Women’s Sports Column 29 July – 4 August 2017

soccer ballWelcome to this week’s column.  I’m still calming down after the amazing day that was the Women’s World Cup Final, but there’s no time to rest as the Women’s Euros come to their thrilling conclusion this weekend.  After that it’s the Rugby World Cup.  This fantastic summer of sport just goes on and on!

Stories this week come from football, tennis, cricket, lacrosse, and rugby.

Women’s Euros

Well it’s all over for the Lionesses. Can’t pretend I’m not gutted, but the better side won in the semi-final – England weren’t robbed or anything, so that’s the way the game goes.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been enjoying this tournament a lot.  It has been great to see some teams, other than the usual suspects, progressing.  There certainly would have been long odds on the final four being Austria, Denmark, England and the Netherlands.  But surely it’s all the better for that.  Germany and Sweden were particularly disappointing, but at least it gives someone else a go.

In case you missed it (and where were you, if you did?), here’s what happened in the quarter-finals.

Austria 0-0 Spain
Austria won 5-3 on penalties

Spain were clear favourites to win this match and to progress to the quarter-finals, but Austria, in their first Euros, clearly hadn’t read the script.

Silvia Meseguer missed her penalty and Sarah Puntigam put hers away coolly to take the Austrians through.

Netherlands 2-0 Sweden

Goals from Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema were enough to see the tournament hosts beat a disappointingly disjointed Sweden side in front of a packed house in Doetinchem to reach the semi-finals.

After Martens had scored with a free kick, the Netherlands were always in control and Sweden quickly lost heart.

The immensely impressive Shanice van de Sanden rampaged down the wing, crossing to Miedema to tap in for the second and it was all over.

Germany 1-2 Denmark

The biggest shock came in Rotterdam where the unfancied Denmark beat reigning champions Germany.

The game had to be played on the reserve day as the torrential rain caused the original fixture to be postponed.

Germany took the lead through Isabel Kerschowski.  The Danish goalkeeper was at fault, parrying the shot into the net.  Germany held the lead until just after half-time when Nadia Nadim headed in the equaliser for the Danes.

Seven minutes from time Theresa Nielsen headed in the winner as she stood unmarked in the centre.

England 1-0 France

England hung on by hook or by crook to beat France for the first time in 43 years in a competitive game in Deventer on Sunday.

England were far from perfect and it was only the stalwart defence that kept France out.

Jodie Taylor scored the winner – her fifth in three games – after being put in by Lucy Bronze.  Bronze had another excellent game – her strength and consistency are phenomenal.

Two minus points for England; Jill Scott received her second booking, thereby missing the Semi-final on Thursday and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley broke her leg in a collision with her own captain, Steph Houghton.  Somehow she played on for 15 minutes, going down a couple of times for treatment, which earned whistling and howls of derision from the French fans.  In the end she was replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain and it was revealed later that Bardsley had suffered a fracture.

Semi-finals

Denmark 0-0 Austria
Denmark won 3-0 on penalties

This was a tight game with plenty of chances for both sides.  In the 13th minute Austria were awarded a penalty for handball, but Sarah Puntigam, who had so coolly slotted in the winning penalty in the quarter-final, this time blazed over.   At the final whistle they could not be separated and the tie went into extra time.    Denmark had had the lion’s share of possession, but could not force a goal.  Both sides again had chances during extra time but it remained stubbornly goalless and it was penalties.

Austria should have been confident going into penalties after their excellent display against Spain, but this time it all went wrong.  They missed their first three spot-kicks and Simone Sorensen put away hers to send the Danes through to the final.

Netherlands 3-0 England

A largely orange crowd of over 27 thousand saw the hosts rout England with an impressive display of attacking football.  The Netherlands were on the front foot from the off and England seemed to have no reply.

The hosts took the lead after just 22 minutes when Vivianne Miedema headed in and it was only then that England started to look calmer and more possessed.  They should have equalised when Jade Moore’s shot was deflected onto her own post by a Netherlands defender.

With Shanice van de Sanden (one of my stars of the tournament) and Lieke Martens raiding down the flanks the Dutch were consistently dangerous, but managed relatively few meaningful shots.

