Women’s Sports Column 21-27 July 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  It’s been yet another one of those weeks when I wish I hadn’t “read the comments” on various articles, but I’m not going to give the trolls any more publicity by giving details.

But there are also lots of positive stuff out there and lots to get through so here we go with stories from golf, football, hockey (there’s a World Cup going on, you know), cycling, rugby, cricket and athletics.

Snowboarding

Terrible news to start the column this week.  Snowboarder Ellie Soutter died on Wednesday, on her eighteenth birthday.

Soutter was a tremendous prospect and was in line to make the GB team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

She had already won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was picked for the GB team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand in August and the senior GB squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup.

Hockey

There have been shocks a-plenty in the first week of the Hockey World Cup in London.  Ireland, second lowest ranked side in the tournament, have become the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals.  England, meanwhile, can no longer qualify automatically and will have to go through play-offs.

Scores so far:

Pool A
China 0-3 Italy
Netherlands 7-0 Korea

Pool B
England 1-1 India
USA 1-3 Ireland
USA 1-1 England
India 0-1 Ireland

Pool C
Germany 3-1 South Africa
Argentina 6-2 Spain
Germany 3-2 Argentina
Spain 7-1 South Africa

Pool D
Australia 3-2 Japan
New Zealand 4-2 Belgium
Japan 2-1 New Zealand
Australia 0-0 Belgium

So far, Ireland have been the stars and England will need to up their game on Sunday if they are to beat the team with momentum on their side.  England have looked a bit nervous and even lethargic, but certainly unlucky at times.

The Netherlands look the team to beat.  They have only played one game so far against a poor Korean team, but they looked superb.  Australia, by contrast, have not impressed.  They nearly let a big lead against Japan slip and were unconvincing against Belgium.  The other team I have enjoyed watching so far is Japan.  They put in 100% effort all of the time and with no little skill.  The Cherry Blossoms (yes, really) deserved their win against the Black Sticks and will hopefully go further in the tournament.

For all the news, scores and fixtures check out the tournament website: http://www.fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-london-2018-w/

Football – on the pitch

Women’s International Champions Cup

Manchester City are currently in the US playing in this new competition.  Three of Europe’s top teams; Olympic Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and City are playing alongside the NWSL leaders, North Carolina Courage.

In the first match Courage beat PSG 2-1.  Jess McDonald scored the first after 19 minutes.  PSG drew level just before half-time with through an own goal.  But the US side claimed the points when they scored five minutes from time through Darian Jenks.

In the second match Manchester City were well beaten by European champions, Olympic Lyonnais.  The French side took the lead after just four minutes, through Eugenie Le Sommer.  Le Sommer bagged a second ten minutes later and three minutes after that Ada Hegerberg got the third and the game was effectively over before half-time.

Football – off the pitch

Signings

I may have seemed somewhat grumpy last week when I was questioning some of the overseas signings made by both Super League and Championship teams during the close season.  But there are also a fair few British players who will be plying their trade both on the continent and further next season, one of whom will be Izzy Christiansen.

Christiansen has signed a two-year contract with European champions, Lyon.  She will, of course, be joining up with former Manchester City teammate Lucy Bronze.

A selection of other signings:

Scotland midfielder Chloe Arthur has signed a two-year contract with Birmingham City from Bristol City.

Everton have signed striker Hannah Cain from Sheffield FC.

Reading Women have dabbled in the market yet again and have signed Doncaster Rovers Belles left-back Mayumi Pacheco and striker Millie Farrow from Bristol City.

West Ham are at it again too, signing German international midfielder Julia Simic from SC Freiburg.

Bristol City have been busy this week; left-back Ali Johnson has joined them from Liverpool and New Zealand international striker Katie Rood from Juventus.

Going the other way, Nadia Nadim has put in a transfer request at Manchester City.  She is clearly unhappy.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“It is a fantastic club in many ways, but not for me.

“I’ve never felt home either in Manchester or Man City. I have made it very clear to the management that I want out, and this is something I’ve felt for a long time.”

Let’s hope she finds a way that suits all soon.

The FA has Spoken (or at least this is what’s happening at the moment)

Unsurprisingly, the FA has dismissed both Sunderland and Blackburn’s appeals and the Women’s Super League and Championship will comprise 11 teams in each next season.

It has been confirmed that Sunderland will play in the third tier, the Women’s National League.  The club is, understandably, disappointed, and released a statement, which you can read here:

https://www.safc.com/news/ladies-news/2018/july/ladies-appeal-unsuccessful

So it seems that the FA is now satisfied that the 22 chosen ones have met the required criteria.  But then they seemed satisfied with Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield FC, both of whom have had to withdraw with financial problems.

I can’t help thinking this season will be make or break for the future of women‘s football in England – let’s just hope it’s not “break”.

Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award

Chelsea Head Coach, Emma Hayes, is among those on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.  The shortlist in full:

  • Emma Hayes (Eng) – Chelsea Ladies
  • Stephan Lerch (Ger) – VfL Wolfsburg
  • Mark Parsons (Eng) – Portland Thorns
  • Reynald Pedros (Fra) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Alen Stajcic (Aus) – Australia national team
  • Asako Takakura (Jpn) – Japan national team
  • Vadao (Brz) – Brazil national team
  • Jorge Vilda (Spa) – Spain national team
  • Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Ger) – Switzerland national team
  • Sarina Wiegman (Ned) – Netherlands national team

You can vote for your favourite – here is the link:

https://www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/best-fifa-womens-coach/

Golf – on the course

Scottish Open

Tiffany Joh leads the Scottish Open after a first round 62.  She is four shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim, Amy Yang and Jenny Shin, who lie at five under par.

