Women’s Sports Column 9-15 February 2019

running track

Welcome to this week’s column.  With news of Lindsey Vonn’s last race, the wonderful Six Nations, football, netball, hockey, athletics, volleyball, cricket, speed skating and tennis I’d better get on…

Football

FAWSL

Last weekend’s results:

Sunday 10 February

Bristol City 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester City 2-2 Chelsea
Wullaert 12’, Stanway 24’
So-yun Ji 50’, 89’

FAWC

Sunday 10 February

London Bees 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Dean 14’ (Pen), Johnson 22’ (OG), Wiltshire 47’

Leicester City 2-3 Crystal Palace
James 68’, Dugmore 74’
Whinnett 57’, Bryan 64’, 84’

FA Cup – Remaining Fourth Round Ties

We now know the full fifth round line-up, after the fourth was completed at the weekend:

Durham 5-1 Cardiff City
Millwall Lionesses 1-0 Lewes
Reading 13-0 Keynsham Town
Liverpool 6-0 MK Dons
Loughborough Foxes 0-2 Sheffield United
Charlton 3-3 Huddersfield Town (Huddersfield won 5-4 on penalties)
Stoke City 1-2 Aston Villa
Yeovil Town 1-3 Birmingham City

The fifth round takes place this Sunday, 17 February.

Hockey – on the Pitch

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

The league was back after its winter break last weekend:

9 February

Buckingham 2-1 Surbiton
Slough 1-1 Canterbury
University of Birmingham 2-2 Clifton Robinsons
Beeston 2-1 Bowdon
East Grinstead 1-2 Holcombe

10 February

Bowdon 4-1 Slough

All teams have played 11 now except Bowdon and Slough who have played 12.  With Surbiton suffering their third defeat of the season, Holcombe are now top with 25 points.  Surbiton are second on 22 with East Grinstead third on 19.  At the bottom, Canterbury have four points from 11, and Slough are just above them on eight, having played the extra game.

This weekend’s fixtures will take them all to 12 games played:

16 February

Clifton Robinsons v Buckingham (1pm, Coombe Dingle P1)
Holcombe v Beeston (2pm, Holcombe HC P1)
Canterbury v University of Birmingham (4pm, Polo Farm SC, P1)
Surbiton v East Grinstead (4pm, Surbiton HC Water)

Hockey – off the Pitch

Maddie Hinch has been named FIH Female Goalkeeper of the Year for the third year running.

Ayeisha McFerran (Ireland), Rachael Lynch (Australia), Maria Ruiz (Spain) and Ye Jiao (China) were also shortlisted.

Winter Sports

Speed Skating

Elise Christie won silver in the 500m at the last World Cup event of the season in Turin.

Martina Valcepina of Italy took gold and Maame Biney of the USA the bronze.

Lindsey Vonn

After crashing out in her penultimate race, the super-G at the Alpine World Championships in Are, Sweden the previous Tuesday, Vonn made amends in her last race, the downhill, winning bronze.  Defending champion Ilka Stuhec took gold and Corinne Soutar, silver.

In winning the bronze, Vonn became the first female skier to win a medal at six World Championships.  What a way to go out!

Cricket

Alyssa Healy scooped three prizes at the Australian Cricket Awards this week.  She won female ODI player of the year (6 matches, 329 runs at an average of 54.83), female T20I player of the year (17 matches, 578 runs at an average of 41.29) and also the Belinda Clark Award.

The Betty Wilson young cricketer of the year award went to Georgia Wareham and female domestic player of the year was Heather Graham.

Rugby Union – Six Nations

England 41-26 France

Quite surprisingly, this game was only ever going one way.  England were 24-0 up and coasting at half-time, and although France came back to put a good number of points on the scoreboard, it was never going to be enough to overhaul the Red Roses.

A record crowd of 4,674 were at Doncaster to see it.

England scorers:
Tries: Breach (2), Cleall (2), Smith, Botterman, O’Donnell
Conversions: Mclean (3)

France scorers:
Tries: Bourdon (2), N’Diaye, R Menager
Conversions Bourdon (3)

Italy 3-3 Wales

Stalemate in Lecce as neither side could make the decisive score to win the match.  Robyn Wilkins scored a penalty to give Wales the lead after 30 minutes.  In the second half, Michaela Sillari drew the home side level with a penalty on the hour.

Wales thought they had snatched it late on when Jasmine Joyce went over from a breakaway, but the visitors were pulled back for a forward pass.

The home side then had a chance to win it, but a second Sillari penalty went wide.

Italy scorers:
Pen: Sillari

Wales
Pen: Wilkins

Scotland 5-22 Ireland

Ireland opened the scoring through Aoife McDermott, but Scotland drew level through Hannah Smith.

It looked as if they would go into the break level, but Ireland had other ideas as Leah Lyons went over again to make it 10-5 to the away side at half-time.

Straight into the second-half Ireland were on the attack again and five minutes in Alison Miller grabbed their third try of the match.

Anna Caplice bagged the bonus point try just before the hour, picking up the ball from the back of a ruck to crash over.

Scotland scorers:
Tries: Smith

Ireland scorers:
Tries: McDermott, Lyons, Miller, Caplice
Conversions: Fowley

Other Rugby News

It was announced this week that England will play the Barbarians at Twickenham in June.  The Barbarians’ women’s side was only formed in October 2017.  This will be the first time they have played England.

They will play before the men’s team in a double-header on Sunday 2 June.

The game kicks off at 12.45pm with the men’s following at 3pm.

Tennis – on the Court

Fed Cup

Group A

Great Britain 2-0 Hungary
Katie Boulter triumphed in the first rubber against Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-7 7-6.  This was followed by another three set victory for Jo Konta 6-2 6-7 7-6.

Greece 2-1 Slovenia
Valentini Grammatikopoul beat Kaja Juvan 7-6 5-7 6-3.  Maria Sakkari defeated Dalila Jakupovic 4-6 6-4 6-3.  The doubles rubber was a walkover for Slovenia.

Group B

Serbia 2-1 Croatia
Olga Danilovic defeated Jana Fett in the first rubber 2-6 6-2 7-6.  The second went to Croatia as Donna Vekic beat Aleksandra Krunic 1-6 7-5 6-1.  The deciding doubles went to Danilovi and Krunic as they beat Jurak and Konjuh 1-6 6-1 6-4

Turkey 3-0 Georgia
Cagla Buyukakcay defeated Mariam Bolkvadze in the first rubber 6-4 6-1.  In the second, Pemra Ozgen beat Ekaterine Gorgodze 7-6 6-3.  The doubles were a walkover to Turkey.

Great Britain and Serbia finished top of their respective groups, each winning three from thee ties.  They faced each other in the promotion play-off

GB 2-0 Serbia
In the play-off, both Boulter and Konta kept up their tremendous run of form:

Boulter beat Ivana Jorovic in the first rubber 6-4 6-3 Konta struggled in her match and was visibly distressed at the end through physical exhaustion.  She came through her match against Aleksandra Krunic 7-6 3-6 6-2.  The doubles rubber was not played.

The World Cup Group II play-off draw was also made this week and GB have a home tie.

They will play Kazakhstan in April with the venue yet to be announced, although it may well be at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Meanwhile, the World Group semi-finals look like this:

20-21 April

France v Romania
Australia v Belarus

Qatar Open

Having seen off Sam Stosur in qualifying (7-6 3-6 6-4), unseeded Anna Blinkova then put out seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 6-4.  She finally succumbed in the next round, to Barbora Strycova in a bizarrely scored match, 6-0 3-6 6-0 to the unseeded Strycova.

We are now at the semi-final stage, which will be completed today, Friday 15 February:

Simona Halep (1) v Elina Svitolina (4)
Angelique Kerber (3) v Elise Mertens

We are also at the semi-final stage in the doubles, with only one seeded pairing left in the competition.  Both games again today, 15 February:

Chan Hao-Ching/Latisha Chan v Jelena Ostapenko/Veronika Kudermetova
Alison Riske/Ons Jabeur v Demi Schuurs/Anna-Lena Grönefeld (4)

Tennis – off the Court

Maria Sharapova had withdrawn from next month’s Indian Wells tournament.

She is suffering ongoing problems from a shoulder injury that has forced her to withdraw or retire from two of her last three events since playing in the US Open in September.

Volleyball

Last weekend’s results from the Women’s Super League Top 5 were:

9 February

Durham Palatinates 3-0 Malory Eagles UEL (25-16, 25-18, 25-22)
London Orcas 0-3 Tendring VC Ladies (17-25, 14-25, 15-25)

Durham are top with 29 points from 10 games.  Tendring are second with22 from nine.

Women’s Super League Bottom 4:

9 February

Sheffield Hallam 3-1 Birmingham Volley Club1 (25-17, 25-22, 25-27, 25-16)

All teams have played nine games.  Sheffield are top with 12 points, then come Polonia SideOut London (6), Bristol VC1 (4) and Birmingham Volley Club1 (3).

Athletics

British Indoor Championships

More team GB places have been booked as we build up to the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March.

Results in full:
Pole vault: 1. Holly Bradshaw (4,80m), 2. Jade Ive (4.40m), 3. Sophie Cook 4.30m)
Triple Jump: 1. Naomi Ogbeta (14.05m), 2. Laura Samuel (13.61m), 3. Alexandra Russell (13.27m)
60m hurdles: 1. Cindy Ofili (8.16), 2. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (8.27), 3. Gabriella Ade-Onojobi *13.21)
60m: 1. Asha Philip (7.19), 2. Rachel Miller (7.20), 3. Kristal Awuah (7.35)
3000m: 1. Laura Muir (8:48.03), 2. Melissa Courtney (8:50.61), 3. Amy Eloise Neale (8:59.86)
Shot Put: 1. Sophie McKinna (17.97m), 2. Amelia Strickler (17.28m), 3. Adele Nicoll (15.58m)
5000m walk: 1. Heather Lewis (22:55.15), 2. Madeline Shott (25:15.58), 3. Pagen Spooner (26:43.74)
Long Jump: 1. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (6.46m), 2. Jahisha Thomas (6.36m), Abigail Irozuru (6.35m)
High jump: 1. Morgan Lake (1.94m), 2. Bethan Partridge (1.87m), 3. Nikki Manson (1.80m)
400m: 1. Zoey Clark (52.85), 2. Amber Anning (53.00), 3. Laviai Nielsen (53.03)
200m: 1. Hayley Mills (23.59), 2. Kiah Dubarry-Gay (24.01), 3. Melissa Roberts (24.28)
800m: 1. Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (2:05.04), 2. Mari Smith (2:05.68), 3. Adelle Tracey (2:05.72)
1500m: 1. Jemma Reekie (4:17.08), 2. Sarah McDonald (4:18.10), 3. Katie Snowden ( 4:19.34)

Netball

Last weekend’s Vitality Superleague results were as follows:

Friday 8 February
Strathclyde Sirens 46-50 Celtic Dragons

Saturday 9 February
Severn Stars 49-62 Manchester Thunder
Loughborough Lightning 50-75 Team Bath

Monday 11 February
London Pulse 49-69 Surrey Storm
Wasps Netball 54-50 Saracens Mavericks

Wasps are still top with four wins from four.  Manchester Thunder are second on the same points but with an inferior goal average.  Team Bath are third on nine points from four games.  At the bottom, there are two teams with three points from five games; London Pulse and Strathclyde Sirens.

This weekend’s round six fixtures:

Saturday 16 February
Manchester Thunder v Loughborough Lightning (5pm)
Severn Stars v Surrey Storm (6pm)
Saracens Mavericks v Team Bath (6pm – Live on Sky Sports)

Monday 18 February
Celtic Dragons v Wasps Netball (7pm)
London Pulse v Strathclyde Sirens (7.30pm)

And Finally,

Is she a woman?  Is she a man?  It still seems that no-one can agree.  While they debate her physical make-up, what happens to Caster Semenya’s mental health?  How does she feel having her gender debated in this way?  Will she have to undergo treatment to lower her testosterone levels?  If so, when tested she will have show the lower levels six months before competition.

Earlier this week it was reported that the IAAF’s lawyers will say Semenya is a “biological male”.  The organisation has denied this.

Now Semenya’s lawyer has said that she is “unquestionably a woman”.

Semenya herself says,

“It is not fair. I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.

“It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am.”

I’m not arguing with her.  I just want her to be able to run – where she wants to run.

Not here next week, so more news and views in a fortnight. 

Advertisements

Women’s Sports Column 30 June – 6 July 2018

laura 1Welcome to this week’s column.  After last week’s unexpurgated rants, expect nothing but serenity and calm this time round (possibly).  Stories this week come from tennis, athletics, netball, badminton, winter sports, golf, cricket, rugby union and football.