With England 1-0 down at the break and the crowd in full voice, it was up to Mark Sampson to rally the team and get them moving.  But the second half started very much as the first, with the Netherlands coming forward and England retreating.  Fara Williams, in for the suspended Jill Scott (who was very much missed) had a poor game and on 62 minutes Danielle van de Donk capitalised on a misplaced header back to the goalkeeper, making it 2-0 and the game was effectively over.

I feel Sampson made some odd decisions regarding substitutions.  Ellen White was having a stinker and should have been replaced.  I would have liked to have seen Toni Duggan on much earlier and someone creative like Izzy Christiansen to replace Williams.

But it was not to be for the Lionesses.  In injury time Millie Bright deflected the ball into her own net, which seemed to sum up the night for England.  It made the scoreline a little flattering for the Netherlands, but there can be no doubt that they were the better side on the night, by a considerable margin.

According to all reports the England squad is “devastated”.  And rightly so.  They were the highest ranked team left in the competition and could and perhaps should have gone on to win it.  The Netherlands of course had some stunning home support, but England have shown defiance in this kind of situation again and again.  Sampson will need to look at his plans again.  He’s been a great influence for good with this side, don’t get me wrong, but I think he will have to learn, along with his Lionesses, if they are to make that final push to win a major tournament.

The final between Denmark and the Netherlands is on Sunday at 4pm and is live on Channel 4.  The programme starts at 3pm.

Rugby Union

England contracts

As we know, Scrumqueens reported the demise of England women’s fifteens contracts some weeks ago and I mentioned it soon after in my column, but it looked as if the RFU’s decision had slipped under the mainstream media radar (surprise).

But in the last week or so the wider media has finally chipped in with its pennyworth.  The RFU has come under increasing pressure to reconsider its stance.  As yet, there’s no word of this actually happening, but should there be any changes in policy, hopefully I’ll bring it to you as soon as is possible.

Tyrrells Premier 15s.

Whilst the contracts controversy rumbles on, the RFU announced this week that the replacement for the Women’s Premiership will be called the Tyrells Premier 15s.

The crisp manufacturer has signed a three-year deal to sponsor the league.

The league, which comprises 10 teams will be in the usual home and away league format.  The top four will then go to semi-finals played over two legs and the final will be on 29 April 2018.

RFU director of professional rugby, Nigel Melville said of the announcement,

“The Tyrrells Premier 15s competition is an important step forward for women’s rugby to strengthen the foundations of the women’s game as it continues to grow in popularity.

“By investing at domestic level we can build a sustainable model to support the growth of the game at elite level.

“The competition will crucially expand the playing pool of players available for international selection which will enable us to reach our long-term objective of running dual professionalised 15s and sevens programmes and allow us to compeon all fronts at the highest level.”

I think we can safely say that this was the RFU’s “subtle” way of deflecting the criticism over contracts.

There will also be a new development league for the 10 clubs’ 2nd teams who will also play in the RFU Women’s Senior Cup alongside the Women’s Championship North and South teams.

World Cup News

Ireland suffered a massive blow this week when captain Niamh Briggs withdrew from the squad through injury.

Briggs had only just come back from the hamstring injury that kept her out of the Six Nations when she suffered an Achilles injury in training.

Louise Galvin has been called up as replacement for Briggs.

Ireland have announced that their captain will now be flanker Claire Molloy.  Molloy has plenty of experience, having won 53 caps.  This will be her third World Cup.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be given the opportunity to captain my country, it’s a massive honour to be selected to lead the team in a World Cup on home soil.

“I’m fortunate that I’ll be surrounded by players with great experience, and I’m just really looking forward to pulling on the green jersey and running out with my team-mates,” she said.

Ireland are in tough group C:

Pool games:
Wednesday 9 August v Australia (UCD Bowl Dublin) 7pm
Sunday 13 August v Japan (UCD Bowl Dublin) 5.15pm
Thursday 17 August v France (UCD Bowl Dublin) 7.45pm

Ireland women’s World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemian/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/Munster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

Backs: Louise Galvin (UL Bohemian/Munster), Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian/Munster), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Harlequins FC), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

Next week (a bit late, admittedly) I’ll be previewing the Women’s Rugby World Cup as we begin the fourth major women’s tournament in three months!

