Women’s Sports Column 13-19 January 2018

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Back to myself, just about so how about starting with a rant?  Honestly, I don’t know what to say about Phil Neville.  Perfectly amiable chap I would imagine, but the best candidate to manage the Lionesses?  I think not.  Yet again, the FA, in its inestimable wisdom, treats the women’s game with contempt.  Anyway, enough ranting for now – yes, more is promised later.

This week’s stories come from netball, cricket, football, rugby union and winter sports.

Let’s crack on.

Football – off the Pitch

 Lionesses

No doubt as to the biggest story of the week.  I mentioned it last week, in the hope that it was a giant hoax – let’s face it, if April Fools’ Day had been impending we’d have thought it was a none-too-subtle effort on the part of the FA.  But apparently it’s not.  If the mainstream media is to be believed, Phil Neville is about to be revealed as the Lionesses’ new Head Coach.

“I have the opportunity to go to a World Cup and be successful with a group of driven and professional players, and as coach it’s the best job I could ask for.” (my italics)

Is this a slightly disingenuous statement from Neville?  “the best job I could ask for”?  You’re not wrong, sir.  Whether it’s the best job you deserve is another matter.

The rumours are that Casey Stoney is going to be trained up to be his assistant, which has got to be a good move.  But it doesn’t deflect from the main event.

“I’m excited to see how discussions turn out,” says Neville.  I’m not sure “excited” is how I feel right now; more like angry and betrayed.  Not new emotions when I consider the FA.

I am more than ready to be proved wrong.  What I want is what is best for the England women’s team, both now and in the future.  If this is Phil Neville, then so be it.  But in my view it’s a big gamble and at this stage the Lionesses should be pushing on, not going backwards.  Let’s see.

Transfers and other news

    • Bristol City have signed England under-21 forward Millie Farrow from Chelsea. She had previously been on loan at City in 2016, but a knee injury cut the spell short.
    • Brighton & Hove Albion have signed Swedish full-back Amanda Nilden until the end of the season. She is set to make her debut on 28 January against Doncaster Rovers Belles.
    • England left-back Demi Stokes has signed a new three-year contract with Manchester City.
    • Birmingham City goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger is already back in training after her operation to treat thyroid cancer. Amazing, considering she was only diagnosed in November.

Football – on the pitch
14 January – WSL1

Birmingham City Ladies 2-0 Bristol City Women
Mannion (54) pen
Wellings (61)

14 January – Continental Cup semi-finals
Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City

An eighteenth minute goal from Danish international Nadia Nadim was enough to see the league champions through to the final.  There were plenty of chances for Chelsea to equalise, but they couldn’t take one.  Nikita Parris had a couple of chances to double the away side’s lead, but in the end one goal sealed the tie.

Reading Women 2-3 Arsenal

Manchester City will face Arsenal in the final as the Gunners left it late to defeat Reading at Wycombe.  The away side took the lead through Beth Mead in just the fifth minute.  But two minutes later Reading were level as Brooke Chaplen hit a fierce shot to beat Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.  The sides went in level at half-time.  As the game opened up in the second-half there were plenty of chances, but the third goal did not come until the 70th minute when Lauren Bruton hit home from the edge of the area.  But Arsenal were not done.  Seven minutes later Viviana Meidema drew the Gunners level and on 82 Jordan Nobbs won it for Arsenal.

Rugby Union

 Last weekend’s Tyrell’s 15 Premiership scores were as follows:

13 January
Wasps Ladies 31-10 DMP Sharks
Saracens Women 105-0 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins Ladies 17-10 Loughborough Lightning
Bristol Ladies 57-7 Firwood Waterloo

14 January
Richmond Women 15-37 Gloucester-Hartpury Women

So that’s eight from eight for Saracens, and in some style against beleaguered Worcester.  They lead the table by five points on 59, with Harlequins second on 54.  Third are Wasps, but way back on 43.  Worcester are bottom with just two points.  Second from bottom are Firwood Waterloo on 7 with Richmond just above them on 14.

