Women’s Sports Column 29 September – 5 October 2018

laura 1Welcome to this week’s column.  After a slightly ranty piece last week, hopefully this week’s will be a bit calmer (but also longer!).  There’s another bit of “feedback” on women’s football in this week’s “And finally”, but I’m sure you’ll all be able to appreciate the irony when you read it – it certainly made me laugh!  Hey ho.   Stories this week come from tennis, football, netball, cricket, rugby union, athletics, motorcycling (yay!), hockey, rugby league and volleyball.

So plenty to get through.  Let’s crack on.

Tennis

Wuhan Open

After Wang Qiang had retired in the first semi-final against Anett Kontaveit (6-2 2-1), the second semi-final was won by Aryna Sabalenka.  She beat the last remaining seed, Ash Barty (16), 7-6 6-4.

The final saw a straight sets win for Sabalenka 6-3 6-3 over Kontaveit.

This week the WTA tour moves on to Beijing for the China Open.

China Open

Still no joy for Jo Konta as she departed the China Open in the first round, beaten by 10th seed Julia Goerges of Germany 6-2 4-6 6-3.

British number three Katie Boulter also fell in round one after coming through qualifying, losing to Kirsten Flipkens 4-6 6-2 7-5.

And to complete a miserable trio of results, British number two Heather Watson didn’t even make it to the main draw, losing in the final round of qualifying 6-0 6-3 to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Other top names to fall in the first round proper were Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina.  Simona Halep had to retire with a back injury.

 Three out of the four quarter-finals have been completed at the time of publishing:

Caroline Wozniacki (2) beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 7-6
Naomi Osaka (8) beat Zhang Shuai 3-6 6-4 7-5

Still to play: Wang Qiang v Aryna Sabalenka

Sevastova will face Osaka in the first semi-final on Saturday 6 October

In the doubles the semi-final line-up is:

Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova (7) v Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yifan (3)
Elise Merterns/Demi Schuurs (4)v Barbora Strycova/Andrea Sestini Hlavackova (2)

Both matches to be played Saturday 6 October.

Race to Singapore

We’re only two weeks away from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore and, as it stands, only three places have definitely been bagged.  US Open champion Naomi Osaka has become the latest to qualify for her first WTA Finals.  There is also still some doubt as to Simona Halep’s fitness, after she pulled out of the China Open this week.

Top 20 singles players with their points as of 1 October:

Simona Halep (6911) (Q)
Angelique Kerber (5256) (Q)
Naomi Osaka (4351) (Q)
Petra Kvitova (4300)
Caroline Wozniacki (4087)
Elina Svitolina (3841)
Sloane Stephens (3824)
Karolina Pliskova (3601)
Kiki Bertens (3591)
Elise Mertens (3080)
Aryna Sabalenka (2990)
Serena Williams (2976)
Daria Kasatkina (2920)
Madison Keys (2752)
Julia Goerges (2715)
Garbine Muguruza (2606)
Ashleigh Barty (2475)
Anastasija Sevastova (2465)
Caroline Garcia (2360)
Jelena Ostapenko (2299)

Netball

The fixtures for the 2019 Netball Superleague are out.  Check out where your favourite team will be and when at https://www.netballsl.com/competition/fixtures/

The first weekend will be a “Super 10” event where all 10 teams will be in action, this time at the Arena Birmingham on Saturday 5 January 2019.

Tickets went on sale on Thursday 4 October.  It will sell out – so get your tickets as soon as possible.

Cricket

With Sri Lanka v India done and dusted and West Indies v South Africa drawing to a close, it’s now the turn of the Southern Stars and White Ferns to complete their T20 World Cup warm up series.

Second T20 – Tarouba
28 September
South Africa 101/8 (20 overs)
West Indies 102/1 (15.8 overs)
West Indies won by 9 wickets with 27 balls remaining

West Indies went 2-0 up in this five-match series with another good performance.  Offspinner Anisa Mohammed took only the ninth hat-trick in women’s T20 history as South Africa were restricted to just 101.  She finished with figures of 5/24 from her four overs.

Lizelle Lee went for a 12-ball duck, but fellow-opener Dane van Niekerk top-scored with 36 as South Africa tried to build a total.  Three other players made decent double figure scores, but Mohammed then took three wickets from the last three balls of the innings to keep the total down.

West Indies made short work of the chase, losing only one wicket (Hayley Matthews for 17), in the process.  Natasha McLean scored 42 and Stafanie Taylor 35 as West Indies won with more than four overs to spare.

Third T20
29 September

Abandoned without a ball being bowled

There are still two T20s to go, on 5 and 7 October.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Southern Stars have just whitewashed New Zealand in a three-match T20 series played over a week.  They will then play them in a three-match ODI series starting in February 2019.

Australia were too strong all-round for New Zealand in this series.  All three matches followed the same format with New Zealand batting first, not making enough and Australia knocking them off.  By match three, New Zealand’s confidence was obviously knocked allowing Australia to press home their advantage to win easily.

First T20
New Zealand 162/5 (20 overs)
Australia 164/4 (17.4 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 14 balls remaining

With Suzie Bates out for just three, bowled by Ellyse Perry, it was up Sophie Devine and Jess Watkin to take it on.  Watkin made 18 from 15 balls before she was stumped by Alyssa Healy.  Devine carried on, making 43 from 33 before she was caught by Beth Mooney off the bowling of Ash Gardner. New captain Amy Satterthwaite fell cheaply for just two, but Katey Martin top-scored with 56 not out from just 34 balls as the White Ferns set a competitive target.

Australia started badly, losing the top four for 45, but captain Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes steadied the ship and then took on the chase.  Lanning scored 6 off 44 and Haynes 69 off 40 as New Zealand were unable to take any further wickets and Australia got home in the eighteenth over.

Second T20
New Zealand 145/8 (20 overs)
Australia 149/4 (18.5 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 7 balls remaining

Suzie Bates led from the front with 77 from 52 balls, but there was precious little below her backing her up.  Amy Satterthwaite was the next best scorer with 27.  Megan Schutt was the star with the ball for Australia, taking 3/15 from her four overs.

In response, Mooney went for a three-ball duck, but Healy scored 57 and Elyse Villani 50 not out to get Australia on their way.  It was a closer affair, but the Southern Stars still managed to reach their target in the penultimate over.

Third T20
New Zealand 103 all out (18.6 overs)
Australia 105/1 (12.3 overs)
Australia won by 9 wickets with 45 balls remaining

The third game was the least competitive.  New Zealand were battered and bruised and barely put up a fight.

New Zealand seemed to be batting in slow motion.  The openers scored 11 each but took up 27 balls in the process.  The only batting of note came from Katey Martin who was 35 not out by the end.  Perry was fearsome, taking 4/21 from her four overs.   Sophie Molineux took 3/11 from four.

It was never enough and Australia set about the chase with gusto.  Healy pushed it from the off, scoring 67 from 44 balls and by the time she was out, caught Tahuhu, bowled Devine, the game was effectively done (98/1).  Beth Mooney ended with 29 not out and Ash Gardner 5 not out as Australia romped home with more than seven overs to spare.

Anyone betting against Australia for the World T20?  I’m certainly not.

England

The England squad for the T20 World Cup in November has been announced and contains three as yet uncapped players.

The squad in full: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Dani Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Linsey Smith, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.

Sarah Taylor is rested, as part of the management of her mental health and Amy Jones takes up the gloves.  Of course Taylor is a hard act to follow, but from what I saw of Jones in the summer, her keeping has really come on and she will be, excuse me, a safe pair of hands.

Two of the uncapped players are from Loughborough Lightning.  Linsey Smith and Kirstie Gordon are both left-arm spinners.  Although Gordon has played for Scotland the games did not have first-class status.

All-rounder Sophia Dunkley earned her place after a storming Kia Super League season with champions Surrey Stars.

Alex Hartley, Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh are among the big names to miss out.

Rugby Union

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

29 September
Bristol Bears 41-14 DMP Sharks
Gloucester-Hartpury 40-41 Loughborough Lightning (Lightning won with the last play of the game)
Wasps 29-10 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins 27-6 Firwood Waterloo
Richmond 12-30 Saracens

It’s four from four for Saracens with a full complement of bonus points.  They sit top of the table with 20 points.  Loughborough Lightning are second with 19 and Wasps third with 15.  At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries have two losing bonus points from four games and DMP Sharks are second bottom with five.