Tennis

Heather Watson was knocked out in the opening round of the Citi Open in Washington this week.  She lost to world number 134, Patricia Maria Tig of Romania, 7-6 7-6.  Watson had already had to play two rounds of qualifying before proceeding to the main draw.

Meanwhile Maria Sharapova beat Jennifer Brady 6-1 4-6 6-0 in the first round of Stanford’s Bank of the West Classic on her return from injury.  However, she then withdrew before her second round clash with Lesia Tsurenko with an arm injury.

Britain’s Jordanne Whiley has revealed that she was 11 weeks pregnant when she won the Wimbledon doubles title in July.

Cricket

Just when it looked like the possibility of the men’s Ashes being cancelled was a real one, Cricket Australia has finally come to agreement with both the men’s and women’s squads over pay and conditions.

Women’s pay will rise from AU$7.5 million to $55.2 million for a five year term.  For the first time there will be one agreement to cover both male and female cricketers.  A revenue-sharing scheme will encompass all cricketers.

Impressive stuff from Cricket Australia and something other governing bodies should look at.

Lacrosse

Last week the GB lacrosse team took part in the World Games in Wrocław, Poland.  It was the first time lacrosse had featured in the Games, the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) having had its application to join the International World Games Association (IWGA) accepted in 2013.

Great Britain was one of six teams to compete, finishing a creditable fourth, just missing out on bronze, losing to Australia 8-10 in the bronze medal match.

Australia were well on top, going 5-1 up early on.  They went 2-0 ahead through Abbie Burgess and Sarah Mollison.  GB then pulled one back through Ailsa Stott.

But then Australia surged ahead with scores from Rebecca Lane, Theo Kwas and Burgess again, putting them 5-1 up.

Seven minutes before half-time GB struck back, and strongly.  They hit six goals without reply to take the lead.  Claire Faram got the first and Emily Gray and Sophie Morrill scored to take GB to just 4-5 down at half-time.

Gray, Faram and Morrill all scored again within five minutes of the re-start and GB were 7-5 in front.

Australia hit back through Mollison and Courtney Hobbs to level it and then GB took the lead again through Stott with 15 minutes to go.

But Australia were not to be outdone.  Mollison hit home again followed by Hobbs and Burgess to put the game beyond the Great Britain team.

The winners of the tournaments were USA who beat Canada 11-8 to take gold.

And finally,

As you know, I’ve been trying to wean myself off the hell that is the comments section of the BBC website and the comments after BBC tweets.  I’ve been managing quite well, but I thought I’d just have a quick peak tonight at the replies to one of the tweets about England in the Women’s Euros.  I was quite heartened.  I expected to see many misogynistic “back to the kitchen” comments, but actually there was just one lone very sad man “Man Utd Fan” bleating “no-one cares”.  One.  Very.  Sad.  Individual.  Did it look pathetic when he’d got none of his equally butch mates to back him up?  It certainly did!

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 December

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to the last column of the year.  It’s been a big year for women’s sport (but isn’t every year?).  I’ve tried to reflect that in the best way I know how, and looking back over the last twelve months, I’m pleased with the breadth of stories I’ve been able to include.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.

So without further ado, let’s crack on with stories from speed skating, rugby, netball, cricket, Aussie Rules and Australasian sports administration, football, golf, boxing, cycling, bowls, taekwondo, the BT Action Woman Awards and SPOTY.  This week’s “And finally” is probably predictable, but bears repeating one more time….

Rugby Union

Bristol won again this weekend to leave them top of the table over the Christmas break.

The scores were:

10 December

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-24 Lichfield Ladies

Wasps Ladies 33-12 Richmond Women

11 December

Worcester Valkyries 15-22 Saracens Women

Bristol ladies 48-0 DMP Sharks

As ever, a longer round-up of these matches, written by me appears on the Women’s Sports UK website.

Bowls

Wales’ women won a silver medal in the triples at the World Bowls Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand this week.

Anwen Butten, Kathy Pearce and Emma Woodcock were beaten in the final by Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott and Rebecca Van Asch of Australia.