Kelsey McDonald of Scotland is one further back, as is England’s Charley Hull.

Golf – off the course

The countdown to the Solheim Cup is officially on!

You know it’s getting serious when Europe names its vice-captains.  This week Europe captain Catriona Matthew named Suzann Petterson and Kathryn Imrie as her vice-captains.

Petterson is a veteran of no fewer than eight Solheim Cups and was also a vice-captain in 2017.

Imrie has only played in one Cup, in 1996.

The sixteenth Solheim Cup will be at Gleneagles from 13-15 September 2019.

Cricket

We’re underway in this year’s Kia Super League.  At the risk of inducing the curse, Loughborough Lightning lead the way at this early stage with two wins from two.

22 July

Surrey Stars 141/9 (20 overs)
Southern Vipers 145/3 (17 overs)
Vipers won by 7 wickets

The Stars got off to an abysmal start at Guildford, losing both openers, Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith for ducks.  Sarah Taylor, new to the Stars this season, made only six as the Stars slumped to 12/3.  Nat Sciver soon followed for two and they were deep in trouble at 18/4.

They then rallied with Dane van Niekerk scoring 31 and Marizanne Kapp 19 but it was Sophia Dunkley’s 66 from 43 balls that saw them post a useful 141.   Fi Morris was pick of the bowlers with 4/22.

But the Vipers haven’t been champions and runners-up in the last two seasons for nothing.  Their openers (Danni Wyatt 6 and Suzie Bates 9) went cheaply, but Tammy Beaumont scored 62 from 45 balls, ably supported by Mignon du Preez with 48 from 31 balls.  Du Preez went with the Vipers needing just 22, and Beaumont and Sarah McGlashan saw it home with three overs to spare.

Lancashire Thunder 72 all out (16.5 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 74/4 (15.1 overs)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

At the top of the order Eve Jones tried to hold it together while those around were out cheaply.  She made 19 from 20 balls, while the next seven batters scored 20 between them.  Kate Cross and Natalie Brown hit 13 each towards the end of the innings but it all added up to a paltry 72.

New signing Jenny Gunn took 3/10 from three overs and Sophie Devine took 3/15 from 2.5.

Lightning took their time in getting the runs.  At one point they were 19/3 and Thunder may have sniffed a chance.  But Elyse Villani (13), Georgia Elwiss (19) and Georgia Adams (22) saw them home.

Yorkshire Diamonds 162/5 (20 overs)
Western Storm 166/3 (15.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets

The Diamonds posted a creditable 162, but the Storm never looked in danger of losing this one.  Delissa Kimmince top-scored for Yorkshire with 55, Lauren Winfield made 41 and Alice Davidson-Richards 33.

In response, Rachel Priest went for a duck, but England captain Heather Knight and Indian star Smriti Mandhana took it on.  Mandhana hit 48 from 20 balls before she was caught by Winfield off the bowling of Davidson-Richards.  Knight continued, scoring a fine 97 off 62.  In the end they won with a huge 27 balls to spare.

25 July

Southern Vipers 105 all out
Loughborough Lightning 109/4 (18.5)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

Lightning bagged their second win and their first against the Vipers on Wednesday with a fine bowling display.

Tammy Beaumont top-scored for the Vipers with 37, but Arran Brindle (19) and Mignon du Preez (13) were the only others to make double figures.

The wickets were shared between the bowlers; Devine 3/21, Smith 2/18, Gordon 2/23, Gunn 1/20, Glenn 1/14.

Lightning again took their time to get to their target.  Amy Jones and Elyse Villani both scored 35, with Villani particularly impressing.  After those two were out the game was seen home by Jenny Gunn (9) and Georgia Adams (5)

26 July

Western Storm 132/9 (20 overs)
Surrey Stars 136/3 (15.5 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets

Who can stop the Western Storm?  Well Surrey, for a start.  Not many would have predicted this result.

Storm made a good start as the openers made a 43 partnership.  Priest was first to go for 21 but big guns Knight and Stafanie Taylor made only 6 each.  Mandhana battled for 37 from 21 balls.  Others tried to make starts, but there were no further significant scores and the Storm could only muster a middling 132.

Sophia Dunkley was pick of the bowlers with 3/18 off just two overs.

All of the Stars batters got starts.  Lee (22) and Smith (33) started it off and Sarah Taylor made 50 not out.  She and van Niekerk (14) saw it home with 25 balls to spare.

Athletics

Anniversary Games –results

Last weekend’s Anniversary Games saw mixed results for Team GB:

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica took the 100m with Dezerea Bryant of USA in second and Jonielle Smith of Jamaica in third.   GB’s Imani-Lara Lansiquot was fifth and Bianca Williams seventh.

It was a USA one-two in the 200m.  Jenna Prandini finished first and Gabrielle Thomas second.    Shericka Jackson of Jamaica came in third while GB’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth.

The 400m saw a Jamaica one-two.  Stephenie-Ann McPherson was first and Anastasia Le-Roy second.  Courtney Okolo of USA was third.  Anyika Onuora was the best-placed British athlete in fifth.