There are no Premier 15s fixtures this weekend.

Rugby League

The last round of league fixtures in the Super League took place last weekend.  This weekend sees the play-offs.

Friday 28 September
St Helens 24-14 Castleford Tigers

Sunday 30 September
York City Knights 6-50 Leeds Rhinos
Wigan Warriors 26-8 Bradford Bulls

Leeds Rhinos finished top in the regular season with 20 points from 12 games.  Wigan finished just one behind and St Helens were third with 17.

Play-offs

Sunday 7 October
Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers (1pm)
Wigan Warriors v St Helens (2pm)

The play-off winners will face each other in the Women’s Super League Grand Final at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday 13 October at 1pm.  The Women’s Championship Grand Final will be the curtain raiser to the main event and begins at 11am.  Tickets can be purchased on the gate; £5 for adults and free for under-16s.  So if you’re in the area on Saturday 13, get out there and show them some support.

Football

Sunday 30 September

FAWSL results:

Birmingham City 2-3 Manchester City
McManus ‘8 (OG – check it out if you haven’t seen it – also features in “And finally”), Sargeant 49’
Weir 54’, Parris 65’, Wullaert 73’

Chelsea 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Kirby 32’, Cuthbert 36’

Liverpool 0-1 Reading
Chaplen 36’

Bristol City p-p Everton

West Ham United 2-1 Yeovil Town
Kiernan 67’, Kmita 80
Mason 78’

Arsenal are still top, although they didn’t play last weekend.  They have nine points from three matches.  They are ahead on goal difference from Birmingham City, who have nine from four.  Manchester City lie third on eight points.  At the bottom, both Yeovil and Brighton are still to get off the mark.

FAWC results:

Manchester United 0-0 Durham

Charlton Athletic 4-1 Lewes
Clifford 9’, Gurr 60’, Agg 79’, Graham 85’
Bergin 77’ (Pen)

Crystal Palace 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Balfour 8’ (Pen)
Dean 15’, Addison 65’

Leicester City 4-2 London Bees
Axten 2’, Ayisi 33’, Dugmore 40’, Nymoen 82’
Littlejohn 50’ (Pen) 70’

Sheffield United 4-1 Aston Villa
Jones 4’ 51’ 71’, Paul 35’ (Pen)
Welsh 25’

In the Championship, Manchester United are top, their goal-scoring bonanza having come to an abrupt halt against Durham, with 10 points from four games.  Tottenham are second with nine from three with Lewes third on nine from four games and with a worse goal difference.  At the bottom, Aston Villa are the only side yet to register a point.

Champions League

The draw for the last 16 was made on Monday 1 October:

FC Zurich (SUI) v Bayern Munchen (GER)
Wolfsburg (GER) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Ajax (NED) v Lyon (FRA)
Barcelona (ESP) v Glasgow City (SCO)
Linkoping (SWE) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Chelsea (ENG) v Fiorentina (ITA)
FC Rosengard (SWE) v Slavia Praha (CZE)
LSK Kvinner (NOR) v Brondby (DEN)

Both Glasgow City and Chelsea have difficult draws.  Ties will be played on 17-18 October and 31 October-1 November.

FA Women’s National League Cup

The draw for the second round of the League Cup has also been made:

Huddersfield Town v Burnley FC
Stoke City v Norton & Stockton Ancients
Derby County v Bolton Wanderers
Hull City v Birmingham & West Midlands
Brighouse Town v Leeds United
Blackburn Rovers v Fylde
Nottingham Forest v Chorley FC
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland AFC
Billericay Town v Chichester City
Cambridge United v Leyton Orient
Cardiff City v Cheltenham Town
Queens Park Rangers v Loughborough Foxes
Oxford United v Crawley Wasps
Larkhall Athletic v AFC Wimbledon
Southampton v Plymouth
Watford v Coventry

Ties will be played on 14 October.

Lionesses

Don’t forget England Lionesses play two friendlies in the next week.  On Saturday 6 October they face Brazil at Notts County (12.30pm kick off) and on Tuesday Australia will be the visitors at Craven Cottage, Fulham (7pm).  Tickets will be available on the gate.

Scottish football

There was a really good piece on the BBC website this week about Scottish Women’s Football (SWF), in which the chair, Vivienne MacLaren stated that the organisation would not consider sponsorship from alcohol or gambling companies.

In an interview with BBC Scotland she said,

“Over 80% of our members who play football are in youth teams and are under 18,”

“I understand why, in the men’s game and other sports, it fits very well with what they are trying to do.

“But, for us, it is very much family-orientated. Even in our senior teams, there are many players who are under 18.

“We know it is a minority of people with issues around alcohol and gambling, but they are still serious issues.

“We want wee girls playing football to have positive role models and a bit of a cleaner view of life.”

We all know how women’s sport struggles for sponsorship, but I absolutely applaud SWF’s stance.  I am absolutely sick to death of gambling adverts every five minutes during games, posters on billboards and logos on shirts.  The UK has serious problems with both alcohol and gambling without sports viewed by millions of people a week being bombarded with advertising for both.  Let’s hope that companies from other sectors take their chance to sponsor some quality sport.

Check out the full interview here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45704266

World Cup Qualification

There is one European World Cup place still up for grabs.  This Friday, the four best-placed runners-up will play the first leg of a two-legged play-off for the right to compete in the two-legged play-off final on 5 and 13 November.

Netherlands v Denmark
Belgium v Switzerland

The second leg is on Tuesday 9 October.  News of both legs will be in next week’s column.

Motorcycling

It’s not often I get to feature any form of motorsport in this column.  Obviously, there’s a very good, albeit very disappointing reason for this – it’s still largely a boys’ club.  But this week we have a good news story from the world of motorcycling.

Ana Carrasco, aged just 21, has become the first woman to win a motorbike world title.

She won the World Supersport 300 title by one point from fellow-Spaniard Mika Perez.

She won her first race in the series in Portugal in 2017.  Since then she has gone from strength to strength, finally taking the championship lead in May at Imola.

She started from 25th position on Sunday at Magny-Cours and finished 13th, which was enough to take the title.

Here’s hoping this high-profile success will inspire other young women and girls to take up the sport.

Athletics

Great Scottish Run

Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia won the Great Scottish Run half-marathon on Sunday in a time of 1:09:15.  Rose Chelimo of Kenya finished second in 1:10:07 with Alia Gray of USA in third with a time of 1:13:32.

Volleyball

I rarely feature volleyball and I really feel I should.  It’s a great team sport and in the equality stakes it rates highly.  I suggest you all check out the Volleyball England website.  It’s clear, informative and easy to use.  I’ll outline the basics here, but go and check it out for yourselves.  And if you find you’re in the area of a game, go and see it.

https://www.volleyballengland.org/competitions/national_volleyball_league

The NVL (National Volleyball League) is the top competition for volleyball in England.  The men’s and women’s competitions are organised in the same way.  The top league is the National Super League with National Division 1, National Division 2 and 3 National Division 3 beneath them.

I’m going to concentrate on the Super League, with apologies to everyone else.  The structure is a new one, so we’re all learning together.  From 2019-20 there will be 10 teams in the Super League, but this year (2018-19) there are nine.  All teams play each other once before Christmas and then the league splits into two halves.

The top half plays each other twice to determine positions one to five and the bottom half plays each other twice to determine sixth to tenth (ninth this year). The team that finishes bottom is relegated and the team finishing ninth (eighth this year) plays-off against the team which finishes second in NVL division one.

Got that?  Good.

There has only been one fixture so far this season:

Bristol VC1 2-3 London Orcas

I’ll try to remember to include scores when appropriate, but if I do forget, please check out the website.

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

29 September results:
Surbiton 1-0 Clifton Robinsons
East Grinstead 2-1 Beeston
Holcombe 1-1 Buckingham
Bowdon 2-2 Canterbury
University of Birmingham 2-1 Slough

After two games Surbiton are top with maximum points.  Then come three teams on four points.  Slough are bottom and the only team yet to pick up a point.