They had beaten England (16-12) and Malaysia (18-16) on the way to the final.

Australian Rules Football                                                                                   

Good news for Aussie rules fans this week as it was announced that every game in the inaugural AFL women’s competition will be shown live on television.

Fox Footy is to show all 28 league games and the Seven Network will broadcast eight prime-time matches, including the first game of the season and the Grand Final on 25 March.

The action begins 3 February 2017.  Not sure if they will be streamed in Britain, but nevertheless it’s great news for AFL fans.

Australasian Sports Administration

1) Kate Palmer has been appointed the Australian Sports Commission’s first female chief executive.  She joins after an historic spell as the head of Netball Australia, in which she brokered a landmark pay deal for players and also oversaw a huge increase in revenue for the sport.

2) Dr Farah Palmer, three-time World Cup winning captain has been elected to the Board of New Zealand Rugby.  She is currently a member of the New Zealand Maori Rugby Board and will replace the former Maori representative, Wayne Peters, who has retired.

“Women on sports boards” seems to be the in-vogue cause at the moment.  Not surprising really, as the current percentage of women on sports boards in the United Kingdom is 30%, having risen from 21% in 2009.  There is progress, undoubtedly, and more needs to be done.  Personally, I’m still more concerned with lack of media coverage which stubbornly stands at 7%.  But progress cannot not be concentrated on a single issue and we should celebrate any victories we achieve, however small.

Cricket

New England central contracts

The ECB has announced new and improved central contracts for England’s women.  Two-year contracts have been issued to:

Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Beth Langston (rookie contract), Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.

Becky Grundy has lost her contract and Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway are no longer a part of the set-up having retired from international cricket last season.

Australian contracts

Just when you’re feting all things Australian, Cricket Australia drops an enormous clanger.

The executive general manager of strategy at Cricket Australia has confirmed that female cricketers’ new one-year contracts will have a clause that will require them to “warrant” that they are not pregnant when they sign.

They insist that the clause is there “for the player’s safety and that of their unborn child” and that that any disclosure would be confidential and made to the medical officer.

Female players are also excluded from the parental leave policy, although women in non-playing roles can have four to 12 weeks’ paid leave.

And, as ever, although things are improving, there is a great discrepancy in pay; the national minimum for men is $270,000 excluding superannuation, but for women it is $40,000 including superannuation.

Cricket Australia says that it is all being negotiated, but the union says contract conditions are ‘contrary to acceptable employer behaviour’,

Watch this space for further fallout.

WBBL

After the first weekend of WBBL matches it’s all square all the way down as each team won one and lost one!  Sydney Sixers are top on net run rate, but it’s early days.  The results so far are as follows:

10 December

Perth Scorchers 119/6 off 20 overs

Hobart Hurricanes 120/5 19 overs

Hurricanes won by 5 wickets

 

Adelaide Strikers 116 all out (19.3 overs)

Melbourne Renegades 102 all out (19.1 overs)

Strikers won by 14 runs

 

Melbourne Stars147/8 (20 overs)

Sydney Thunder 141/4 (20 overs)

Stars won by 6 runs

 

11 December

 Adelaide Strikers 128/6 (20 overs)

Melbourne Renegades 131/3 (19.3 overs)

Renegades won by 7 wickets

 

Perth Scorchers 142/4 (20 overs)

Hobart Hurricanes 125/9 (20 overs)

Scorchers won by 17 runs

 

Sydney Sixers 138/6 (20 overs)

Brisbane Heat 142/5 (19.2 overs)

Heat won by 5 wickets

 

12 December

Brisbane Heat 83/9 (20 overs)

Sydney Sixers 86/2 (16 overs)

Sixers won by 8 wickets

 

13 December

Melbourne Stars 116/9 (20 overs)

Sydney Thunder 121/2 (18.5 overs)

Thunder won by 8 wickets

Live matches and highlights are on BT Sport and the WBBL also has a very detailed website:  www.bigbash.com.au/wbbl

BT Action Woman Awards

The ceremony for the BT Action Woman of the year took place this week.  Winners of Team of the Year were the GB Hockey team for their brilliant gold medal in Rio.  Katherine Grainger won a Lifetime Achievement award, which she knew nothing about and looked a bit grumpy about to start off with!

