The Women’s Sports Column

5-11 December

This week sees stories from rugby union, tennis, swimming, judo, hockey and cricket.

There was a first for Varsity rugby this week. The annual women’s Oxford v Cambridge match took place at Twickenham for the first time, in its 29th year.

Cambridge Women’s RUFC President and tight head prop, Katie Holmes said,

‘This decision puts us on a par with the men’s match and, more importantly, forges stronger links between the two sections at both Clubs. This is a hugely historic step for the game of rugby at Oxford and Cambridge.’

It kicked off before the men’s match, but in the end it was not much of a contest with Cambridge running out 52-0 winners, with Alice Middleton and Anna Wilson amongst the scorers with three tries each.

A 23-year old rugby player has died this week after suffering a head injury druing a game. Lily Partridge had previously suffered “a couple” of concussions, said her club, Exonian Ladies. She had, however, taken the required month off before returning to the game, and had been cleared to play by doctors. Lily collapsed on the pitch on Sunday 6 December and life support was switched off on Monday. The RFU is investigating.

Johanna Konta has ended her excellent 2015 as British Number One. She takes over from Heather Watson, who has had an up and down year with periods of injury and loss of form. Konta made a real breakthrough this year when she got to the last 16 of the US Open as a qualifier. After her defeat to Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon she went on a streak of winning 20 out of 21 matches, which has taken her to 48 in the world.

Also in tennis, Laura Robson has decided against taking up her protected ranking entry into the Australian Open in January. Since being out for 17 months with a wrist injury she has only participated in eight tournaments and has slipped to 555 in the world. She can only use her protected ranking to enter one more Grand Slam and it is thought she may use it instead for the French Open at the end of May.

Jazz Carlin bagged two golds at the European Short Course Championships in Israel this week. Her first victory was in the 800m freestyle and the second an amazing win over Katinka Hosszu from Hungary in the 400m freestyle. The winning margin was just 0.03 seconds.

Olympic judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons achieved another one of her goals this week when she became the first British woman to win a medal at the Tokyo Grand Slam. She won a bronze in the     -78kg contest, beating Japanese fighter Ruika Sato by a waza-ari in the last minute of the bout.

Great Britain’s women have gone out at the quarter-final stage of the World Hockey League Finals in Argentina. They lost 2-1 to New Zealand in a tight game. New Zealand had most of the pressure, but it wasn’t until the second quarter that they took the lead through Anita Punt.

GB must have thought they had earned a penalty shoot-out when Helen Richardson-Walsh equalised with a penalty stroke with only six minutes to go.

However, it was not to be when with just 68 seconds on the clock Olivia Merry put the ball past goalkeeper Maddie Hinch to take the game. Hinch seemed to gesture that she lost the ball in the sun.

The team has still had an impressive year. They have now secured their place at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and, of course, won gold at the European Championships in London in August.

In cricket, the draw for the groups and the of the World Twenty20 2016 has finally been made.

  • Group A – Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland
  • Group B – England, West Indies, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The final will be at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in a double-header with the men’s on 3 April. There has been a big hike in prize money for the women going up 122% to $400,000 (£264,000). There is still a way to go to match the men’s prize money though, which stands at $5.6m (£3.7m). The women’s tournament begins on 15 March 2016.

And finally, Clare Connor, once quite outspoken, but since becoming Head of Women’s Cricket at the ECB has retreated back into the establishment, got her groove back this week when she tweeted:

clare

Individuals to follow – Resources for women interested in sport part 3

While I’m on a roll, let’s crack straight on with some of the individuals and the odd blog you should follow if you want to keep up with what’s happening in women’s sport.

But first, I need to make good another omission from my last blog,  To be honest, I just couldn’t decide whether to put them in as they cover men’s as well as women’s football, but on reflection I think that’s a bit churlish.  So, undoubtedly, the best podcast (and should be listed merely because it has the best name) is The Offside Rule (We Get it!). Although it has become (relatively) famous for its female-fronted podcast, the website also contains blogs, features, columns and a whole lot more.  Kate Borsay, Lynsey Hooper and Hayley McQueen are the brains behind the podcast although their team seems to be growing daily.  It’s erudite, knowledgeable and humorous and I urge you to give it a go.  It can become seriously addictive!

Right, on to individuals.  As you will know, there are so many incredible women out there trying to spread the gospel of women’s sport.  I can only cover a few, but they are some of my favourites.  Some have websites, but mostly I follow them on Twitter.  Despite its totally hideous, trolling side and its propensity to triviality, Twitter can be useful for information.  You’ve just got to follow the right people!

@ConnorCricket Clare Connor is Director of Women’s Cricket at the ECB.  News from the top of women’s cricket.  What more do you need to know?

@AlisonMitchell One of my favourite broadcasters, who has worked so hard to be “mainstream” in cricket.  Brilliant broadcasting about gymnastics too.

@Lottie2323  This is for fun.  England captain, Charlotte Edwards doesn’t usually impart great items of cricketing wisdom, but it is fun and gives you some idea of what it’s like to be a professional cricketer.

@ShelleyBBC One of the most influential women in sport in this country – Shelley Alexander is Editorial lead for women’s sport on the BBC.  She retweets an amazing amount of information on an incredible range of sports.  Very knowledgeable and crusades constantly for women’s sport.

@clarebalding Brilliant broadcaster and “national treasure”.  Always surprises me how much work she does so that she knows exactly what she’s talking about on whatever subject she’s been given.

@RuthHoldaway Chief Executive of Women in Sport.

@SallyHancock1 Chair of Women in Sport and expert in sports marketing and sponsorship.  A loud voice in the quest for equality in media coverage, sponsorship and pay in women’s sport.

@EllyOldroyd Another one of my favourite broadcasters.  Well-respected voice of Radio 5 Live.

@judmoo Judy Murray often tweets pictures of cake and desserts, but is the ambassador for tennis.  Contrary to popular belief, she’s not just Andy and Jamie Murray’s Mother….

@Tanni_GT Always erudite, and a tireless advocate for disability sports, Tanni Grey-Thompson is great to follow.  Gives a whole new perspective on sport and everything Welsh!

@annaedwards3 Anna Edwards is Producer of the Sportswomen programme on Sky.

@Anna_Kessel Writes for the Guardian and the Observer and is Co-Founder and Chair of Women In Football.  Always a pleasure to read, and always fighting for women’s sport.

Shameful to admit, but I don’t read many blogs.  If anyone out there can recommend any good women’s sports blogs, I’d be grateful.  The one I never miss, though, is womens-cricket.blogspot.co.uk.  Written beautifully by Martin Davies and a must for women’s cricket fans.

So there we are.  I could keep going for a while yet, but if you just try a few of these to start with you won’t regret it.