This weekend’s fixtures:

20 January
Worcester Valkyries v Richmond Women (2pm, Sixways Stadium)
DMP Sharks v Harlequins Ladies (2pm, Darlington RFC)
Wasps Ladies v Saracens Women (2.30pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Gloucester-Hartpury Women v Bristol Ladies (2.30pm, venue tbc)
Firwood Waterloo Ladies v Loughborough Lightning (4.45pm, Firwood Waterloo RFC)

Netball
World Cup

The launch event for the Netball World Cup 2019 took place this week in the host city, Liverpool. The event featured an exhibition game in the Great Hall of St George’s Hall and countries from across the netball-playing world were represented.

The “branding” of the tournament, the flag under which it is being played (a better term, I think) is “This is Netball” and comprises four ‘pillars’; *Elite Sport*, *Empowering Women and Girls*, *One Incredible Destination* and *Welcoming the World*.

It’s going to be a fantastic event and I would encourage as many of you as possible to make the effort to attend.  You can keep up to date with the build-up to next year’s event via the World Cup 2019 website: https://www.nwc2019.co.uk/

This weekend sees all of the home nations in action as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland take on each other at the European qualifying tournament for the World Cup in Perth, Scotland.  Two teams will qualify.

Coverage of the qualifiers is on the BBC website:

Friday, 19 January
19:30-21:00: Wales v Scotland, Connected TVs & online

Saturday, 20 January
15:00-16:30: Northern Ireland v Wales, Connected TVs & online

Sunday, 21 January
12:00-13:30: Scotland v Northern Ireland, Connected TVs & online

England, who have already qualified will be taking on New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in the Quad Series.  It will be played over six test matches at the Copper Box in London and in Johannesburg.  Please be aware that if you haven’t already booked your tickets, several of the games are already sold out.  Check the venue for details.

Full coverage on Sky Sports plus one random game on the BBC – Eng v NZ 17:45-20:00, coverage on the BBC Red Button, Connected TVs & online

20 January (Copper Box)
South Africa v Australia
England v New Zealand

22 January (Copper Box)
England v Australia

25 January (Johannesburg)
South Africa v New Zealand

28 January (Johannesburg)
Australia v New Zealand
South Africa v England

Tennis – off the court

Shenzhen has been awarded a 10-year contract to host the WTA Finals.  It beat off competition from Manchester, Prague, St Petersburg and Singapore.

 Tennis – on the court

Not much to shout about for British women’s tennis this week. Naomi Broady fell in the last round of qualifying for the Australian Open.  She was beaten by Bibiane Weijers of the Netherlands 7-6 6-2.

So, just two through to the first round proper.  Heather Watson bit the dust in quick time, losing to Yulia Putintseva 7-5 7-6, while British number one, Jo Konta, lasted into the second, suffering a shock defeat to world number 123 Bernarda Pera of USA, 6-4 7-5.

As you know, I’ve stopped reading the comments on the BBC sports pages when it comes to women’s sport.  I had to make a conscious effort to stay away from these – Konta usually receives a ridiculous and shameful amount of vitriolic comment even when she’s winning.  I’m glad I did.  There’s no escaping the bad results for both of the British players, but they are both human and no-one should suggest they weren’t trying their best.  They’re both talented individuals who had off-days.  End of story.

They weren’t the only ones.  Casualties in the first round included Aussie favourite Sam Stosur, 25th seed Peng Shuai, Americans Jennifer Brady, Coco Vandeweghe, Alison Riske and Venus Williams, 24th seed Dominika Cibulkova and 31st seed Ekaterina Makarova.

The second round saw the surprise exit of third seed Garbine Muguruza, beaten 7-6 6-4 by world number 88 Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan.

There are still some big names progressing, though, so looking forward to updating you all next week.

Winter Sports – ice hockey

Intriguing news before the start of the Olympics as it was revealed this week that North Korea and South Korea are to field a combined women’s ice hockey team in Pyeongchang.

In a spirit of détente the team will combine and the two countries will also march under the same flag.

But the move has not gone down well in Seoul.  The move essentially means that half of the South Korean team will have to be left out to make way for those from the North.

“I think there is damage to our players,” Sarah Murray, the coach of the South Korean team, said.