Winner of Action Woman of the Year 2016 was mountain biker Rachel Atherton.  She won all seven rounds of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup this year and took the world title for the fourth time.

Boxing

Katie Taylor won her second professional bout against Viviane Obenauf of Brazil last week.  She won on points 60-53.

Obenauf was knocked down in the second round and also suffered a cut near her left eye, but she managed to take it distance before being outpointed.

Netball

It was announced this week that New Zealand will play Wales in two test matches in February 2017.

The two games will take place at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff on 7 and 8 February.

Sports Personality of the Year 2016

Although the main event is not broadcast until 18 December, the winner of the Young Sports Personality of the Year award has already been announced.

Swimmer Ellie Robinson is this year’s winner.

She won a gold medal and a bronze at the Rio Paralympics aged just 15.

She won the S6 50m butterfly in a Games record time and broke the British record in the 100m freestyle to take bronze.

Earlier in the year Robinson had bagged one silver (50m butterfly) and three bronzes (50m, 100m and 400m freestyle) at the IPC European Championships.

Taekwondo

There was plenty of success for Britain’s women at the World Grand Prix Final in Baku last weekend.

Charlie Maddock set the ball rolling as she beat Olympic champion Sohui Kim in the -49kg to take gold.

Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden followed suit on Saturday as Jones beat Hedaya Malak of Egypt in the -57kg final and Walkden defeated Zheng Shuyin of China to take gold in the +67kg category.

Rachelle Booth lost to South Korea’s Lee Ah-reum in -62kg bronze-medal match.

Speed Skating

Great Britain’s Elise Christie won double gold at the World Cup event in Shanghai last weekend.

She won the first of two 500m races in 43.590 seconds and took the second in 42.590.

Christie leads the 500m overall ranking from Fan Kexin from China and Marianne St-Gelais of Canada.

Shanghai is the third in the series of World Cup events.  The fourth is in Gangneung, South Korea, from 16-18 December.

Golf

Shanshan Feng won a record fourth Dubai Ladies Masters at the weekend.  She took the title on -10, two ahead of England’s Charley Hull.

Going into the final round, Felicity Johnson was leading, but she faded in the last carding a three over 75 to finish six shots off the lead.

Cycling

The dispute between British Cycling and cyclist Jess Varnish continues.

After last week’s revelation that only one of nine of her complaints against Shane Sutton was upheld, Varnish has now requested that British Cycling release her personal data under the Data Protection Act so that she can see Sutton’s text messages and the organisation’s report into his conduct.

I feel there’s still probably plenty to come out of this story yet.

Football

Birmingham City Ladies

David Parker resigned as Birmingham City ladies’ manager on Monday.  He had been in charge for five years.

There was no delay in announcing his successor as the WSL1 club announced they have appointed Marc Skinner to the post.

Skinner had been director of the Blues Ladies’ centre of excellence.

Casey Stoney

After a period of silence it has been announced that former England captain, Casey Stoney, has signed for Liverpool Ladies.

She left Arsenal at the end of the season causing much speculation as to her future plans.

Liverpool manager Scott Rogers said,

“Her reading of the game and ability on the ball is fantastic so I have no doubt that she will prove to be a great signing for us.”

New rules for WSL2

It was announced this week that WSL2 will introduce relegation for the first time in the 2017-18 season, when the league swaps to a winter season.

This means that the bottom team will drop into the Women’s Premier League.

In other WSL news, the league has also revealed that applications for WSL licences for the 2018-19 season will only be open to the existing clubs.  If, however, a club fails to meet the specified criteria, other clubs will be allowed to apply.

FA funding will increase as follows:

WSL1 up to £92,500 (up from £70,000)

WSL2 up to 62,500 (up from £35,000)

Whilst any increase is welcome, make no mistake, this money is still just a drop in the ocean when it comes to running a WSL club. 

Nigeria’s continued protest

As I reported last week, the Nigerian women’s football team is currently fighting for outstanding payments due to them after they won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations on 3 December.