This weekend’s fixtures:

6 October
Clifton Robinsons v Holcombe (1pm, Coombe Dingle Pitch 1)
University of Birmingham v Buckingham (1.30pm, Birmingham Uni Pitch 1)
Bowdon v Beeston (1.45pm, Bowdon Club)
Canterbury v Slough (4pm, Polo Farm SC, Pitch 1)
East Grinstead v Surbiton (4pm, East Grinstead Hockey Club)

And finally,

You just have to laugh – no, really.  The BBC ran a “story” on Tuesday where it invited comments on which was the worst own goal of the weekend; Abbie McManus (Manchester City) and two from male footballers, one from Stuttgart and one from Olympiakos.  “Right,” I thought, “Here we go.  Fill your boots chaps, go for it all you women’s football-haters, just go for it.  Now’s your chance to come up with the highly original ‘all female ‘keepers are rubbish’, line.”  I looked briefly at the comments, only to find the first said something like “why do you put women’s football in with this?  You should not be giving it space.” And I thought, “Wow, way to absolutely make a complete mess of it…..”

And, and finally,

Apparently, according to the BBC a new study has found that 84% of “general sports fans” are interested in women’s sport.  More than half of the number surveyed were men.  The countries included in the survey were the UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.  It was found that 51% of men surveyed were supportive of women’s sport.

Check out the facts and figures here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/45737718

I’m always healthily sceptical of such surveys and I certainly wouldn’t use the figures to “prove” or “disprove” anything – I gather the chap mentioned in this week’s “And finally” was probably not among the 51%………

More news and views next week.

Women’s Sports Column 22-28 October

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It’s that time again – more women’s sports news than you can shake a stick at.   This week we have stories from cycling, cricket, football, tennis, rugby, horse racing, boxing and golf.  Also some sad news in “And finally”, but hopefully it will also give us the chance to recognise some particular achievements from a very particular woman.

Cycling

There were more medals for Britain’s women in the European Track Championships in Paris.  The day two tally stood at three.

Katie Archibald won two golds to add to her silver in the elimination race.  In the individual pursuit she finished four seconds ahead of her opponent, Justyna Kaczkowska, from Poland

She had already posted a personal best in qualifying.

Then she won her second gold in two nights as she took the omnium title with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild in second and Lottie Kopecky from Belgium in third.

Emily Kay and Emily Nelson won silver in the Madison.  They lay fourth with just 10 laps to go when they took maximum points in the final sprint to take the silver.  The winners were Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore of Belgium.

In other events Elinor Barker finished fifth in the points race, but Rachel James fell in the final of the keirin.

Horse racing

 Josephine Gordon has become only the third woman to become Champion Apprentice jockey.

But it’s good to see her ambitions do not rest there.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I think in the next 15 years there will be a woman who becomes champion jockey,

“Hopefully it will be me. At this time, it’s probably quite unrealistic for me but that would be the biggest dream. I didn’t think I could achieve being champion apprentice.”

Female winners of the Champion Apprentice Jockey:

2005 Hayley Turner (tied with Saleem Golam) – 44 wins

2012 Amy Ryan – 40 wins

2016 Josephine Gordon – 50 wins

Football

Scottish football

Glasgow City Ladies have been crowned Scottish Women’s Premier league champions for the tenth successive season.

They only needed a point to ensure the title stayed at the Excelsior Stadium, but it was clear they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a win.  This they accomplished, defeating Hibernian Ladies 3-1.  Sarah Crilly opened the scoring after ten minutes and the lead was doubled when Savannah McCarthy headed a second.

Claire Shine put the tie past Hibs with the third before the away side pulled back a consolation goal through Siobhan Hunter.

Glasgow City could still make it a league and cup double when they face Hibs again in the Scottish Cup final on 6 November.

 Scotland 0-7 Netherlands

Scotland began their warm-ups for next year’s Euros with a crushing defeat against Netherlands in a friendly at Livingston.

Bayern Munich striker Vivianne Miedema got the first, but there were no further scores until first-half stoppage time when first Lineth Beerensteyn and then Miedema with her second put the visitors 3-0 up going into the break.

It was more of the same in the second-half with Scotland rarely venturing up the field.  On 66 minutes Netherlands made it four when Renee Slegers poked in, and then it was five through Ellen Jansen.

Scottish goalkeeper, Shannon Lynn was injured in the scoring of the fifth and had to be substituted with Gemma Fay taking over.

But things did not improve as the Netherlands put another two past the home side, Shanice van de Sanden scoring the sixth and Jackie Groenen the seventh to make it a thoroughly miserable night for the Scots.

 English football

By contrast, the Lionesses have seen their unbeaten run stretch to nine matches with two decent performances in friendlies against France and Spain this week.

 England 0-0 France

England knew the visitors would provide a tough test and so it transpired.  It was a tight first half of few chances, with England’s Lucy Bronze having the best, but she headed wide from a free kick.

The second half was equally tense with both defences on top and neither able to break the deadlock.  Toni Duggan did put the ball in the net but was adjudged to have used her hand in the build-up.

It was a good defensive display, but up front England lacked bite.  France were not fielding a full-strength team and Mark Sampson will be aware that, certainly in attack, France will be much more of threat in the Championships next summer.

 Spain 1-2 England

Spain may some way below England in the world rankings, but they are always a tough opponent, particularly at home.

England took the lead when a shot (or possible cross) from Karen Carney was deflected into the net by Marta Torrejon Moya.

England captain Steph Houghton then curled in a peach of a free-kick to double the lead.

Torrejon pulled one back, but England held on for the win.

Off the Pitch

Arsenal Ladies have announced that their three Spanish players, striker Natalia and midfielders Marta Corredera and Vicky Losada, are to leave the club at the end of the season.

Corredera has signed for Atletico Madrid, but both Losada and Natalia have not yet revealed their new clubs, although Natalia said on social media that she was looking for a new challenge in Madrid.

Losada and Corredera had been at Arsenal for just one season, while Natalia signed from Bristol Academy in December 2014.

The FA has announced it aims to double the number of women involved in football by the end of the decade.

FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, announced that the women’s game is the “prime candidate” for investment.

There is due to be a statement on an FA Cup TV deal worth more than £800m over six years.

The FA also helps that moving the FAWSL from summer to winter will improve coverage and gates.

My favourite line of the interview is with reference to England’s third place at the 2015 World Cup

“Unusually for an England team, we overperformed at a tournament.”

For that sentence alone I applaud the FA’s thinking.  But, and I’ve said this many times before, the announcements, initiatives and money have to be backed up with ongoing support.

He says all the right things; breaking down barriers, changing perceptions, getting support from parents and clubs, but the talk is not enough.

I implore the FA not to just fling money at the situation and hope that some of it sticks – back up your monetary input with time, personnel, expertise and anything else women’s football needs to actually come through with the targets.  Don’t expect money alone to do the job.

Cricket

The England squad for the Sri Lanka tour has been announced.

There is a recall for middle-order batter Fran Wilson.  Sophie Ecclestone is unavailable due to school commitments and Anya Shrubsole is still recovering from her neck injury and is not included.

Before they reach Colombo the squad will be in Abu Dhabi for a six day training camp that will also include some of the England Senior Academy.

England will play four ODIs in Sri Lanka, the final three of which will count towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

England squad:

Heather Knight, captain (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Middlesex)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Beth Langston (Yorkshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Danielle Wyatt (Sussex)

Additional player for Abu Dhabi camp

Georgia Adams (Sussex)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Alice-Davidson-Richards (Kent)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)

Sri Lanka fixtures:

9 November – 1st ODI (Sinhalese Sports Club)
12 November – 2nd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
15 November – 3rd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
17 November – 4th ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium

South Africa v New Zealand series

At the point of last week’s column, New Zealand had taken an unassailable 4-1 lead with two games to go.  Here’s what happened in the last two matches:

22 October Paarl

South Africa pulled one back in the sixth game in Paarl.  In a rain-affected game reduced to 39 overs, South Africa won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat.  This proved to be a good decision as they skittled out the tourists for 130 in 33.3 overs.  Katey Martin provided sole resistance with 65 not out with Masabata Klaas taking 3/32 off eight overs and Moseline Daniels and Odine Kirsten two each.

South Africa replied in sensible fashion and reached their target with eight balls to spare.  Top scorer was Mignon du Preez with 44 and South Africa won by five wickets.