“It’s hard because the players have earned their spots, and they think they deserve to go to the Olympics. Then you have people being added later. It definitely affects our players.”

There have been online petitions and protests against the idea, but it seems the politics will win out.

Cricket – WBBL

13 January
Perth Scorchers 87/9 (16 overs)
Adelaide Strikers 88/4 (15.5 overs)
Strikers won by 6 wickets

Heather Graham top-scored with 19 as the Scorchers were nearly bowled out for an obviously under-par score.  Tahlia McGrath took 3/17 from her three overs, with all the other bowlers contributing.

In response, Suzie Bates led the way with 49 not out.  Tammy Beaumont was out for a duck, lbw to Katherine Brunt, but the Strikers took their time and claimed the win with one ball to spare.

Sydney Sixers 113 all out (20 overs)
Sydney Thunder 114/6 (19 overs)
Thunder won by four wickets

After Alyssa Healy went cheaply, Ellyse Perry took on the scoring, making 25 from 25 balls.  Samantha Bates took 3/21 off four overs and the Sixers lost wickets regularly as they posted a middling score of 113.

Thunder lost Rachel Priest and Alex Blackwell without scoring, but Rachael Haynes with 17, Harmanpreet Kaur with 27 and Naomi Stalenberg with 48 took them to the brink of victory.  It was down to Stafanie Taylor (9 not out) and Rene Farrell (5 not out) to see it home.

Brisbane Heat 93/8 (20 overs)
Melbourne Stars 94/4 (17.2 overs)
Stars won by six wickets

Another low scoring match saw the Heat muster just 93.  Jess Jonassen top-scored with 46.  Erin Osborne was pick of the bowlers, taking 4/20 off four overs.

The Stars chased it down with over two overs to spare.  They lost Lizelle Lee early on but Katie Mack’s 20 and Mignon du Preez with 36 not out broke the back of the total, with du Preez hitting the winning runs with a boundary.

14 January
Hobart Hurricanes 100 all out (18.5 overs)
Melbourne Renegades 102/0
Renegades won by 10 wickets

Hurricanes started well with opening stand of 62 between Hayley Matthews and Stefanie Daffara.  But once they were gone there was little contribution from the others and they were all out in 18.5 overs.  There were three wickets for Maitlan Brown in 3.5 overs with two each for Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite.

It was not enough though.  A fine batting display from openers Sophie Molineux (53 not out) and Emma Inglis (42 not out) saw the Renegades home by 10 wickets.

Adelaide Strikers 107/7 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers 76 all out
Strikers won by 31 runs

A second poor batting performance in a row saw the Scorchers slump to a 31 run loss at Alice Springs.  Tahlia McGrath scored 34 off 28 balls as the Strikers posted a low-ish score of 107.

But the Scorchers had another off-day in the batting.  Nicole Bolton scored 30 but no-one else made much of a contribution.  The wickets were shared pretty evenly – Suzie Bates was player of the match with her 2/6 off three overs and 27 with the bat.

15 January
Hobart Hurricanes 120/9 (20 overs)
Melbourne Renegades 116/6 (20 overs)
Hurricanes won by 4 runs

A solid start saw the first four wickets put on 97.  After that things tailed off but 120 was always going to be competitive.

Amy Satterthwaite scored 65 for the Renegades, but they fell just short in the chase.

18 January
Sydney Sixers 160/5 (20 overs)
Brisbane Heat 151 all out (20 overs)
Sixers won by 9 runs

Alyssa Healy scored a fine 70 off 43 balls opening for the Sixers.  Ellyse Perry chipped in with 25 and Dane van Niekerk 44 not out as the Sixers posted a competitive score.

The Heat started well in response with Beth Mooney and Kirby Short putting on a first wicket partnership of 94.  Deandra Dottin scored 18, but then things fall apart for the Heat and they could not reach the Sixers’ total.  Sarah Aley took 3/31 from four overs and Dane van Niekerk 2/28 off her four.

19 January
Sydney Sixers 144/7 (20 overs)
Brisbane Heat 126/4 (20 overs)
Sixers won by 18 runs

Two wins in two days for the Sixers.  Healy went for duck this time, but 54 not out from Erin Burns was the standout batting performance as the Sixers scored a good 144.  Delissa Kimmince took 3/23 off four.