Tennis

A Week is a long time in tennis – isn’t that what they say?  Well it certainly is for Caroline Wozniacki, who went from Eastbourne winner last week to out in the second round at Wimbledon this.

Eastbourne

Wozniacki came from a set down in her semi-final against Angelique Kerber to take it 2-6 7-6 6-4.  She was joined in the final by Aryna Sabalenka who defeated Agnieszka Radwanska, just coming back into form after a long injury lay-off, 6-3 1-6 6-3.

The final was altogether a more straightforward, if tight, affair.  Top seed Wozniacki took the title in straight sets 7-5 7-6.

Wimbledon

Into Wimbledon fortnight and almost immediately the seeds in the women’s draw began to fall.

The biggest shock of the first round was a really limp display from fourth seed Sloane Stephens, who was easily beaten by Donna Vekic 6-1 6-3.

The second biggest shock of the first round was the exit of the fifth seed, Elina Svitolina, who went down in three sets to Tatjana Maria 7-6 4-6 6-1.

Petra Kvitova, seeded eight, lost in three sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 4-6 6-0.

Sixteenth seed, Coco Vanderweghe, also went out in the first round, defeated in three sets by

Katerina Siniakova 6-7 6-3 8-6.   She had sustained an injury during the match and, although she completed it, later had to pull out of the doubles.

Twenty-first seed Anastasija Sevastova lost to Camila Giorgi 6-1 2-6 6-4, Maria Sharapova, seeded twenty-four, lost to Vitalia Diatchenko, Hsieh Su- Wei defeated thirtieth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 4-6 6-3  and Andrea Petkovic beat thirty-first seed Zhang Shuai 6-4 4-6 6-2.

Of the British players, Heather Watson went out in the first round to Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 7-5.  Katy Dunne lost to twelfth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-6.  Gabi Taylor went out to qualifier Eugenie Bouchard 6-0 4-6 6-3.  Third seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Naomi Broady 6-2 7-5.  Harriet Dart took a set off seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, but went down 7-6 2-6 6-1.

British number one Jo Konta beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6 in a closely fought encounter and there were fine wins for Katie Boulter against Veronica Cepede Royg 6-4 5-7 6-4 and Katie Swan, who defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 6-2.

The second round was just as bloody.  Second seed Wozniacki lost in three to Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 1-6 7-5.Third seed Muguruza was beaten by Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7  6-2 6-1.

Thirty-second seed Radwanska lost to Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4.

All of the remaining British players lost, including twenty-second seed Konta who succumbed to Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-4.  Cue the haters on social media, including one particularly pernicious chap who repeatedly called Konta an “LTA funding leech”.  Ugh.

Boulter lost to Naomi Osaka (eighteenth seed), 6-3 6-4 and Swan to Mihaela Buzarnescu (twenty-ninth seed) 6-0 6-3.

And that’s just after the first four days!  Will there be any seeds left by the business end of the tournament next week?  Is it opening up for Serena (and have I just jinxed her by saying it?)  News and updates next Friday.

Cricket

England were triumphant in the T20 Tri-Series against New Zealand on Sunday.

In truth it was a bit of an anti-climax as New Zealand batting first could only muster 137 in their 20 overs:

New Zealand 137/9 (20 overs)
England 141/3 (17.1 overs)
England won by seven wickets with 17 balls to spare

Openers Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates began well, making 31 apiece, but after that it all fell apart as New Zealand limped to a below par 137.  Dani Hazell, Katherine Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone took two wickets each.

In response the England openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont made a stand of 81 before Beaumont was out for 35.  The visitors had no answer to Wyatt’s strength and style as she scored 50.

Sarah Taylor was bowled by young star Amelia Kerr, but Nat Sciver and Heather Knight took it on and saw England home, scoring 21 and 17 not out respectively.

England squad to play ODI series against New Zealand

Dani Hazell has been left out of the ODI squad.  In comes Alex Hartley, while young fast bowler Katie George keeps her place:

Heather Knight (Berkshire, capt), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Katie George (Hampshire), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Alex Hartley (Lancashire), Amy Jones (Warwickshire, wk), Laura Marsh (Kent), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Sarah Taylor (Sussex, wk), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

The three-match series starts tomorrow (7 July) at Headingley (11am start), with the second match at Derby on 10 July (1pm start) and the third at Leicester on 13 July (2pm start).  There are ICC Women’s Championship points at stake in all three games.

All matches are live on Sky Sports and radio coverage is on BBC TMS on 5 Live Sports Extra.

 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

The qualifying tournament begins on Saturday 7 July in Rotterdam.

Group A comprises Bangladesh, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE
Group B comprises Ireland, Scotland, Thailand and Uganda

Ireland begin on 7 July against Thailand.  They then play Scotland on 8 July and Uganda on 10 July.

Scotland’s first match is against Uganda on 7 July and their last against Thailand on 10 July.

Athletics

There were some big performances by Team GB’s women at the British Athletics Championships last weekend.

On the track:

Laura Muir won the 800m in 2:01.22 seconds with Shelayna Oskan-Ckarke second (2:01.94) and Adelle Tracey in third (2:02.00).

Beth Dobbin won the 200m in 22.75, her second personal best time of the weekend.

Rosie Clarke won the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:45.83 which was good enough to get her to the European Championships.

Bethan Davies won the 5,000m walk.

Steph Twell won the 5,000m with Melissa Courtney in second and Eilish McColgan in third.

Meghan Beesley won the 400m hurdles in 55.73 with Kirsten McAslan second (56.48) and Jessica Turner third (57.10).

In the field:

Lorraine Ugen maintained her good form in the long jump, which she won with a jump of 7.05m with Jazmin Sawyers in second (6.86m).

Holly Bradshaw won the pole vault with a height of 4.60m, Sophie Cook in second (4.25m, PB) and Sally Peake in third (4.15m)

Morgan Lake won the high jump (1.97m), Katrina Johnson-Thompson second (1.90) and Nikki Manson third (1.87, PB).

Jade Lally won the discus with 56.61.

Laura Whittingham won the javelin with 55.55m.

Sophie Hitchon won the hammer with a championship record throw of 72.02.

Other Athletics News

British 400m runner, Christine Ohuruogu has retired at the age of 34.  Ohuruogu became World Champion in 2007 and won gold the following year at the Beijing Olympics.

She won silver at the London Olympics and a second world title in Moscow in 2013.

She was also a stalwart member of the 4 x 400m relay team, winning two Olympic bronzes (2008, 2016), one World Championship silver (2013) and no less than five bronze medals (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015).

Polish sprinter, Irena Szewinska has died at the age of 72.

She won three Olympic golds medals; in the 4x100m relay in Tokyo (1964), in the 200m in Mexico City (1968) and in the 400m eight years later in Montreal (1976).

She was the first woman to break 50 seconds for the 400m and set 10 career world records.

In 1998 she became a member of the International Olympic Committee and in 2005 became only the third woman to serve on the IAAF Council.

Golf

Women’s PGA Championship

Park Sung-hyun of South Korea won the PGA at Kemper Lakes near Chicago at the weekend.

Three golfers finished on -10, Park, Nasa Hataoka of Japan and Ryu So-yeon, also of South Korea and went into a play-off.

Park and Ryu both birdied the first play-off hole, while Hataoka was eliminated as she made only par.  Play was then suspended for 20 minutes due to the weather and on the resumption, Park birdied the second play-off hole, while Ryu could only make par.

Best British finishers were Charley Hull tied for sixth on -6, Bronte Law tied 18th on -2 and Jodie Ewart Shadoff tied 25th on -1.

Netball

Vitality Super League Grand Final

It will be a repeat of last year’s Grand Final at the Copper Box in London this Saturday as Loughborough Lightning take on Wasps Netball for the title.

Last season, if you remember, Lightning finished top and Wasps second.  They defeated their semi-final opponents and met in the final where Wasps came out on top 55-51.

So this season Lightning will be out for revenge.  Their finishing places were reversed this year and they both had good wins in their respective semi-finals, Loughborough defeating Manchester Thunder 59-50 and Wasps beating Team Bath 54-39.

Who will come out on top at the Copper Box?  If you can’t get there, full coverage is on Sky Sports and the match starts at 5pm.

England Roses

The Roses have moved up to second in the world rankings for the first time.

Since rankings began in 2008, Australia and New Zealand have filled the top two places, but England have overtaken the Silver Ferns in the latest table.

Top 10:

  1. Australia
  2. England
  3. New Zealand
  4. Jamaica
  5. South Africa
  6. Malawi
  7. Uganda
  8. Northern Ireland
  9. Scotland
  10. Trinidad & Tobago

Wales have dropped out of the top ten and stand at 11, while Ireland are 19th.

England qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup as hosts and are joined in automatic qualification by Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.

“Interesting” that in the 15 comments I saw when I looked at this story on the BBC Sports page, eight were from men with variations of “It’s not a proper sport”, “sexist if men can’t play”, “who cares?”, three were removed because they broke the house rules (makes you wonder what they actually said) and the grand total of four were actually positive comments about the Roses’ achievement.  So it seems that women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in “men’s sport”, i.e., football, but neither should we have what is perceived, incorrectly, to be a “women’s sport”, i.e., netball.  I think that leaves us with what is called Hobson’s choice……

Winter Sports

UK Sport has announced increased funding for curling running up to the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing in 2022.  But four winter sports have had their funding cut:

  2014-2018 funding 2018-22 funding
Bobsleigh  £5m (men’s only) £0
Curling £5.66m £6.35m
Figure Skating £1.24m £0
Short-track speed skating £4.76m £0 (extra support for Elise Christie)
Skeleton £6.55m £7.2m
Ski & snowboard £5m £6.75m
Para-ski & Snowboard £2.77m £3.5m
Wheelchair curling £1.14m 0

This is broadly in line with UK Sport policy of only funding where the prospect of medals is a real one, a policy which you will know, if you are a regular reader of this column, is not something with which I necessarily agree.  Even stranger than that, UK Sport has made special provision for short-track speed skater Elise Christie, who they consider has made “significant and consistent world-level success.”  This has drawn criticism from some quarters, especially as Christie did not win a medal in Pyeongchang.

Rugby Union – Sevens

France won the first leg of the European Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis.  They defeated Russia in the final 17-12.

Ireland finished third, beating England by 39-7, their biggest ever win against England in either 7s or 15s.

Wales finished fifth and newly promoted Scotland had a great weekend, making it to the quarter-finals before they were beaten by Russia.

This weekend sees the second leg in Kazan.  News and results next week.

Badminton

Chris and Gabby Adcock reached the semi-finals of the Malaysia Open last weekend before they fell to eventual champions and fourth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.  They lost 21-17, 18-21, 19-21.

Zheng and Huang then went on to defeat second seeds Wang Yiiu and Huang Dongping in the final 21-19, 21-18.

Football

The Welsh FA have announced that the Wales v England World Cup qualifier will be played at Newport’s ground, Rodney Parade.

The game, scheduled for 31 August, will kick-off at 7.45pm.

It is between England and Wales as to who finishes top – the runner-up will probably go into a play-off, while the group winner will qualify automatically.

Signings 

  • Arsenal have signed Swiss international midfielder Lia Walti and German international Tabea Kemme.
  • Former Lioness Rachel Yankey has joined the coaching staff at London Bees.
  • Reading have signed goalkeeper Rachael Laws from Sunderland and midfielder Remi Allen has signed a new contract with the Berkshire club.
  • Chelsea are about to sign Finnish international forward Adelina Engm
  • Liverpool have made two singing s from Bristol City; forward Yana Daniels and defender jasmine Matthews.
  • Everton have signed Sunderland midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg.
  • Bristol City Women have named their new manager; she is former Birmingham City assistant coach Tanya Oxtoby. She was previously assistant coach at Perth Glory Women and the Australia Under-20s.

Birmingham City Ladies have changed their name to Birmingham City Women.  In a statement the club called it “an important and progressive step.”

The FA has released its new logos for the rebranded women’s leagues.  Needless to say, as with pretty much all things FA-related, I’m not totally convinced.  Take a look for yourselves and let me know what you think: http://www.thefa.com/news/2018/jun/06/fa-womens-leagues-new-brand-identity-060618

And finally,

I gather there’s some men’s football going on this weekend?  I will actually miss it as I’ll be at the theatre in Stratford!  For those of you old enough to understand this reference, my husband and I will be re-enacting that Likely Lads episode until we can get home and watch the recording!  Good luck to England’s men against Sweden on Saturday.  Let’s hope it’s a better and much less tetchy and miserable match than the one against Colombia.

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 17-23 February 2018

winter-snow-nature-60561Welcome to this week’s column.  Last week I asked “what more does Elise Christie have to do to win a medal?”  Well, unfortunately that was answered this week by “wait until Beijing 2022” as she had a terrible experience x 2, crashing out in one and being disqualified from the other of her two remaining events.  But there has been plenty more to celebrate this week.  Stories come from the Winter Olympics, football, rugby union, cricket, netball and hockey.