Ce’Aira Brown of USA won the 800m.  Natoya Goule of Jamaica was second, while Lynsey Sharp of GB was third.

Laura Muir was being lined up to beat Zola Budd’s British mile record, but in the end could only finish fifth.  Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the race with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia in second and Hellen Obiri of Kenya in third.

Lilian Kasait Rengeruk of Kenya took the 3000m.  Susan Krumins of the Netherlands was second and Katie Mackey of the USA third.  GB’s Melissa Courtney was fifth and Steph Twell sixth.

The 100m hurdles was a one-two-three for the USA.  Kendra Harrison was first, Brianna McNeal second and Sharika Nelvis third.

The US also took the 400m hurdles.  Shamia Little won it, Janieve Russell of Jamaica in second and Dalilah Muhammed of USA in third.

In the field events, the high jump was won by Mariya Lasitskene of Russia, Elena Vallortigara of Italy second and Morgan Lake of GB was joint third with Vashti Cunningham of USA.

It was a GB one-two in the long jump with Shara Proctor taking it from Lorraine Ugen with Brooke Stratton of Australia in third.

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia took the discus with Yaime Perez  and Denia Caballero of Cuba second and third respectively.

Hui Hui Lyi of China won the javelin.  Nikola Ogrodnikova of the Czech Republic was second and Kelsey-Lee Roberts third.

Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Sevens

England’s disappointing Sevens season continued in San Francisco when they were beaten in their first game by Ireland 14-19.

Ashleigh Baxter scored the first try for Ireland after three minutes.   The conversion was missed and three minutes later Emily Scarratt’s try drew England level.  Holly Aitchison scored the conversion to take them ahead.   Amee Murphy Crowe then bagged two tries, both of which were converted by Lucy Mulhall.  England pulled one back on 14 minutes, converted again, but it was not enough.

England went on to defeat Mexico 59-0, China 38-0 and Japan 31-5 in the Challenge competition final, but this was scant consolation for not going through in the Championship competition.

The Championship final was won by New Zealand 29-0 against France. Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick of tries and Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong one each.  Nathan-Wong also put over two conversions.

Australia took the bronze final, beating USA 24-14.

Cycling

Bad news from cycling this week as it was announced that Wiggle High5 will fold after this season.

The team was founded in 2013 and employed 17 riders and 14 full-time members of staff.

It is thought that they are folding due to a lack of sponsorship.  Among those who will need to find new teams are Lucy and Grace Garner, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

Other team members Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot have already been linked with the new Trek team, led by Lizzie Deignan.

Although my cycling knowledge is not extensive, I do see it as a typical “two steps forward, one back” sport.  For every positive story, there seems to be a negative one and most seem to revolve around funding.  This may be something professional cyclists are prepared for when they start out, but it does seem to be a sport more prone to gaps and problems with sponsorship.  I know there are plenty of professionals out there working in sports sponsorship – and those who specialise in women’s sport.  But it’s not happening.  There are the high-profile success stories; Vitality, SSE, Kia, etc., but some sports obviously need a better strategy.

I’d  like to do some work in this areas so, if anyone dealing in sports sponsorship wants to talk to me about it, or if anyone has ideas they would like to share, please get in touch via the website.

And finally

 “Outrage”.  There’s a lot of it about.  I must admit I’m not immune and I do get sucked in to the vast stagnant pond of outrage that is social media.  Some of it I think is justified – women raped and blamed for it with nauseating regularity, immigrating parents separated from their children at the border, women’s rights over their own bodies constantly being eroded, the rise of Neo-Nazism, etc.

And then there’s the other kind of “outrage” usually promulgated by those such as the Daily Mail – those foreigners coming over here, using our services and taking our jobs, “Europe” robbing us blind at every turn, anyone who is unlike their white middle-aged middle-class readership doing absolutely anything!

So imagine my surprise when that same Mail calls the fact that Barcelona’s women’s team flew economy while their male counterparts flew business on the same plane an “outrage”.  All I can say is it did me good. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have described it as an “outrage” – disappointing, a rubbish decision, a backwards step – something like that, but not an “outrage”.

But just in case I may have been tempted to do so, this headline has made me see sense.  It’s a poor decision by the club, but it’s not an “outrage”.  Time to get things into perspective, I think.

No column next week as I am out and about (at the cricket, truth be told), but back in a fortnight with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 12-18 May 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty again to get into this week.  Sorry I missed doing a full report on the FA Cup final as it was a great match – so just a quick review.  Stories this week come from tennis, football, rugby league, hockey, cricket, netball, sports administration and rugby union.  Plus, this week’s “And Finally” is a positive news story about a brilliant new campaign launched by Women in Football. 

So let’s crack on.

Hockey

It’s the Women’s EuroHockey Club Cup in Surbiton over the next four days.  Play is already underway.  English hopes lie with Surbiton, the current Investec Premier League champions, while the Republic of Ireland is represented by UCD Ladies.