24 October Paarl

New Zealand were not to be outdone though and won the seventh match in Paarl by 126 runs.  Suzie Bates won the toss and batted.  They posted an excellent 273/7 off their 50 overs with Katey Martin again starring with 81.  She was well supported by Amy Satterthwaite with 53 and Maddy Green with 46.

This was too stiff a target for South Africa to chase and they were all out for 147 in 45.5 overs.  Joint top scorers were Lizelle Lee and Odine Kirsten with 22.  The bowling damage was done by Erin Bermingham with 3/18 off 10 with Lea Tahuhu 2/36 off 7 and Satterthwaite 2/15 off 4.5.

New Zealand took the series 5-2.

Tennis

WTA Finals in Singapore

We now know three of the four quarter-finalists in the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the red group Angelique Kerber has finished top with three wins from three, with Dominika Cibulkova in second.

In the white group Svetlana Kuznetsova has qualified with the final place to be decided between Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova, who play each other in the last round robin game on Friday.

Semi-final line-up

Kuznetsova v Cibulkova

Kerber v Radwanska or Pliskova

Off the court

British number one, Johanna Konta, has won the WTA award for Most Improved Player 2016.  It has indeed been a breakthrough year for Konta; reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and then winning her first WTA Tour title at Stanford in June.

Her rise through the rankings has been marked; in 2015 she was at 147 in the world.  This year she has made it has high as ninth and is currently tenth.

The WTA Player of the Year award went to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.  She is currently world number one and won her first and second Grand Slams (Australian and US) this year.  She won a silver medal at Rio and was runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

In other news, Maria Sharapova has been excluded from the WTA singles rankings as she has not competed in enough tournaments in 2016 to be eligible for a ranking.

She will return to the rankings after she has served her ban and has played three tournaments next year.

Boxing

Irish boxer Katie Taylor will make her professional boxing debut in November.

She has signed a professional contract with Matchroom boxing and will appear at the SSE Arena, Wembley on 26 November.

The fight will be live on Sky Sports.

Taylor has been considering her options for some time after failing to win an Olympic medal in Rio.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said,

“Today marks a significant day for our sport with the news that Katie is joining the professional ranks,

“She is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time and a public icon in Ireland. I met Katie for the first time last week and was fascinated by her desire to not just win world titles but to break down the barriers of women’s boxing; she is an incredible role model.”

Golf

Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After leading from the off, Australian Minjee Lee duly took the title at the Blue Bay tournament at the weekend.   She carded a final round 70 to finish on -13, winning by just one shot from USA’s Jessica Korda.

Third was Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, with her compatriot Pornanong Phatlum tying with Caroline Masson of Germany for fourth.

Britain’s Charley Hull finished a further place back in sixth on -5.

Rugby Union

It was round six of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol are looking nigh-on invincible as they won again, but the chasing pack haven’t given up as the weekend saw wins for second placed Lichfield and another big win for Worcester Valkyries who lie in third.

Results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 19-66 Worcester Valkyries
Richmond Women 27-33 Bristol Ladies
Lichfield Ladies 42-16 DMP Sharks
Saracens Women 15-31 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

For a more detailed review of last weekend’s game please read my report for WSUK here.

New Zealand Black Ferns 67-3 Australia Wallaroos

This is a massive result, and not just by number of points for New Zealand as they continue to dominate their antipodean neighbours.

They scored 11 tries to nil in their 14th consecutive victory over the Wallaroos.

Full back Selica Winiata scored four tries and Kendra Cocksedge a try and four conversions.  The Kiwis were 31-3 up at half-time and there was no way back.

Ash Hewson put over a solitary penalty for the visitors.

There is a great deal of argument in Australia at the moment regarding the clash of Sevens v fifteens.  There has been plenty of comment that Australia is guilty of concentrating their efforts and resources in the shorter form to the detriment of the full game.  This may have brought home the Rio gold in Sevens, but Australia hadn’t played a full test since 2014.  And seeing this score, it’s no wonder the comments have been made.

And finally,         

And finally, the death was announced this week of Junko Tabei.   Not heard of her?  Neither had I.

But Tabei was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.

The Japanese climber had been suffering with cancer and died in a hospital near Tokyo at the age of 77.

Tabei was the first to reach the summit of Everest in 1975 when she was 35.  She was part of a 15 strong party – all women.  When they left, she said, they faced criticism,

“We were told we should be raising children instead.”

In the end she did both, carrying on family life and climbing in parallel.

She founded the Ladies Climbing Club of Japan, which had the slogan, “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”  No mean feat for women living in a restrictive Japanese society.

In 1992 she became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on the seven continents.

By 2008 she had climbed the highest mountains of 56 countries.

But she was also involved in environmental campaigning, was a major voice in the campaign for sustainable mountaineering and was the Chair of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, which is dedicated to the protection of mountain environments.

England take West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI

laura 1

My review of the three Sabina Park ODIs and the series has just been published by Women’s Sports UK:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/england-take-west-indies-series-3-2-with-dominant-display-in-fifth-odi

Women’s Sports Column 17-23 September

sarah-storey

Welcome to this week’s column.  There’s so much going on, I don’t know where to start.  With the demise of the domestic cricket season comes the new rugby season.  And so, without further ado, let’s tell you what’s coming up; stories from the Paralympics, golf, football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, plus a good-news “And finally” from netball.

Paralympics

It was such a brilliant event; so many remarkable performances and stories.  As I said last week, I just haven’t got the space to devote to it all, but one person I didn’t mention last week I’m going o mention this week.  She hadn’t finished when last week’s column came out – turns out she still had a medal to win.  So my last mention goes to Dame Sarah Storey.  I met her a few months ago at an event and even from this brief conversation and from the event itself I could see just how amazingly driven she is.

She won three gold medals at Rio to take her tally to 14 and has not ruled out competing at Tokyo in 2020.  Even more incredible when you realise she originally competed in the pool in four Paralympics 1992-2004.  At Rio she won two road races, the C5 time trial and the C4-5 road race and on the track she took gold in the C5 3,000m individual pursuit.

I certainly wouldn’t bet against her appearing in Tokyo!

Golf

The Evian Championship was won this week with a record low total of -21.  Gee Chun of South Korea beat the previous record by two shots, winning the title by four.  Her compatriots So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park tied for second on -17.

Top British finisher was Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who finished tied twelfth on -5.

 Football

This week saw the last round of qualifying fixtures for next year’s Euros.  There were mixed results for the home nations, with the two that had already qualified, England and Scotland, recording impressive wins, while Wales ended with a creditable draw and Northern Ireland were beaten.

20 September 2016

Belgium 0-2 England

Leuven

England showed a good deal of patience in their final match on Tuesday.  The game took the opposite path to the previous fixture against Estonia.

The first half was poor with few chances for either side.  England needed a draw to finish top of the group, and, at times, it looked as if they would be happy to settle for this.

But in the second half, they came out with renewed vigour.  Whether manager Mark Sampson had decided that the Belgians were there for the taking, it isn’t clear, but it did seem that England had been given the green light to go forward.

Karen Carney, who had a much better game than she had against Estonia, delivered a pinpoint cross to Nikita Parris, who duly obliged with an accurate downward header to score the first goal.

After this there was only going to be one winner with Carney running midfield with renewed confidence.  She scored the second herself with a deflected shot, which wrong-footed the Belgian goalkeeper and the victory was sealed.

It has been announced that England will play France in a friendly in October as part of the build-up to the Euros next year.

It will be played at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster on 21 October.

France will be one of England’s principal rivals for the European title in 2017.  They are currently third in the Fifa rankings.

Iceland 1 -2 Scotland

Scotland cemented their second-place qualifying position with an impressive away win over group winners, Iceland.

The Scots took the lead through a Jane Ross header, but Iceland equalised before half-time through Fanndis Fridriksdottir.

Ross scored her second, and her tenth of the qualifying tournament, from the penalty spot in the second half to give Scotland the win and took them to 21 points.

Iceland still topped the group, also on 21 points, only courtesy of their 4-0 win over Scotland in the reverse fixture.

 

Not such good news for Scotland’s Under 19s who were unable to field a team to face Serbia in Albania in their European Championship qualifier this week.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) claimed an “outbreak of acute gastroenteritis” affected nine players and eight staff.

The statement on the SFA website continued,

“This was flagged to UEFA via the match delegate on the day of the match and contact was subsequently made with the Albanian FA to verify the developing illness.

