’s rugby this week. Firstly, Sky showed their first Tyrell’s 15 Premiership match last weekend. Secondly came the news that England Roses’ Six Nations games will also be shown on Sky. At last, some recognition for the progress the women’s game has made, particularly with the excellent staging and standard of the World Cup this summer.
Women’s Six Nations
Saturday 4 February
19:35: England v France – Twickenham (Sky Sports Mix)
Saturday 11 February
11:30: Wales v England– Cardiff Arms Park (Sky Sports 3)
Saturday 25 February
13:00: England v Italy – The Twickenham Stoop (Sky Sports 2)
Saturday 11 March
20:00: England v Scotland – The Twickenham Stoop (Sky Sports 2, delayed coverage, KO 13:00)
Friday 17 March
20:00: Ireland v England – Donnybrook, Dublin (Sky Sports Mix)
There was double success for Britain’s women at the Taekwondo Grand Prix Final in Ivory Coast this week.
Bianca Walkden won her fifth major title of the year when she took the +67kg category, beating Da- Bin Lee of South Korea in the final 16-9. She won all four Grand Prix events in this calendar year as well as taking gold in the World Championships in June – the first fighter to do so.
Then Britain’s Jade Jones also took gold in the -57kg category. She beat Marta Calvo-Gomez of Spain 26-7 in the final and ends the year as world number one in the -57kg category.
They now go on to compete for Britain the inaugural Taekwondo Grand Slam in China.
BT Action Woman
England footballer Jodie Taylor was named BT Action Woman of 2017 this week. She beat off competition from Tammy Beaumont, Elise Christie, Hannah Cockcroft, Mallory Franklin, Johanna Konta, Katy McLean and Anya Shrubsole to take the award in a public vote.
Franklin was second, with Konta third.
Unsurprisingly the England Cricket Team took the team of the year award, while Judy Murray was given a Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to tennis.
Rugby League World Cup
England 4-52 New Zealand
England were well beaten by New Zealand at the Southern Cross Group Stadium in Sydney.
In truth, they were never really in it as the Kiwi Ferns took the lead in the second minute with a try from Maitua Feterika. Shontelle Woodman and Krystal Murray added further scores before England could reply with a try of their own from Tara-Jane Stanley in the 21st minute.
England were only 14-4 down at half-time and would have been hoping for better in the second period, but it was not to be as New Zealand put on the afterburners and England had no response.
They scored seven tries in the second-half, Honey Hireme ending with a hat-trick and Krystal Murray with two.
Australia 58-6 Canada
Australia were dominant over Canada from the off. They scored 42 unanswered points in the first-half.
The second period was more even as Australia eased through. Natasha Smith scored Canada’s only try, while Ali Brigginshaw, Steph Hancock, Isabelle Kelly and Karina Brown all scored two tries, while Talesha Quinn, Ruan Sims and Nakia Davis-Welsh bagged one each.
Final – 2 December
Australia 23-17 New Zealand
It was an altogether tighter, and exciting, affair. Australia took the lead on eight minutes with a try from Isabelle Kelly, with the extra points kicked by Caitlin Moran. Four minutes later, New Zealand were level through Honey Hireme, extra points kicked by Kimiora Nati.
Hireme got her second on 20 minutes to send the Ferns into the lead. But the Jillaroos were not to be outdone and on 36 minutes Moran scored a brilliant solo effort under the posts, converting it to give them a half-time lead of 12-10.
The second-half belonged to Australia. Kelly scored her second try on 53, while just four minutes later Elianna Walton went over to take the game away from the Kiwi Ferns; 22-10 with just 20 minutes left.
New Zealand made a fight of it with Raecene McGregor going over in the 69th minute to take them back within a converted score of the lead.
But the Jillaroos were to have the last word. Moran kicked a field goal in the final minute and Australia had won their second successive World Cup.
The WBBL starts this weekend with many of the cricketing world’s biggest stars on show. Representing England are Tammy Beaumont (Adelaide Strikers) with Charlotte Edwards coaching, Georgia Elwiss (Melbourne Stars), Lauren Winfield (Hobart Hurricanes).
Coverage is on BT Sport at unholy times. Check your TV listings for details.
There was plenty of success for Britain’s women at the Track Cycling Cup in Milton, Canada, last week.
Katie Archibald won gold in the points race, winning the first four sprints and gaining a lap to take the title. Jasmin Duehring of Canada finished second, nine points behind, with Jarmila Machacova of the Czech Republic, third.
Archibald and Eleanor Dickinson also then took gold in the madison with 29 points. France came second on 24 and New Zealand third on 15.
Katy Marchant took silver in the keirin. Kristina Vogel of Germany took gold, with Shanne Braspennincx of the Netherlands finishing in bronze position.
Scotland’s women’s Team, led by Eve Muirhead won the European Curling Championship in St Gallen, Switzerland, this week. They beat Sweden, unbeaten up to this point, 6-3, on Saturday.
The team, Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Lauren Gray went behind early on, and were 2-1 down after the third end. They took a double in the sixth end and one in each of the last three to take the match and the title.
Serena Williams has entered the Australian Open in January. She has returned to training after giving birth to a daughter in September and, if she takes part, this will be her first tournament back. There is no doubt that she’s still looking to equal (and break) Margaret Court’s Grand Slam singles titles record of 24. At the moment she has 23. Who can bet against it? Whatever happens, it will be great to see her in action again.
Jockey Hayley Turner is to face a British Horseracing Authority inquiry after she was charged with a breach of betting rules.
The hearing will be on 14 December.
The final round of group matches took place this week:
Saturday 2 December
Bristol City Women 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea Ladies 8-0 Yeovil Town Ladies
Sunday 3 December
Manchester City Women 2-0 Birmingham City Ladies
Aston Villa Ladies 3-2 Durham Women
London Bees 1-1 Watford Ladies
Millwall Lionesses 0-5 Reading FC Women
Oxford United Women 1-5 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Tuesday 5 December
Sunderland AFC Ladies 1-0 Liverpool Ladies
Wednesday 6 December
Chelsea Ladies 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur Ladies
Doncaster Rovers Belles 2-3 Manchester City Women
The quarter-final draw was made on 7 December:
Bristol City v Manchester City
Chelsea v Liverpool
Arsenal v Sunderland
Everton v Reading
Ties will be played over the weekend of 16/17 December.
It’s that time again – the time when we look at the SPOTY shortlist and go, “seriously? How many women?” And this year is no exception. In this year’s field of 12 twelve shortlisted, we have four women. In the year of the Cricket World Cup, the Women’s Euros, the Rugby World Cup etc, etc, the BBC, in its wisdom, has managed to come up with four names. Hey ho. ‘Twas ever thus. So the women to vote for (I’m not going to curse you if you vote for one of the men) are Elise Christie, Jo Konta, Anya Shrubsole and Bianca Walkden.
Voting has already closed in the Overseas SPOTY category. The women shortlisted are Katie Ledecky (swimming), Tatyana McFadden (Para-athletics) and Sally Pearson (athletics).
No prizes for guessing who I’ll be voting for in the main event. I’ve already said as much on social media – Anya Shrubsole gets my vote. She made my summer and my year with her performance in the World Cup final. I’m hoping the England team is nailed on for the Team of the Year award, but it would really be something special if Anya was at least close to winning it.
The programme is on Sunday 17 December and you will be able to vote by telephone on the night.