So let’s crack on!

Winter Olympics

Marit Bjorgen

This week Marit Bjorgen of Norway became the most decorated Winter Olympian.  She has won four medals at Pyeongchang, taking her total to 14.

At this Olympics the cross-country skier won Bronze in the 10km, bronze in the team sprint with Maiken Caspersen Falla, silver in the pursuit and gold in the ridiculously exciting 4 x 5km relay.

Elise Christie

Love her or loathe her (and many do), she’s always good entertainment value.  Personally, I feel gutted on her behalf – is she under an Olympic curse?  There’s no denying her talent, she is a multiple world champion, after all.  So what happens when she sets foot on an Olympic course?

For the record, in the 1500m she crashed out on the final lap, colliding with Li Jinyu of China in the process.  She was taken to hospital and her place in the 1000m was severely in doubt.  She sustained ankle ligament damage and was not really fit to take part.  But she lined up in the 100m heat, even though she was obviously in pain.  She fell on the first lap, but the heat was restarted.  She finished second and would have qualified, but the judges said she had committed an offence during the race and was disqualified.

Skeleton

For all the trials and tribulations, British performance of the Games must go to Lizzy Yarnold.  She retained her skeleton title, taking the gold 0.45 seconds ahead of Jacqueline Loelling of Germany and with a fabulous performance by Laura Deas to secure bronze 0.62 seconds behind the winner.

Yarnold has shown such enthusiasm – she had such a poor season that no-one really expected her to win.  But when she did, it was with an abundance of joy that was clear to see.  It was also good to see her celebrate with her good friend Laura Deas.   A great competition all round.

Ice Hockey

There was a shock in the ice hockey final as the USA defeated Canada in a shoot out.   The scores were level after 2-2 after five penalties each.  Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the sixth for the USA but Meghan Agosta’s for Canada was saved by goalminder Maddie Rooney.

It’s the first time USA have beaten Canada in 20 years.

Bobsleigh

Mica McNeill and Mica Moore finished eighth in the bobsleigh.  Not bad for a crowdfunded team, who were not deemed to be deserving of mainstream funding.  Let’s hope this brings them further funding that sees them compete again in Beijing.

Curling

Team Muirhead fell to Sweden in the semi-finals 10-5.  The Swedes went ahead early, and although GB pulled it back to 3-3 after five ends, that’s as close as they got to being in front.

Team GB will now compete for Bronze against Japan on Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn

Another woman to have had a mixed games is US skiing star, Lindsey Vonn.  Before the Games started she endured some serious social media trolling criticising her for her political stance against President Trump.  More than once she was accused of being “un-American”.   She was also still grieving the loss of her Grandfather, who died in November and, it has been revealed that she scattered his ashes on the course in Pyeongchang where she won her bronze medal earlier in the week.

In competition, as already stated, she won a bronze in the Alpine downhill.  Gold went to Sofia Goggia of Italy with Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway in silver.

But it all went horribly wrong in the Alpine combined.  She was top after the first run, but in the slalom she went off course and failed to finish.   Michelle Gisin of Switzerland took gold with Mikaela Shiffrin silver and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, bronze.

Hopefully she will continue to compete, although we will not see her in another Olympics.

Football – on the pitch

FA Cup Fifth Round
Birmingham City 1-3 Manchester City (after extra time)
Arsenal 1-0 Millwall Lionesses
Cardiff City 1-3 Charlton Athletic
Chelsea 6-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Chichester City 0-3 Liverpool
Durham 5-2 Leicester City
Lewes 0-6 Everton
Sunderland AFC 3-2 Aston Villa

The draw has been made for the quarter-finals:

Sunderland v Manchester City
Liverpool v Chelsea
Arsenal v Charlton
Durham v Everton

Fixtures to be played the weekend 18-19 March.

Netball

It was Round 2 of the Vitality Superleague this weekend.  The scores were:

Saturday 17 February
Severn Stars 52-64 Wasps Netball
Team Northumbria 43-65 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 19 February
Celtic Dragons 35-54 Team Bath
Manchester Thunder 60-43 UWS Sirens
Benecos Mavericks 64-62 Surrey Storm

After two rounds, the table is split – five teams have two wins each and five have none from two.  Top are Team Bath on goal average, with Wasps second and Loughborough, third.

It’s a double-header this long weekend, beginning on Thursday and continuing until Monday.  The Sky televised match is on Monday 26 February:

Round 3
Thursday 22 February
Wasps Netball 69-37 UWS Sirens

Friday 23 February
Team Bath v Surrey Storm (7.30pm)
Manchester Thunder v Team Northumbria (7.30pm)

Saturday 24 February
Benecos Mavericks v Severn Stars (4pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (6pm)

Round 4
Monday 26 February
Loughborough Lightning v Manchester Thunder (7pm live on Sky Sports)
UWS Sirens v Team Northumbria (7pm)
Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (7pm)
Severn Stars v Team Baath (7.30pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Wasps Netball (7.30pm)

Football – off the pitch

Lionesses

The England squad for the SheBelieves Cup, which starts on 1 March has been announced.  Anita Asante is picked for the first time since 2015:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Chelsea).

Defenders: Anita Asante, Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright (all Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes (both Manchester City).

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen, Jill Scott, Keira Walsh (all Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Fara Williams (Reading).

Forwards: Karen Carney, Fran Kirby (both Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Melissa Lawley, Nikita Parris (both Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

All England’s games are being covered by the BBC:

England v France (1 March, 9pm)
Germany v England (4 March, 8pm)
USA v England (8 March, midnight)

Casey Stoney

Not one of sport’s best kept secrets, this week it was announced that Casey Stoney will join Phil Neville’s coaching staff when she hangs up her boots on Wednesday 21 February.

She will play her last game against Sunderland and then will travel with the squad and staff to the USA for the SheBelieves Cup.

Neville could not ask for a more knowledgeable, more respected addition to the team.  Her view of the game and her knowledge of the both the current squad and potential newcomers will be vital to the new manager.

Needless to say, the article on the BBC website prompted some unbelievable bile masquerading in some cases, but not in all of them, as “banter”, directed at Stoney, her sexuality, England women’s football, women’s football in general, Neville, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.  Really chaps (and yes, it is chaps), I know I’ve said this before, but for people who profess to have no interest in or knowledge of the women’s game, you all have an opinion.  And judging by what was left in by the moderators, I’d hate to see what was taken out as unacceptable……

Rugby Union

Last weekend’s Tyrell 15s Premier League results were:
17 February
Harlequins 80-7 Worcester Valkyries
Wasps 26-12 Bristol
Saracens 29-29 Gloucester-Hartpury
Loughborough Lightning 21-15 DMP Sharks

18 February
Richmond 20-12 Firwood Waterloo

All the teams have now played 15 matches.  Saracens’ draw sees their lead at the top of the table cut to just three points.  They lie on 68, with Harlequins on second with 65 and Wasps third on 54.  Worcester are still tethered at the bottom with two points, with Firwood Waterloo second from bottom on 11.

This weekend sees the third round of the Six Nations:

23 February
Scotland v England (Scotstoun, 7.05pm, live on Sky Sports)

24 February
France v Italy (Stade Furiani, 8pm GMT, French TV)

25 February
Ireland v Wales (Donnybrook, Dublin, 3pm, RTE & S4C)

Hockey
Argentina v Great Britain

Well, this series completely passed me by, for which hearty apologies.  GB avoided a series whitewash by winning the fourth game of five.

10 February: Argentina 2-1 Great Britain
GB took the lead through Susannah Townsend, but the hosts hit back through Maria Campoy and Eugenia Trinchinetti.  The GB team included players winning their first caps.

11 February: Argentina 3-1 Great Britain
Alex Danson’s 100th cap saw another loss for GB. The visitors took the lead on seven minutes through Elena Rayer, but again Argentina hit back.   Delfina Merino scored the equaliser.  By half-time Argentina were ahead, their second goal scored by Maria Granatto.  In the third period they grabbed another, through Julieta Jankunas.

14 February: Argentina 5-2 Great Britain
After two tight games, the third was a convincing win for the home side.  Maria Granatto scored after just five minutes, but shortly afterwards Alex Danson equalised. Granatto grabbed another  and Bianca Donati two to take it to 4-1.  Milagros Fernandez added a fifth, before Danson grabbed her second and fiftieth for Great Britain to make the final score 5-2..

17 February: Argentina 2-4 Great Britain
There was at last something to cheer about for GB fans in the fourth match.  Danson scored twice in the first quarter and sealed her hat-trick with nine minutes to go.  The fourth GB goal came from Laura Unsworth.  The Argentine goals came from Campoy and, with just five minutes remaining, Noel Barrionuevo got a second for the hosts.

17 February: Argentina 1-0 Great Britain
It was back to winning ways for the home side in the fifth and final match of the series.  Eugenia Trinchinetti scored the only goal of the game in the tenth minute.

Investec Hockey League Premier Division

17 February
University of Birmingham 5-0 Clifton Robinsons
Canterbury 3-2 Buckingham
Surbiton 1-1 Bowdon
East Grinstead 2-1 Leicester
Slough 0-1 Holcombe

After 13 games, University of Birmingham are top with 26 points, one point ahead of Surbiton.  Holcombe are third on 23.  At the bottom, Leicester prop up the table with 10 points. Just ahead of them are Slough on 12.

Cricket

Second T20
16 February
South Africa 142/7 (20 0vers)
India 144/1(19.1 overs)
India won by 9 wickets with 5 balls remaining

India went 2-0 up in the five-match series on Friday.  Again the batters mostly got starts, but no-on e could make the big score that would seriously cause problems.  Sue Luus top-scored with 33.  Poonam Yadav and Anuja Patil took 2/18 from four overs and 2/37 from four overs respectively.

In response Mithali Raj was in majestic form yet again.  She scored 76 not out from 61 balls with fine back-up from Smriti Mandhana with 57.  Harmanpreet Kaur came in when Mandhana was out in the fifteenth over, scoring seven to get India home comfortably.

Third T20
18 February
India 133 all out (17.5 overs)
South Africa 134/5 (19 overs)
South Africa won by five wickets with 6 balls remaining

Shabnim Ismail produced an excellent spell of 5/30 from 3.5 overs to help skittle India out for just 133.  But it was Marizanne Kapp who began the rout, taking the wicket of Raj for a duck in the first over.

Although Lizelle Lee was also out for five, in the first over of the response, Sune Luus scored 41off 34 balls and the middle order all contributed as South Africa won with an over to spare.

 Fourth T20
21 February
South Africa 130/3 (15.3 overs)
Match abandoned due to rain

India went into an unassailable 2-1 lead as the fourth match at Centurion was abandoned.

The last match in the series, and South Africa’s opportunity to draw it, is on Saturday 24 February at Newlands.

Alex Blackwell

Australia’s vice-captain, Alex Blackwell has announced her international retirement.

The 34-year old is Australia’s most-capped female player making 251 appearances over all formats.  She scored 5,250 international runs.

She will continue to play for Sydney Thunder in the WBBL.

And Finally,

Just a quick note to say it’s been a mixed week for reaction to women and women’s sport.  The Winter Olympics has been exciting and enthralling and, as several commentators on women’s sport have pointed out, no-one seems to say “it’s only women’s skiing” or “It’s only women’s short track.”  Why is this?  Why is it deemed “ok” for women to compete in these events, but not to play football?  Ah, but if I had the answer to this question, I would be a rich woman indeed….

Sorry, no column next week as I’m out and about.

 

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 February 2018

curlingWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get into this week with stories from the Winter Olympics, netball, AFL, football, cycling, rugby and cricket.

So let’s crack on.

Winter Olympics

I don’t plan to cover everything, just what I would consider the highlights.  Only one place to start…

Short track speed skating

What does Elise Christie have to do to get an Olympic medal?  At least she didn’t get disqualified from the 500m; if you remember, she was relegated from all three distances at Sochi, but this will be scant consolation for the Scot who fell in her first final this week.

She had been going so well, making the final with two Olympic record times.  But it seems to me that short-track is a lottery at the best of times and in this final it was even more congested as five skaters contested it instead of the usual four.

Christie fell on the penultimate lap, but that was not the end of the controversy as home favourite,  Choi Minjeong, was relegated and the Canadian, Kim Boutin took bronze.

Arianna Fontana of Italy took gold, with Yara van Kerkhof in silver and Kim Boutin of Canada in bronze.  Christie was officially placed fourth.  There have been reports that Boutin has received death threats after taking the bronze medal away from Choi, which, if true, is a pretty sad and ludicrous state of affairs.

Christie has two more chances to win a medal; in the 1000m and 1500m.