“A visit was made by a local doctor near the match venue in Durres and upon submitting his findings, the game was postponed.”

However, since then UEFA has announced it has begun disciplinary proceedings against the SFA, for its alleged “refusal to play”.

To add to the SFA’s woes, the Scottish Daily Record has run a story about Serbian reports that the players were actually too hungover to play.  The Serbia piece asserted that,

“The evening before the match the players were celebrating and drinking alcohol, and failed to sober up for the beginning of the match with Serbia”.

The SFA has strenuously denied these reports and is waiting for the outcome of the UEFA investigation.

Wales 0-0 Austria

Newport

 Wales finished their campaign strongly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, with a creditable draw with second-placed finishing Austria in Newport.

Jess Fishlock and Tash Harding both had chances in the first half, but could not make them count.

Austria improved in the second-half, but the game ended in stalemate.

Switzerland 4-0 Northern Ireland

Biel

Switzerland never looked in trouble against a depleted Irish side.   They were 2-0 up at the break though goals from Vanessa Bernauer and Rahel Kiwic.

Bernauer scored her second after half-time with Rachel Rinast making it 4-0 to the hosts.

Switzerland finish top of group 6 with a 100% record.  Northern Ireland finished fourth with seven points from eight games.

The draw for the group stage of the finals of the Euros in 2017 will take place in Rotterdam on 8 November.

 

Off the field, two contrasting reports appeared this week regarding the support (or otherwise) of women’s football in Britain.

On the positive side, energy company SSE has signed a deal to become the official partner of Scotland’s women’s national team and to sponsor the Scottish Women’s Cup.

This is continuing its recent forays into the backing of women’s sport, which began with its sponsorship of the English Women’s FA Cup.

The figures have not been released, but the deal will be in place for four years.  It means that for the first time there will be prize money at stake for the Scottish Women’s Cup final.

 

In another article, the Daily Mirror reported this week that just £14m of the £1.7bn earned by football TV deals goes towards the development of women’s football – that’s 83p out of every £100.

Young girls, especially are being let down, with the closure of the centres of excellence all over the country to be replaced by 34 regional talent clubs.

I think we all know that however much is paid in lip service by the FA, the girls’ and women’s game will always be the poor relation.  Good to see the issue raised in a red top.   A one-off piece isn’t enough, though.  If you’re involved in football, or have a daughter who would like to play, this will affect you.  Make sure you make your views known to the FA.

 

And finally in football, Eniola Aluko has signed a new contract with Chelsea.  Although the length of the deal has not been revealed, Aluko is obviously Chelsea through and through, after re-signing from Birmingham for her second spell in 2012.

Cricket

Good news for West Indies women’s cricket this week.  The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has announced that those on retainer contracts will receive much better packages from October, including an increase in their retainers, sponsorship payments, match fees and captains’ allowances.

Currently there are 11 women on retainers and this will be increased to 15.

CEO of the WICB, Michael Muirhead said that the new packages would

“Serve as an additional incentive for the current set of women” and would also “serve as a drawing card to more women to be attracted to cricket.”

 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the England side to tour West Indies in October.  The squad of 15 contains two players uncapped in 50-overs internationals – left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone and right-arm seamer, Beth Langston, both of whom have already been capped at T20 level.

England are still looking to secure automatic qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup, which takes place in England in 2017.  At the moment they lie third, one point behind West Indies, with four teams qualifying automatically.  They still have two rounds of qualification to go; the last three ODIs in this West Indies tour and then in November, they play three more ODIs in Sri Lanka.

Australia have just become the first country to qualify automatically with a series win over Sri Lanka.

The full squad of 15:

Heather Knight (capt), Anya Shrubsole, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alexandra Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.

West Indies tour fixtures:

Trelawny Stadium, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Saturday 8 October

Monday 10 October

Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

Friday 14 October

Sunday 16 October

Wednesday 19 October

Rugby League

 It was announced this week that the 2017 Women’s Rugby League World Cup will be held alongside the men’s tournament for the first time.

The final for the men’s and women’s games will be played back-to-back on 2 December in Brisbane.

So far, title holders Australia, England, Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have already qualified.

One from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands will still qualify from the Pacific qualifying series, which takes place in October.

Rugby Union

The final round of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series takes place this weekend in Malemort, France.  Expect all the results and details next week, but there are a few salient points to note regarding the Great Britain Lions (England) squad.

Three of those who took part in the Rio Olympics Sevens tournament return: Abby Brown, Katy McLean and captain Amy Wilson Hardy.

The squad also includes a number of new players including Lotte Clapp, Lauren Cattell and Katie Mason, who all played in the 2016 Six Nations.

The remainder of the squad is Lucy Nye, Deborah Fleming, Kelly Smith, Millie Wood, Rachel Woosey and Natasha Brennan.

Pool Games

Saturday 24 September

Pool C

GB  Lions v Belgium KO 10.00am

GB Lions v Italy KO 12.45pm

GB Lions v Ireland KO 3.52pm

The Great Britain Royals (Wales) play in Pool B.

Their squad is Elinor Snowsill (Capt), Sian Williams, Dyddgu Howell, Rhi Parker, Shona Powell Hughes, Jess Kavanagh-Williams, Elen Evans, Keira Bevan, Gemma Rowland, Sinead Breeze, Hannah Jones, Alisha Butchers.

Pool B

GB Royals v Portugal KO 12.06pm

GB Royals v Ukraine KO 2.51pm

GB Royals v Russia KO 3.52pm

A live stream of all matches is available at www.rugbyeurope.tv

 

The new domestic Premiership season in England started on 10 September.  Each team has now played two matches and at the moment it is Bristol Ladies who lead the way.

Results so far:

10 September

Wasps Ladies 3-39 Bristol Ladies

11 September

Saracens Women 57-0 DMP Sharks

Richmond Women 7-53 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 6-27 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

17 September

Lichfield 27-14 Saracens Women

18 September

Richmond Women 15-31 Worcester Valkyries

DMP Sharks 43-19 Wasps Ladies

Bristol Ladies 42-3 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

The third round of matches takes place this weekend beginning with leaders Bristol taking on the Valkyries at Worcester on Saturday.

I’ll be writing up a regular review of the weekend’s Premiership matches for www.womenssportsuk.com, so I’ll provide a link for that in future columns.

And finally, England Netball has just announced a final batch of tickets has been released for the England v Jamaica game at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, on 4 December 2016.  The other two games in the series, in London and Manchester, have sold out, so if you want to see the Roses in action, buy your tickets now!  What great times these are for netball worldwide!!  tickets.sky.com/seats/England-v-Jamaica-4-December

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 September

img-20160915-006702Welcome to this week’s column.  Summer may be slipping away from us here in Britain, but there’s still plenty to look forward to in the world of women’s sport.

This week brings stories from the Paralympics, tennis, athletics, cricket, football, rugby union and a sailing update from Abby Ehler.

Paralympics

 Where to start?  As with the Olympics, there is so much to love, admire or indeed boggle at, that I can only cover a fraction.  So here are a few of my highlights from the last week:

Hannah Cockcroft

One of my sporting heroes, without doubt.  In Rio she has won gold in T34 400m with a world record and 100m.   And she’s still only 24!

Kadeena Cox

Wow, what a story!  To win gold in one Paralympic sport is amazing, but two in different sports?  On 10 September she took gold in the track cycling – the C4-5 time trial (and in a world record time) and then on 14 September she struck gold again, this time in the T38 400m (also a new world record).  Oh, and she also won a bronze in the T38 100m.

I know one shouldn’t refer it back to a person’s medical history and no-one should be labelled, but how can you not be amazed by this woman?  She’s 25 and suffered a stroke in 2014, leading to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  She’s brilliant.

Canoeing

I love canoeing in all forms and Britain has done very well in this Paralympics.  Three golds in a day on 15 September with Jeanette Chippington winning the K1 200m KL1 title, 28 years after her first medal, a silver in the 100m backstroke L4 in Seoul in 1988.  Then Emma Wiggs blew the field away to take the k1 200m KL2 gold.  Thirdly Anne Dickens won gold in the KL3 200m final.  That was three golds in about half an hour!

