Women’s Sports Column 8-13 July 2017

Lacrosse05Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column. I’m back from hols and raring to go.  There’s a lot to catch up on and this is going to be a bumper edition with stories from cricket, lacrosse, football, rugby, sports politics, netball, hockey and tennis.  You can probably guess this week’s “And finally” – courtesy of Andy Murray, but it bears repeating.

So let’s crack on.

Lacrosse

For a couple of months now I’ve been trailing the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup – well someone had to.  To be honest, I’m not frightfully well up on it myself, but over the next couple of weeks I’m determined to get to grips with the ins and outs of this exciting, fast-moving sport.

The tournament is running from 12-22 July at Surrey Sport Park and if you check out the website, you can still pick up tickets for some matches.

England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are all taking part.

A brief history:

Originally a Native American sport, it continues to draw big crowds in the United States.  This World Cup is the tenth, with America winning seven so far and being runners-up in the other two, won by Australia.  Over here it’s very much a minority sport, but growing.

There are 25 (!) nations taking part, with Wales being the second smallest after Latvia.  Wales also boasts the game’s most capped player – Ros Lloyd Rout – who currently has 106 appearances for her country.

All of the home teams are ranked highly; England are ranked fourth in the world and Wales fifth, with Scotland just behind in sixth.

The format of the tournament is somewhat complicated.  The top six ranked teams; USA, Canada, Australia, England, Wales and Scotland qualify by right to the knockout stages, although they all still play each other in Pool A.  There are four other pools and just two teams from these pools will qualify along with Pool A.

Pool B
Italy
Hong Kong
Haudenosaunee
Korea
Switzerland

Pool C
Israel
Netherlands
Czech Republic
China
Belgium

Pool D
Japan
Germany
Latvia
Spain
Mexico

Pool E
New Zealand
Ireland
Sweden
Colombia

Wow – that’s some worldwide spread!

It all kicked off on Wednesday with an exciting home nations derby.

England 12-6 Wales

England took the lead in the third minute and between then and 26th it was neck and neck as first one team scored, then the other.  But in a telling period between the 28th and 47th England scored four without reply.  Wales came back with one goal but England scored another three without Wales being able to score again.  England’s number 11, Jennifer Simpson must have thought her only role was to provide the pass for the goalscorers as she achieved three assists, but then she got a goal of her own in the 57th minute, England’s 11th and penultimate score.

There, I’ve done my best!

Coverage will undoubtedly be sparse, but it’s good to see that the BBC will be covering the tournament on the BBC website from the quarter-finals onwards.  And, of course, I’ll do what I can to keep you updated via this blog!

Tennis

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Wimbledon fortnight.  And what a tournament it’s been!  There have been some truly stunning women’s (and men’s) matches, not least of which was the quarter-final between Jo Konta and Simona Halep.

Anyway, the women’s singles final is on Saturday.  It was a shame that with so many good matches up to that point, the semi-finals were a bit of a disappointment and over all too quickly.

Women’s Singles

Garbine Muguruza (14) beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1
Venus Williams (10) defeated Johanna Konta (6) 6-4 6-2

Women’s Doubles

The semi-final line-up is:

A Grönefeld/K Peschke (12) v E Makarova/E Vesnina (2)
M Niculescu/H Chan (9) v R Voracova/M Ninomiya

Mixed Doubles

The semi-final line-up is:

H Kontinen/H Watson v B Soares/E Vesnina (2)
M Hingis/J Murray (1) v M Demoliner/M Martinez Sanchez

Wheelchair Singles

Both British players Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker lost in the quarter-finals.  Whiley succumbed to Diede De Groot of the Netherlands 6-2 7-6.  Shuker lost to second seed Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-3 6-1.

De Groot plays compatriot Aniek Van Koot in the first semi-final, while Kamiji faces Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.

Football

On the Pitch

Scotland 1-0 Republic of Ireland

Scotland won their final Euros warm-up game against the Republic of Ireland 1-0.  Substitute Christie Murray headed home in the 85th minute to see Anna Signeul’s side head off to the Netherlands with a much needed win.

Scotland’s first game at the Euros, in case you didn’t already know, is against England in Utrecht on 19 July.

In fact, of course, it will all be underway by the time I get to write my column next week, so I’d just like to say good luck to the Lionesses and to Scotland.

Off the Pitch

Lewes FC

Good news this week as semi-professional club Lewes FC announced that they will be paying their men’s and women’s first teams the same salaries.

Lewes women play in the third tier, the Premier League Southern Division, and the men in the Isthmian League Division One South, their eighth tier.

Both teams will have the same budget, level of coaching staff and facilities.

It is all part of the club’s “Equality FC” campaign.

Director Jacquie Agnew said: “We hope to spark a change that will help put an end to the excuses for why such a deep pay disparity has persisted.”

Toni Duggan

News also came this week that England striker Toni Duggan has signed for the new Barcelona women’s team.  She joins them from Manchester City on a two-year contract.

The BBC chose to announce that Duggan is the first English player to sign for Barcelona since Gary Lineker.  And didn’t that get the Neanderthal footie-lovers Y-fronts in a tangle? Outraged by the audacity of mentioning Lineker and Duggan in the same breath they all went completely off their heads to point out that Lineker signed for the men’s team, not the women’s and that the two were completely different.  Tee hee.  I can’t help thinking the BBC was having a bit of a laugh at their expense – and boy did they rise to it!

Yeovil Town Ladies FC

Yeovil announced yesterday that their Head Coach Michelle Yeowell has left the club.  She had been a player and coach for the club for more than ten years.

Her successor has not yet been named.

Rugby Union

Some shock news this week came from the RFU when it announced that England’s full-time contracts will end after the World Cup in August.

After the much-vaunted announcement of contracts in July 2016, this volte-face is not only disappointing but embarrassing.

The RFU, in its wisdom, has decided to concentrate on developing the sevens.

Evidently professional contracts will only go to sevens players next year.  England have already qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens and next year there is the Commonwealth Games and the World Series.

The RFU is still committed to investing in the women’s fifteen-a-side game with the introduction of next season’s new league competition, but there are going to be some pretty unhappy women who return from the World Cup, regardless of the result, to find themselves without a contract.

Kazan Sevens

England produced their best performance for a while last weekend to finish second at the last Grand Prix Series tournament in Kazan, thus securing qualification to next year’s Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco.  England were beaten by Russia 21-0 in the final, having topped their pool with wins over Ireland, Poland and Sweden.

Wales finished second in their pool to eventual winners Russia and finished fifth altogether.  Their high finish ensured their qualification for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.  In the pool stage they beat Italy and the Netherlands but lost to Russia.  They then lost to England 21-7 in the play-offs but won the repechage by beating Belgium and Poland to take fifth.

Russia were a class above over the weekend, and in fact, over the two legs.  They scored 34 tries in each leg.

The European representatives at the 7s RWC in San Francisco will be Russia, Spain, France, England and Ireland.

Cricket

Apart from reading a tweet today by a real gent which said it’s an “absolute disgrace” that England’s women scored 373/5 against South Africa and that “cricket is just not a women’s game.  Stick to hockey or netball”, the Women’s World Cup has generally engendered a positive reaction.

One brilliant story comes out of India where apparently a young girl went into a sports shop and asked for an Indian cricket shirt.   When asked if she wanted a name printed on it, she said yes.  Was it Kohli?  Dhoni?  Nope, it was Smriti Mandhana.  The shop said it was the first time they had ever been asked to put the name of one of the women’s team on a shirt!  Progress.

We’re nearly at the knockout stage of the World Cup.  It’s a fight between New Zealand and India for the last place in the quarter-finals.

Here’s what’s happened in the last week:

Match 17

All too easy for New Zealand

New Zealand v Pakistan
Taunton
Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat

Pakistan 144 all out (46.5 overs)
New Zealand 147/2 (15 overs)
New Zealand won by 8 wickets (210 balls remaining)

Pakistan’s openers needed to make a considerable opening stand to post any kind of total against New Zealand.  They had only made 35 before Zafar was out and although captain Sana Mir chipped in with a bright half-century, the other wickets fell cheaply and 144 was really never going to be enough.

Hannah Rowe took 3/22 off nine overs with the rest of the bowlers all contributing.

In response Rachel Priest was dismissed for just 8, but 93 from Sophie Devine and 38 not out from Amy Satterthwaite saw them comfortably home.

Match 18

Another Van Niekerk masterclass does for India’s top batters

India v South Africa
Leicester
India won the toss and put South Africa in

South Africa 273/9 (50 overs
India 158 all out (46 overs)
South Africa won by 115 runs

Wolvaardt may have been dismissed for just one, but some power batting from Lizelle Lee soon put this tie in South Africa’s favour.  Van Niekerk also scored 57 and was backed up well by the rest of the top order.

By contrast India struggled to get the ball off the square.  Deepti Sharma scored 60 and Jhulan Goswami 43, but there were few other contributors as Dane Van Niekerk took 4/22 off her 10 overs and India ended way short.

Match 19

England edge the big one – but it’s mighty close

England v Australia
Bristol
England won the toss and elected to bat

England 259/8 (50 overs)
Australia 256/8 (50 overs)
England won by 3 runs

Lauren Winfield is yet to make a score, but fellow opener Tammy Beaumont is looking to have got her mojo back with a vengeance.  She scored top-scored with 49, Katherine Brunt chipped in with 45 not out and there were good starts for everyone else except the skipper, Heather Knight, who was out for just one.  Elyse Villani took 3/42 off 5 overs as England chased the runs towards the end.

It was on the cusp of “just enough” and when Australia had got to 56 without losing a wicket all seemed ominous.  In fact everyone made runs but the rate was too slow.  Ellyse Perry starred with 70 with Lanning scoring 40.  It was down to Jenny Gunn to bowl the last over, with 16 needed.  Five were scored off the first three, then Gardner was out, caught by Brunt.  The fifth ball of the over brought another four and then Australia needed six off the last ball, but Jonassen could only grab two and England had won by three runs.

An excellent, nail-biting game and a great advert for women’s cricket with a crowd of over 4,000 at Bristol cheering both sides on.

Match 20

West Indies chalk up their first win

Sri Lanka v West Indies
Derby
Sri Lanka won the toss and put the West Indies in.