On Tuesday, one of the players, quoted anonymously by the BBC, said that they are prepared to continue their sit-in at the Agura hotel until they receive all bonuses, believed to total £23,650 USD per player.

“We are tired of the lies and false promises from the NFF,”

The NFF is directly funded by the Nigerian government and is currently strapped for cash after Nigeria slipped into recession in August.

But the Super Falcons coach, Florence Omagbemi and her assistants have only received one month’s pay since March.

The NFF general secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, met with players and officials at the hotel on Tuesday. In a statement he said,

“The NFF is not happy owing players and coaches, but present severe economic challenges inform that it can only continue to seek the understanding of these persons, as well as hoteliers, travel agents, management and staff until the situation improves,”

“We know we have financial commitment to you (players and officials of Super Falcons) and we have not at any time stated otherwise. But the money is not readily available.

“I have come to appeal to you, to understand the situation of the federation, to understand the situation of the country at the present and exercise patience.

“We will pay you all monies you are being owed as soon as we receive same from the government.”

The stalemate continues.

And finally, I’m sure you’ve all seen it already but it’s three boos for the Football Association this week (God bless ‘em).

In their wisdom, the FA have revealed their ideas for attracting more girls into football.  The plan, posted on the Sussex FA website includes:

Pink whistles

Nice smelling bibs (we all want those, don’t we?)

Allowing girls breaks so they can check their phones.

Advertise “where girls go” such as “coffee shops or the backs of toilet doors”

Slogans to attract girls could include:

“You won’t even notice you’re getting fit!” and “Who needs Facebook friends?”

Not saying anything else.  Don’t need to, do I?

 

As I said at the beginning, that’s all for this year.  I’m currently writing a history of women’s field hockey for WiSP Sports, so please check in to read that if you’re so inclined.

Also next week, although there will be no column, I am publishing something which means a lot to me.  Earlier this year I interviewed someone and got some great copy.  I tried to sell the resultant article but to no avail.  Although he has now moved on from his post, the subject of the article has just read it and he loved it, so I would like to reproduce it on my site.  Look out for it – I’m really happy with it and I hope you like it too.

Hoping you all have a lovely, peaceful and sporting Christmas and let’s all wish for more sporting success in 2017

Women’s Sports Column 15-21 October

wembley

Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and cycling. As usual I say, who knew all this was going on?  No-one if you stuck to the mainstream media outlets……

Football

FAWSL1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-2 Notts County Ladies

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ relegation was confirmed on Sunday as they lost at home 2-1 to Notts County Ladies.

A crowd of 820 passionate, mainly Donny fans were there to see their side slump to their fourteenth straight loss.

Doncaster took the lead in the seventh minute through Carla Humphrey, currently on loan from Arsenal, but they could neither add to nor defend the lead.

The Lady Pies equalised through Aileen Whelan on 22 and just three minutes later, County’s star striker, Jess Clarke curled a spectacular effort into the top corner to go ahead.

Neither side could add to the scoring in the second half and the Belles’ fate was confirmed.

Belles manager, Emma Coates, was still upbeat after the game.  In an interview with the FAWSL website she said,

“We’ve learned lessons this year so that if we come back up we’ll do it the right way, the Belles way and learn from what we’ve done wrong.

“Maybe we’ve been naïve in the past but we didn’t come up as champions, it’s even tougher coming up in second and we had a big turnover of players over a short space of time. I want to keep this team together and build something long term.”

Champions League

Manchester City have been drawn against Danish side Brondby in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first leg, which will be in Manchester, will be on 9 or 10 November, with the return fixture on 16 or 17 November.

The full draw for the last 16:

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)

Barcelona (ESP) v FC Twente (NED)

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Rosengard (SWE)

Manchester City (ENG) v Brondby (DEN)

Brescia (ITA) v Fortuna Hjorring (DEN)

Lyon (FRA) v FC Zurich (SUI)

Eskilstuna United (SWE) v Wolfsburg (GER)

Bayern Munich (GER) v Rossiyanka (RUS)

Under 17s Women’s World Cup

The final of the Under 17s Women’s World Cup will be between North Korea and Japan and will take place at the Amman International Stadium on Friday 21 October at 6pm GMT.