Swimming

Numerous medals in swimming.  Seven golds and six silvers.  Bethany Firth took two golds and a silver, Hannah Russell, Steph Millward, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rodgers, Ellie Robinson (just 15) all took golds with Claire Cashmore, Jessica-Jane Appleton, Rebecca Redfern, Steph Slater and Harriet Lee took silvers.

I’m sorry I’ve just concentrated on gold medals and silvers; every competitor has a story, a performance to be proud of and a unique experience.  Without descending into the mawkish, it’s exciting, awe-inspiring and moving.

Tennis

Germany’s Angelique Kerber went to world number one in the rankings this week when Serena Williams was knocked out of the US Open in the semi finals.  She then went on to win the title, beating the Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3 4-6 6-4.

Kerber had already won the Australian Open in January and was runner-up at Wimbledon, but Pliskova was in a rich vein of form, having beaten Williams in the semi in straight sets 6-2 7-6.

Kerber was not to be denied though, becoming the first German to win the US Open since Steffi Graf in 1996.

The women’s doubles title was taken by twelfth seeds Bethany Mattek-Sands (US) and Lucie Safarova (CZ).  They beat the top seeded French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 2-6 7-6 6-4.

In other tennis news, the result of Maria Sharapova’s appeal against her two-year doping ban will be revealed in the first week of October.

Sharapova was banned by the ITF after testing positive for the banned substance, Meldonium, at the 2016 Australian Open.  She had been taking the drug since 2006, but it has only been listed as a banned substance since January this year.

Athletics

In athletics, the testing and re-testing of samples from the 2008 Olympics is still causing many medals to be re-awarded.  The latest is set to go to British javelin thrower, Goldie Sayers.  The silver medallist, Russia’s Maria Abakumova, will be disqualified after her re-test showed positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol.  Sayers, who finished fourth, will now receive a bronze medal.

Sayers has long been a critic of doping in athletics, particularly the systematic state-sponsored scheme employed by Russia.  In May 2016 she said she had considered withdrawing from the Rio games if Russian athletes were allowed to compete.

Cricket

In cricket, the ECB has announced that England’s women will complete their busy year with a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in November.  The three games will take place at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on Saturday 12, Tuesday 15 and Thursday 17 November.

It will be England’s last series in the ICC Women’s Championship, the qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Cup, which will be held in England.

At the moment England is placed in third on 19 points.  Sri Lanka lies eighth.

Before the series takes place, England will have a six-day training camp in Abu Dhabi from 1-7 November.

Football

England 5-0 Estonia

Carter (3), Scott, J, Carney (pen)

Meadow Lane, Nottingham

Attendance 7,052.

I was at Meadow Lane on 15 September for England’s latest qualifier.  England have already qualified for next year’s Euros, but Mark Sampson is obviously keen to send a signal to the other top teams in Europe that England will be a force to contend with next year.

The first half-hour was excellent from England.  They came out quickly and never gave Estonia a chance to gain a toe-hold, let alone a foot-hold.  There were some lovely passing moves, close control was good, as was communication.

They were 3-0 up at half time with two goals from Danielle Carter and a Jill Scott header.

Towards the end of the first half focus slipped.  Sampson will be aware that better sides would have taken advantage of this and when they came out in the second they had regained concentration.

However, the game was disrupted in the second-half with substitutions and England found it harder to put moves together.  There were too much convoluted play, and although they had plenty of chances, there was never going to be the hatful of goals that the first half promised.

They did score two though, with Carter claiming her hat-trick and Karen Carney calmly slotting home a penalty for the fifth for a comprehensive win.

Poor Siobhan Chamberlain was reduced to running on the spot to get warm.

Quite rightly, Carter was Player of the Match; her record stands at two caps, two hat-tricks, but my other stand-out player was Gemma Davison.  She flew down the right wing in the first half; her markers hadn’t got a clue how to deal with her.  With fifteen minutes to go until half-time, she had obviously had so much fun on the right that she swapped wings with Demi Stokes to cause mayhem on the left.  Truly the best half of football I have seen from Davison.

Wales 3-0 Israel

Ward (2), Estcourt

Newport

Wales put in an impressive display to beat Israel.  Wales record scorer, Helen Ward, scored two with Charlie Estcourt adding a third in the second half.  Jess Fishlock also missed a penalty.

Although Wales are third in Pool H, they cannot qualify for next year’s finals.

Sad news from football this week as it was announced that Sylvia Gore, the scorer of the first official goal for the England’s women team, has died from cancer at the age of 71.

In 1972 she scored England’s first goal in a 3-2 win against Scotland in Greenock.

Gore had a career in football that spanned over 60 years.  As a player she once scored 134 goals in a season.  After her playing career ended, she went on to become Wales manager.  She was also an FA Women’s committee member for 20 years.  Earlier this year she was unveiled as a Manchester City Women’s FC Club Ambassador.

Rugby Union

England Rugby has announced the Elite Player Squad for 2016/17 season.  As reported in an earlier column, this will be the first time England has awarded 15-a-side professional contracts.

The 54 names are split into full-time, part-time, short-term and non-contracted players.  38 contracts have so far been awarded.

The move is with the Women’s Rugby World Cup in mind, which takes place in Ireland in August 2017, where England will be looking to retain their title.

Full time contracts – 18
Claire Allan (Saracens)
Abbie Brown (Bristol)
Rachael Burford (n/a)
Amy Cokayne (Lichfield)
Heather Fisher (n/a)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Megan Jones (Bristol)
Alex Matthews (Richmond)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol)

Part time – 9
Natasha Brennan (n/a)
Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
Lotte Clapp (Saracens)
Deborah Fleming (Saracens)
Katie Mason (Bristol)
Fran Matthews (Richmond)
Kelly Smith (Worcester Valkyries)
Millie Wood (Lichfield)
Rachael Woosey (Darlington Mowden Park)

Short Term – 11
Emily Braund (Lichfield)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries)
Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls)
Sarah Hunter (Bristol)
Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries)
LaToya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park)
Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)

Non Contracted – 16
Sasha Acheson (Bristol)
Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park)
Sarah Bern (Bristol)
Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Cleall (Bristol)
Emma Croker (Richmond)
Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)
Abby Dow (Wasps)
Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park)
Ceri Large (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Leitch (Bristol)
Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls)
Alice Richardson (n/a)
Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls)
Joanne Watmore (n/a)

England’s upcoming fixtures:

 Old Mutual Wealth Series:

England v France, Wednesday 9 November,The Twickenham Stoop 7.30pm

England v New Zealand, Saturday 19 November, The Twickenham Stoop 12pm

England v Canada, Saturday 26 November,Twickenham 5.05pm
Free entry after the men’s game

Also one-off:

Ireland v England, Sunday 13 November,University College Dublin 2pm
 

Sailing news from Abby Ehler

Paralympics from the British side: Helena Lucas, who became Britain’s first Paralympic sailing champion winning gold at London 2012 sailing the 2.4mR, 1-person keelboat is defending her Gold medal and currently leading the fleet, with more racing scheduled over the next few days, weather permitting.  In the 3-person Keelboat, Hannah Stodel and her team mates who have been together for 4 consecutive Games are currently placed 5th in the fleet with 5 races to go and all to play for.

In the single handed offshore racing circuit, Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Sophie Faguet (FRA) are 150 miles from their finish, having been at sea since September 10th up against gruelling conditions as they race from the Azores to France in the 15-strong fleet. The teams are expected into Douarnenez, near Brest this weekend.  Justine is currently lying in a respectable 7th place, neck and neck with 3 other competitors, so it will be a nail biting finish for the leading pack.

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 11-17 June

Lacrosse05This week’s stories come from lacrosse (yes, lacrosse – thanks Martin again), cricket, football, cycling, tennis, golf, rugby union, the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and your choice of two “And finally” gems this week – not positive fist-pumping ones, either, sorry.

Thanks again to Martin this week who has made me aware of the thriving lacrosse scene in England. England’s women have just won a test series in Australia. England had not beaten the home side since a friendly fixture in 2009, so they were very much underdogs.

On 9 June England won the first test in Melbourne 13-7. Australia levelled the series with a 9-8 win on the 10 and it was all to play for in the third match on 11 June.

Australia started incredibly well, taking a 5-1 lead before England knew what was happening. But from somewhere England dug deep to take control, winning the game 13-7, repeating the score of the first test.