West Indies 229/9 (50 overs)
Sri Lanka 182 all out (48 overs)
West Indies won by 47 runs

When were the West Indies going to turn up?  This game was a bit more encouraging for the World T20 champions.  They made a healthy 229 with Merissa Aguilleira top-scoring on 49.

In reply Sri Lanka needed their star, Atapattu to fire, but when she was out on 26 the writing was on the wall.  Anisa Mohammed was best bowler for the Windies taking 3/39 off her 10 overs and was Player of the Match.

Match 21

West Indies win again as rain hits Leicester

Pakistan v West Indies
Leicester
Pakistan won the toss and put the West Indies in

West Indies 285/4 (50 overs)
Pakistan 117/3 (24 overs)
West Indies won by 19 runs via D/L method

West Indies batted well for probably the first time in the tournament.  Their two biggest stars, Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin both fired with 90 and 104 respectively.  And when they fire the whole team looks a different prospect.

We were lucky to get as much cricket as we did with the sides playing through some quite heavy rain.  With a delay to the Pakistan reply the total was revised to 245 in 38 overs.  Pakistan had reached 117 before the heavens opened again and the match was abandoned.

Match 22

South Africa ease past Sri Lanka

South Africa v Sri Lanka
Taunton
Sri Lanka won the toss and batted

Sri Lanka 101 all out (40.3 0vers)
South Africa 104/2 (23.1 overs)
South Africa won by 8 wickets

It was an early finish at Taunton as South Africa put Sri Lanka to the sword.  Van Niekerk struck again with 4/24 off 8 overs while Ismail took 3/14 off 7.3.

South Africa polished off their target with ease.  The usually reliable Lee fell for a duck but Wolvaardt was 48 not out and du Preez 38 not out as they knocked off 104 in the 24th over.

Match 23

Indian total never a problem for Australia at Bristol

Australia v India
Bristol
Australia won the toss and put India in

India 226/7 (50 overs)
Australia 227/2 (45.1 overs)
Australia won by 8 wickets

A fine century by opener Punam Raut was the highlight for India and without her 106 India would have faltered badly.  She was ably supported by captain Mithali Raj with 69.  Raj became the highest scorer in women’s ODIs in this match.  She overtook Charlotte Edwards’ 5992, reaching 6028 in 16 fewer innings than Edwards and with an average of 51.52.  So two good knocks, but unlikely to be enough to put Australia in any trouble.

And indeed it wasn’t. The great pairing of Lanning and Perry took it home with 76 not out and 60 not out respectively.

Match 24

Sciver does it again as England too strong for New Zealand

England v New Zealand
Derby
England won the toss and batted

England 284/9 (50 overs)
New Zealand 209 all out (46.4)
England won by 75 runs

Nat Sciver’s second century of the tournament was the highlight for England.  Winfield went cheaply again with just 11 but Beaumont continued her good form with a fine 93.  Without Sciver’s 129 England would have been in trouble with Fran Wilson (10) the only other player to get into double figures.

Young leg spinner Amelia Kerr took 4/51 off her 10 overs.

New Zealand started steadily but an injury incurred by Sophie Devine in the field clearly hampered her in batting.  Suzie Bates top-scored for New Zealand with 44, but a regular clattering of wickets meant they quickly fell behind the required rate.  Alex Hartley took 3/44 off 9.4 overs.

It was a good team performance by England.

Sports Politics

The Saudi Education Ministry has announced that girls attending public schools will be given access to physical education.  The changes will be made “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations.”

Four years ago changes were made to allow girls in private schools to take part in sport.

It’s a big move, but we’ll have to see how things progress.

Netball

I’m ashamed to say I had missed the start of the Netball World Youth Cup, but here’s a recap of what is happening and what has occurred so far.

It’s happening in Gaborone, Botswana, the first time it has taken place in Africa.  Twenty teams have qualified and the format is quite complicated.  We begin with four pools of five and after the pool games we go into the knockout stages.  The final is on 16 July.

England

In their first game, on Saturday 8 July, they beat Wales 69-23.  On Sunday they played Grenada, winning 98-25.  Their third pool game was against Trinidad & Tobago on Monday.  The score was 75-27 to England and finally they played Fiji on Wednesday with England coming out on top 63-29.

Wales

Wales lost to England in their first match, and then to Fiji on Sunday 35-48.  On Monday they defeated Grenada 72-30 and their fourth match was a tight loss to Trinidad and Tobago 32-36.

Scotland

The Scots defeated Sri Lanka in their first match on Saturday 69-48.  On Monday they lost to New Zealand 78-26.  On Tuesday they defeated Northern Ireland 55-36 and their last pool game on Wednesday was a two-point victory over Samoa 46-44.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is the British Isles’ lowest ranked team and found it difficult.  They lost all of their pool matches: 22-89 to New Zealand, 44-56 to Sri Lanka, 26-65 to Samoa and 36-55 to Scotland.

England and Scotland qualified for the 1st-8th place quarter-final, which took place on Thursday 13 July.  England defeated Jamaica 55-38, while Scotland drew the short straw, playing Australia.  Australia won the game 95-22.

Find out who came where and who won what next week!

Hockey

Hockey World League semi-final – Johannesburg

After a comfortable 3-0 win over Poland on Monday 10 July, England suffered a shock defeat against Japan on Wednesday.  Mami Karino’s goal in the third minute was enough to defeat the Olympic champions.  They play Germany on 14 July and Ireland two days later.  They currently lie fourth in the pool.

Ireland have already qualified for the last eight with two draws against Japan and Germany and a win over Poland.

And finally

Andy Murray’s feminist credentials struck again this week.  Lots of people (men) didn’t like it, especially when the BBC kept tweeting it, but hey ho.  In the press conference after his loss to American Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday, a journalist said Querrey was “the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009”.  “Male player”, replied Andy immediately.

Several people were quick to point out that it was “obvious” that they were talking about men’s tennis.  But I hate to tell you folks, that’s how casual sexism works.  Murray was calling out the assumption that men’s tennis is the default and we only qualify it when we talk about women’s tennis (or any other sport for that matter).  Good stuff from Murray.

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Women’s Sports Column 29 April – 5 May 2017

Squash-racquet-and-ballIt’s that time again!  Not quite sure where the week has gone, but gone it has and so here comes the column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from cycling, football, badminton, boxing, squash, hockey, tennis, cricket, rugby and netball.  This week’s “and finally” comes from basketball.

Cycling

Tour de Yorkshire

Lizzie Deignan won the Tour de Yorkshire at the weekend.  She finished the 122.5km course in three hours, nine minutes, 36 seconds.

Deignan was part of an eight-strong group that broke away with 60km to go.  Then three riders, including Deignan pulled ahead.  Deignan then made her move with 14km left and was never headed.

Top five finishers

  • Lizzie Deignan (GB/Boels Dolman) 3hrs 09mins 36secs
  • Coryn Rivera (US/Team Sunweb) +55secs
  • Giorgia Bronzini (ITA/Wiggle High 5) Same time
  • Amy Pieters (NED/Boels Dolman)
  • Hannah Barnes (GB/Canyon SRAM Racing)

Squash

England’s women won the European Team Championships last weekend.  They beat France in the final 2-0.  Wales beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third place play-off.

Final:
England beat France 2-0
Sarah-Jane Perry beat Camille Serme 11/8, 8/11, 9/11, 14/12, 11/7
Fiona Moverley beat Laura Pomportes 14/12, 11/5, 4/11, 7/11, 11/8
Victoria Lust v Coline Aumard (match withdrawn)

Third place play-off:
Wales beat Netherlands 2-1
Tesni Evans beat Milou van der Heijden 11/6, 11/4, 11/7
Lowri Roberts lost to Tessa ter Sluis 5/11, 13/11, 6/11, 8/11
Deon Saffery beat Natalie Grinham 9/11, 11/7, 13/15, 11/6, 11/8

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s winning run now stretches to five.  She stopped Nina Meinke of Germany in the seventh round of her latest bout at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

She is now able to challenge for the WBA world lightweight belt currently held by Cecilia Comunales of Uruguay.

Rugby Union

The news Lichfield fans dreaded came this week when the RFU announced that they have been unsuccessful in their appeal against being excluded from the new Women’s Super League.

An independent panel heard the appeals from both Lichfield, who finished second in this year’s Premiership and Thurrock, who finished top of the second flight and should have been promoted.  The panel found that the RFU had followed correct procedure in selecting the teams for the new Super League, but it should also be noted that the panel was not constituted to decide whether the decisions made were the correct ones, just that correct procedure had been followed.

Lichfield will now play in the second tier of English rugby and may, in all probability, lose the services of their current internationals, such as Emily Scarratt and Amy Cokayne.

Badminton

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour won silver at the European Championships this week.  She was defeated in the singles final by Spain’s Carolina Marin, 21-14 21-12.

It was Gilmour’s second final defeat in a row and three successive wins for Marin.

Cricket

Good and bad news on the cricket front this week.

Bad news first.  England captain Heather Knight has fractured a metatarsal whilst training for the World Cup in the UAE.

She will be out for five to six weeks, hoping to be back in time for the beginning of the tournament, which starts on 24 June.  Fingers crossed her rehabilitation goes to plan.

The good news also concerns the World Cup with the news announced this week by the ICC that every match will be broadcast live for the first time.  The prize money will also be doubled.

It’s all a bit last minute, as with so much surrounding women’s sport, but not perhaps one shouldn’t be churlish.

The prize fund goes up from $1m to $2m.

The ICC is also to publish plans later in the year for growing the women’s game with the aim

“To move towards equality across the game within 15 years”

Bold words – can they live up to it?  Call me cynical, but let’s see the full document before we leap in the air with joy.

Ten games will be broadcast live on TV, with the other 21 streamed live on the ICC website.  There will also be radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Xtra and highlights on the BBC Sport website.

Tennis

There was heartening news this week as Petra Kvitova took her first steps on the practice court after the attack which left her with a career-threatening hand injury last December.  She posted a photo of herself on the court in Monaco.

It is still unclear whether she will be fit to play in the French Open at the end of May.

Football

Off the Pitch

BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year

The shortlist for the 2017 has been announced:

Melanie Behringer (Bayern Munich and former Germany midfielder)

Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais and Norway striker)

Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea and Sweden goalkeeper)

Marta (Orlando Pride and Brazil forward)

Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns and Canada forward)

You can vote via the BBC website.  The closing date is Monday 15 May.