In the semi-finals, which were played on Monday 17 October, North Korea beat Venezuela by three goals to nil, whilst in the other Japan beat Spain by the same scoreline.

The third place play-off, between the two beaten semi-finalists, will be on Friday 21 October at 3pm GMT.

Details of the results of the two matches will be in next week’s column.

FA Cup

It was announced this week that Wembley will continue to host the Women’s FA Cup beyond 2017.

How far we’ve come!  Previous venues have included Dunstable Town FC and Glanford Park, home of Scunthorpe United.

The prize money for the 2016-17season has been tripled to £27,000 (still considerably less than some male footballers are on per week).

Tickets for the 2017 final will, as they were this year, be free for children.

Signing

Arsenal have re-signed Scotland midfielder Kim Little from Seattle Reign.

She will re-join ahead of the 2017 season (due to shift to winter), but the Gunners have not specified the length of her contract.

England Women’s Player of the year 2016

The shortlist for the award has been revealed:

Steph Houghton

Jordan Nobbs

Karen Carney

Jill Scott

Young Player of the Year shortlist:

Millie Bright

Danielle Carter

Alex Greenwood

Nikita Parris

Winners will be announced at the FA Women’s Football Awards on Friday 18 November.

Rugby

Women’s Premiership

It was round five of the Women’s Premiership last weekend and the top two met at Bristol.

The results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 15-55 Saracens Women

Worcester Valkyries 36-13 DMP Sharks

Bristol Ladies 19-15 Lichfield Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-5 Richmond Women

For a more in-depth review of these games please see my round-up on www.womensportsuk.com.

RFU News

It seems that this season will be the last of the Women’s Premiership as this week England Rugby announced that from next year there will be a new competition – the Super League (yes we have already got super leagues in football, netball and cricket)

The competition will comprise 10 teams – entry is open to any who can fulfil “minimum operating standards”.  These standards are yet to be published, but in all likelihood it will be the eight current Premiership teams plus two others, probably from the Championship.

Expressions of interest are invited by 11 November.  Application packs will go out on 14 November and the deadline for applications will be 6 January 2017.

Tennis

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore with a shoulder injury.

She has not played competitively since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September.

This means that there is still a place up for grabs and it could go to British number one, Johanna Konta.  The only person who can beat her to the place is the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro (currently 10th in the rankings) has already pulled out of the final qualifying tournament, the Kremlin Cup, through injury.

Johanna Konta can only be overtaken by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the race to qualify for the WTA Finals, after Carla Suarez Navarro’s hopes ended in Moscow.  Suarez Navarro could have passed Konta by winning the Kremlin Cup but retired with a wrist injury in round two.

Konta is not competing this week as she is still recovering from injury so it will be an anxious wait on the sidelines for her as she follows Kuznetsova’s progress.

With 470 points to be awarded for the Kremlin Cup the standings are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (Germany) – Qualified
  2. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) – Qualified
  3. Simona Halep (Romania) – Qualified
  4. Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) – Qualified
  5. Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – Qualified
  6. Madison Keys (USA) – Qualified
  7. Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) – Qualified
  8. Johanna Konta (Great Britain) – 3455 points
  9. Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) – 3170 points
  10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) – 3080 points

 

Also in tennis, British duo Naomi Broady and Heather Watson got the final of the Hong Kong Open but lost to Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei 6-3 6-1.

The Chan sisters were top seeds and the Hong Kong win was their third tournament win of the year.

Golf

 Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After two rounds of the Blue Bay event the leaderboard stands as follows:

-12 Minjee Lee (Aus)

-6 Caroline Masson (Ger)

-5 Carlota Ciganda (ESP)

-5 Jessica Korda (USA)

-4 Xi Yu Lin (Chn)

-4 Chella Choi  (SKor)

-4 Sandra Gal (Ger)

———–

-2 Charley Hull (Eng)

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news this week from both on and off the field.

West Indies v England

England took the West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI this week.  An excellent display with bat and ball plus tighter fielding ensured success.

In short, the three games at Sabina Park were topsy turvy affairs, much in keeping with the first two games.  These three also offered points towards the ICC Women’s Championship and therefore towards World Cup qualification.