Skiing

Michaela Shiffrin duly took gold in the giant slalom on Thursday 15 February.  She took gold in a two-run combined time of 2:2.02.  Silver went to Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway with a time of 2:20.41 and bronze went to Italian Federica Brignone whose time was 2:20.48.

Shiffrin was going for four golds at Pyeongchang, but could finish only fourth in the slalom.  She complained of feeling unwell afterwards.  Frida Hansdotter of Sweden took the title, 0.05 seconds ahead of Wendy Holdener of Switzerland.  Katharina Gallhuber of Austria took bronze.

Shiffrin still has chances to add to her medal tally in the downhill and alpine combined.

Curling

It’s two wins and one loss for Team Muirhead so far as the round robin stage begins to take shape.

They began with an easy victory over the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) 10-3, but were then beaten by the US team 4-7.

It was back to winning ways in the third match with a tense 8-7 win over China that went to sudden death after the teams finished at 7-7 after 10 ends.

Bobsleigh

I have deliberately stayed out of the patronising “Cool Runnings” hype that has continuously done the rounds since the Jamaican women entered a team for the Olympic bobsleigh.  But things have taken a ridiculous turn for Jazmine Fenlater-Victorian and Carrie Russell.

Three days before the start of the Games, their coach Sandra Kiriasis quit, and in true tantrum style, took her bobsleigh with her.  She claimed that she had secured the sled through her contacts and was “legally responsible” for how and when it was used.

Now the team expects to compete with a sled “donated” by Jamaican beer producer, Red Stripe.

But the sled needs to be checked by the IBSF and cleared to run if they make it to the actual race runs.  They also need to make two runs in official training without crashing to be allowed to compete in the race proper.  It will take the duo some time to get used to a new sled – let’s hope they can get it together in time.

Netball – on the court

Vitality Netball Superleague

The 2018 Superleague season began on Saturday and the results were as follows:

Team Northumbria 39-52 Team Bath
Severn Stars 47-48 Manchester Thunder
Loughborough Lightning 55-44 UWS Sirens
Wasps Netball 68-43 Surrey Storm
Celtic Dragons 49-61 Benecos Mavericks

Round two is this weekend. The Sky televised match will be Manchester Thunder v UWS Sirens on Monday at 7pm. Here are the fixtures in full:

Saturday 17 February
Severn Stars v Wasps Netball (6pm)
Team Northumbria v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)

Monday 19 February
Celtic Dragons v Team Bath (7pm)
Manchester Thunder v UWS Sirens (7pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Surrey Storm (7.30pm)

Netball – off the court

England have announced their squad for this April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia:

Ama Agbeze, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Jade Clarke, Beth Cobden, Kadeen Corbin, Jodie Gibson, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Helen Housby, Geva Mentor, Chelsea Pitman.

Other squads to follow as they are announced.

Rugby Union

Six Nations

Saturday 10 February
England 52-0 Wales

A more than comfortable win for England as they scored eight tries without reply at the Stoop on Saturday.  Poppy Cleall scored the first for the Red Roses after eight minutes and this was converted by Katy McLean.  Abigail Dow scored a second on 17 and scrum-half Leanne Riley grabbed a third four minutes later. On the half-hour England secured their bonus point as Ellie KIldunne scored the first of her two and it was 26-0 at half-time.

It was more of the same in the second period.  There was a second for Kildunne and a second for Cleall.  Marlie Packer and Rachel Burford scored the others and McLean kicked six conversions in total.

Scotland 3-26 France

Scotland deserved so much more than three points for all their skill and effort in atrocious conditions at Scotstoun.

There were handling errors aplenty as the ball took on the aspect of a bar of soap, but it was France who held it together sufficiently to take the win.

The Scots took the lead through a Sarah Law penalty, but two storming tries from Agathe Sochat and Cyrielle Banet gave France a 12-3 lead at half-time.

There was no further score until nine minutes from time when France went over twice as Scotland tired.  Tries from Caroline Boujard and Jade le Pesq saw France take the bonus point win.  Tremouliere also kicked three from four conversions.

Sunday 11 February
Ireland 28-8 Italy

Italy were well in this match up to half-time.  The Irish went in 7-3 ahead but were not convincing.  Megan Williams scored the opening try after 10 minutes and this was converted by Niamh Briggs, but there was no further scoring until first-half injury time when Michela Sillari put over a penalty.

In the second-half Ireland got it together, scoring two further tries as the Italians tired.  Ciara Griffin scored both after 67 and 74, both of which were converted by Briggs.

Italy scored a consolation try in the last minute through Eleonora Ricci, but this went unconverted.

Round three takes place 23-25 February.

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

Just one result from the weekend:

10 February
DMP Sharks 22-31 Harlequins

With that win, Harlequins are just six points behind Saracens at the top of the table. Sarries still top then on 65, with Harlequins second on 60, Wasps third on 49 and Gloucester-Hartpury fourth.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

Saturday 17 February
Harlequins v Worcester Valkyries (1.30pm, Surrey Sports Park)
Wasps v Bristol (2pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Saracens v Gloucester-Hartpury Women (2pm, Allianz Park)
Loughborough Lightning v DMP Sharks (3pm, Loughborough University)

Sunday 18 February
Richmond v Firwood Waterloo (2.30pm, Richmond Athletic Ground)

Cycling

Sarah Storey has announced that she will compete for Great Britain at the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in March.  She is back on track after missing the 2017 season after the birth of her second child.

The full women’s team is:

Lora Fachie & Corrine Hall, Sophie Thornhill & Helen Scott, Katie Toft, Megan Giglia, Crystal Lane-Wright, Sarah Storey.

Australian Rules Football

There were more developments in the case of Hannah Mouncey this week.  The AFL has agreed to let her play women’s football for Victoria state.

She becomes the first transgender player to play at state level, having previously played at local level for Canberra.

Football

Scores from the weekend’s FAWSL matches were as follows:

Saturday 10 February
WSL1
Birmingham City 0-2 Chelsea
Bristol City 1-2 Sunderland AFC

Sunday 11 February
WSL1
Manchester City 4-0 Liverpool
Arsenal 4-0 Yeovil Town
Everton 2-1 Reading

Another big win for Man City sees them two points clear on 25 from nine games at the top of WSL1. Chelsea lie second on 23 from nine, with Arsenal third on 17 from nine.  Yeovil are still rock bottom after eight games and yet to take a point.

WSL2
Durham FC 1-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Aston Villa 0-2 Millwall Lionesses
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 London Bees
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Oxford United
Watford FC v Sheffield FC (postponed)

Doncaster Rovers Belles have a slender one-point lead at the top of WSL2.  They have 23 from nine matches with Millwall in second with 22 from nine.  Brighton lie third on 16 from eight games.  Watford are bottom of the pile with just one point from seven games.

Cricket – on the field

After pummelling their hosts in the first two ODIs, there was a somewhat surprising result in the third, which took place Potchefstroom on Saturday 10 February:

India 240 all out (50 overs)
South Africa 241/3 (49.2 overs)
South Africa won by 7 wickets with 4 balls remaining

Mithali Raj won the toss and elected to bat first.  They got off to a bad start when Smriti Mandhana was out for a duck, caught by Wolvaardt off the bowling of Ismail.  Raj was the second to go for just five.  There was a fine 79 from Dipti Sharma and 56 from Krishnamurthy, but the innings stuttered to 240 all out as Poonam Yadav was run out on the last ball.  Shabnim Ismail was the main wicket-taker with 4/30 off nine overs.

In response, Lizelle Lee went early for 10, but Wolvaardt scored 59 and Mignon du Preez 90 not out as they reached their total comfortably with Dane van Niekerk contributing 41 not out at the other end.

The series goes to India 2-1.

We are now into a five-match T20 series.

First T20 – 13 February
South Africa 164/4 (20 overs)
India 168/3 (18.5 overs)
India won by 7 wickets with 7 balls remaining

India put South Africa in to bat in the first T20 at Potchefstroom on Tuesday.  All of the South Africa batters got in but couldn’t get to the big score that would take the game away from India.  In the end, the visitors reached their total with seven balls to spare, Mithali Raj top-scoring on 54 not out.

The other four fixtures take place on 16, 18, 21 and 24 February.  More news and match reports next week.

Cricket – off the field

Ellyse Perry is now top of the ODI batting rankings, taking over from Mithali Raj.  She also leads the all-rounders rankings.

Raj is second, with Meg Lanning in third.

 

Women’s Sports Column 11-17 November 2017

heartWelcome to this week’s column.  Only one top story this week and it’s not the one I was hoping for.  England were comprehensively outplayed by Australia in the first of their three T20s and Australia have, as a result, retained The Ashes with two games to spare.  Details to follow.  Hopefully this week’s offering will be a bit less controversial than last week’s, but there are still things to be said!

Stories this week come from cricket, football, rugby league, rugby union, hockey, winter sports and cycling.

Let’s crack on…

Cricket

The joy of the summer’s World Cup win is officially over and we England cricket fans are now in mourning once again as Australia retained the Ashes this week.

Test Match

The Test at the North Sydney Oval ended in a draw.  No space here to discuss the pros and cons of it, but suffice it to say, the surface was not conducive to producing a result, which was not fair to the excellent crowd present and viewing/listening.  Thus there then proceeded a raft of discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of Test match cricket in the women’s game.  “No appetite for it”, “Not going to be a major feature any time soon”, etc, etc, yelled the governing bodies.  Rubbish.  The players want it, the viewers want it, the crowds want it.  The only ones who don’t want it are the administrators.  They can’t be bothered to schedule it in.  And, crucially, they can’t be bothered to spend the money to host it.  I could go on – and I will at another time, but here are the match details:

England 280 all out
And 206/2

Australia 448/9 declared

Ellyse Perry was the standout superstar of this game.  She scored 213 not out in Australia’s first innings total of 448.  But the pitch did no-one any favours and it was always going to be hard for Australia to get 10 wickets in a day and an hour.  The England openers managed to see off a tricky night session to remain unbeaten going into day four.  Winfield (34) and Beaumont (37) built a platform that Knight and Elwiss took on, finishing undefeated on 79 and 41 respectively.

Points shared.

First T20 17 November
England 132/9 (20 overs)
Australia 134/4 (15.5 overs)

It was never enough.  England rallied late on but a score of 132 was never going to be enough to worry the Aussies. A disastrous opening saw England slump to 16/4.  Knight lasted two balls before she was caught behind by Healy.  Taylor was then given out to a ridiculous lbw decision – too high and possibly down leg side – apart from that it had everything going for it (!).  Brunt was culpable, though, a first ball slash and another catch for the excellent Healy.  Wyatt showed some resistance, building a partnership with Sciver.  But when she was run out on 50, it all went to pot again.  The Aussies also dropped five catches – things could have been much worse.

The batting was poor, not confident enough, not enough push and the Southern Stars would have been rubbing their hands and desperate to get out there to knock the total off.

And they did.  A fine 86 from Beth Mooney was enough to see them home.  The ball crashed to the boundary with monotonous regularity.  The bowlers huffed and puffed, but to no avail.  Brunt was off-key all day and suffered badly, conceding 33 in three overs.

Well done to Australia.  They outplayed England from the beginning of the game, and indeed, the beginning of the series.

The two remaining T20s are:

Sunday 19 November, Manuka Oval Canberra – 03.35 (GMT)

Tuesday 21 November, Manuka Oval Canberra – 8.10 (GMT)

Possibly as a distraction manoeuvre, the ECB released England’s fixtures for 2018 this week, so let’s look ahead to the summer:

Royal London ODIs v South Africa 

9 June: First ODI, New Road, Worcester (11am)
12 June: Second ODI, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove (D/N) (1pm)
15 June: Third ODI, Canterbury (D/N) (2pm)

IT20 Tri-Series – England, South Africa and New Zealand

20 June: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, South Africa v New Zealand, 1pm; England v South Africa, 5:40pm
23 June: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, England v South Africa, 1pm; England v New Zealand, 5:40pm
28 June: The Brightside Ground, Bristol, South Africa v New Zealand, 1pm; England v New Zealand, 5:40pm
1 July: Final, The Cloud FM County Ground, Chelmsford (3pm)

Royal London ODIs v New Zealand 

7 July: First ODI, Emerald Headingley (11am)
10 July: Second ODI, The 3aaa County Ground, Derby (D/N) (1pm)
13 July: Third ODI, The Fischer County Ground, Grace Road (D/N) (2pm)

Tickets on sale from 12 December

Rugby League

England’s women began their World Cup campaign with a fine win over the PNG Orchids.

England 36-18 PNG Orchids

Tries from Hoyle, Hardcastle, Stanley, Booth (2), Bound, Sutcliffe and goals from: Stanley (4) saw England home in their first match.  PNG’s scores came from tries from Kaupa and Oiufa.

In the other opening games Australia defeated Cook Islands 58-4 and New Zealand beat Canada 50-4.