Notts County Ladies

It’s good to see that clubs are busy snapping up former Notts County Ladies players.

Reading Women have been the biggest beneficiaries signing England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter and Kirsty Linnett.  Both Moore and Potter are in the England squad for this year’s Euros.

Carly Telford and Laura Bassett are the two remaining England internationals from Notts County’s squad yet to find a new club.

Carly Telford has rejoined Chelsea Ladies until the end of the Spring Series.

Yeovil Town Ladies have signed County’s second ‘keeper, Megan Walsh for the rest of the Spring Series.

Yeovil Town

It is likely that Walsh will go straight into the side as first choice goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes will be out for up to eight weeks after breaking her hand against Chelsea on Sunday.

On the Pitch

Women’s Champions League

Manchester City were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by cup-holders Lyon this week.  They trailed 3-1 after the first leg – the damage was done.  They put up a creditable performance in Lyon to win the leg 1-0 with a goal from Carli Lloyd, but it was not enough to take them through.  A crowd of 19,214 saw the home favourites progress to the final.

In the other tie, Paris Saint-German beat Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate.  They won the second leg in Paris 2-0 with an own goal and a penalty.

The final is on Thursday 1 June at the Cardiff City Stadium at 7.45pm.

FA Women’s Spring Series

Friday 28 April

Liverpool Ladies 4-2 Reading Women

Liverpool took the lead through Tash Harding after just two minutes.  But Reading hit straight back just a minute later when Liverpool ‘keeper Siobhan Chamberlain spilled a Brooke Chaplen shot, which went into the net.

The away side took the lead four minutes later when Melissa Fletcher fired in from ten yards.  Liverpool pulled level on 24 with Harding’s second and went ahead again ten minutes later when Caroline Weir tapped in from an Alex Greenwood cross.  The teams went in with the home side leading 3-2.

Laura Coombs dealt the telling blow scoring five minutes after the restart and giving Liverpool all three points.

Sunday 30 April

Chelsea Ladies 6-0 Yeovil Town Ladies

Chelsea demolished newly promoted Yeovil in their first game of the Spring Series, but it took them until nearly half-time to take the lead.

In the 45th minute and in first-half injury time Ji So-Yun scored twice to demoralise Yeovil who had held out in the face of repeated Chelsea chances up to this point.

In the second-half the home side cashed in on their superiority with goals from Drew Spence, Erin Cuthbert, Crystal Dunn and Ramona Bachmann.

Sunderland AFC 0-0 Arsenal Ladies

There were chances for both sides but neither could break the deadlock at the Hetton Centre on Sunday.

Wednesday 3 May

Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies

City underperformed in this match and deserved nothing more than a draw.  In contrast, Birmingham played to the best of their potential to take the point.

Carli Lloyd missed several chances for the champions, but Birmingham’s resolute defence held out.

The away side took the lead in the 14th minute with a header from Emily Westwood.

It took until the second half for Man City to get going and when they did they had periods of sustained pressure.  The pressure told in the 58th minute when Lucy Bronze ran at the defence, beating two defenders to score the equaliser.

Yeovil Town Ladies 2-3 Bristol City Women

It looked set be Yeovil’s first point of the Spring Series until an unfortunate own goal from Nicola Cousins deprived the home side of the draw.

Bristol took the lead after just five minutes from the penalty spot.  Lucy Quinn brought down Claire Emslie, who got up to convert the resulting spot kick herself.

The home side drew level in the 27th minute with a header from Annie Heatherson and it was all square at the break.

In the second –half the home side took the lead as Sarah Wiltshire scored from 25 yards.

But Bristol weren’t finished.  Three minutes later they equalised through Chloe Arthur.

It was level until two minutes from time when Cousins’ deflection of an Arthur shot took the ball past goalkeeper Walsh.

Reading Women 0-4 Chelsea Ladies

Another day, another impressive win for Chelsea as they scored four without reply at Reading.

Karen Carney got the first on the half-hour, the only score in the first-half.

After the break Drew Spence scored from a few yards out, Ji So-Yun struck the away side’s third and a fourth came from Hannah Blundell with nine minutes to go.

Thursday 4 May

Arsenal Ladies 4-4 Liverpool Ladies

In a pulsating match at The Hive, Arsenal came back from 3-1 down and looked to have snatched all three points when a late equaliser for Liverpool gave the away side a deserved draw.

Liverpool took the lead on the 13th minute when Alex Greenwood scored straight from a corner.  It was, perhaps, an indication of how the match was going to go.

The Gunners equalised on the half-hour through Chloe Kelly.

Then Liverpool moved up a gear with goals from Tash Harding and Caroline Weir before the break to take the away side 3-1 up at half-time.

After the break Danielle Carter got one back and the game was on again.

On the hour Carter was in for a second and the score was 3-3.

Arsenal looked to have completed a famous victory when a Jordan Nobbs stunner took them 4-3 ahead.  But Liverpool were determined to have the last word as on the 84th minute Gemma Bonner made it 4-4 with a header from a Greenwood corner.

Netball

Rounds 12 and 13 of the Vitality Netball Super League were played over the bank holiday weekend.  True to the commentator’s curse that I knew must come, I put the complete mockers on the league leaders, Loughborough Lightning as they lost their showcase game, held in front of a packed house in Leicester, to title rivals Wasps.  They were back on form on Monday, beating Sirens comfortably and now lead the table by three points from Wasps with five rounds to go before the semi-finals.

Round 12 results:

Friday 28 April

Team Bath 59-33 Severn Stars

Saturday 29 April

Sirens 69-47 Team Northumbria
Celtic Dragons 53-55 Manchester Thunder
Hertfordshire Mavericks 56-63 Surrey Storm
Loughborough Lightning 54-57 Wasps Netball

Round 13 results:

Monday 1 May

Surrey Storm 49-56 Team Bath
Celtic Dragons 41-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks
Wasps Netball 62-46 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 56-47 Team Northumbria
Sirens 46-57 Loughborough Lightning

Round 14 is this weekend and the televised match is on Monday 8 May, Team Bath v Wasps Netball, 7.45pm live on Sky Sports.

Hockey

Surbiton completed the league championship and cup double at the weekend with a 5-0 win over Clifton Robinsons in the Investec Women’s Cup final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre last weekend.

Surbiton have lost only one game this season, 3-2 to Leicester in February, and have now won four successive league titles and three of the last four cup finals.

Surbiton took the lead through Giselle Ansley and they were two up when Emily Atkinson bagged their second with Hollie Webb a third before half-time.

They didn’t let up in the second-half with Ansley scoring a second, and Hannah Martin the team’s fifth two minutes from time.

Surbiton now go into the Euro Hockey Club Cup in Den Bosch, Netherlands, facing Spanish side Complutense on 2 June.  If they win this they will play the winners of the Den Bosch v Hermes-Monktown tie.

Canterbury are also involved and will play Hamburg on the same date.

And finally 

And finally, some good news!  I was despairing that I would ever be able to report this, but happily I was wrong.

After four long years of campaigning, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has approved the wearing of headcoverings under certain conditions.

The decision was supposed to have been made in August 2016, but was postponed until January 2017.  It was postponed again in January.  But, finally the ruling has been released.  The conditions are:

  • it is black or white, or of the same dominant colour as that of the uniform
  • it is one same colour for all players on the team
  • it does not cover any part of the face entirely or partially
  • it is not dangerous to the player wearing it and/or to other players
  • it has no opening/closing elements around the face and/or neck
  • it has no parts extruding from its surface.

We must also remember this has a bearing not only for the wearing of the hijab for women, but also turbans for men.  More than 130,000 people signed a petition to end the headgear ban.

Women’s Sports Column 22-28 April 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  There is so much to get through this week I’m going to crack straight on!  Stories come from football, tennis, athletics, netball, squash, gymnastics, taekwondo, cricket, hockey and rugby.  You can probably guess my “And finally” again this week….

Football – Off the Pitch

World Cup 2019

The draw has been made for the European section of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.  England have been drawn in the same group as Wales along with Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The seven group winners will qualify automatically with the four best runners-up going into a two-round play-off to fill the last qualifying spot.

Qualifiers take place between 11 September 2017 and 4 September 2018

The draw in full:

Group 1: England, Russia, Wales, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan.

Group 2: Switzerland, Scotland, Poland, Belarus, Albania.

Group 3: Norway, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland.

Group 4: Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, Croatia.

Group 5: Germany, Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Faroe Islands.

Group 6: Italy, Belgium, Romania, Portugal, Moldova.

Group 7: Spain, Austria, Finland, Serbia, Israel.

PFA Awards

Lucy Bronze was awarded PFA Women’s Player of the Year this week.  The other shortlisted candidates were Jane Ross, Jill Scott, Ellen White, Karen Carney and Caroline Weir.

Jess Carter won the Women’s Young Player of the Year award.   Nikita Parris, Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, Caroline Weir and Millie Bright were also shortlisted.

Kelly Smith was given a PFA Special Achievement Award.

On the Pitch

European Champions League

Saturday 22 April
Manchester City 1- 3 Lyon

Manchester City face an uphill battle if they are to overcome cup holders Lyon and qualify for the Champions League final.

Lyon went ahead after only two minutes after Carli Lloyd handled in the penalty area.  Saki Kumagai stepped up to score the penalty.

Kosovare Asllani equalised for City but the away side were quick to take the lead again, this time through Dzsenifer Marozsan.

French striker Eugenie Le Sommer scored a third in the second half.

The second leg takes place on Saturday 29 April.

Spring Series

The Spring Series is underway – without Notts County Ladies.

Saturday 22 April

Bristol City 1-3 Reading

After a goalless first half the visitors took the lead on 49 minutes when Rachel Furness headed home from a Rachel Rowe corner.

They were two up ten minutes later when Rowe carved out a chance to score herself and the tie was effectively over on 61 minutes when Melissa Fletcher poked home from a mistake in the Bristol defence.

Lauren Hemp pulled one back for the home side, but the points were gone.

Sunday 23 April

Birmingham City 0-0 Sunderland

With most of the possession and scoring opportunities, Birmingham City will be rueing missing their chances in this game, while Sunderland will be more than happy with a point.