For a little bit of background information, England are currently Europe’s number one side. In July they face the world number one side, USA in Guildford.

English Lacrosse’s Performance Manager is aware of the challenge:

“The game will definitely be exciting and a great showcase for top-level women’s lacrosse,

“We hope that lots of fans will be able to come along and support the England team. In return we are looking to put on a performance that will make the fans proud.

“We are Europe’s number one team and the prospect of playing the World Champions is one that we relish. If you want to be the best then you have to compete against the best. Bring it on!”

Next year the World Cup will be held in England, at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford between 13-22 July.

If you’re in the area, get down there on the 2 July to see the team in action.

 

The international cricket series between England and Pakistan begins next week. I have written a preview for Women’s Sports UK.

The England squad was actually announced today and, needless to say, is different from what I suggested in my article:

The only new member of the squad of 15 is left-arm spinner Alex Hartley. Surprisingly there is no place for either Becky Grundy or Tash Farrant.

Heather Knight (capt), Anya Shrubsole (vice-capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alexandra Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.

The first game is at Leicester’s Grace Road ground on Monday 20. Tickets are only £5, so get down there. I shall be there – come and say hello!

To coincide with the T20 series, Sky Sports have announced they will be holding Women’s Cricket Week. All games will be live and Charlotte Edwards will be part of the analysis team.

There will interviews with some of the biggest names in the game and Sky will be looking at the history of women’s cricket with an emphasis on encouraging more girls and young women into cricket.

 

In other cricket news, there have been a few withdrawals from the Super League this week. Australians Megan Schutt has pulled out through injury and Sarah Coyte for personal reasons. They have been replaced by New Zealand duo Morna Nielsen and Amy Satterthwaite. Nielsen will play at Southern Vipers and Satterthwaite at Lancashire Thunder.

 

Hibernian Ladies beat Glasgow City to win the SWPL Cup this week. Glasgow took the lead in the first half through Julie Fleeting but Hibs levelled before half-time. Hibs had been awarded a penalty and although Lizzie Arnot’s spot kick was saved, Lucy Graham pounced on the rebound to make it 1-1.

It looked to be heading into extra time when Arnot deflected a cross into the Glasgow net to take the game 2-1. It was sweet revenge for Hibs who lost to Glasgow in the final last year.

Some interesting news from Birmingham City Ladies this week. At the beginning of the week they announced that they have signed midfielder Andrine Hegerberg from Swedish side Kopparbergs Gothenburg. Hegerberg becomes their fourth foreign signing in three months after Germans Isabelle Linden, Marisa Ewers and Corina Schroder.

Later in the week England duo Jo Potter and Jade Moore announced they have bought themselves out of their contracts, both of which had six months to run.   Each released a similarly worded statement which included the words,

“A lot of things have happened in the last 12 months that I don’t wish to comment on”

There is obviously more going on than meets the eye here, and I will be reporting on it further should more information come to light.

More football news in “And finally….” (!)

 

The Women’s Tour started this week in Suffolk. The event is getting bigger and better with more backing, more sponsorship and much more media coverage than ever before!

The first stage was won by Christine Majerus. This was her first UCI Women’s World Tour victory. American, Alison Tetrick had made a break 21km from home, but was caught in the closing stages. Second was Marianne Vos, with Giorgia Bronzini in third. Lizzie Armitstead was first Briton home in 18th.

The second stage, through Warwickshire, was won by Dutch rider Amy Pieters. Germany’s Lisa Brennauer was second with Marianne Vos third. This third place took Vos into the overall lead, three seconds ahead of Christine Majerus.

Lizzie Armitstead was again 18th which takes her to 16th overall, 16 seconds off the lead.

Each day’s highlights are on ITV4.

In other cycling news, Dame Sarah Storey has been selected for her seventh Paralympics. Storey has already won 22 medals, including 11 golds. She will take part in the four events that she won in London and will be hoping to retain all four titles.

GB squad (women): Karen Darke, Hannah Dines, Megan Giglia, Lora Turnham & Corrine Hall, Sophie Thornhill & Helen Scott, Dame Sarah Storey.

 

Three British women have been given wildcards for Wimbledon, which starts on 27 June. They are former British number one Laura Robson, Tara Moore and Katie Swan. Moore, particularly, is in good form, having reached the quarter-finals at the Nottingham Open last weekend. Slovakian, Daniela Hantuchova is another wildcard recipient.

 

Canadian Brooke Henderson beat Lydia Ko in a play-off to win the Women’s PGA at Sammamish, Washington, last weekend.   This is the 18-year-old’s first major title. After she shot her first round 67, taking the lead, she shot two rounds of 73 to consolidate her contention, but it was a fourth-round 65, the best round of the week, that sealed her place in the top two.

It went to a play-off on the par 4 18th. Henderson hit her second shot to within three feet, while Ko could only manage 20 feet away. The Canadian tapped in for a birdie, Ko missed and the title was hers.

Henderson becomes the second-youngest winner of a major championship. Ko still holds the record as she was 18 and fewer months when she won the 2015 Evian Championship in France.

 

Great news from Scottish rugby union this week as it was announced that Jade Konkel will become Scotland’s first full-time professional rugby player.

She was one of 16 players selected in the second tier of the Scottish Rugby Academy and the first to make it to the full-time third tier. She will take part in a full-time programme at Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld.

The Scottish Rugby Union have also announced a new elite women’s scholarship, which aims to entice established athletes into rugby.

 

Several sporting women made it into the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this week:

Anna Kessel, sports journalist and founder of Women in Football was awarded an MBE for services to journalism and women’s sport.

Hayley Turner, former jockey, who retired last year, was awarded an OBE for services to horse racing.   She was the first female jockey to ride a Group One winner.

Claire Williams, deputy team principal at Williams Martini Racing becomes and OBE for services to Formula 1.

Emma Hayes, Chelsea manager receives an MBE

Marieanne Spacey, England Ladies assistant manager receives an MBE

Rachel Anderson, football agent, receives an MBE for her services to gender equality in football

Martine Wiltshire, sitting volleyball player and Paralympian, who lost both legs in the 7/7 bombings in London becomes an MBE for her services to sport.

 

And finally, a couple of stories to make you shudder this week. I was going to include the “news” that Manchester United have announced that they still have no plans to introduce a women’s team, but that’s not really news, is it?

So here we go – read it and weep – twice.

 

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) vice- president, Seyi Akinwumni, has blamed the women’s national team’s slump in form on lesbians. Yes, lesbians. Nigeria are the most successful African women’s team, having won the African title nine times. They have also competed in every world cup since its inception in 1991.

However, they have failed to qualify for Rio and this slump, according to Mr Akinwumni, is because of lesbianism – “lesbianism kills teams”, he said.

It’s not the first time the NFF has run into trouble on this issue. In 2013, the former chairwoman of the women’s league, Dilichukwu Onyedinma, announced a ban on lesbianism in Nigerian football.

FIFA will be conducting an enquiry into the comments.

 

And finally (2), I can’t begin to tell you how unsettling I find this story. Connor Mayes, a male referee in the football league has been banned from football-related activity until 2019 after he set up fake Tinder accounts in the names of three female referees.

Mayes posed as Lucy Oliver, Amy Robinson and Paula Wyatt, making flirtatious comments which led to the three women receiving unwanted comments and approaches while they were at games and in their private time.

Unsurprisingly, Mayes accepted an improper conduct charge.

I’m not quite sure of his motivation here, but it all seems incredibly creepy. Why would anyone do this to a professional colleague?

Women’s Sports Column

skates

13-19 February

Welcome to the women’s sports column. It’s a long one this week and features stories from football, cricket, golf, hockey, horse racing, rugby union, netball and winter sports – phew!  

The football transfer window is still in full swing and top signing this week goes to Manchester City women who have signed Republic of Ireland defender Megan Campbell. Campbell has been playing for Florida State University, where she has been studying on a sports scholarship.

On the international front, good news from the BBC this week which has announced it will show all three of England’s matches at the SheBelieves Cup live. The tournament comprises Germany, France, USA and England and begins on 3 March. Mark Sampson will name his 23-player squad on Monday.

Fixtures:

England v USA                   4/3/16 00.45 GMT

England v Germany         6/3/16 22.45 GMT

England v France              9/3/16 22.00 GMT

Also England’s next home match, the Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier against Belgium on 8 April will be screened live on BBC 2.