England’s next game is against Australia on Sunday 19 November.

Football

On the Pitch

It was back to league action last weekend with a full programme of WSL1 and WSL2 matches.  Here are the scores:

Saturday 11 November

WSL1
Yeovil Town 0-2 Everton Ladies
Liverpool Ladies 1-0 Birmingham City Ladies

Sunday 12 November

WSL1
Reading Women 2-2 Chelsea Ladies
Arsenal 3-0 Sunderland Ladies
Manchester City Women 4-0 Bristol City Women

WSL2
Durham Women 0-0 London Bees
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Sheffield FC
Aston Villa Ladies 4-0 Watford Ladies
Millwall Lionesses 1-0 Oxford United Women
Tottenham Hotspur Ladies 1-4 Doncaster Rovers Belles

So in WSL1 Chelsea drop their first points of the season at Reading.  They are replaced at the top of the table by unbeaten Manchester City with 15 points from five games.  Chelsea are second with 13 and Arsenal third on 10.  At the bottom Yeovil are still yet to claim a point.  One up from them are Everton with three, after taking their first points of the season in beating the bottom side on Saturday.

In WSL2 Doncaster Rovers Belles lead the way with 11 points from five games.  Durham, Millwall and Brighton are just behind on 10.  At the bottom beleaguered Watford have just one point from five as do London Bees.  Aston Villa took their first points of the season against Watford.

Champions League

Manchester City and Chelsea eased into the Champions League quarter-finals this week.  And not to denigrate the earlier rounds, but here they cannot avoid meeting the big teams.

The round of 16 second leg results this week were:

15 November

Wolfsburg 3-3 Fiorentina
Wolfsburg through 7-3 on aggregate

Rosengård 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea through 4-0 on aggregate

No score at half-time but in the 53rd minute Crystal Dunn put Ji So-Yun through to score for Chelsea and confirm their passage into the quarter-finals.

Lyon 9 (nine)-0 BIIK Kazygurt
Lyon through 16-0 on aggregate

Linköping 3-0 Sparta Praha
Linköping through 4-0 on aggregate

Barcelona 3-0 Gintra
Barcelona through 9-0

Montpellier 6-0 Brescia
Montpellier through 9-2 on aggregate

16 November

Slavia Praha 0-0 Stjarnan
Slavia Praha through 2-1 on aggregate

Manchester City 2-1 LSK Kvinner
Manchester City through 7-1 on aggregate

LSK took the lead in the second leg through Marie Berget, but the comeback really was never on.  A minute into the second-half Izzy Christiansen and Nikita Parris scored the second for City to take the win and a place in the quarter-finals.  Defender Megan Campbell (she of the long throw) was stretchered off for City, which will be of some concern.

The quarter-final draw is on 24 November.  News next week.

Continental Cup

We’re coming to the business end of the Conti Cup with the quarter-finalists almost decided.  The teams already qualified are Sunderland, Arsenal, Reading and Liverpool.

This week the scores were:

15 November
Liverpool Ladies 5-1 Aston Villa Ladies
Reading Women 4-0 London Bees
Yeovil Town Ladies 0-2 Bristol City Women

16 November
Sheffield FC Ladies 1-1 Sunderland AFC Ladies
Everton Ladies 4-0 Oxford United Women
Watford Ladies 0-6 Arsenal

Special mention to Reading this week as their game, marketed brilliantly and played at the Madejski Stadium drew a crowd of 2,110.  Fabulous for a mid-week Conti Cup match.  Well done to all at Reading.

Off the Pitch

WSL Applications

After the doom and gloom of last week, it’s good to bring you details this week of some clubs who are going to apply for a WSL licence.

London Bees announced this week that it is to apply.   A club statement said,

“London Bees has strategic planning to achieve growth, sustainability, increased financial investment and the exponential support for its players and staff. Our approach will promote effective use of the Grade A facilities here at The Hive London with new and exciting developments to the infrastructure, including a brand new Medical Centre.

“London Bees are delighted that new developments to our match day experience has led to increased attendances thanks to direct links with our community projects which reach across the county. We are proud to continue working with our existing partners and FA sister clubs as well as sponsors Canons High School for the coming seasons as we push the club to the next level.”

And after it looked as if it was not going to happen, Yeovil Town Ladies are also putting in a bid,

“After a lengthy and very detailed process of collaborative thinking and working with a number of interested parties, Yeovil Town Ladies FC has today submitted what it considers to be a very strong submission for a Tier One application for the 2018/19 season, to continue to play football at the elite level of the women’s game.

“The collaborative approach will not only see full-time players training 19.25 hours per week (rising to 20.25 in the 2020 season), but it also has a strong mission and vision, for the new academy programme.

“With an already strong and established partnership with Bridgwater and Taunton College, this will see the education partners not only become an essential part for the clubs future elite players, whereby players aged sixteen plus can study and play, but it also becomes the clubs full time training ground, with access to grass pitches, 3G, gym, performance lab, medical room, classrooms, analysis suite, plus more.

“Furthermore, the club has devised a strategic plan, which will focus on building its links even more in the community, with plans to engage with 20,000 children in the 2018/19 season.

“The application relies solely on developing and growing its own financial resources and is based on long term self sustainability which the Club has always placed at the heart of its ethos. It is not reliant in any way on any investment from Yeovil Town Football Club, which is named as the parent Club in the application.”

England

Next week sees the first of two World Cup qualifiers for England.  They play Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Banks’s Stadium, Walsall on Friday 24 November.  Kick-off is 7.05pm.

On Tuesday 28 they play Kazakhstan at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester.  Kick- off is also 7.05pm.

Mo Marley has already named her squad:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Mary Earps (Reading), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Jess Carter (Birmingham City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jo Potter (Reading), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Reading), Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Forwards: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Danielle Carter (Arsenal), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal).

Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson have been handed their first senior call-ups.

Tickets are still available for both games.  See here for details.

Rugby Union

Last weekend’s Tyrell’s Premier 15s results were as follows:

Richmond Women 5-43 Harlequins Ladies
Saracens Women 44-19 DMP Sharks
Worcester Valkyries 5-51Wasps Ladies
Gloucester-Hartpury Women 29-22 Firwood Waterloo Ladies
Bristol Ladies 8-12 Loughborough Lightning

England

England’s women will receive a match fee for the first time this autumn.  They have come to an agreement with the RFU and Rugby Players’ Association.

The figures have not been released but will apply to the three match series against Canada, which begins this Friday at Allianz Park.

Let’s face it, it won’t make up for the scrapping of contracts for the 15-a-side players, but it is a start.

The Old Mutual Wealth Series fixtures:

Game 1:  17 November, Aliianz Park 19.30
Game 2: 21 November, Twickenham Stoop 19.45
Game 3: 25 November, Twickenham 17.40 (after the men’s game against Samoa)

Coverage is via the England Rugby website, and allegedly, although it took me a long, long time to find it, the BBC will have radio coverage via their website.

Barbarians

Munster 0-19 Barbarians

Players from eight countries took part in the Barbarians’ first match in Limerick.  In the first-half the visitors took the lead through a penalty try as Munster stood up in the scrum and then prevented Kelly Russell from playing the ball.

In the second-half Irish prop Ailis Egan went over after a sustained drive.  It was converted by Player of the Match, Megan Goddard.

The Barbarians’ third came from the best move of the match.  The Baa-baas turned the ball over on their own 22, Nora Stapleton and Christelle LeDuff working the ball down the left wing to put England’s Georgina Roberts away to score.

Cycling

Track Cycling World Cup

Great Britain’s women won two golds and a silver at this, the second of five World Cup events, in Manchester last weekend.

Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald started the ball rolling on Saturday with a win in the madison.  The beat current world champions, Belgium, by two points with Italy third.  They then teamed up with  Emily Nelson and Neah Evans to take gold in the team pursuit, beating the Italian team in the final by almost five seconds.

Archibald also took silver in the omnium with American Jennifer Valente taking gold.

In other events Katy Marchant and Sophie Capewell reached the semi-final of the women’s team sprint, but lost to Germany.

Emily Kay was seventh in the scratch race, which was won by Rachele Barbieri of Italy.  Eleanor Dickinson finished eleventh and Hayley Jones of Wales twelfth.

Round three takes place in Milton, Canada from 1-3 December.

Winter Sports

Snowboarding

Katie Ormerod won silver at the first Big Air World Cup event of the season in Milan last weekend.

She had let going into the final round, but Anna Gasser of Austria snatched victory from her, pushing her into second.

Bobsleigh

But bad news from bobsleigh this week as Donna Creighton has announced her retirement from the sport.

Creighton was the pilot of the second team that was trying to raise £30,000 to compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February 2018.  Unfortunately, while Mica McNeill and Mica Moore succeeded in their bid, Creighton’s bid raised only £12,000 by the deadline.

With the failure of the crowdfunding bid, Creighton has taken the difficult and distressing decision to call it a day.

Speed Skating

Elise Christie and Charlotte Gilmartin are both through to the semi-finals of the 1500m at the World Cup event in Seoul this weekend.  They are drawn in separate heats in the semis which take place on Friday 17 November.

Christie is also through to the quarter-final of the 500m and both are through to the quarter-final of the 100m where they are both drawn in heat two.

News of how they got on next week.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Last weekend’s results were as follows:

11 November
University of Birmingham 4-1 Leicester
Surbiton 1-2 Buckingham

12 November
Canterbury 1-0 Bowdon
Clifton Robinsons 3-4 East Grinstead
Holcombe 3-0 Slough

After eight games Surbiton and University of Birmingham are joint top on 16 points.  They cannot even be separated on goal difference or goals scored!  Buckingham lie third, just a point behind.  Canterbury are at the bottom on five points from eight games, with Bowdon and Leicester above them on seven, with Leicester two better on goal difference.

And finally,

You will all know by now, that to me cricket is more dear to me than life, so I make no apologies for this: come on England (men), you have to beat those Aussies.  This is even more poignant now that the women have so horribly failed in their attempt to regain the women’s version.  So, Root, Cook, Anderson, et al, I am relying on you for this winter not to be a complete disaster.

Women’s Sports Column 30 September – 6 October 2017

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  After the turmoil of last week, this week seems to have returned to some semblance of normality and I’m all for it.  News this week comes from netball, football, rugby union, athletics, gymnastics, speed skating, golf, tennis and hockey.

Netball

It’s the Netball Europe Open Championships in Cardiff from 5-8 October.

England Roses are defending champions and the top side in the world to be competing at three in the world rankings.

The other teams taking part are Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Fiji (invitational team).

There will be coverage on the BBC via Connected TV, online and the BBC Sport App.

Fixtures are as follows:

Thursday, 5 October
16.25 Fiji v Scotland
18.25 Wales v Northern Ireland

Friday, 6 October
11.55 England v Scotland
17.55 Fiji v Wales
19.55 England v Northern Ireland

Saturday, 7 October
10.25 Fiji v Northern Ireland
15.55 Wales v Scotland
17.55 England v Fiji

Sunday, 8 October
09.55 Scotland v Northern Ireland
11.55 England v Wales

Football

Plenty of football news, as you would expect, this week. There were WSL1 and WSL2 league matches at the weekend, plus the round of 32 first leg fixtures in the Champions League, midweek.  But first, some World Cup news.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has been expelled from the 2019 Women’s World Cup after it emerged that it fielded 10 ineligible players in the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympics.

The team had already been banned from the 2020 Olympic Games.

Not only were some players ineligible, but others used forged or false documents in order to qualify.  The country’s football association has also been fined $102,000.

Domestic news

Former Hibernian Ladies manager, Chris Roberts, has been appointed as Bristol City Women’s first team coach and technical director.

Roberts had been at Hibs since 2014.

He rejoins his former Hibs boss, Willie Kirk, who is currently Bristol City manager.

Champions League

St Polten 0-3 Manchester City Women

All the goals came in the first half in Austria with England trio, Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris all hitting the back of the net.  The tie would seem to be over and City will be looking forward to the return leg.

Chelsea Ladies 1-0 Bayern Munich

It was a case of hanging on for Chelsea as they scored early on, but were unable to add further goals at Kingsmeadow.

The Blues had an outstanding first half, attacking all the way and were unlucky to in at half-time just one up, through Drew Spence.

The second-half was a completely different matter.  Munich pressed constantly but were profligate in front of goal.  They had countless corners and set pieces, but were unable to score.

Unsurprisingly Chelsea tired in the second-half and never looked like adding to their tally.  They may rue not scoring more in the first period when they go to Munich.

BIIK-Kazygurt 3-0 Glasgow City

Glasgow will do well to come back from a three-goal deficit.  After a goalless first-half, the home side scored three goals in the first ten minutes of the second, effectively putting the tie beyond Glasgow.