Yeovil Town Ladies 1-4 Liverpool Ladies

The day started in a comedic fashion when it was revealed that Liverpool had forgotten to bring their away kit and so had to play in the home side’s away kit.  However, this was the end of the comedy for Yeovil Town’s as their first experience of the WSL1 was a tough one.

Liverpool took the lead on 23 minutes as Yeovil were penalised for handling in the box.  Alex Greenwood converted the penalty.

The away side doubled their lead in first-half injury time as Gemma Bonner poked home from a corner.

Yeovil were three down after 65 minutes when Katie Zelem scored from a Shanice Van De Sanden corner.  Zelem got her second on 75 to take it to 4-0.

Yeovil pulled one back in the 78th minute through a Sarah Wiltshire penalty.

Athletics

World Relays

Great Britain’s 4x400m team missed out on a bronze medal by 0.23 seconds in the Bahamas this week.  The team of Emily Diamond, Laviai Nielsen, Eilidh Doyle and Christine Ohuruogu finished fourth behind USA in first, Poland and Jamaica.

Germany took the 4 x 100m title ahead of Jamaica and China.

Kelly Sotherton

Heptathlete Kelly Sotherton has received her second upgraded bronze in five months after Russian athlete Tatyana Chernova was stripped of the bronze she won at Beijing in 2008 after she tested positive for a steroid.

She had already moved up to fourth from fifth after Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska was disqualified.

London Marathon

Kenyan Mary Keitany won the women’s elite race, breaking Paula Radcliffe’s women-only record in the process.  She ran the marathon in a time of 2 hours 17 minutes 1 second, breaking the record by a massive 41 seconds.

Alyson Dixon was top British finisher in 12th, thus securing her World Championships place.   Jo Pavey was forced to pull out at around the 17 mile mark.

Manuela Schar of Switzerland won the wheelchair race, with Amanda McGrory of the USA in second and fellow American Susannah Scaroni in third.  Britain’s Jade Jones finished fifth.

 Cricket

It’s all change on the Subcontinent as both India and Pakistan have named new coaches just two months before the World Cup.

Pakistan

Sabih Azhar is the new Pakistan coach, taking over from Kabir Khan.  Pakistan also announced their squad for the upcoming tournament:

Sana Mir (Capt), Sidra Nawaz (wk), Ayesha Zafar, Nahida Khan, Marina Iqbal, Bismah Maroof, Javeria Khan, Nain Abidi, Kainat Imtiaz, Asmavia Iqbal, Diana Baig, Waheeda Akhtar, Nashra Sandhu, Ghulam Fatima, Sadia Yousuf.

India

In a surprise move, Purnima Rau has been sacked by the BCCI and replaced by Tushar Arothe.  Arothe was women’s fielding coach and then head coach between 2008 and 2012.

Rau has voiced concern that she only found out about the sacking via the media.

“I was preparing the team for the World Cup when I heard of this from elsewhere.  I wasn’t given any explanation or reason by the board. In fact they didn’t even have the courtesy to inform me. In terms of results, we were successful. To be axed this way is disappointing and insulting.”

Arothe’s first test will be in May in a series in South Africa in a limited overs tournament that also features Ireland and Zimbabwe.

England v Ireland Series

England are currently playing Ireland in a three-match series in Abu Dhabi as their World Cup warm-up continues.

24 April

England XI 397/4 (50 overs)
Ireland 103 all out (44 overs)
England won by 276 runs

Jenny Gunn hit 94 not out and Georgia Elwiss 81 as England comfortably won the first match of the series.

The England bowling was equally impressive with Anya Shrubsole taking 3-11 and Alex Hartley 3-24.

Hockey

Surbiton did the double last weekend as both their men’s and women’s teams won their respective Hockey League Finals.

For the women it was their fourth title in a row as they beat Holcombe 3-1.  Giselle Ansley scored Surbiton’s first and Rebecca Middleton the second before Eleanor Watton pulled one back for Holcombe.

Naomi Evans scored the third to ensure the title went to Surbiton.

Netball

Last weekend saw round 11 of the Netball Superleague.  Loughborough Lightning are still unbeaten and top the table by five points from Wasps as they won a thrilling game against the Thunder by just one point on Saturday.

Saturday 22 April

Team Bath 58-48 Celtic Dragons
Manchester Thunder 57-58 Loughborough Lightning
Team Northumbria 58-55 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Sunday 23 April

Wasps Netball 65-41 Sirens

Monday 24 April

Severn Stars 66-62 Surrey Storm

The next Sky televised game is on Saturday 29 when Mavericks take on the Storm (6pm), but all eyes will probably be on what happens an hour later when the top two, Lightning and Wasps, take on each other in Loughborough’s showcase game at the Leicester Community Arena.

Tennis

Lots of tennis news this week – mostly off the court, unfortunately.   Mr Nastase makes his appearance in my “And finally” comment, but there are other stories to cover.

Fed Cup

In amongst all the controversy and ill-feeling, there was actually some Fed Cup tennis going on last weekend.

Great Britain lost their World Cup Group II play-off against Romania, which means they are back in the Europe/Africa Zone.

Heather Watson lost the first rubber to Simona Halep 6-4 6-1.  Jo Konta levelled the tie when she beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-3.

On day two, though, Halep beat Konta 6-1 6-3 and Britain’s fate was sealed when Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Watson 6-4 7-5

In other Fed Cup news, it will be a USA v Belarus final.

USA beat the Czech Republic 3-2 and Belarus defeated Switzerland by the same margin.

Maria Sharapova

She’s back.  More pictures, film, social media comment and interviews have been devoted to Sharapova’s return this week than any other subject.

And she’s playing well.  After being given a wild card for the Stuttgart tournament she is now into the quarter finals.  She beat Roberta Vinci in the first round and powered past Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-1.

She faces Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit in the last eight.  Kontaveit put out fifth seed Garbine Muguruza in the previous round.

But not everyone is happy about her return.  Eugenie Bouchard has labelled Sharapova a “cheater” and said she should not be allowed back on the WTA tour.  The crowds have been respectful but cool.  It’s up to Sharapova to prove herself on the court if she is to win back the more general tennis watcher.

Stuttgart

In other Stuttgart news, Johanna Konta was knocked out in the second round by Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 7-5.

The last eight looks like this:

K Mladenovic v C Suárez Navarro
A Kontaveit v M Sharapova
A Sevastova v S Halep (4)
L Siegemund v K Pliskova (2)

Squash

England’s women’s squash team are through to the semi-finals of the European Team Championships after finishing top of their qualifying group.

They beat Denmark 3-0, the Netherlands 3-0 and Wales 3-0 and will now face the Netherlands again in the semi on Friday 28 April.

Taekwondo

Jade Jones has won gold at the World Taekwondo Federation President’s Cup in Athens.  It was her first competition since December 2016.

She won five contests to take the -57kg title.

Gymnastics

After reaching every final in the European Championships last week, Ellie Downie made good and took the all-round gold at the weekend.

She was in silver position going into the final rotation, but ended up beating Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs by 0.333 points.   Downie scored 55.765 and Kovacs 55.432.  Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France finished in bronze on 55.065.

To cap a stunning weekend Downie also won a silver in the vault and floor and bronze in the uneven bars in the individual competition.

Ellie’s older sister Becky fell and injured her hands and was unable to participate in the beam final.  Her place was taken by Claudia Fragapane, but she fell in the final and finished eighth.  Fragapane also finished seventh on the floor.

Rugby

Premiership Finals

Aylesford Bulls Ladies were the perhaps surprise winners of the last Premiership final before the new Super League starts next season.

Aylesford Bulls 17-8 Bristol

Although they finished third in the table in the regular season, Bulls brought their best rugby to finals day to beat top of the league Bristol.

Aylesford took the lead in the third minute with a try from Hanna Field under the posts.  Jess Wooden converted to make it 7-0.

Bristol were then awarded a penalty, which Amber Reed kicked, but Aylesford hit straight back with their second try, this time from Michela Sillari in the corner.  The conversion was missed and the half-time sc ore was 12-3.

In the second half Bristol got their game together.  On 54 minutes Chantelle Miell went over in the corner.  The conversion was missed, but the deficit was cut to just four points.

But it was not to be for Bristol as Sillari scored her second to take the match away from them and take the game 17-8.

In the 3rd/4th play-off Lichfield took the honours as they beat Saracens 41-14.

Lichfield went ahead in the 16th minute when Emily Braund went over.  Emily Scarratt then added a penalty.

Saracens came back with a try from Lotte Clapp.

But Lichfield hit back themselves with a second try from Braund just on half-time to take the score the 15-7 at the break.

In the second-half Lichfield consolidated their lead with tries from Sarah Bonar and Carys Williams.  Tash Jones and Amy Cockayne scored two more for Lichfield taking the game, with Saracens having the last word with a try from Bryony Cleall.

And Finally

And finally, let’s talk Ilie Nastase.  Great player and entertainer in his time, yes.  But last week he showed that his off-court behaviour is not all it should be.  Firstly he made a racist comment about Serena Williams’ baby (not going to repeat it here), and then he seemingly had a complete meltdown at the Fed Cup tie between Great Britain and Romania.  In my relatively sheltered, liberal world I watched and listened to the unfolding events with shock and, I’m afraid, disbelief.  Do people really speculate about the colour of someone’s baby?  Naive I am, possibly, and if so I apologise, but I’m still struggling to understand why anyone would even say what he did.

As regards his Fed Cup behaviour, I feel pretty much as I did about the David Moyes situation.  Not acceptable in any sense, ever.  I listened to BBC Tennis correspondent Russell Fuller as her tried to make sense of what was going on and you could hear the shock in his voice.  He couldn’t believe what he’d heard and when he interviewed the head of the Romanian Tennis Federation who said basically it was “Ilie being Ilie” you could tell Fuller was biting his tongue to prevent himself giving an inappropriate response.

It is not acceptable that anyone reduces an opposing player to tears.  It is not appropriate that anyone is called “F****** bitches” on a tennis court.  It is up to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to see that it doesn’t happen again.  Will they?  I hope so.