The Heat fell short of their chase.  Beth Mooney went for a duck.  Everyone else contributed well with Jess Jonassen finishing on 55 not out, but they just could not overtake the Sixers’ total.

It’s all Sydney at the top of the table.  Sixers head it with 14 points from 11 games.  Thunder are second on the same points from just nine games but on an inferior net run rate.  The Strikers are third, again on 14, this time from 10 matches and again with an inferior net run rate.    The Hurricanes prop up the table with just two points from 10 games.  Second to bottom are the Stars with six points from 10.

And finally,

I’m sure you all follow Jacqui Oatley on social media, and if you do you’ll probably know what I’m going to say.  But if you don’t I would encourage you to seek out just what has been happening this week as regards the Sheffield Star newspaper and a man named Ken.  Google it – sexist bites off more than he can chew when taking on women’s sports reporters (God bless ‘em).

 

Women’s Sports Column 1-7 April 2017

soccer ballWelcome to this week’s column.  So much going on this week!  News, controversy and results in so many different sports.  Who knew women were doing so much? (Who, indeed….)

So, on we go with stories from tennis, golf, football, cricket, netball, boxing, ice hockey, weightlifting, badminton and the Boat Race.  Plus an “And finally” that is a great news story of footballing women shouting about the need to be more visible.  Plus an “And, and finally” which is not so great.

Tennis

Miami Open

Jo Konta won the Miami Open on Saturday, beating Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets 6-4 6-3 to take the biggest title of her career so far.

She now climbs to seven in the world rankings.

The win has seemingly come at a cost, though.  Konta has now withdrawn from the Charleston tournament, which opens the clay court season, through injury and illness.  The injury is in her shoulder, but the illness has not been specified beyond “sickness”.

Monterrey Open

Naomi Broady progressed to the second round in Monterrey before she was beaten by fifth seed Timea Babos 6-3 6-2.  She had beaten world number 54 Catherine Bellis 7-6 6-4 in the first round.

Heather Watson is through to the quarter final where she will face top seed Angelique Kerber.  She beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1 to get there, after beating Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic 62 6-7 6-4 in the first round.

Football

Republic of Ireland

The biggest news of the week, eclipsing Mark Sampson’s squad announcement, has been the Republic of Ireland women’s team’s threat to strike after revealing their horrendous treatment by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

After listing their grievances the players met with the FAI and after long and hard talks agreement was reached.

Equal pay is often an issue in sport (and life generally), but for the Irish players their issue was any pay at all.  Sixty per cent of the Irish squad are not professional players and they were often out of pocket financially when away playing or training.  They had to share tracksuits, handing them back at the end of games and often got changed in airport toilets.  If they stayed in hotels they were often of a basic standard with no Wi-Fi.  There was little access to strength and conditioning coaching.

The players have now returned to training before they have a game against Slovakia on Monday.

I know it would have not have been a decision taken lightly if the squad had gone through with its strike.  It has been heartening to see so much coverage of this issue – much of it positive.

England

Opinions have been divided this week as to the wisdom of Mark Sampson naming his Euro 2017 squad nearly four months ahead of the tournament.

There are four tournament debutantes, three from champions Manchester City: Demi Stokes, Isobel Christiansen and Nikita Parris, plus Millie Bright of Chelsea.

There are also three players currently suffering with long-term injuries: Alex Greenwood, Fran Kirby and Jo Potter.

The most surprising absentees are Eni Aluko, Rachel Daly, Gemma Davison and Claire Rafferty.  Obviously with four months to go there are chances to replace injured players should the need arise.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Notts County)

Defenders: Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Jo Potter (Notts County), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jade Moore (Notts County), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Arsenal)

Forwards: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal), Ellen White (Birmingham City)

For me the big omission is Gemma Davison.  When I saw her against Estonia in September she had a stormer.  I think she’s getting better all the time and could very well have peaked to perfection at this tournament.

It has also just been announced that England will play another friendly in the lead-up to the Euros. They will play Switzerland at the Tissot Arena in Biel on 10 June.