Begaim Kirgizbaeva, Kaelyn Korte and Gulnara Gabelia scored the goals for the home side.

Other Scores

Wednesday 4 October

Medyk Konin 0-5 Lyon Féminines
Apollon Ladies FC 0-1 Linköpings FC
FC PAOK 0-5 Sparta Prague Women
Gintra Universitetas 1-1 FC Zürich Frauen
ZFK Minsk 1-3 Slavia Prague Women
Avaldsnes IL 0-4 Barcelona Femenino
LSK Kvinner 0-0 Brøndby IF Ladies
Ajax Vrouwen 1-0 Brescia Femminile
Atlético de Madrid Femenino 0-3 VfL Wolfsburg Ladies
Firenze Femminile 2-1 Fortuna Hjørring
Montpellier Féminines 0-1 Zvezda 2005 Women

Thursday 5 October

CFF Olimpia Cluj 0-1 Rosengård Women
Stjarnan Women 1-1 WFC Rossiyanka

WSL1

Friday 29 September
Liverpool 0-3 Reading

Saturday 30 September
Manchester City 5-2 Arsenal
Bristol City 1-0 Yeovil Town
Sunderland AFC 0-6 Chelsea

Sunday 1 October
Birmingham City 2-1 Everton

WSL2

Saturday 30 September
Sheffield FC 3-1 London Bees

Sunday 1 October
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 Durham
Doncaster Rovers 2-2 Millwall Lionesses
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa
Watford 1-3 Oxford United

Check out this week’s upcoming fixtures on the excellent FAWSL website here

Athletics

The current British champion javelin thrower Joanna Blair has been provisionally suspended after failing a doping test.

She tested positive for a “prohibited substance”, although it has not been revealed what the substance was.

She now has the right to a hearing and right to appeal the decision.

Speed Skating

South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong took all three titles at the first World Cup event of the season in Budapest at the weekend.

Britain’s Elise Christie finished fourth in the 1500m and third in the 1000m.

Kim Boutin of Canada took silver in both events while Deanna Lockett of Australia finished third in the 1500m.

In the 500m Arianna Fontana of Italy was second and Shim Suk Hee of South Korea, third.

The other World Cup events take place in the Netherlands, China and South Korea.

Golf – New Zealand Open

This event saw some atrocious weather as the golfers tried their very best to complete their rounds.

If you’d like to get a flavour of what conditions were like in the final round on Sunday, check out this video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/41460869

The eventual winner was 20-year old Canadian Brooke Henderson.  She somehow managed a -3 69 fourth round to win by five strokes – a total of -17.

The weather finally caused the final round to be suspended on Sunday and the remainder played on Monday.  Henderson had played six holes when play was suspended.

China’s Jing Yan finished second with Hee Young Park of South Korea in third at -11.

The conditions were slightly better on Monday but the players still had to play on through strong winds.  The organisers were criticised for making the players continue on Sunday, but most of the players seemed to support the move.

Third round leader Belen Mozo of Spain finished tied fifth with fellow Spaniard Beatriz Recari and Su Oh of Australia.

Tennis

Jo Konta

The British number one has pulled out of next week’s Hong Kong Open with a foot injury.

She hopes to be able to compete the following week in Moscow.

China Open

We’re at the quarter-final stage of the China Open and three of the four matches have been played:

Petra Kvitova (12) beat Barbora Strýcová 6-3 6-4
Simone Halep (2) beat Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (9) beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4

The fourth quarter-final is between third seed Elina Svitolina and Caroline Garcia.

Ostapenko faces Halep in the first semi-final on Saturday, while Kvitova must wait until later on Friday 6 before she knows who her opponent will be.

Hockey

The EuroHockey Club Cup in May 2018 will be held at Surbiton Hockey Club.  It will be the first time the competition has been hosted by an English club.

The teams taking part will be Surbiton, two Dutch clubs; HC’s-Hertogenbosch and AHBC Amsterdam, two German teams; UHC Hamburg and Mannheimer HC, Club Campo Villa de Madrid from Spain, Irish club UCD Ladies HC and HC Victorya Smolevichi from Belarus.

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Results from 30 September

Surbiton 3-1 Clifton Robinsons
Holcombe 3-1 University of Birmingham
Bowdon Hightown 0-0 Slough
Leicester 2-0 East Grinstead
Buckingham 4-2 Canterbury

Fixtures Saturday 07 October

Surbiton v Leicester
Bowdon Hightown v East Grinstead
Buckingham v Holcombe
Clifton Robinsons v University of Birmingham
Slough v Canterbury

Surbiton are top on goals scored after two games.  Three other teams are also unbeaten; Slough, Bowdon and Holcombe.  All four have the same goal difference.

Gymnastics

The World Gymnastics Championships are taking place in Montreal on 2-8 October.

Claudia Fragapane is looking to get to the final of the floor, while Georgia-Mae Fenton looks to do the same in the uneven bars.

Amy Tinkler, recently returned from injury, is likely to make the all-round final

Rugby Union

Off the Pitch

For the second week running, it’s all happening at Wasps.  Soon after the column had been published last week, Wasps made their fifth Red Rose signing, this time Danielle Waterman, from Bristol.  This squad is now truly formidable, and even if they take some time to “bed in”, it can’t be long before they start storming up the table.  Indeed they recorded their first win at the weekend – see below for details.

But on the debit side, Elizabeth Crake appeared before an RFU disciplinary hearing this week after being cited for biting in Wasps’ match against Gloucester-Hartpury Women.  Crake admitted biting Ceri Large and has been suspended for six weeks.

On the Pitch 

Results from last weekend in the Premier 15s

30 September 2017
DMP Sharks 28-32 Wasps Ladies
Gloucester-Hartpury Women 29-0 Richmond Women
Firwood Waterloo Ladies 16-20 Bristol Ladies
Worcester Valkyries 0-74 Saracens
Loughborough Lightning 19-40 Harlequins Ladies

This week saw a first win of the season for Wasps as they showcased their new signings.  Gloucester-Hartpury Women, Harlequins Ladies and Saracens all remain unbeaten, with Gloucester-Hartpury top on points difference.  Saracens are third on 14, having failed to secure maximum bonus points.  Worcester Valkyries are yet to register a point, while the other two teams without a win are Firwood Waterloo and DMP Sharks, who have one losing bonus point and two losing bonus points respectively.

Fixtures this weekend:

7 October 2017
Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies (2pm Allianz Park)
Harlequins Ladies v DMP Sharks (3pm Surrey Sports Park)
Loughborough Lightning v Firwood Waterloo Ladies (3pm, Loughborough)
Bristol Ladies v Gloucester-Hartpury Women (4.30pm Portway Rugby Development Centre)
Richmond Women v Worcester Valkyries (5.15pm Richmond Athletic Ground)

So whatever your sport, make sure you get out this weekend to support the fantastic women the length and breadth of the country who give their all for their teams, clubs and fans every week.  If you can’t get out, follow your sports via media coverage (where possible!) and make sure you talk about it!  Get the message out there – women’s sport deserves to be talked about too!

Women’s Sports Column 23-29 September 2017

the-ball-stadion-horn-corner-47343Welcome to this week’s column.  You may remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned rumours of another FAWSL restructure may be in the offing?  Well, it now looks like it’s very much on – and so far few are impressed. See below for details.  The FA is really covering itself in glory at the moment, isn’t it?

Anyway, the column this week also includes news from cricket, rugby union, golf, hockey, speed skating, cycling, some good news from bobsleigh and tennis.  The focus of “And finally” this week is an update on the BBC’s 100 Women project.

Rugby Union

 Three teams remain unbeaten with two bonus point wins each after the second weekend of fixtures in the Premier 15s.  Gloucester-Hartpury Women are top on points difference (33), with Harlequins in second (27) and Richmond in third (24).   The weekend’s results were as follows:

23 September

Worcester Valkyries 10–62 Bristol Ladies
Harlequins 39-18 Firwood Waterloo
Gloucester-Hartpury 26-22 Wasps
Richmond 27-10 DMP Sharks

24 September

Saracens 34-20 Loughborough Lightning

This weekend’s fixtures:

30 September
Loughborough Lightning v Harlequins (12pm Loughborough RFC)
Worcester Valkyries v Saracens (2pm Sixways Stadium)
Firwood Waterloo v Bristol (2.30pm)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Richmond (2.30pm)
DMP Sharks v Wasps (4pm Northern Echo Arena)

Wasps

Meanwhile Wasps have been on a signing spree this week as they welcomed four England players to boost their squad.  Harriet Millar-Mills, Amy Cockayne and Justine Lucas join from luckless Lichfield, while Rochelle Clark makes the transfer from Worcester Valkyries.

It’s a sad situation, although one often found in sport, that if players wish to be considered for their national sides, they have to play at the top level – it’s not enough to excel in a lower division.  Obviously it means they will face more testing opposition week in, week out, but it is still shame that those at a lower level are doomed to be “selling” clubs.

Wasps are without a win so far this season, but this fearsome foursome should make a significant change to the situation.

England

The Old Mutual Wealth Series fixtures were also announced this week.  It will be a triple-header against Canada.

17 November – Allianz Park (7.30pm – game to be streamed live by EnglandRugby.com
21 November – Twickenham Stoop (7.45pm – broadcast to be announced)
25 November – Twickenham Stadium (5.40pm live on Sky Sports – part of double-header with England’s men who play Samoa at 3pm)

Referees

Not strictly women’s sport this one, but women in sport and worthy of inclusion.

Alhambra Nievas and Joy Neville will both referee men’s internationals this year.

Nievas will take charge of Finland v Norway in the Conference 2 on 14 October.  Neville will also officiate at a Norway match, this time against Denmark on 28 October.

Both officials have a wealth of experience; Neville refereed the Women’s Rugby World Cup this summer and is a former Ireland Captain.  Las season she became the first female assistant referee to officiate in a men’s European rugby match.  Nievas is a former Spain international and was the first female official to assist in men’s Test match.

The good news is they are likely to have a much better time of it than football referees as rugby referees are treated with more respect generally.  What the reaction on the terraces will be like is not so certain.

In an interview with the BBC, Nigel Owens, everyone’s favourite referee and arbiter of good sense said,

“It’s great to see a cross-section as men have been refereeing the women’s game for a long time.

“It doesn’t matter about the colour of our skin, whether you’re a man or a woman, your sexuality or religious beliefs. None of that should matter one bit. If you’re good at what you do, then you should have the opportunity to excel at that and referee at the level you deserve.

“These two are getting what they deserve from the hard work they’ve done.”

Golf

The New Zealand Open at Windross Farm Golf Course in Auckland began on 28 September.  After round one, Jodi Ewart-Shadoff of England shared the lead with Brooke Henderson of Canada on -7, after shooting 65s.  Belen Mozo of Spain and Amy Bouldon of England are tied on third, one stroke back with Beatriz Recari (Spain) Na Yeon Choi (South Korea) and Brittany Linicome (USA) a further shot back, tied for fifth on -5.

Cycling

The UCI Road World Championships – Elite Women’s Road Race

The Women’s Road Race took place on Saturday.  Who can stop the Dutch?  No-one it seems as Chantal Blaak took the title, 28 seconds ahead of Katrin Garfoot of Australia.    Defending champion, Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark, was third.  The Dutch worked so well as a team it was no surprise to see three of them in the top ten.

Top ten finishers:

  1. Chantal Blaak (Ned) 4hrs 06mins 30secs
  2. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) +28secs
  3. Amaile Dideriksen (Den) Same time
  4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned)
  5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol)
  6. Christine Majerus (Lux)
  7. Susanne Andersen (Nor)
  8. Anna Van der Breggen (Ned)
  9. Emilia Fahlin (Swe)
  10. Elena Cecchini (Ita)

Of the British team, Hannah Barnes finished 14th, Dani King 20th, Lizzie Deignan 41st, Hayley Simmonds 48th, and Elinor Barker 66th.  Alice Barker and Mel Lowther failed to finish.

Off the Track

This week also saw the installation of a new UCI president.  David Lappartient beat the incumbent, Brian Cookson, 37-8 in the vote.  One of the first things he did was to repeat the commitment that Cookson had made to prioritise the development of women’s cycling.  His emphasis was on the responsibilities of race organisers and broadcasters.

“We have some wonderful classics, some are on live TV; we’re going the right way but we don’t have a strong stage race like the Tour de France.

“Without this kind of race it will be difficult to promote women. Organisers must take care of this, that’s also part of our global responsibility. We need to have races on TV.”

There are still relatively few professional female riders.  Many women combine a day job with their cycling.  Lappartient went on to say,

“They must earn their life with cycling and not just riding for nothing.”