Women’s sports column 11 – 17 March 2017

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

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

Cycling

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

Certainly she is positive about the move;

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

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

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

Netball

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

Last weekend’s scores:

Saturday 11 March

Manchester Thunder 62-53 Celtic Dragons

Surrey Storm 67-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Severn Stars 39-48 Team Bath

Wasps 44-57 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 13 March

Team Northumbria 46-64 Sirens

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

Lacrosse

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

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

Hockey

English domestic hockey

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

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

This is how the table stands:

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

 Hockey World League (HWL)

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

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

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

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

The winners will qualify for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

Golf

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

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

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

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

Football

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

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

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

Major commitments include:

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

Read the full document here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moves

Sunderland

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

Reay had been assistant coach and a former Sunderland striker.

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

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

Yeovil Town

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

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

Gymnastics

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

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

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

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

Speed Skating

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

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

Rugby Union

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

Saturday 11 March

Wales 7-12 Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

England 64-0 Scotland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 12 March

Italy 5-28 France

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

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

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

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

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

Round 5

17 March

Scotland v Italy

6.20pm, Broadwood Stadium (Eurosport IT)

Ireland v England

8pm, Donnybrook, (RTE, Sky Sports)

18 March

France v Wales

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

And finally

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

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

He so intelligently replied:

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

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

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

No column next week as I’m away.  

 

Women’s Sports Column 6-13 January 2017

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

Tennis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Football

Kelly Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She Believes Cup

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

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

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

Germany – 7 March (RFK Stadium, Washington)

FA Cup

The FA Cup third round draw was made this week:

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

Ties will be played on 5 February.

Rugby Union

World Cup

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

Wednesday 9 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

England v Spain 2pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Ireland v Australia (7pm)

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Wales 2.55pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Canada v Hong Kong 5.15pm

Sunday 13 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

USA v Spain 2.45pm

Ireland v Japan 5.15pm

France v Australia 7.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Honk Kong 12 noon

England v Italy 2.30pm

Canada v Wales 5pm

Thursday 17 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

Italy v Spain 2.45pm

Wales v Hong Kong 17.15pm

France v Ireland 19.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

Canada v New Zealand 12 noon

England v USA 2.30pm

Australia v Japan 5pm

Tuesday 22 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Semi-finals 5pm and 7.45pm

Saturday 26 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Final 7.45pm

Women’s Premiership

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

8 January 2017

Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies
Postponed

Richmond 17-50 Aylesford

DMP Sharks 24-10 Worcester

Lichfield 15-12 Bristol

Winter Sports

Skiing

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

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

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

Speed skating

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

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

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

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

Cricket

The WBBL continues.  The current table is as follows:

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

Indoor Hockey

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

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

Also through are Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury and Sutton Coldfield.

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

Outdoor Hockey

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

Laureas World Sports Awards

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

Sportswoman of the Year award

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

Action Sportsperson of the Year award

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

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

And finally,

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll leave it with you.

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

Women’s Sports Column 26 November – 2 December

sarah-storeyWelcome to this week’s column.  Yet again there’s a lot to get through, so here we go.  This week’s stories come from hockey, tennis, football, rugby, sevens, boxing, netball, cricket, cycling and to match last week’s Action Woman shortlist, this week we look at the women shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  This week’s “And finally” comes from tennis, and the ever-inspirational Serena Williams.

Hockey

I am the first to admit that I do not follow hockey with any diligence.  Consequently it appears only rarely in the column.  This didn’t stop me getting practically hysterical during the Olympic final, but I do realise that I should do more for this under-reported sport.

This is a shout-out to Martin, who regularly reminds me of my lack of hockey knowledge and coverage.

Premier League

On 26 November Surbiton Ladies beat second-placed Holcome 4-1 which meant they are unbeaten in 50 Premier League matches.

Surbiton’s last defeat was at home to Leicester in February 2014.

Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup

The World Cup takes place between 24 November and 4 December in Santiago, Chile.  Sixteen countries are involved, including England.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  England lost in the quarter-finals to Spain.  The quarter-final results were as follows:

Netherlands 5-0 Germany

Spain 5-3 England

Spain’s goals came from Garcia, Iglesias (2), Amundson, Serrahima

England’s goals came through Sanders, Crowson (2)

Argentina 2-0 USA

Australia 7-2 Belgium

The semi-finals are to be played on 2 December with the final on Sunday 4 December.

 And don’t forget, the full Women’s World Cup will be held in London from 7-21 July, 2018.  Tickets go on sale in 2017, so keep an eye out for that. 

 Football

 Netherlands 0-1 England

Tilburg 29 November 2016

 England’s unbeaten run now stands at 10 matches with this friendly win in Tilburg.

The first-half was tight but produced few chances.

The second-half saw an England improvement and the match was decided by a Jodie Taylor lob with 15 minutes to go.

 Under 20s Women’s World Cup

Semi-finals

North Korea 2-1 USA

(after extra time)

 

Japan 1-2 France

(after extra time)

The final will take place on 3 December.

Netball

The three-match test series between the England Roses and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls is underway.

 29 November

Copper Box Arena London

 England 49-66

According to reports, Tracy Neville was furious with this England performance and they will need to improve in the next two to get anything at all from the series.

England were 16-12 up after the first quarter, but by half-time they were down 31-27.  After the half-time break Jamaica seemed t o go up a gear and stretched away to take the game.

The second game is at Belle Vue in Manchester on Friday 2 December, with the third on Sunday 4 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.  I’ll be there for the third game, so look out for a more detailed report next week.

Rugby Union

The big news from last weekend’s matches is the first defeat of the season for Bristol as they were thumped by Aylesford Bulls, but second placed Lichfield also slip up and miss out on the chance to close the gap.

26 November 2016

Saracens Women 27-0 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women

27 November 2016

Aylesford bulls Ladies 51-5 Bristol Ladies

Wasps Ladies 34-22 DMP Sharks Ladies

For a more in-depth report, please see my latest for Women’s Sports UK.

Rugby Sevens

The Dubai Sevens took place on 1-2 December

England

England reached the semi-finals.  They won their first match 31-7 against Spain and the second against Brazil, 28-7.  In the third, Canada took the honours 24-12.

In the quarter-finals they faced Fiji, producing and excellent display to win 19-17.  England scored first through a Fisher try which was not converted by Watmore.  Tinai made it 5-5 but was unable to add the extras.  In the second half Fiji took the lead with a try from A M Roqica, but the conversion was missed.  Nagasau made it 15-5 in the 12th minute and this was converted by Tinai.  But England were not to be outdone.  Tries from Richardson and Watmore and two conversions took the score to 19-17 and a semi-final against favourites, Australia.

Australia took the semi-final 31-10.  Two minutes in England were behind through a try from Caslick, which was converted by Dalton.  Brown struck back for England, but Richardson was unable to convert.  Then Tonegato scored for Australia, but Cherry missed the conversion and at half-time it was 5-12 to Australia.  Straight after the break the Aussies scored again, this time through Penitani.   The conversion was missed, but not long after Penitani scored her second try, this time complete with the extra two points from Cherry and the score was 5-24.  England’s fate was sealed when Brennan went in again, although the conversion was missed.  England had the last word with a try from Murphy, converted by Dalton to take the final score to 10-31.

In the Bronze Final England faced Russia.  Russia won 17-14 to take third place.  Zdrokova began the scoring in the second minute with a try, but Kudinova couldn’t convert.   Zdrokova went over for her second just before half-time, again unconverted to take the score to 10-0 to Russia at the break.  In the second-half Brennan scored a try for England which was converted by Richardson.  Then Russia scored again, this time through Mikhaltsova, converted by Kudiniova.  England managed one more try from Fleming, converted by Cattell, but the game was gone.

 

Ireland

Ireland lost their first game 27-5 to New Zealand and their second, 24-14 to France.   They came back with an excellent 17-17 draw against Fiji.

They played USA in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, winning it 28-5.

And they won the final 14-12 against Spain.  Spain took the lead in the final with a try from Garcia which she also converted.  They went 12-0 up in the seventh minute through Casado, but Garcia missed the extras.  The second-half was a different matter as Ireland fought hard to get back into it.  Williams scored a try two minutes in, which was converted by Mulhall.  Then Mulhall went over for Ireland’s second to level it at 12-12 and then she put over the conversion to put them in the lead, and to secure the Challenge Trophy.

Dubai Women’s Sevens Final

New Zealand 17-5 Australia

New Zealand came out on top in the gold medal match in Dubai.

New Zealand took the lead with a try from Woodman after two minutes.  Nathan-Wong missed the conversion.  Just one minute later Cordero-Tufuga went over again, but again it went unconverted.  Australia came back into with a try through Cherry but Sykes missed the conversion.  But New Zealand were not finished and a second from Cordero-Tufuga, this time converted by Nathan-Wong saw New Zealand take the title 17-5.

Round Two of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be in Sydney on 3-4 February 2017.

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s professional career got off to a perfect start on Saturday when she stopped her Polish opponent, Karina Kopinska in the third round.

Her second bout will be against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf on 10 December in Manchester.  Obenauf has only suffered one defeat in ten contests and should provide a much stiffer test for Taylor.

Tennis

Anne Keothavong has been appointed GB Fed Cup captain and senior national women’s coach.

She takes over from Judy Murray as Fed Cup captain.

GB begins its Fed Cup campaign in Estonia in February 2017.

 

In a surprise move, Johanna Konta has split with her coach of two years, Esteban Carill.

2016 has been Konta’s breakthrough year, a year in which she won her first WTA Tour title at Stanford and reached a career-high world ranking of ten.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

The big cricket news this week is undoubtedly the announcement that former England captain, Charlotte Edwards, is to leave Kent.

In a press release issued by Kent CCC Edwards is quoted,

“I would like to thank everyone at Kent County Cricket Club for all their support over the past 18 years. I’m immensely proud to have played for the county and what the team has achieved within that time.

“Kent is very much seen as one of the leading counties within the women’s game due to it consistently producing players to the England Pathway.

“It’s been a really tough decision to leave Kent but ultimately I feel it’s the right decision for me and more importantly the current team. Having won the double in 2016 I feel this is a fitting end to my time as a Kent cricketer.”

Edwards joined Kent in 2000 and with them has won seven County Championships.

Her personal record speaks for itself.  In her Kent career she played 136 matches and scored 6,164 runs at an average of 61.64.  She made 40 half-centuries and 14 centuries.