So far the results have been:

17 May

    • Mannheim (GER) 0-1 Hamburg (GER)
    • AH & BC Amsterdam (NED) 8-0 UCD Ladies (IRL)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) 5-0 Victorya Smolevichi (BLR)
    • Club Campo de Madrid (ESP) 2-0 Surbiton (ENG)

We then go into a series of fixtures as follows:

18 May

    • UCD Ladies (Loser M2) v Mannheim (Loser M1)
    • Victorya Smolevichi (Loser M3) v Surbiton (Loser M4)

19 May

    • AH & BC Amsterdam (Winner M2) v Hamburg (Winner M1)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Winner M3) v Club Campo de Madrid (Winner M4)

20 May

    • Loser M5 v Loser M6 (7th/8th place)
    • Winner M5 v Winner M6 (5th/6th place)
    • Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 (3rd/4th place)
    • Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (Final!)

Football – on the Pitch

Both FAWSL titles have been decided.  Chelsea secured the WSL 1 title on Tuesday, while Doncaster Rovers Belles were crowned champions on Sunday.

WSL1 Results

Saturday 12 May
Yeovil Town 0-2 Bristol City
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
Reading FC 3-0 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland AFC

Sunday 13 May
Everton 0-3 Birmingham City

Tuesday 15 May
Bristol City 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea secured the WSL1 title, and league and Cup double on Tuesday with a fine away win at Bristol City.  Drew Spence opened the scoring on 10 minutes and they maintained this one-goal lead until the 88th minute when Jonna Andersson sealed it with the second.  Their final game of the season is away at Liverpool on Sunday, when all games kick off at 12.30pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Manchester City 5-0 Yeovil Town
Sunderland AFC 0-2 Arsenal

WSL2 Results

Saturday 12 May
London Bees 0-0 Sheffield FC

Sunday 13 May
Durham 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Oxford United 1-2 Watford
Millwall Lionesses 0-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles had already sealed their championship win on Wednesday with a 2-1 win at Sheffield FC.  On Sunday they won again against the Lionesses with a Jade Pennock deflected shot.  Doncaster will not be promoted, however, as they applied to be in the new Women’s Championship (replacing WSL2) next season.  Their last game of the season is on Sunday 20 May when they are at home to Oxford United.  All games kick off at 2pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Watford 0-5 Sheffield FC

FA Cup Final
Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea

I was sorry to miss out on reporting more fully on the FA Cup final, which took place on 5 May, particularly as it was a cracking, competitive match and a record crowd of 45,423 saw a great advertisement for women’s football.

What a game for Ramona Bachmann, who has so often flattered to deceive for Chelsea.  After a quiet, even first half, the game needed a spark.  Enter Bachmann who scored twice to completely change the complexion of the game and take it away from Arsenal.

Disappointingly, some of Arsenal’s big names, including a particularly subdued Jordan Nobbs, just couldn’t up the tempo when needed.

Two great strikes by Bachmann were the difference. She scored on 48 and 60, ripping the heart out of Arsenal.  Vivianne Miedema pulled one back for the Gunners on 73, but the resurgence was short-lived.  Just three minutes later Fran Kirby got into the action, slotting home a fine shot to make it 3-1.

Football – off the pitch

Chelsea captain Katie Chapman has announced that she will retire from playing at the end of this season at the age of 35.

In a distinguished career, Chapman won 94 England caps, taking part in two World Cups and three European Championships.

Domestically, she played for Millwall, Fulham, Charlton, Arsenal and Chelsea, winning 10 FA Cups in total.

Since joining Chelsea in 2014, she has won the FA Cup/league double in 2015, the WSL Spring Series in 2017 and the 2018 FA Cup.

She will now take up an ambassadorial role with Chelsea.

Cricket

Exciting news from women’s cricket this week.  There will be a women’s T20 exhibition match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai before the first IPL Qualifier on Tuesday May 22.

It will be broadcast live around the world and also live on Sky Cricket from 9.20am.  Make no mistake, this is a big thing for women’s cricket in India and it could pave the way for a future women’s IPL.

Many of the superstars of the women’s game will be playing:

IPL Trailblazers: Smirti Mandhana (c) Alyssa Healy (wk), Suzie Bates, Deepti Sharma, Beth Mooney, Jemima Rodrigues, Danielle Hazell, Shikha Pandey, Lea Tahuhu, Jhulan Goswami, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Dayalan Hemalatha.

IPL Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Danielle Wyatt, Mithali Raj, Meg Lanning, Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Pooja Vastrakar, Megan Schutt, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Anjuja Patil.

Wow – should be quite an event and I hope it gets the crowd and the coverage it deserves.

Tennis – Off the Court

Alize Cornet was facing a ban for missing three drugs tests in a year, but an independent tribunal has found that the doping control officer did not take “reasonable steps” to locate her for the third test.

The first test (3 November 2016) was missed as she left early for a flight to a competition, the second (26 July 2017) because again she had already set off for competition in the United States.

At the time of the third attempt (24 October 2017), Cornet says she was in her apartment but her intercom was broken.  She did not receive a phone call or any other attempt to contact her to conduct the test.

The tribunal accepted this as “frank and compelling” evidence.  Cornet also had two completed tests in that time, in March and October 2017.

Tennis – On the Court

Korea Open

British wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker won the Korea Open singles title this week.  She beat her doubles partner, Giulia Capolcci of Italy, in the final, 6-2 3-6 6-3.

As a pairing they also won the doubles title.

Shuker will go into the Japan Open next week, full of confidence.  The Japan event is part of the Super Series which is the next level down from the Grand Slams.