He then announced that the minimum wage for the men would be increased.  Hurrah!  But then he failed to announce that a women’s minimum wage would be introduced.  No, there is no minimum wage at all for women, let alone one to increase.  So, on one hand he would like to ensure that women are not “riding for nothing”, but on the other he has no plans to introduce a wage that would help end this problem.

Hockey

The Investec Women’s Hockey League began its 2017-18 season on 23 September. The first round of results was as follows:

East Grinstead 0-0 Holcombe
University of Birmingham 1-3 Bowdon
Canterbury 2-2 Surbiton
Clifton Robinsons 2-0 Leicester
Slough 3-1 Buckingham

For upcoming fixtures check out the England hockey website here

Tennis

Wuhan Open

Unseeded Ashleigh Barty is having a storming week at the Wuhan Open.  She beat British number one Johanna Konta in the second round 6-0 4-6 7-6, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the round of 16, 4-6 6-0 6-4 and third seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals 4-6 7-6 7-6.  She now plays eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko who defeated world number one Garbine Muguruza in their quarter-final 1-6 6-3 6-2.

The second semi-final will be between the unseeded Maria Sakkari of Greece and Caroline Garcia of France.

Speed Skating

There are four qualifying events between now and the Pyeongchang Olympics which will decide the speed skating qualifiers.  This weekend sees the first, the Budapest World Cup.

Britain’s Elise Christie will be looking to start strongly.  Results to come in next week’s column.

Football

Signings

Manchester City Women have signed Danish Euros star Nadia Nadim.

She will join the current league champions in January, after finishing the season with her current club, Portland Thorns.

Nadim’s backstory is well known, but bears repeating.

When Nadim was only 12 she fled Afghanistan with her mother and four sisters when her father was executed by the Taliban.  They found refuge in Denmark and she has now played for her new country 74 times.

While she has been playing in the United States she has also been studying at medical school and plans to become a doctor when she hangs up her boots.

West Ham United

It finally looks like West Ham has some serious backing after they announced this week that are likely to bid for a licence to play in the new restructured WSL.

The Ladies’ side was finally integrated into the club in 2016, after a highly public row between the then manager, Julian Dicks, and the women’s club chairman, Stephen Hunt, who accused the parent club of sexism in denying the women’s team the facilities and support they needed to play.

West Ham currently play in the Women’s Premier League Southern Division – women’s football’s third tier.

It will be somewhat of a jump in footballing class for the hammers, but let’s face it, the FA probably won’t be looking at that – they’ll be judging on a financial basis.  If you can afford it, you could be in.

England

England under-19s head coach, Mo Marley is to be appointed as interim manager of the Lionesses.  She brings no lack of experience to the post having captained England as a player, been assistant to Hope Powell during her tenure and having managed Everton Ladies domestically.

Marley will be in charge for the friendly against France in October and the World Cup qualifiers in November against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

New Super League Structure (Yes, again)

Another day, another “initiative”.  Will someone please save me (and women’s football) from the FA and their constant tinkering?

Their latest restructure, if I read it right, will see a top tier of full-time only clubs for the season 2018-19.

All clubs have to re-apply for places in WSL1 and have until 10 November to submit their applications.  Teams outside WSL1 who wish to apply will do so in March 2018.

The criteria are business-based only: players have to have 16 so-called contact hours per week, rising to 20 hours per week by 2020-21.  The club must have a minimum level of financial investment and also an academy system in place.  They have to conform to Financial Fair Play regulations.

As no-one knows at the moment how many clubs will be able to fulfil the conditions, the FA are saying that the WSL will comprise between eight and 14 teams.

The new second tier, the tier with no name, will have 10-12 clubs and players will be part-time.  Clubs will be required to have a reserve team, but not necessarily an academy.

The WPL regional divisions will be unaffected.

While no-one wants to see a repeat of the Notts County situation, the FA’s concentration on a “stronger commercial model”, according to the FA’s head of women’s leagues and competitions, Katie Brazier, is a soulless approach that could see the women’s game head down the same road as the men’s.

Apparently, “It will provide an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league, attract a greater number of fans and in turn deliver improved commercial viability for clubs and the leagues.”

In my cynical way I’m tempted to say – prove it.

Yeovil Town have been the first club to respond to the move with general manager Trevor Jenkins saying that the club will need to raise over £350,000 in order to compete in the new league.  At the moment they are in WSL1 on merit, as it should be.  They have no professionals and no academy.  In a couple of months they are going to have to make major changes if they want their application to be a part of the new WSL to be successful.

We all want the women’s game to be successful and indeed no-one can disagree with the FA’s ultimate aims.  We all want the game to develop and grow and be sustainable.  But the constant uncertainty, the constant shifting of the goalposts (apologies) just brings a feeling of impermanence and the inescapable sense that the FA can’t decide on one clear strategy – and can’t be bothered to sort it.

This is the second week running that I’ve ended the football news with the phrase “women’s football deserves better”.  And it’s the second time I’ve thought it’s not going to get it.

Bobsleigh

Good news and mind-boggling news from the world of bobsleigh this week.  After reporting in the last column that Mica McNeill and her team were going to crowdfund their attempt to get to Pyeongchang I’m happy to confirm that they reached their target on Monday.

Now a second team, piloted by Donna Creighton is bidding to do the same.   You can contribute here: https://makeachamp.com/teamdc.

The BBSA decision to stop funding the women’s teams drew widespread criticism from both inside and outside the sport.

Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold accused the body of “mismanagement”, adding,

“It’s hard to see talent and hard work go to waste.  Everyone deserves their moment to make their dreams come true.”

Things then moved again when BBSA chief executive Richard Parker resigned from his position. The body then announced that they are now in a position to “partially support” a women’s team in their attempt to reach Pyeongchang.

So they are seriously saying that the chief executive’s salary is going into partially funding a team?

It seems there is still plenty more to come in this story.

Cricket

England’s Ashes squad was announced this week.  Unsurprisingly, it is largely the squad that won the World Cup this summer with the addition of spinner Sophie Ecclestone.  Beth Langston is the unlucky player to miss out.

The squad in full:

Heather Knight (captain, Berkshire), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Alex Hartley (Lancashire), Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire), Laura Marsh (Kent), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Sarah Taylor (wk, Sussex), Fran Wilson (Middlesex), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex).

There was good news from Cricket Australia this week as they confirmed that the Allan Border Field in Brisbane, the venue for the first ODI on 22 October is already a sell-out.

The fixtures are as follows:

22 October: 1st ODI Allan Border Field, Brisbane
22 October: 2nd ODI Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, NSW
29 October: 3rd ODI Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, NSW

9-12 November: Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, Sydney

17 November: 1st T20 North Sydney Oval, Sydney
19 November: 2ndT20 Manuka Oval, Canberra
21 November: 3rdT20 Manuka Oval, Canberra

And finally,

The BBC 100 women list is nearly ready.  There are several women under the #TeamPlay hashtag, concentrating on sexism in sport, including Mithali Raj and Steph Houghton.  For the full list, check out the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-41380265.

Women’s sports column 11 – 17 March 2017

soccer ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through again this week.  There have been some big announcements, and although my heart tentatively skips a beat at the new FA Strategy and the Muirfield declaration, I am still weighed down when I read the comments sections after such pieces.  I had made a promise to myself not to look at them, but find myself drawn to the sad, ignorant, abusive nonsense posted by the socially inadequate.  I will stop it, because otherwise I fear that way madness lies.  Anyway, a couple of stellar examples feature in my “And finally” and hopefully that’s the end of it.

Stories this week come from cycling, rugby union, netball, gymnastics, speed skating, hockey, lacrosse, football and golf.

Cycling

It’s still safe to say that British Cycling is in turmoil.  The row about “the package” rumbles on and there seem to be weekly revelations about the culture prevalent in the organisation.  So, perhaps it was not a surprise that this week saw the announcement that Joanna Rowsell Shand is to retire from international cycling.  Of course we all hope that this is a decision based on how well she knows her body and not the urge to leave a possibly sinking ship.

Certainly she is positive about the move;

“The decision to step away has been the hardest I’ve ever had to make.  I believe I have more to offer the world.”

She has indicated that she would like to go into coaching and will also compete in the L’Etape du Tour, an amateur race that covers the same route as the first part of the Tour de France.

In an outstanding career, the 28-year old Rowsell-Shand won gold in the team pursuit at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.  She won five world title, four European titles and a Commonwealth gold in the individual pursuit in 2014.

Netball

It was Round 4 of the Netball Superleague last weekend.  We are down to two unbeaten teams at the top of the table; Surrey Storm and Loughborough Lightning, while Celtic Dragons and Team Northumbria still languish at the bottom without a point.

Last weekend’s scores:

Saturday 11 March

Manchester Thunder 62-53 Celtic Dragons

Surrey Storm 67-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Severn Stars 39-48 Team Bath

Wasps 44-57 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 13 March

Team Northumbria 46-64 Sirens

Round 5 is this weekend and Sky’s televised match is on Monday 20 when Team Northumbria takes on Manchester Thunder at 7.45pm.

Lacrosse

Thanks to Martin, as usual, for prompting me into mentioning both lacrosse and hockey this week.

On Saturday 18 March England takes on Japan at the Surrey Sports Park.  This is part of the team’s preparation for the World Cup which takes place at the same venue in July.  If you’re in the area, get along and support the team.  If you don’t know lacrosse well, go and discover it- it’s fast and exciting and pretty much unlike anything else you will see.

Hockey

English domestic hockey

Meanwhile in the IWHL Premier Division, Surbiton have it wrapped up with two games till to play.  This means they will be playing in Europe next season.

On 11 March they beat Bowdon Hightown 6-0 and with just bottom team Reading to play away on Saturday and a final home game on 25 against Clifton Robinsons, their seven-point lead at the top of the table is unassailable.

This is how the table stands:

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Goal Difference Points
Surbiton 16 13 2 1 48 11 37 41
Holcombe 16 10 4 2 40 23 17 34
East Grinstead 16 8 5 3 28 19 9 29
University of Birmingham 16 9 2 5 35 31 4 29
Clifton Robinsons 16 8 1 7 37 27 10 25
Leicester 16 7 4 5 25 22 3 25
Canterbury 16 5 4 7 24 36 -12 19
Slough 16 3 3 10 15 34 -19 12
Bowdon Hightown 16 1 5 10 16 35 -19 8
Reading 16 0 2 14 16 46 -30 2

 Hockey World League (HWL)

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the schedule for the HWL semi-final, to be held in Brussels this summer.

Seven teams have already booked their places; The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Belgium and Spain.

There are three places left to claim and will be decided in a round two event in West Vancouver in April.

The semi-finals will consist of pool stages between June 21 and 27 and the classification matches will begin on 29 June.  The semi-finals will be on 1 July and final on 2 July.

The winners will qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

Golf

Muirfield members have (finally) voted in favour of admitting women members to the club.

The R&A had said that the course would be unable to host the Open Championship until it changed its admittance rules.

A similar vote in 2016 failed to win the two-thirds backing, but in this new vote 80.2% voted in favour.

Without wishing to spoil this special moment, I’d just like to point out that it still means that out of the 621 who voted, 123 still voted against admitting women…..

Football

The FA launched its new strategy for the future of women’s football this week (stop me if you’ve heard this before).

FA chief executive, Martin Glenn said that women’s football had, in the past, been “let down” by the FA.

There are a number of aspirations named including the hosting of a major tournament, although it is unclear as to when a bid for such an event may be made.

Major commitments include:

  • Building a sustainable and successful high-performance system
  • Building a world-class talent pipeline
  • Increasing the number and diversity of women’s coaches, referees and administrators in the sport at all levels
  • Developing participation opportunities and infrastructure
  • Changing  perceptions and social barriers to participation and following
  • Enhancing the profile and value of the England team and players
  • Signposting opportunities to participate, watch or follow
  • Improving the commercial prospects in women’s football

Read the full document here:

http://www.thefa.com/news/2017/mar/13/fa-womens-football-strategy-gameplan-for-growth-double-participation-130317

Unhappily, one only has to read the comments below any article on women’s football to realise what fundamental shifts of opinion need to happen before we can make any progress at all.

Now we have Baroness Sue Campbell at the heart of things, perhaps change has a chance of becoming a reality.  I recommend you read this article by The Guardian’s Paul MacInnes: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/13/baroness-sue-campbell-womens-football-fa-plan

Her most telling statement and one I agree with wholeheartedly is this;

“I always believe that great development is making yourself redundant,” she says. “Great development in sport is about transforming a system so that it doesn’t need you. If it always needs you then you haven’t really changed the system.”

This is what I have said about initiatives such as “Women’s Sports Week.”

Moves

Sunderland

Melanie Reay has been appointed as the new head coach of Sunderland Ladies after Carlton Fairweather left this week.

Reay had been assistant coach and a former Sunderland striker.

“It is a great honour for me to manage this special club,” she said.