She also took 124 wickets at an average of 17.51 and claimed 81 catches.

Edwards will, undoubtedly, stay in cricket and it remains to be seen just what her next move will be.

Cycling

Bad news this week from Dame Sarah Storey.  You may remember that it was only in June that I attended the launch of Storey’s all-women Podium Ambition team at Café Ventoux in Leicestershire.

It was expected that the café would be the base for the 2017 season, but after just one season the team has had to disband due to lack of sponsorship funding.  In an interview with The Mixed Zone Storey says,

“We have been unable to secure sufficient cash input to remain a UCI-registered team. We spent the last 12 months searching for a title sponsor to start with us from 2017, but despite many brands being interested, there was nothing concrete in place in time for the deadline to register the team again.

“Barney and I spent 2016 covering the lion’s share of the budget ourselves and without that money in our savings now, we don’t have a back-up. The cost of running even a small UCI team is significant and we weren’t going to continue struggling.”

It is well worth reading the whole article, so here’s the link.

The news is unbelievably disappointing.  At the launch there was a good deal of optimism and good will. Chris Boardman was there with his bikes and the team looked good.  But unfortunately, it’s just another example of the woeful levels of corporate investment in women’s sport.  And the scary thing is that if some of the biggest names in the sport, Dame Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Chris Boardman, can’t attract sponsorship, what chance does any lesser, but aspiring name have? 

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016

In what has been a stellar year for sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is 16-strong.   There are six women on the list:

Nicola Adams (Boxing)

Sophie Christiansen (Equestrian)

Kadeena Cox (Athletics and cycling)

Laura Kenny (Cycling)

Kate Richardson-Walsh (Hockey)

Dame Sarah Storey (Cycling)

The public vote for this award via telephone during the live show on 18 December.

 

In the Young Personality of the Year award the shortlist is 10.  Out of these, eight are women/girls:

Ellie Downie (Gymnastics and winner of the 2015 award)

Sophie Ecclestone (Cricket)

Ellie Robinson (Swimming)

Lauren Rowles (Rowing)

Georgia Stanway (Football)

Jess Stretton (Archery)

Rebekah Tiler (Weight lifting)

Amy Tinkler (Gymnastics)

This award is decided by expert panel.

 

And Finally, Serena Williams has written an open letter in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue.  In it she re-iterates her themes of equality and fairness.

The Guardian has reprinted the letter:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/29/dream-big-open-letter-serena-williams-porter-magazine-incredible-women-of-2016-issue-women-athletes

The first two responses in the comments section are:

“Jason Stoltenberg was a much better tennis player than Serena Williams. Williams would struggle to get a couple of games off him. But Williams has made much more money than Stoltenberg.  What’s her beef?”

‘My dream was to be the best tennis player in the world.’  Well she quite clearly failed in that regard. She wouldn’t even beat the 200th-ranked male tennis player. Why does she continue trotting out this garbage? She should be happy with what she’s achieved.”

Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is the standard in a “quality” newspaper.  Needless to say quite a few responses have been removed by the moderator, and many others are worse than those listed.  Missing the point?  Er, yes, just slightly.  The world should be grateful for women like Serena speaking up, telling her story and making her case.  In the twenty-first century any woman speaking out is still met with hostility, cynicism and scorn.  I’m happy to post the link to this letter and encourage all of you to read it.

 

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 August

netball2Welcome to this week’s sports column.   The Rio Olympics may be over and we are all crying into our beer because of it, but life (and sport) goes on – plus the Paralympics are just around the corner.

So, in addition to my last few Rio highlights, we also have stories from cricket, football, indoor netball (Nets), netball, rugby union and tennis.

As regards Rio highlights, for me it’s the hockey, first and foremost.  I was pacing up and down the room for most of the second half of the final and watching through my fingers for the penalty shoot out.  Maddie Hinch!  What guts, what calm, what a player.

Nicola Adams also is on my list.  Wish she’d stop doing that thing running her hand through her hair, but a great performance from a great champion – and an amazing role model.

I’m going to come back to Simone Biles again and again, because she was so stunning.

Also Jade Jones.  Taekwondo  is a bizarre sport I’m never actually going to understand, but I know that Jade Jones is flipping good at it.  And good on Bianca Walkden for overcoming the disappointment of her semi-final to take a bronze.

From a political point of view there is a case for saying the Olympics should never have been awarded to Rio – the levels of poverty, the money spent on venues that may or may not be redundant in the coming years, and all of the problems leading up to the Games – it’s a wonder they ever took place at all.  But as a spectacle it was excellent – not sure if I’ll ever get over that green pool though……

On to other sports news..

In cricket, the inaugural Kia Super League has come and gone.  By and large it was a success, but far too short.

Finals Day took place on Sunday 21 August at Chelmsford.  As described last week, it was a slightly strange format in that only the top three teams qualified.  The second and third place teams played each other in a “semi-final” for the right to meet the Vipers, who finished top of the league, in the final.

Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning

Lightning 124/7 (20 overs)

Storm 128/5 (19.3 overs)

Storm won by 5 wickets

Lightning never looked to have enough runs on the board as they struggled to post a paltry 124 off their 20 overs.  Ellyse Perry made a sparkling 64 (she was just coming into form as the tournament ended), but there were no other significant batting contributions.  The Storm bowling was tight with Stafanie Taylor the pick of the bowlers taking 3/31 off her four overs.

In the end it was tighter than it should have been as the Storm didn’t chase too hard to reach their target.  Taylor again took the lead with 34, then Heather Knight with 52 and Fran Wilson broke the back of it.  There were a few nervous moments when Lizelle Lee (0) and Knight were out in the space of three balls, but really the result was never in doubt.

 

Southern Vipers v Western Storm

Western Storm 140/5 (20 overs)

Vipers (143/3 18.5 overs)

Vipers won by seven wickets

The final followed a similar format to that of the semi.  The Vipers won the toss and inserted the Storm.  Although they posted 140, there was a general feeling that this would not be enough.  Taylor scored 35 and Rachel Priest 57, but Knight was out for only six, and this was, in the end, the key wicket.    Fran Wilson chipped in again with an unbeaten 16.  Arran Brindle, looking rejuvenated in this tournament, took 2/15 off her four and Suzie Bates 2/37.

The Vipers never seemed phase by their chase.  Bates and Charlotte Edwards put on an opening partnership of 78 with Georgia Adams, Sara McGlashan and Lydia Greenway all contributing as they won with seven balls to spare.

In the end the title went to the best, most consistent team.  They were favourites before the competition started and never looked like being bested.

 

In other cricket news, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has voted to increase the daily allowance of the Indian women’s team to be in line with the men’s.  They will now receive $125 per day on international tours and $100 during a home series.

 

In tennis, Laura Robson is through to the third and last round of qualifying for the US Open.  World number 247, Robson, beat Su Jeong Jang of Korea 6-3 6-2 in round one and world number 142 Isabella Shinikova of Bulgaria in round two 6-4 6-4.  She will now face Tatjana Maria from Germany for a place in the first round.

Tara Moore lost in second qualifying match to Germany’s Antonia Lottner 1-6 6-3 6-2, after beating Tereza Mrdeza 6-4 6-1 in the first.

No such travails for Johanna Konta who is seeded 13 in the US Open main draw, her highest seeding to date.  Top seed is Serena Williams.

The last grand slam of the year starts on Monday 29 August.

 

I don’t mind admitting that I am a complete newcomer to the world of indoor netball, otherwise known as “Nets”.  Many of you will know I have been writing a four-part history of netball for the WiSP Sports and as I was researching the final part – netball in the 21st century, I came across the phenomenon that is Nets.

And, as it happens the Nets World Cup is taking place in New Zealand as we speak!    There is so much going on and so many categories that I haven’t got time or space to go into detail.   So can I suggest you check out the World Indoor Netball Association’s (WINA) Facebook page for all the details: https://www.facebook.com/worldindoornetballassociation/. (It’s safe to say that Australia and New Zealand will win everything).

 

The first ever (traditional) Netball Quad series begins at the end of the month and will be televised on Sky Sports.

The four teams involved are England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and it will be held in Australia and New Zealand.

Four of the games will be shown on Sky’s new channel, Sky Sports Mix.  Part of Mix’s remit is to show more women’s sport, so watch this space to see if they come through with this promise.

Saturday 27 August

0400-0600: Live – Australia v South Africa (Sky Sports 3)

0600-0800: Live – England v New Zealand (Sky Sports 3)

 Wednesday 31 August

0800-1030: Live – South Africa v New Zealand (Sky Sports Mix)

1100-1300: Live – England v Australia (Sky Sports Mix)

 Sunday 4 September

0430-0630: Live – England v South Africa (Sky Sports Mix)

0630-0830: Live – New Zealand v Australia (Sky Sports Mix)

 

England Women U20 39-12 Canada Women U20

In the second of this three-match series in Nottingham, England ran in seven tries to emerge victorious again and give them an unassailable lead in the series.

They were 22-5 up at the break through a hat-trick of tries from Abi Dow and a fourth from Sally Stott.  Zoe Harrison kicked one conversion.

Kasselle Menin scored Canada’s only points of the half.

In the second half Poppy Leitch went over again for England and Dow scored her fourth.  Sarah Bern scored England’s seventh try with Lagilagi Tuima kicking a conversion to seal a convincing win.

Jordyn Orlando scored a consolation try for Canada.

 

In football, US goalkeeper, Hope Solo has been suspended from international football for six months as a result of her outburst after the States’ defeat to Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Olympic football tournament.

She called the Swedes a “bunch of cowards” and that the better side did not win on the day.  US Soccer President, Sunil Gulati called the comments “unacceptable”.

In reality Solo will only miss two games against Thailand and Netherlands in September, although it is possible more matches will be scheduled.  She will be eligible for selection again in February 2017.

 

And finally, Ryan Lochte’s punishment for “exaggerating” the mugging incident in Rio is apparently to be chosen to be on Dancing with the Stars (the US version of strictly Come Dancing).  This is a somewhat different punishment from the six months ban handed out to Hope Solo.  Some have made this a sexist issue, but actually I feel it may be the respective governing bodies that may be at the heart of it.