Madrid Open

Petra Kvitova won a tight Madrid Open final, beating Kiki Bertens 6-6 4-6 6-3.  It was an epic final, lasting just under three hours.

Italian Open

Kvitova then pulled out of the Italian Open, taking place this week.   Also missing is Serena Williams, who pulled out of both Madrid and Italy, instead concentrating on a return at the French Open, which begins on 27 May.  Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has said that she “came back too early” after the birth of her first child, but is confident that she will be back, “Serena can achieve anything,” he said in an interview with the WTA website.

Johanna Konta was due to play Kvitova in the first round, but instead took on Magdalena Rybarikova, winning 6-4 6-3.

In the second round she faced Hsieh Su-wei, winning 6-0 6-4, but she fell in the third against current French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko in three sets, 2-6 6-3 6-4.  She started so well and confidently, while Ostapenko could not find her form at all and seemed to be struggling with the conditions.  Konta was 4-1 up after just 17 minutes.  But in the second set the tables were turned and Konta quickly lost the confidence she had shown in the first.  Ostapenko took her chances, taking the match with her first match point in the third set.

We are now at the quarter-final stages:

Angelique Kerber (11) v Elina Svitolina (4)
Maria Sharapova v Jelena Ostapenko (5)
Anett Kontaveit v Caroline Wozniacki (2)
Simona Halep (1) v Caroline Garcia (7)

Meanwhile at the same tournament Karoline Pliskova lost her temper with a vengeance, attacking the umpire’s chair with her racquet after she was beaten by Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

She had a smash called out when serving at 30 all, five games all in the third set.  Television replays showed it to be in, but on clay the reviews are done by physical marks (I’ve never quite understood that) and as there was no mark to be seen, the call stood.

At the end of the match Pliskova repeatedly hit the chair with her racquet frame.  She now, needless to say, faces a fine.

Rugby Union – Canada Sevens

New Zealand retained their Canada Sevens title in Langford on Sunday, defeating Australia in the final, 46-0.

Portia Woodman scored the first try, followed quickly by one for Ruby Tui.  Kelly Brazier scored a third after Australia had conceded a penalty and the Black Ferns took a quick tap.

They still had time to score again before half-time as Woodman went in for a second and it was 22-0 at the break.

It was no better for Australia in the second-half.  Niall Williams went in twice and then captain Sarah Goss barrelled over for a seventh.

Brazier went in for her second and New Zealand’s eighth to leave Australia stunned and well beaten.

Other Placings

USA claimed bronze with a 21-5 win over France and Canada finished fifth, beating Ireland 29-12.

The Challenge Trophy went to Japan as they beat Spain 26-21.

Pool Results

Pool A: Fiji 24-14 England; New Zealand 51-0 Brazil; Fiji 47-14 Brazil; New Zealand 22-0 England; England 31-17 Brazil; New Zealand 12-7 Fiji

Pool B: Russia 14-35 United States; France 33-7 Japan; Russia 7-24 Japan; France 22-19 United States; United States 28-7 Japan; France 45-0 Russia

Pool C: Spain 0-7 Ireland; Australia 22-7 Canada; Spain 10-24 Canada; Australia 31-19 Ireland; Ireland 17-19 Canada; Australia 43-10 Spain

England finished seventh, equalling their best place of the series so far, beating Fiji 29-24.

The final round takes place in Paris on 8-10 June, with Wales competing by invitation.

Rugby League

Last weekend’s results were as follows:

Sunday 13 May
Featherstone Rovers 32-40 Castleford Tigers
Bradford Bulls 72-10 York City Knights
Wigan Warriors 16-6 St Helens

Castleford Tigers lead the table with seven points from four games.  St Helens lie second with six points from four games.  Leeds Rhinos are also on six points, but from three games – they are third on points difference.  York City and Featherstone are yet to take a point.

Netball

Round 12 of the Netball Super League was last weekend.  The results were:

Saturday 12 May
UWS Sirens 45-59 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 51-56 Team Bath
Team Northumbria 51-58 Manchester Thunder
Severn Stars 55-44 Benecos Mavericks

Monday 14 May
Celtic Dragons 38-66 Loughborough Lightning

This weekend’s Round 13 fixtures:

Friday 18 May
UWS Sirens v Loughborough Lightning (7pm)
Surrey Storm v Wasps Netball (7.45pm)

Saturday 19 May
Benecos Mavericks v Celtic Dragons (3pm)
Manchester Thunder v Severn Stars (5pm)

Monday 21 May
Team Bath v Team Northumbria (7pm – Live on Sky Sports)

Sports Administration – Sport England

Jennie Price will quit her position as Chief Executive of Sport England at the end of October.

She took over in 2007 in the heat of London’s 2012 Olympic bid.  Since she has been in post, the number of people playing sport regularly has gone up by 1.6 million.

Price was also instrumental in the formation of the This Girl Can campaign.   She was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to sport.

And finally,

Use it, shout it, talk about it #Whatif is trending.  So what is #What if?

It’s the new campaign launched by the organisation Women in Football, at Twitter HQ in London on Wednesday.

It is aimed at everyone; football professionals, businesses and members of the public who are encouraged to pledge one way they could take action to contribute to helping improve things for women and girls in football.