Scotland

It has been confirmed that former Arsenal manager, Shelley Kerr, will take over as Scotland Women’s head coach after the 2017 Euros.

Anna Signeul will leave after being in charge since 2005.

Cricket

The ECB announced the allocation of England and overseas players for the 2017 Kia Super League tournament this week.  There will be no Meg Lanning this year and Danielle Hazell will complete a Roses switch from Yorkshire to captain Lancashire Thunder.  Also included in the Thunder squad is Sarah Taylor, which is cheering to see.

The ECB has also (finally) done a deal which will see eight of the Super League games televised.  Unfortunately this will not be free-to-air, but will be on Sky.  In these days when viewers cannot see any cricket on free stations it would have been a real coup if the ECB could have interested any of those channels in the product.

Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross, Danielle Hazell, Sarah Taylor, Jess Jonassen (AUS), Amy Satterthwaite (NZ), Lea Tahuhu (NZ)

Loughborough Lightning: Georgia Elwiss, Amy Jones, Beth Langston, Kristen Beams (AUS), Ellyse Perry (AUS), Elyse Villani (AUS)

Southern Vipers: Tash Farrant, Danielle Wyatt, Suzie Bates (NZ), Hayley Matthews (WI), Dane van Niekerk (SA)

Surrey Stars: Tammy Beaumont, Alex Hartley, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Rene Farrell (AUS), Marizanne Kapp (SA)

Western Storm: Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Rachel Priest (NZ), Stafanie Taylor (WI)

Yorkshire Diamonds: Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn, Lauren Winfield, Sophie Devine (NZ), Sune Luus (SA), Beth Mooney (AUS)

Netball

It’s seven wins from seven for Loughborough Lightning as they beat their latest opponents, Celtic Dragons at the weekend.  This sees them the only unbeaten team, at the top of the table by three points from Surrey Storm.

Round Seven scores:

Friday 31 March

Sirens 51-45 Team Bath

Saturday 1 April

Team Northumbria 61-39 Severn Stars

Surrey Storm 51-58 Wasps Netball

Monday 3 April

Celtic Dragons 45-65 Loughborough Lightning

Manchester Thunder 59-50 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Round eight is this weekend, with no televised match this week.

Weightlifting

Rebekah Tiler took silver in the snatch in the -69kg at the European Championships this week.  This was Tiler’s first competition since UK Sport removed all funding for British Weightlifting and also her first since finishing 10th at Rio.

She missed out on an overall medal, finishing fourth, just 1kg behind the bronze medallist, Anastasiya Mikhalenka of Belarus.  Anastasiia Romanova of Russia took overall gold in the -69kg category, with Mariya Khylan of Ukraine in silver.

Emily Godley finished eighth in the same category – some performance after coming back from a stress fracture of the back, which happened in December.

Sarah Davies also finished fifth in the -63kg category.

Ice Hockey

Britain’s women’s ice hockey team are currently competing in the World Championship Division Two in South Korea.

They lost their first three games in Group A:

Netherlands 5-4 Great Britain

The Netherlands were ahead after just 31 seconds and were soon 3-1 up.  But Britain came back, making it three all with two goals from Katie Marsden and one from captain Leanne Ganney.

But Britain were unable to capitalise on their resurgence.  The Netherlands scored two more and although Britain pulled another one back through Kim Lane, they couldn’t score again to take it into overtime.

South Korea 3-1 Great Britain

It was a busy match for GB goaltender Nicole Jackson, who had to make 35 saves.  But she was unable to shut out tournament hosts South Korea.  Korea scored twice before Britain got one back through Leanne Ganney.

But the game was taken away from Britain when Kim Heewon scored Korea’s third.

North Korea 3-2 Great Britain

(after overtime)

Great Britain lost their third group game in a row when they succumbed to North Korea in a tight game.

Again Britain went 2-0 down before they brought it back to 2-2 with goals from Angela Taylor and Leanne Ganney.

Britain did claim a point from the game, but Jin Ok’s winner in overtime ensured Britain were bottom of the table after three games.