USA Swimming released a statement:

“The last five days have been difficult for our USA Swimming and United States Olympic families. While we are thankful our athletes are safe, we do not condone the lapse in judgement and conduct that led us to this point. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals.

“That this is drawing attention away from Team USA’s incredible accomplishments in the water and by other athletes across the Olympic Games is upsetting. The athletes and their remarkable stories should be the focus.

“We’re extremely thankful of the support and efforts from the USOC, Department of State and U.S. Consulate General throughout this process. USA Swimming will undergo a thorough review of the incident and determine any further actions, per our Code of Conduct.”

So they’re certainly not in any hurry to dole out sanction, unlike US Soccer, who were very quick off the mark.  Mind you, Hope Solo has form…..

So although I’m usually the first to shout “Sexist foul!”, on this occasion I may just think twice.

No column for the next couple of weeks as I am away, but will hopefully be back on 16 September.

 

Women’s Sports Column 13-19 August

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column. I’d like to thank you all for your responses to last week’s edition – very kind.  After the thousands of words last week, this one will be a bit shorter!

This week I have another “highs and lows” of the Olympics, plus stories from cricket, rugby union and sailing from Abby Ehler.

Highs

Hockey. Seven from seven as we speak with the gold medal match against Netherlands to come. So, guaranteed silver. But, as you watch them you think they really wouldn’t be satisfied with silver. And you can’t blame them. The semi-final against New Zealand was a stunning performance; New Zealand simply hadn’t got any reply.

The GB team battled, defending incredibly well, but also taking the attack to the black sticks until their opponents crumbled and they realised they were beaten long before the final hooter.

And what strength!  And determination? First Crista Cullen was hit in the mouth, followed shortly afterwards by a head injury to Georgie Twigg.   But after disappearing for treatment they were back into the fray, no messing, no histrionics.

Helen Richardson-Walsh took the penalty stroke that sealed that victory but immediately limped off with a hamstring injury.

Team GB will have to work their socks off and take all their chances to beat a Dutch team going for their third gold in a row. By the time you read this it may be all over, but whatever happens it will be the best performance by a British Olympic women’s hockey team and we can all appreciate that.

Laura Trott. Need I say more? This week Laura became Britain’s most decorated female Olympian as she claimed gold in the omnium to add to the team sprint gold she won with Jo Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald last week. This took her medal total to four, all gold.

But it was in the omnium that she showed her complete domination of the field. She finished second in the first event, the scratch race and then won the individual pursuit and elimination race to end the first day’s races with an eight –point lead over Belgian Jolien D’Hoore, with American Sarah Hammer in third.

On the second day she was second in the time trial and then won the flying lap. By the time she was into the points race she had a lead of 24 points.

Her opponents were unable to close the gap at all and she ended on 230 points, with Sarah Hammer in second on 206.

She’s an inspiration and a role model and if this doesn’t encourage thousands of youngsters to get on their bikes, then I don’t know what will.

Sophie Hitchon won bronze in the hammer. This is the first time a British woman has won a medal of any colour in this event. She also took the British record with her final throw to move from fifth to third with a distance of 74.54m.

Simone Biles (again). Please overlook, if you can, all of those headlines screaming “she is human” when she took a mere bronze in the beam when she wobbled and put her hands on the apparatus. Actually, Sanne Wevers’ gold medal routine was, in fact, stunning and the win well deserved. Of course she’s human! But Biles recovered and came back to claim her fourth gold medal on the floor. An amazing athlete with the potential to do it all again in four years.

Lows

There have been plenty of instances of sexist commentary and derogatory remarks about female athletes this week. They have been well-documented elsewhere. But here are a couple of my “favourites”.

Inverdale v Murray

Everyone’s number one choice must be John Inverdale. There is a theory out there that people are out to get him, but if he didn’t keep making these gaffes they wouldn’t have any fuel for the fire, would they?

Anyway, he starred this week in an interview with gold medal winning Andy Murray. When he said to Murray,

“You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?”

Murray returned with,

“Well, to defend the singles title … I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each but hadn’t defended a singles title before.”

It appears that Inverdale had completely forgotten the Williams sisters!

Some have rushed to his defence, claiming that he was talking about singles, but it’s not that clear. After all, Inverdale has form – remember Marion Bartoli?

Nothando Vilakazi, defender in the South African women’s football team, came in for some disgusting trolling on social media just because she appeared to put her hands over her crotch when she was standing in a defensive wall. This led to such gems as:

“That ain’t no woman!”

“That’s 100% a bloke!

“The look when you forgot to pretend you don’t have balls”

“That’s a boy not a girl – how did they get away with that?”

(all responses from men, by the way).

Vilakazi played for South Africa at London 2012 and plays domestically for Palace Super Falcons. Don’t know about you, but I’m sick of this kind of comment.

Cricket

Away from the Olympics, the Kia Super League finalists have been decided. The remaining results were as follows:

Friday 12 August

Haslegrave

Loughborough Lightning 168/6 (20 Overs)

Surrey Stars 134 all out (19.5 overs)

Lightning won by 34 runs

Taunton

Southern Vipers 137/3 (20 overs)

Western Storm 140/2 (17.5 overs)

Storm won by 8 wickets

Old Trafford

Yorkshire Diamonds 166/6 (20 overs)

Lancashire Thunder 71 all out (15 overs)

Diamonds won by 95 runs

Sunday 14 August

Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Southern Vipers 156/4 (20 overs)

Loughborough Lightning 97 all out (18.5 overs)

Vipers won by 59 runs

Headingley

Yorkshire Diamonds 118 (20 overs)

Western Storm 119/4 (16.3 overs)

Storm won by 6 wickets

The final table looked like this:

Team Played Won Lost tied points
Vipers 5 4 1 0 11
Storm 5 4 1 0 9
Lightning 5 3 2 0 8
Stars 5 2 3 0 5
Diamonds 5 1 4 0 3
Thunder 5 1 4 0 2

Clear favourites must be the Vipers, as they were before the tournament started. But who can say – it will be very much up to who performs on the day.

It has been an excellent first tournament and hopefully it will go from strength to strength next year, particularly when the 50 over competition is introduced.

Finals day is on Sunday 21 August at Chelmsford. It is different from the format of the T20 Blast in that has only three contenders. In the semi-final Lightning will play Storm and the winner of this goes on to play the Vipers who finished top of the group.

BBC Test Match Special is covering finals day on 5Live Sports Extra. The programme begins at 10.45am with the semi-final starting at 11am.

 

In other cricket news, there was a big announcement from New Zealand Cricket this week. It will be offering 15 retainer contracts to its squad (rising from 10) and pay will range between $20,000 and $34,000. The current rate is $10,000 – $12,000. Match fees will be $400 for an ODI and $300 for T20s.

They have signed a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association to this effect.

NZC Chief Executive, David White, said,

“Better remunerating our best women’s players fits in well with NZC’s strategic priority of making cricket a game for all New Zealanders, and our commitment towards inclusivity and diversity. Internationally, women’s cricket is going from strength to strength and this new MoU recognises that evolution.”

The first contracts to be allotted will be announced on 19 August. New Zealand face South Africa away in October, then play a series at home against Pakistan. They then play Australia home and away.

 

Rugby Union

The England Under-20s rugby team are playing a series against Canada in Nottingham over the next couple of weeks.

The first game took place on Thursday 18.

England 46 – 8 Canada

The England U20 scored eight tries in the first of this three-match series in Nottingham.

England scorers:

Jess Breach (3), Kelly Smith, Lottie Holland, Millie Wood, Sarah Bern and Chantelle Miell. Zoe Harrison kicked two conversions and Langi Tuima, one.

Canada scorers:

Taejah Thompson one penalty, Zana Everett one try.  

Understandably, England U20 Head Coach Jo Yapp was happy as she told the England Rugby website,

“We are really pleased with the performance, the girls worked really hard to put into practice what we have been working on in this summer camp.

“It was great to see new players such as Lagi, Hollie and Ellie winning their first U20 caps. We now focus on the next game as we know Canada is a strong side and we are expecting them to regroup and come hard at us on Monday.”

England Women U20 v Canada Women U20 games at Nottingham Trent College remaining games:

Monday 22 August, KO 5.30pm Friday 26 August, KO 5.30pm

 

Sailing by Abby Ehler

The Magenta Project took part in a number of activities during last week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, including having the privilege of awarding the Ladies Day Trophy to British Paralympian Helen Stodel.  The trophy recognises the outstanding contribution, commitment, or achievement of women in sailing.  Hannah is a British Paralympic sailor who has represented GB three times in the summer Paralympics and, in September 2016, will compete once again with her team mates John Robertson and Steve Thomas representing GB at the Paralympics, having campaigned tirelessly for selection winning the Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne along the way.  Hannah is a wonderful ambassador for both women in sailing and disabled sailing.  When she’s not Sonar sailing she also lends her skills as a coach and tactician to The Sirens, a privately funded female yacht racing team dedicated to building a presence on the club circuit as a competitively focused all female team.

Another highlight of the week was taking girls from the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation out on the M32 high performance catamaran.  The girls selected, all aged 16-18 years were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb on board with world-class and ocean racing sailors: Abby Ehler, Annie Lush, Sam Davies and Cecile Laguette for a 3 hour sail during the Slingsby Gin Ladies Day at the famous Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight.

Annie Lush said on return to shore: “It was such an amazing opportunity for us to sail with these wonderful girls and see them rise to the challenge of handling the super-fast M32. They are an inspiration themselves.”

All in all Cowes Week was a huge springboard to promote the goals of the Magenta project and its aims to raise the profile of women in professional sailing and inspiring the younger generation to follow.

This week in Rye, New York, the International Women’s Keelboat Regatta is taking place following a 3 year gap in the event due to lack of sponsorship.

Twenty-four teams from around the world will be invited to compete, with the intention of an even ratio of North American and intercontinental teams. – See more at: http://www.ussailing.org/racing/championships/adult/iwkc/#sthash.NzBn5TFH.dpuf

 

And finally, women in sport have enough trouble justifying their existence without other women chipping in. When Sweden beat USA in the Olympics football quarter-final, USA goalkeeper, Hope Solo, called their opponents a “bunch of cowards”, adding “the best team did not win today.”