There are already some high-profile names involved and the pledges already received should make a difference.  These include:

Sky Sports – #WhatIf Sky Sports committed to including female talent as studio pundits on Gillette Soccer Specials from the 2018/19 season onwards 

SPORF – #WhatIf @SPORF amplified the reach of women’s football by fully integrating coverage of the women’s game on online communities

Twitter – #WhatIf Women in Football had its own emojil on Twitter

Betfair – #WhatIf Betfair ring-fenced 50 per cent of their Cash4Clubs grassroots grants for women’s teams to help support their growth and sustainability

Forza Football – #WhatIf Forza Football made live score updates and results for women’s football games easily accessible across the world

Anyone can make a pledge, be it large or small, as an individual or corporately.  Check out the story: https://www.womeninfootball.co.uk/news/2018/05/16/whatif-we-changed-the-landscape-of-football-forever/

Or contact Leanne Dingle via leanne@womeninfootball.co.uk for more information.

There is a great will to improve the lot of women in all aspects of football.  Although I constantly despair at the comments made by those who obviously have nothing better to do, I do believe that women’s football is a good and improving product, worthy of investment by individuals and companies alike.  Let’s get behind this campaign – make your own pledge and keep #Whatif trending.

From my own point of view, I do what I can but #Whatif I can do more?  #What if I pledge to tweet more, cover more in depth and promote women’s football wherever I can.  Let’s do it.   

And, and finally,

Congratulations to Chelsea Manager, Emma Hayes, who this week gave birth to a baby boy.  Not content with a championship and FA Cup double, she is now a Mum!  Talk about multi-tasking…..

Sorry to be flaky, but there will be no column again next week, but I’ll be back in a fortnight with more news and views. 

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 May 2017

county2Welcome to this week’s column.  We’re heading towards some exciting stuff this summer – but then there’s always exciting stuff in the world of women’s sport, isn’t there?  Well I think so, and I’m glad to see my followers do too.  This week I have stories from football, netball, tennis, athletics, hockey, cricket and lacrosse.  Plus a disheartening “And finally” from cricket – remember I said I was going to stop reading the comments sections after articles?  Well I haven’t yet, but this week has made me even more resolved to do so.

Onward!

Netball

Round 16 of the Super League was completed over the weekend.  Loughborough are still top of the pile after a convincing win over Celtic Dragons on Saturday.  Lightning lead the table by nine points.  The others in the top four are Wasps, Thunder and Storm.  Bath are still in the hunt for a Final Four place as they are level with Bath on 30 and lie in fifth.  This week’s scores were:

Friday 19 May

Severn Stars 64-47 Team Northumbria
Team Bath 63-47 Sirens

Saturday 20 May

Loughborough Lightning 74-44 Celtic Dragons
Hertfordshire Mavericks 46-60 Manchester Thunder

Monday 22 May

Wasps Netball 64-70 Surrey Storm

This Bank Holiday weekend it is round 17.  I will be at Loughborough v Team Northumbria on Saturday, so if you see me come and say hello!

This round’s televised match is on Monday 29 May and is Manchester Thunder v Team Bath.  It will be live on Sky Sports at 7.30pm.

Lacrosse

As usual thanks to Martin for keeping me on my lacrosse toes.  Last week Centaurs were crowned National Club Champions.

The three winners of the North, South East and South West leagues played in a round-robin format tournament to decide the champions.

The scores were as follows:

Oxton 15-4 Bristol Bombers
Centaurs 25-3 Bristol Bombers (15-3) Mercy ruling
Centaurs 10-10 Oxton

Thinking of the Lacrosse World Cup, which is only 50-odd days away, there were several England and Wales players on show.  Oxton had England players Torz Anderson, Sophie Brett, Charlotte Lytollis and Olivia Wimpenny.  The Centaurs had five Wales players in their team as well as England player Sophie Morrill.

Although the two teams could not be separated at the final whistle, the title went to Centaurs on goal difference.  As the mercy ruling had been applied at 15-3, the difference was just one goal.

Tennis

Off the Court

Injuries

Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from the Strasbourg Grand Prix with a back injury.  She retired during the second set of her first-round match against American Shelby Rogers.

With the French Open only a week away there must be a doubt as to whether Wozniacki will take her place in the draw.

World number four Simona Halep may also be a doubt as she tore an ankle ligament during the Italian Open final.  She has described her chances as “50-50”.

Players returning

Petra Kvitova is hoping to play at Wimbledon, she has revealed this week.  We still do not know if she will play in Paris, but if not she definitely has her sights on a return at Wimbledon.  She has already won the title twice and it will be good to see her back on the court as soon as possible.

Another player who may make her return at Wimbledon is Victoria Azarenka.  She gave birth to a son in December and now she says she is “ready to start competing” again.  She will play in one of the warm-up tournaments and then hopefully take her place in the main draw.

If she plays her first tournament within 12 months of giving birth she will retain her ranking of six in the world.

Qualifying for Roland Garros

Heather Watson is through to the second round of qualifying after beating Russian Anastasiya Komardina 3-6 7-5 6-1.   She has to win two more matches to make it to the main draw.  However, British numbers three and four, Naomi Broady and Tara Moore lost in the first round of qualifying and will not compete.

Laura Robson

Laura Robson is still on the comeback trail. Her persistence and tenacity cannot be denied, and it seems to be paying off.  She won the ITF 60k Kurume tournament in Japan last week and now moves back into the world top 200.  She moves from 218th to 169th.  She defeated fellow Briton Katie Boulter in the final 6-3 6-4.  It is hard to believe she is still only 23.