 

In cricket, England’s women finally took the three-match ODI series 2-1. After South Africa’s momentous win in the second game, England had to make sure they worked hard to secure the series win.

England made two changes, bringing in Kate Cross for the injured Brunt and, most significantly, Georgia Elwiss as an extra bowling option for Lydia Greenway. Edwards put SA in and seemed to be justified when they were 85/6 after 27 overs. But they didn’t reckon on Lizelle Lee and Sune Luus. An excellent innings of 74 from Lee, supported by 20 from Luus, gave them a base to at least post a total that could be defended. In the end this was 196.

England managed to put on 30 before losing a wicket – a big improvement on the previous match, when they were 16/3. Taylor was out cheaply again but Edwards and Knight put on 53 before the captain was out for 29. Then Elwiss came in and hit a massive 61 off 67 balls before she was bowled by Ismail. It was up to Knight and Wyatt to see the game home and England won by 5 wickets with 37 balls to spare. Player of the Match, Heather Knight, ended on 67 not out, with Danni Wyatt on 10 not out. For a more in-depth report see my piece on http://www.womenssportsuk.com.

The first T20 in a series of three took place on 18 February. This was always destined to be a close series as SA play more T20 cricket than anything else. England were put in on what appeared to be a good wicket. After the openers went relatively cheaply it was down to a rejuvenated Sarah Taylor to take it on. She made an unbeaten 74, but none of her colleagues could stay long enough to build a meaningful partnership. At one point England looked to be about to post 160-170, but subsided to 147 – they only scored that many thanks to Taylor.

South Africa got off to a fine start, albeit quite slow and were 95/0 after 14 overs. The big problem was the run rate, which by this time had risen to 8.83. After Van Niekerk went in the 15th for 52 and Chetty for 46 in the following over, South Africa were way behind. When they tried to accelerate they lost wickets and finished on 132/6, 15 runs short. Sarah Taylor was player of the match for her unbeaten 74.

The second T20 on 19 February was rain-interrupted. Du Preez won the toss again and put England in to bat. Beaumont went early again, and it was up to Edwards and Taylor to build a partnership again. Taylor was imperious form again and together they put on 61 before Edwards was bowled for 34 by SA’s best bowler, Ismail. When Jones went Taylor and Knight batted well to take the score to 133 in the 17th over. However, momentum was lost in the latter overs and England posted 156.

South Africa learned their lessons from Thursday as the opening partnership not only played well but at a good scoring rate. Van Niekerk was impressive for the second day in succession and carried on when Chetty went for 8 to score 63 from 43 balls. The teams went off a couple of times for rain, but it didn’t really affect South Africa. Good batting and uncharacteristically bad bowling and fielding meant South Africa were well ahead on D/L. When the teams went off for a second time the game was abandoned and South Africa won by 17 runs via the D/L method. All to play for in Johannesburg on Sunday 21 February.

England’s squad for the ICC World T20 in March has been announced. Katherine Brunt has been named in the squad – she should be back from injury, but there is no place for Lauren Winfield. The squad in full:

Charlotte Edwards (Cap), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Danni Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight (Vice cap), Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Danni Wyatt.

 

Had to put this golf snippet in. Lydia Ko won the New Zealand Women’s Open golf championship last week. That’s not the news though – the last round saw an earthquake registering 5.7 cause the Clearwater Resort clubhouse to wobble. The tremor lasted for 10-15 seconds, but the players continued to play without interruption! Ko went on to win the competition by two shots.

 

In hockey, the Great Britain team have just played the fourth game in a marathon six game series against Australia.

The first game, on 12 February, went to the Hockeyroos 4-3 with the host’s goals coming via two from Kathryn Slattery and one each from Mariah Williams and Ashleigh Nelson. It was a hard-fought game with Britain’s goals from Hannah MacLeod, Ellie Watton and Sophie Bray.

The second match, on 14 February, went to Great Britain, the telling strike from a first half penalty-corner from Susie Gilbert. Needless to say the Aussies fought for it, but couldn’t convert any of their chances to level the match.

So it was 1-1 going into the third on 16 February and both teams were desperate to take the initiative. It was the most exciting game in the series so far and ended with the honours shared on 3-3.   Britain led the game three times, but each time the Australians came back. Britain’s goals came from Crista Cullen, Ellie Watton and Helen Richardson-Walsh. The Aussies’ goals were from Gabrielle Nance, Karri McMahon and Ashleigh Nelson.

Still 1-1 then, going into the fourth match on 18 February. And in this game again the two sides couldn’t be separated as it ended 2-2. Australia took the lead through Georgia Nanscawen but Great Britain equalised through a penalty corner from Giselle Ansley. Ten minutes from the end of the second half Ansley scored her second penalty corner, but the Aussies weren’t done and Emily Smith equalised to make it 2-2.

The last two matches will be on the 20 and 21 February.

 

Another sport I don’t feature often is horse racing, but I can’t ignore the waves being made by jockey Lizzie Kelly. On Saturday 13 February she rode 16-1 chance Agrapart to victory in Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, winning by an impressive 11 lengths.

 

The second round of the Six Nations took place last weekend and saw wins for England, France and Wales.

Wales beat Scotland 23-10 at The Gnoll with both teams looking for their first win of this year’s championship. Sioned Harries and Hannah Jones scored tries for Wales in the first half but Scotland were only down by 15-10 at half-time after they scored their own try through Megan Gaffney. The second half, however, was a different story as Wales asserted their superiority in both attack and defence with a try from Alisha Butcher while preventing Scotland from adding to their points tally.

England made no mistake in Italy on Saturday 13 with a 33-24 win. Italy will be heartened from this defeat as they played well and made good progress. England were up 19-12 at the break with tries from Lauren Cattell, Katie Mason and Lotte Clapp. Italy, however, scored two of their own from Maria Grazia Cioffi and Sofia Stefan – the first time they had ever scored more than one try in a match against England. In the second half Elisa Giordano scored their third and their hopes must have been high before England responded with tries from Abbie Scott and Bianca Blackburn. Italy weren’t finished, though, and scored an impressive fourth try through Silvia Folli to reduce the deficit. If points were given for heart, Italy would have won it hands down.

The third victors of the weekend were France, who continued their impressive start with an 18-6 win over Ireland in Perpignan. It was largely a kicking game, with the two tries scored by France, one from Captain Gaelee Mignot and the other a spectacular interception by Caroline Boujard, who ran the length of the field to score, being the difference between the two sides. The French were too strong in both defence and attack and have put an end to Ireland’s chances of a Grand Slam, while reinforcing the chance of their own.

 

This week’s round of Netball Superleague matches saw the following results:

TeamBath                                           37           62           Manchester Thunder

Loughborough Lightning               58           53           Celtic Dragons

Surrey Storm                                     59           36           Yorkshire Jets

Loughborough Lightning               47           56           Manchester Thunder

I know it seems some teams are playing more than others, but I want to bring the scores as they happen in each week I report.

 

I’m venturing into winter sports again this week. Usually it’s just Elise Christie (and yes, she’s here again), but there have been several events of note this week that deserve mention.

15-year old Madi Rowlands took gold in the ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games this week. She scored 88.60, with Paula Cooper from the US in second with 79.00 and Austria’s Lara Wolf won bronze with 74.20.

Katie Ormerod, 18, earned her first top-three finish at the World Cup Big Air event in Quebec City in Canada. She finished second behind US Olympic slopestyle champion, Jamie Anderson. Big Air will be a new event at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in 2018.

Elise Christie won another two gold medals in the final World Cup of the season, taking her tally to four World Cup golds for the season. She won both the 500m and 1,000m in Dordercht in the Netherlands. She will be in buoyant mood for the World Championships, which take place in Seoul in March.

 

And finally, if you want a reason to get angry, check out the reception broadcaster Lynsey Hipgrave got when she dared to voice an opinion about Lionel Messi’s penalty this week. What can I say?

 

 

Five things we’ve learned from the South Africa v England ODI series

Lots of issues raised by the three ODI matches in South Africa and probably more by the T20s at the end of the week.  Here are my thoughts about the ODis courtesy of www.womenssportsuk.com.

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/wsuk-news/news/five-things-weve-learned-from-the-south-africa-v-england-odi-series