The third game saw England win the toss and bat.  They posted 220 with opener Lauren Winfield scoring 79 and Nat Sciver 58.  West Indies suffered a pretty terrible collapse and were all out for 108 with top scorer Shaquana Quintyne with 21.

West Indies won the fourth game, having this time won the toss and chosen to bat.  They scored 223/6 with the excellent Stafanie Taylor hitting 85.  Although a big total, England were initially cruising in reply, but no less than five run outs saw them fall short as they were all out for 181.

The series was level again at 2-2.

When Stafanie Taylor won the toss in the last match some thought it was already job done.  But this match bucked the trend.  England’s bowlers were tight and lethal, especially the star of the tour, Alex Hartley, who took 4/24 as the Windies were reduced to 155 all out.

In the end England made it look easy and reached their target in just 38.5 overs.  Nat Sciver scored 58.

I have written a more detailed review of the series for Women’s Sports UK.  Read it here: England women take series 3-2

England still need two points for automatic qualification to the World Cup next year.  They should secure this easily in Sri Lanka next month.

Meanwhile the result also means that Australia have won the inaugural ICC World Championship trophy as neither West Indies nor England can now catch them.

South Africa v New Zealand

We are now five games into a best of seven series and New Zealand are currently 4-1 up. The latest two games at Paarl on 17 and 19 October both went the way of the White Ferns.

In game four the home side batted first, making 194 all out in 49 overs.  Top scorer was captain Dane van Niekerk with 48.  But it was not enough as the visitors knocked off the chase in a ridiculous 28.2 overs with Rachel Priest clubbing 86 from 67 balls and Amy Satterthwaite 81 from 71.

New Zealand batted first in game five.  They scored 208/8 off their 50 overs with opener Natalie Dodd top scoring with 52.  South Africa couldn’t compete and were all out for 113, meaning New Zealand won by 95 runs.  The only significant batting contributions came from Mignon du Preez with 62 and Sune Luus with 27.  Also a worry for the home side was Marizanne Kapp retiring hurt without scoring.

There are two more games at Paarl for the Proteas to restore some pride.

ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2020

Cricket Australia has announced that the women’s event will be a standalone tournament, held separately from the men’s event.

The ICC has backed the plan to hold the two events six months apart.

All of the previous five World T20s have been held in parallel with the men’s with the semi-finals and final played as double-headers.

This is undoubtedly a step forward for women’s cricket and heartening that Cricket Australia and the ICC see women’s T20 as strong enough to hold its own as an event.

The women’s tournament will be in February/March 2020 and the men’s in October/November.

Cricket Australia Chairman, David Peever, said;

“WBBL has taught us that there is an audience for women’s cricket both live and on prime-time television and this decision means we have the opportunity to hold the biggest women’s sporting event ever held in Australia.”

There have been so many initiatives and announcements recently regarding Australian women’s sport that it seems that the various sports are now in competition to see who can make the most positive strides!

Australian women’s cricket

As mentioned above, it seems that everyone in Australia is keen to invest in women’s sport at the moment.

This week Cricket Australia also announced it is to invest $15 million in cricket to “keep pace with AFL [Aussie Rules], netball”.

The investment comes from the Commonwealth Bank and is aimed at the women’s game and diversity over the next three years.

This follows hot on the heels of the governing body’s announcement of an extra $4 over four years for the development of girls’ and women’s cricket.

Time for everyone else to catch up, I feel…..

Cycling

The Road World Championships in Doha

Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen won the women’s race with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan fourth.

Dideriksen beat Kirsten Wild from Netherlands in a sprint finish with Finland’s Lotta Lepisto in third.

European Track Championships in Paris 19-23 October

Britain’s medal tally (women) after two days currently stands at three.

On the first day British Olympic champion cyclist Katie Archibald won silver in the elimination race.  She was beaten by Kirsten Wild, who seems to have gone seamlessly from Doha to Paris.  Laurie Berthon of France was third.

On the second day Elinor Barker claimed silver in the scratch race.  Ausrine Trebaite of Lithuania won the race with, you guessed it, Kirsten Wild in bronze.

There was a bronze in the women’s team pursuit for Emily Kay, Dannielle Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson.  Italy took the gold with Poland silver.