On the Court

Italian Open

Eighth seed Elina Svitolina won the Italian Open last weekend.  She defeated sixth seed Simona Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1.  As mentioned earlier, Halep tore an ankle ligament during the match and is now a doubt for the French Open.

Strasbourg Grand Prix

The quarter-finals took place on 25 May and the results were:

Samantha Stosur(6)  beat Carla Suarez Navarrro(4) 7-5 6-4
Daria Gavrilova (7) beat Ash Barty 6-4 6-7 7-6
Caroline Garcia (5) beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-2
Peng Shuai (8) beat Shelby Rogers 6-0 6-4

The semi-finals will be on 26 May and the draw is:

Peng v Stosur
Garcia v Gavrilova

Hockey

Hannah Macleod has announced her retirement from international hockey.

She was part of the GB team that won gold so thrillingly at Rio in 2016.

Macleod will now concentrate on her coaching role with the England Under-21 squad.

Cricket

Quadrangular Series

19 May

South Africa 323/8 (50 overs)
Ireland currently 203/6 (50 overs)
South Africa won by 120 runs

Third place play-off

Ireland finished their tournament on a winning note as they beat Zimbabwe in the third place play-off.

Ireland 254/5 (50 overs)
Zimbabwe 235 all out (49.4 overs)
Ireland won by 19 runs

Captain Laura Delaney led from the front as she scored 81 for Ireland with Shauna Kavanagh backing her up with 67.  But Ireland will be really happy that they were able to take 10 Zimbabwe wickets.  Pick of the bowlers was seamer Aoife Beggs who took 5/52.

Final

India continued their excellent form in the final as they reduced South Africa to 156 all out in just over 40 overs.  They then reached their target losing only two wickets and with 102 balls to spare.

South Africa 156 all out (40.2 overs)
India 160/2 (33 overs)
India won by 8 wickets

Top scorer for South Africa was Sune Luus with 55.  The phenomenal Jhulan Goswami was in the wickets again taking 3/22 off 8 overs, while Poonam Yadav took 3/32 off 9.

India lost Deepti Sharma early on for 8 and Mona Meshram for 2, but the in-form Punam Raut with 70 and captain Mithali Raj with 62 saw them home. South Africa also bowled 15 wides.

Athletics

The news came this week that Welsh discus thrower Philippa Roles has died at the age of 39.  Roles competed at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 for Team GB.  She finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Delhi and sixth in Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.

No cause of death has yet been revealed.

Her personal record was 62.89 metres, which is fourth in all-time British rankings.

Football – On the Pitch

Spring Series

Saturday 20 May

Arsenal Ladies 4-2 Birmingham City Ladies

Arsenal are now second in the table with this win over the Blues at the Hive.  The away side took the lead in the first minute when Rachel Williams headed home a Sarah Mayling cross.  Heather O’Reilly equalised for the Gunners two minutes before half-time from a through-ball by Danielle Van De Donk.

After the break Van De Donk got a goal of her own to put the home side ahead, but just three minutes later Williams was on the scoresheet again to equalise for Birmingham.

But in an inspired substitution saw Arsenal take the points as Louise Quinn headed in from a free kick in the 78th minute to make it 3-2 and again from a corner in the 90th to make the final score 4-2.

Bristol City Women 1-1 Liverpool Ladies

It was honours even at the Stoke Gifford stadium as Bristol took a valuable point from the Spring Series’ early pace-setters, Liverpool Ladies.

The away side were on top throughout but were held until the 80th minute when Katie Zelem fired in after a poorly-cleared cross.

It looked as though Liverpool had secured the win, but City weren’t beaten and five minutes later Lily Agg headed in from Claire Emslie to see the points were shared.

Sunday 21 May

Manchester City Women 5-1 Yeovil Town Ladies

It is safe to say that City have hit their straps.  Things started badly for Yeovil when on 10 minutes Ann-Marie Heatherson turned a Lucy Bronze cross into her own net.  Two minutes later City were two up when Jill Scott lobbed keeper Megan Walsh.

On 20 minutes Lucy Quinn got one back for the Lady Glovers, but there was to be no comeback.

Jane Ross scored the Champions’ third before half-time and the game was effectively over as a contest.

In the second-half Ross grabbed a second and Kosovare Asllani City’s fifth.  Ellie Roebuck saved a penalty from Sarah Wiltshire for Man City.

The only fly in the ointment for City was Carli Lloyd’s 89th minute straight red card for an elbow.

Sunderland AFC 0-7 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea were five-up by half-time in this match and even had time to miss a penaly – a complete mauling for the Lady Black Cats.

Gemma Davison missed the spot kick that would have put Chelsea one-up, but it obviously did not knock their confidence.

Erin Cuthbert scored the first on 17.  Karen Carney doubled the lead on 31 after a precise pass from So Yun Ji.  Three minutes later Maren Mjelde got their third and substitute Ramona Bachmann the fourth on 41.  Cuthbert scored her second just before half-time and a dejected Sunderland team left the field.

Sunderland’s defence performed much better in the second-half, but they couldn’t stop the returning Fran Kirby from scoring a double on 80 and 85 minutes to complete the rout.

Chelsea would have been very heartened to welcome back Kirby after injury but disappointed to see Eni Aluko limp off in the first-half.