“We have some great young players coming through and hopefully they can make their mark on the team which already has a host of good, experienced players. We will be looking to consolidate and improve together.”

Yeovil Town

The Lady Glovers have extended the contracts of another five first-team players.

England under-19 goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes, midfielders Jessie Jones, Kelly Snook and Leah Burridge and Welsh international striker Nadia Lawrence have all signed new contracts.

Gymnastics

Steve Penny has resigned as USA Gymnastics President and chief executive.  The organisation is currently undergoing investigation into a sexual abuse case involving a team doctor.

Former team doctor Larry Nassar is awaiting trial for child sexual abuse and possessing child pornography.  More than 40 women have a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics, claiming it failed to protect them.

It is alleged that USA Gymnastics did not fully report sexual misconduct claims made by female team members.

The investigation is eight months in already and will, no doubt, run and run.

Speed Skating

Elise Christie won three world championship golds at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam at the weekend.  In doing so she became the first British woman to win a world title.

She won the 1000m, 1500m and the overall title.  She also finished fourth in the 500m.

Rugby Union

A crushing win for England and a hard-fought triumph for Ireland have set up a grandstand finale to the 2017 championship and a Grand Slam title to be won.

Saturday 11 March

Wales 7-12 Ireland

There was no score in this match until the 39th minute, when Ireland were awarded a penalty.  They kicked for the corner.  Prop Lindsay Peat crashed over from the resultant maul and Nora Stapleton converted to make the score 0-7 at half-time.

After the break try-scorer Peat was yellow-carded for repeated Irish infringements and Wales steeled themselves to take advantage.

Shona Powell-Hughes went over for the home side and Robyn Wilkins converted to even the score.

With Ireland back to full strength it was then Wales’ turn to go down to 14 as Amy Evans was sin-binned for a high tackle.

After a period of valiant defence by Wales Ireland finally breached the line with winger Hannah Tyrell going over for the try.  Stapleton could not convert and the score was 7-12.

Wales pushed until the end but were unable to convert pressure into points as Ireland held on.

England 64-0 Scotland

Kay Wilson scored a record seven tries for England as they demolished Scotland at the Stoop.

Wilson has scored two tries in the first few minutes and although Emily Scarratt had an off-day with the boot, it made no difference to England’s dominance.

Jessica Forsyth was then sin-binned for Scotland and Amy Cockayne went over soon afterwards to extend the English lead.  After only 20 minutes, the bonus point was secured as Cockayne went over for her second try of the match.

Danielle Waterman scored England’s fifth and then Wilson got her hat-trick.

Wilson then scored her fourth – the first player to score four tries in the first-half of a Championship match.

The first period scoring was not yet done though, as Cockayne completed her hat-trick on the stroke of half-time.

In the second-half Wilson scored her fifth and sixth tries, Scarratt her first and then Wilson got a seventh.  With two conversions the score was 64-0 and the rout over.

Scotland never stopped battling, but were outplayed from the first minute to the last.

Sunday 12 March

Italy 5-28 France

France were in clinical mood in Parma and had a bonus-point win in the bag by half-time.

The visitors scored their first try after nine minutes with Caroline Ladagnous going over.  Audrey Abadie missed the conversion.

On 14, Romane Ménager scored France’s second, this time converted by Abadie.

Ladagnous crossed for her second and Elodie Poublan claimed France’s fourth before half-time.  An Abadie penalty took it to 0-28 at the break.

The second-half saw few chances, indeed the only score being a try for the home side as Michela Este powered over.  The conversion was missed and there was no further scoring.

Round 5

17 March

Scotland v Italy

6.20pm, Broadwood Stadium (Eurosport IT)

Ireland v England

8pm, Donnybrook, (RTE, Sky Sports)

18 March

France v Wales

8pm (GMT), Stade Amédée Domenech, Brive, (France 4)

And finally

And finally, back to where we started.  This enlightened soul commented on the end of the BBC piece about the retirement of Jo Roswell-Shand.  I think it’s safe to say that he misses the point by several million miles….

In response to someone whose post included:
‘ all our cycling girls have shown that women can perform to the highest standards ‘

He so intelligently replied:

“Oh spare me. Only to the highest standards of other women. Not to the standards of men, lets’ clear that up. We are not equal, let’s not start sharing a sporting platform. Unless you wanna be outperformed of course.”

Even more elegant was the fine fellow who posted the first comment I saw after an article about the FA’s new women’s football strategy,

“Nobody gives a f***”, he posted, without the asterisks.

No column next week as I’m away.  

 

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 February 2017

12928352_10201803729532769_8195423317764149816_nWelcome 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.

Football

Notts County

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.

Watford

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

5 February

FC Pune City 0-5 Rising Student FC 

6 February

Aizawl FC 0-3 Eastern Sporting Union FC

Jeppiaar Institute 1-1 Alakhpura FC

8 February

FC Pune City 4-0 Aizawl FC

Rising Student FC 7-0 Jeppiaar Institute

9 February

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.

Cricket

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
GROUP A            
India 2 2 0 0 0 4
Sri Lanka 2 1 1 0 0 2
Ireland 2 1 1 0 0 2
Zimbabwe 1 0 1 0 0 0
Thailand 1 0 1 0 0 0
GROUP B
Pakistan 3 2 1 0 0 4
South Africa 2 2 0 0 0 4
Bangladesh 3 2 1 0 0 4
Scotland 2 0 2 0 0 0
Papua New Guinea 2 0 2 0 0 0

Tennis

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

Golf

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)

Speed Skating

 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.

Athletics

 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.

Netball

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.

Rugby

 Six Nations

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

11.30am

France v Scotland

Marcel Deflandre

8pm (GMT)

Sunday 12 February

Italy v Ireland

Stadio Tommaso Fattori

1pm (GMT)

And finally,

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!

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 6-13 January 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Nearly half way through January already!  Plenty to get our teeth into this week with stories from hockey, tennis, football, cricket, rugby, winter sports and yet more awards.  This week’s “and finally” is a tricky one and I’ll leave you to form your own opinions.

Tennis

Johanna Konta has continued her good start to the season by winning the Apia International in Sydney.

She beat world number three, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-2 to take the final in straight sets.

She broke Radwanska in the third game of the match and hit 18 winners in the first set alone.  She went 4-0 up in the second and never looked like letting it slip, winning the match with an ace.

Without wishing to curse her, she looks in great form going into the Australian Open.  She has, however, got a tough opening match in the first grand slam of the year; she faces the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Laura Robson and Tara Moore have failed in their attempts to qualify for the Australian Open.  Both players lost in the first qualifying round.

Robson said she felt “flat” in losing in straight sets 6-2 6-4 to Amandine Hesse of France.

Moore was beaten 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 6-1 to Dalma Galfi of Hungary.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.  The top ten women’s seeds are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER)
  2. Serena Williams (USA)
  3.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
  4.  Simona Halep (ROU)
  5.  Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
  6.  Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
  7.  Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP)
  8.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
  9.  Johanna Konta (GBR)
  10.  Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP)

The date for Maria Sharapova’s comeback has been announced.  She will return at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on 26 April.

The tournament begins two days before her suspension ends and she will not be able to attend until the day of her first match.

Football

Kelly Smith

Biggest news of the week has to be the retirement from football of Arsenal and England striker Kelly Smith at the age of 38.

And what a playing career it was.  In 1999 she became Britain’s first female professional when she signed for American side New Jersey.

She won 117 England caps, scoring 46 goals.  She played in two World Cups and four European Championships.

She also had a prodigious career with Arsenal, winning five FA Cups in the process and in 2006-07 the UEFA Cup (now Champions League).

She was awarded an MBE in 2008 and was named FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

For the past two seasons she has been assisting manager Pedro Martinez Losa at Arsenal.  She is studying for her coaching badges and is looking to go into coaching as soon as she can.

One thing‘s for sure, you’ll never be able to keep her out of the game and the game would indeed be poorer without her.

She Believes Cup

The schedule for this year’s cup was announced this week.  England will play on the following dates:

France – 1 March (Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pennsylvania)

USA – 4 March (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey)

Germany – 7 March (RFK Stadium, Washington)

FA Cup

The FA Cup third round draw was made this week:

Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield FC
Aston Villa v Cambridge United
Millwall Lionesses v London Bees
Leicester City v Liverpool Marshall Feds
Keynsham Town v Durham
Coventry United v Oxford United
West Bromwich Albion v Lewes
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Watford
Derby County v Nottingham Forest
Brighouse Town v Everton
AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion

Ties will be played on 5 February.

Rugby Union

World Cup

The schedule for the World Cup, taking place in July in Ireland, has been announced.

Wednesday 9 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

England v Spain 2pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Ireland v Australia (7pm)

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Wales 2.55pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Canada v Hong Kong 5.15pm

Sunday 13 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

USA v Spain 2.45pm

Ireland v Japan 5.15pm

France v Australia 7.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Honk Kong 12 noon

England v Italy 2.30pm

Canada v Wales 5pm

Thursday 17 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

Italy v Spain 2.45pm

Wales v Hong Kong 17.15pm

France v Ireland 19.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

Canada v New Zealand 12 noon

England v USA 2.30pm

Australia v Japan 5pm

Tuesday 22 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Semi-finals 5pm and 7.45pm

Saturday 26 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Final 7.45pm

Women’s Premiership

Bristol lost their second game of the season at the weekend.  Their lead is now cut to one point – gained from the bonus point loss at Lichfield.  For a full report see WSUK.

8 January 2017

Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies
Postponed

Richmond 17-50 Aylesford

DMP Sharks 24-10 Worcester

Lichfield 15-12 Bristol

Winter Sports

Skiing

Lindsay Vonn is nearing her return to competition after breaking her arm nine weeks ago.

She will compete at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria on 14 January.

Over recent years Vonn has had to cope with several injuries.  She missed most of 2013 and 2014 with a knee injury.  She then fractured a knee again in February 2016.

Speed skating

Elise Christie has announced that she will not compete in the European Championships in Turin later this month.

She is going to use the extra time to prepare for the World Championships in March.

Christie won overall gold at the last European Championships and so will not be defending her title.

The European Championships begin on 13 January and the World Championships take place in Rotterdam from 10-12 March.

Cricket

The WBBL continues.  The current table is as follows:

played won lost points Net run- rate
Sydney Sixers 10 7 3 14 0.413
Hobart Hurricanes 10 5 4 11 -0.038
Melbourne Stars 10 5 5 10 0.342
Perth Scorchers 10 5 5 10 0.196
Brisbane Heat 10 5 5 10 -0.167
Sydney Thunder 10 4 5 8 -0.022
Adelaide Strikers 10 3 5 8 -0.249
Melbourne Renegades 10 4 6 7 -0.536

Indoor Hockey

The four semi-finalists of the Women’s Super 6s hockey have been decided.

Slough finished top with five wins from eight games and one loss.

Also through are Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury and Sutton Coldfield.

The finals take place on Sunday 29 January at the SSE Arena, Wembley.  Gates open at 10am and the action starts at 11am.

Outdoor Hockey

The third part of my history of women’s hockey was published by WiSP Sports this week.  You can read this and all my other pieces for WiSP here: www.wispsports.com

Laureas World Sports Awards

The Laureas shortlists were released this week.  Two female Britons made the lists:

Sportswoman of the Year award

Simone Biles (US) gymnastics, Allyson Felix (US) athletics, Angelique Kerber (Germany) tennis, Katie Ledecky (US) swimming, Elaine Thompson (Jamaica) athletics, Laura Kenny (GB) cycling.

Action Sportsperson of the Year award

Rachel Atherton (GB) mountain biking, Pedro Barros (Brazil) skateboarding, John John Florence (US) surfing, Chloe Kim (US) snowboarding, Kelly Sildaru (Estonia) freestyle skiing, Tyler Wright (Australia) surfing.

The winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be announced in Monaco on 14 February.

And finally,

In a survey by England Athletics, more than a third of 2,000 women surveyed said they had suffered some form of harassment when out jogging alone and more than 60% said they feel anxious while running on their own.

It has been suggested that an answer to this is to go out running in groups.  Now I see the value of this, I really do, but it’s not the answer.  There are plenty of benefits to be gained by running with others; the feeling of comradeship, someone to encourage you, making new friends, giving confidence, etc.  Women new to running would especially benefit.

England Athletics has put together a new programme called “Run Together”.  You can access the details here: www.englandatheltics.org

However, I would also point out that running in groups is not for everyone.  Some people run specifically to have time on their own.

And, of course, the real issue is that the women running should not have to change their habits due to the harassment.  Gone are the days (almost) when we say a woman was “asking for it” when they wear short skirts or drink too much.  So why is it the fault of the runner that they receive such abuse?  The harassers should surely change their attitudes and behaviour, not the runners?

I’ll leave it with you.

Apologies but there will be no column next week as I’m away.