It may have been said in the heat of the moment, but Solo is old enough to know better. Some of her team-mates have distanced themselves from the comments and Solo herself has now had second thoughts. Later she tweeted,

“Losing sucks. I’m really bad at it.”

Yes Hope, you are.

Sweden will be hoping their cowardice will take them through one more game when they face Germany in the Olympic final on Friday 19 August.

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 June

sarah TaylorLots to get through again this week, so let’s crack on.  There seem to be a lot of medical stories this week – some good, some bad.   I have snippets from tennis, athletics, gymnastics, hockey, horse racing, swimming, rowing, golf, judo, cricket and football.

The biggest tennis news obviously surrounds Maria Sharapova. She has been banned from tennis for two years after failing a drugs test.

She tested positive for meldonium, a heart disease drug that has been on the banned list since January 2016. It has emerged that she has been taking the medication since 2006.

Sharapova is set to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

 

On the positive side, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won the French Open at Roland Garros on Saturday, beating Serena Williams in straight sets 7-5 6-4.

It was clear that Williams was suffering with an injury throughout the tournament and did not look herself. But an injured Serena is often as dangerous as a fit Serena and Muguruza must have been aware of that.

Williams was aiming to win her fourth French Open title, Muguruza her first. Williams was beaten by the better player on the day and was quick to dispel the idea that her opponent had won largely because of the injury;

“It was OK,” she said. “I’m not one to ever make excuses and say, like, ‘Oh, my adductor was hurting,’ or whatever.

“At the end of the day I didn’t play the game I needed to play to win and she did. Adductor or not, she played to win.

“She won the first set by one point. I mean, that just goes to show you that you really have to play the big points well, and she played the big points really well.”

 

This week has seen the start of the run-up to Wimbledon with the traditional warm-up tournaments being played. Britain’s top women have been in action at Nottingham, but have not fared too well.

Laura Robson went out in the first round, losing 6-3 7-5 to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal. Heather Watson took the first set in her first round game against Magdalena Rybarikova, but eventually lost 4-6 6-0 6-4.

Naomi Broady fared no better, 6-2 6-1 to Su-Wei Hsieh.

This left British number one, Johanna Konta, and qualifier Tara Moore as the only Britons left in the competition.

Johanna Konta made it to the second round, beating Victoria Duval from the USA 6-3 6-0 in the first, before succumbing to Zheng Saisai, ranked 44 places below her, 6-4 7-5. Konta had to call a medical time out for what she called a “niggle” in her pelvis, but expects to compete fully in the run-up to Wimbledon.

Tara Moore, however, continues to fly the flag for Britain. She has, very impressively, reached the quarter-finals. In the first round she beat Donna Vekic of Croatia, 6-2 7-5 and conquered Christina McHale in the second round 6-2 6-2.

 

In athletics, long jumper Shara Proctor finished third at the Oslo Diamond League meeting this week with a season’s best 6.67m.

Anyika Onuora was fourth in the 400m and Tiffany Porter also fourth in the 100m hurdles.

 

Great Britain’s gymnasts produced an excellent performance to win silver at the European Gymnastics Championships in Bern, Switzerland, over the weekend. Becky Downie, Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Gabby Jupp and Ruby Harrold finished with a score of 170.312, second behind Russia.

 

New Zealand’s Black Sticks caused somewhat of an upset this week as they beat Australia in Darwin to win gold at the International Hockey Open.

They had been beaten by the Hockeyroos at the round robin stage, but had their revenge in the final, taking it 2-0. Goals from Kelsey Smith and Olivia Merry in the first half were enough to take te title.

This is great preparation for the side which flies to London next week to take parting the Champions Trophy in London from 19-27 June.

 

Jockey Michelle Payne was released from hospital this week after suffering a serious fall in May. She had surgery on her pancreas and has been told to rest for at least another month. There has been some speculations that her career may be at an end, but Payne is yet to make a decision on that front.

“I’m going to be guided by my doctors and how I feel in myself,” she said.

 

Commonwealth Games bronze medal winning swimmer Erraid Davies may not get a chance to compete at the Paralympics in Rio later on this year.

She was told in April that her disability may not be serious enough for her to compete. Davies has Perthes disease which affects her hip bones and joints.

She now faces a medical panel in Berlin to assess her eligibility. However, because of the classification issue she missed the British Para-swimming trials in Glasgow which is the only competition for swimmers to achieve the qualifying standard.

So not only does she not know if she can compete due to the re-classification of her condition, if she is passed able to compete, she may not be able to qualify in time. There seems something wrong there to me.

 

It looks as if rower Katherine Grainger’s quest to compete for a fifth Olympic medal is in doubt.   She did not meet the time required to qualify for the women’s eight and was not on the list of 43 announced by Team GB on Thursday.

She can still be selected for the double scull with Vicky Thornley and, if the comments of British Rowing’s performance director, Sir David Tanner, are anything to go by, Grainger will still feature;

“It’s my confident intention very soon to be announcing those two back in their double and racing for Team GB at the Rio Games.

“There is no uncertainty. The only issue is that we weren’t ready to get the announcement in in time for today. It’s quite straightforward,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

 

The Women’s PGA Championship is underway at the Sahalee Country Club in Washington.

After the first round, Canada’s Brooke Henderson is leading on -4 with Christina Kim of USA and Kim In-Kyung of Korea tied on -2 in second.   Henderson’s first round score included a hole-in-one at the par-three 13th.

Some of Britain’s best players are also in action; Melissa Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff are both five shots off the lead, with Charley Hull a further shot behind on +2. Catriona Matthew, however is in danger of missing the cut as she stands on +5.

There was good news from Bangkok, Thailand this week as British judoka, Steph Inglis, woke from her coma. Inglis was hospitalised in Vietnam after falling off a motorbike when her skirt got trapped in the wheel when she was on her way to her teaching job in Ha Long. She was initially given just a 1% chance of survival, but has now been transferred to Bangkok to continue her recovery.

She apparently had one eye open when her parents arrived to visit on Tuesday. Her mother asked her blink and she did and then reached for her father’s hand.

She obviously has a long way to go, but at least her family and friends have some encouragement at this point.

 

More details have emerged this week as to the cause of England cricket star Sarah Taylor’s reasons for taking a break from cricket. She has revealed that for the past four years she has been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s really worth watching the BBC interview with Joe Wilson in full. In it Taylor speaks sensibly and frankly about her condition,

“My health is the most important thing and unfortunately my cricket has to come second,” she says.

Taylor is likely to miss the England series with Pakistan as well as the inaugural Kia Super League, which starts at the end of July.

She clearly realises that her recovery will take a while, but it is good to hear that she is confident of her return,

“I would like to say I’m 99% sure I will play cricket again.”

She also emphasises how grateful she has been for the support she has received from the ECB and, in particular, new England coach, Mark Robinson.

It has been well documented that cricket has always had a number of players who have suffered with mental health problems, and more than its fair share of suicides. Whilst the sport as a whole was slow to recognise this fact, it seems that now the support required is in place and providing a vital service. If you are interested in this subject, or if it affects you, you should also listen to the BBC TMS podcast interview with Graeme Fowler – one of my favourite players growing up, who revealed relatively recently his battle with depression. A moving and informative piece.

 

It’s be a great week for the England Lionesses with two thumping wins against Serbia on Saturday and Tuesday, and the news that they have qualified for the 2017 Euros with two games to spare.

On Saturday, England won 7-0 at Adams Park in High Wycombe. They took the lead early through Alex Greenwood and were 3-0 up by half-time through a Karen Carney penalty and a first goal for England from Rachel Daly.

In the second half England took complete control. Ellen White and Izzy Christiansen scored one each and Karen Carney sealed a hat-trick to make it 7-0. A crowd of 5.503 saw an impressive display, admittedly against a poor Serbia side.

On Tuesday it was the return fixture in Stara Pazova. And for the second time in four days, England put seven past their opponents.

Gemma Davison finally got on the scoresheet with two goals while Jill Scott opened the scoring and Ellen White added a second. Nikita Parris also bagged two goals, with the seventh coming from a Damjanovic own goal which completed another impressive and resounding win.

The week was capped for England when they were informed that through those two performances they had acquired the points they need to qualify for next year’s tournament. They still have to play Estonia at home and Belgium away to decide who finishes top.

Scotland had a mixed week in their quest for qualification. They suffered a terrible 4-0 home defeat to Iceland last Friday, but came back with an excellent win in Belarus 1-0 on Tuesday.

Scotland desperately want to avoid finishing second and going in to the play-offs. They have failed to get into the last two Euro Championships by losing in play-offs.

On Friday they were outplayed by Iceland, with BBC Player of the Year, Kim Little, also missing a penalty.

But on Tuesday it was a different matter. Jo Love scored the only goal in Minsk after 15 minutes and held on for the win to temporarily put themselves back on top of the table.

However, Iceland then beat Macedonia 8-0 to return to pole position and put Scotland under pressure once more.

 

And finally, former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro has settled her constructive dismissal case with Chelsea, but not before she had chance to reveal in court some of what went on at the club on a day-to-day basis. Chelsea had offered her the sum of 1.2 million pounds to settle out of court, but she turned them down.

Over the time between she turned them down and the details emerging of the treatment she suffered at the club, I heard more than one person expressing their disgust at her “greed” for not taking the money. Many of the mainstream newspapers took the same view, although, and somewhat surprisingly, I did see that the Metro front page described it in their headline as “hush money”.

And did Chelsea have something they needed to keep hushed?  They certainly did. They were forced to release a statement in which they said,

“The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused.

“We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.

It added: “Jose Mourinho also thanked Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as first team doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”

Dr Carneiro alleged that Jose Mourinho said that she had no place with the men’s first team,

“She works in academy team or ladies team, not with me.”

She was subjected to a barrage of sexually explicit comments, both from away fans and her own colleagues. And while the former could, unfortunately, be expected, she should not have had to put up with the latter. She claimed that the club took no notice of any of her complaints.

So, basically she was demoted then sacked for doing her job in a situation where she was constantly belittled and objectified. I would like to congratulate Dr Carneiro (called “girl doc” in a Daily Star headline – gosh she must have started her medical degree when she was nine) for having the guts to stand up to the machismo-machine that is the Premier League. Hopefully her example will make it easier for women currently suffering similarly to make their case.