Thursday 25 May

Manchester City Women 1-0 Chelsea Ladies

After their stunning win on Sunday, Chelsea would have been fancying their chances against the champions.  There was, unsurprisingly, an emotional atmosphere at the Academy Stadium as a minute’s silence was held for the victims of the attack on the Manchester Arena on Monday.

But it was Chelsea who had trouble in settling.  They were defence-minded in the first-half and by the time they decided to take the attack to City it was too late and Manchester had got into their stride.

The only goal of the game came from Toni Duggan just before the half-hour.  How Chelsea must be sick of the sights of Duggan who has now scored 10 goals in 10 games against them.  Nikita Parris also looked lively for City although her finishing left something to be desired.

Off the Pitch

Notts County

Well, I didn’t see this coming.  New Notts County owner Alan Hardy has confirmed that he plans to bring women’s football back to the club.

As you will know, I have had plenty to say on this subject and could say plenty more, but this new announcement has thrown me somewhat.  I don’t want to be sceptical or cynical and would be more than happy to see a new team, so I’ll hold my thoughts until we see just what comes next.

This is what Hardy has said so far:

  • He wants to put together a sustainable model, which first sees a girls’ academy being set up.
  • He wants a clear pathway for academy players to progress through to a women’s first team.
  • He sees it as a long-term project
  • He knows they will have to work through the leagues and divisions but is willing to commit to that

On the problems he had with the previous set-up:

“Unfortunately, the ladies’ team I inherited was an entity on its own. There was just the first-team; there was nothing that was attaching it to the club in any way – probably because it was brought over from Lincoln and it had no structure or foundations.

“As of next season, we will have an under-nines, under-10s and under-11s girls’ academy, which will be playing in the boys’ Young Elizabethan League (YEL).”

All good words so far.  I just hope that the FA offers as much support as it can – very often (and I know I’ve said this before) I feel the FA has all the ideas (the “initiatives” – ugh beginning to dislike that word) regarding women’s football, then sets everyone adrift to fend for themselves with little or no back-up.  And before you all yell that clubs have to sustain themselves and why should they be propped up by the governing body – I don’t mean that they should be propped up – just that the FA should be aware of potential problems or issues and should be available to provide assistance.

It’s not just football that does this, but I would suggest the ECB and RFU are equally culpable.  And to support this, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes had her say about the FA this week.

Emma Hayes

The Chelsea manager pulled no punches on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.  She said that the FA is guilty of treading women’s football as an “afterthought” – something with which I would heartily agree.

She made the claim with reference to the training and pay of match officials.  She said that the pool of referees is too big and when it comes to payment, officials at WSL matches are paid around half the amount of those in the men’s National League (the top division of which is the fifth tier of English football).

The FA was quick to issue a response to the criticisms.  With respect to the officiating “problem” it has a “Gameplan for Growth” strategy:

“We acknowledge there is more to do but our commitment is clear”, it said.

“The FA is also: developing a pathway to recruit, train, deploy and mentor more women and men, from all walks of life, to referee at every level of the women’s game, and we’re reaching out to everyone involved, including clubs, to get a clearer understanding of peoples’ perceptions of officiating and seeking ways in which standards could be improved.”

It’s very interesting that the FA felt the need to issue a statement only hours after the interview.

Bibiana Steinhaus

The Bundesliga will see its first female referee next season.  38-year old policewoman Bibiana Steinhaus had previously been a fourth official at a Bundesliga match and has been a German FA referee since 1999.

She has already refereed the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and the women’s 2012 Olympic final.

Did I read some of the comments after this article on the BBC?  Yes I did.  Were they as bad as you think?  Yes, they were.

Signing

Arsenal have signed Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema from Bayern Munich for the new 2017/18 winter WSL season.

Miedema, a forward, already has 48 caps for the Netherlands and had been at Munich for three seasons.

And finally,

The BBC released a “Breaking news” item online this week that said that both Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor are included in Mark Robinson’s World Cup squad.  Any genuine cricket fan will see this as great news.  It is a real result that Taylor is available for selection and that Knight looks to be overcoming injury.

So, and yes, I know I should know better by now, I thought I’d look at the congratulatory comments after the article.  Except at that point, there weren’t any.  There were just four or five from men saying this was not news and why were the BBC covering it?

For a brief, fleeting but naive moment I thought the comments meant that both players were so good they couldn’t be left out.  Alas no.  What they were actually saying was that the article was not news because there was no competition for places in the squad and they just put anyone available in it, and of course, by implication, that women’s cricket was beneath notice.  They were, of course, displaying their total ignorance of the subject: Sarah Taylor has been out of the England set-up for a year, dealing with her anxiety issues, whilst Captain Heather Knight sustained a stress fracture in her foot at the training camp in the UAE and was (and still may be) a doubt for the World Cup.

So what makes these men think they are qualified to comment?  Do they care that they are so spectacularly wrong?  Probably not, but I just wish the wilfully uninformed would stay out of it.

If you can’t be bothered to get your facts right, don’t be bothered to comment.  Thanks.

And finally (2)

I’m currently writing a short four-part history of cricket for WiSP Sports.  If you would like to read part one here’s the link:  WiSP Sports.

There will be no column next week as I’m away watching the Champions’ Trophy – yes I do watch men’s sport too…..