Great Britain 8-2 Slovenia

It was fourth time lucky for Britain as they pulled out all the stops to beat Slovenia on Thursday 6 April.

Katie Henry scored two goals, as did Katie Marsden, with Angela Taylor providing four assists.

The win takes them up to third in the table with one game, against Australia, to go.  They could still win a bronze medal if South Korea beat North Korea and Britain win against Australia on Saturday.

Golf

There was controversy at the ANA Inspiration event this week when American Lexi Thompson, leading in the final round, was given a four-stroke penalty after a television viewer spotted an offence and reported it to officials.

Thompson was two shots ahead after the twelfth, when she was told the penalty would be imposed.  She went on to birdie the final hole to finish on -14 and take it into a play-off with So Yeon Ryu.

She lost the play-off at the first hole.

The offence actually took place during Thompson’s third round, when she replaced a marked ball in the wrong place.

The LPGA said Thompson had

“breached Rule 20-7c (Playing From Wrong Place), and received a two-stroke penalty. She incurred an additional two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for returning an incorrect scorecard in round three.”

This turned her carded 67 into a 71.

Fans were outraged by the decision and several professionals have voiced their disquiet about the seeming trial by television, including Graham McDowell and Tiger Woods.

Former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher told BBC Radio “the LPGA had the power to dismiss that person, they should have completely ignored it.”

Badminton

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour won her second title in two months this week when she won the women’s singles at the Orleans International.  She beat Ying Ying Lee of Malaysia in the final 22-20 21-11.

Meanwhile, after getting to the semi-finals of the India Open two weeks ago, Gabby and Chris Adcock have been beaten in the second round of the Malaysia Open.  The seven seeds lost 21-16 21-15 to the unseeded pair from Thailand, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

Off the court, Badminton England has withdrawn from the World Mixed Team Championships due to be held in May in Gold Coast, Australia.  They have cited government funding cuts as the reason behind the withdrawal.

Badminton England performance director Jon Austin said,

“We are working through an unprecedented financial situation as a consequence of the recent funding decisions,”

“We have had to consider the investments we make very carefully.”

Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race

The University of Cambridge was triumphant in the Boat Race on Sunday – their first win since 2012.

The Light Blues dominated from the off, helped by a mistake by Oxford rower Rebecca Esselstein, who “caught a crab” at the beginning.

Cambridge won by 11 lengths in a time of 18 minutes 33 seconds.

Boxing

Nicola Adams makes her professional debut this weekend when she takes on Argentina’s Virginia Noemi Carcamo in Manchester.  The fight is live on BT Sport and the programme starts at 8.30pm.

And finally,

It’s safe to say that women’s football shirts are taking on a life of their own.  First we had the Swedish football team and their inspirational quotes, now it’s the turn of Glasgow City.

Glasgow City have won 10 Scottish titles in a row, but as my loyal readers will know, unless you look and look hard you won’t find any details of their exploits in the mainstream media.

So Glasgow City are fighting back.  On their new away kit they have a new slogan, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

It’s not an original phrase, but it’s none the less true for that.

Club Manager and founder of Glasgow City, Laura Montgomery, said,

“How do girls grow up thinking they can be anything other than sexualised objects, which is how the media currently portrays women?”

She went on to say,

“Every single youth player that we have absolutely idolizes all our first team players and that’s because they want to be what they can see.”

And surely this cannot be a bad thing.  Let’s hope more media outlets see the light (and the point).

And, and finally,

David Moyes – wrong.

No column next week due to the Easter break, but back the week after with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 24 March – 1 April 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  I’m going to have to be brief about it, due to time pressures, but here goes.  Stories this week come from athletics, football, ice hockey, tennis, netball, curling, rugby union, squash and gymnastics.

Netball

It was round six of the Vitality Netball Superleague last weekend.  Storm and Lightning are still unbeaten at the top of the league on 18 points.  Results were as follows:

Friday 24 March

Team Bath 47-38 Team Northumbria

Wasps Netball 52-58 Manchester Thunder

Saturday 25 March

Surrey Storm 69-47 Celtic Dragons

Hertfordshire Mavericks 57-66 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 27 March

Severn Stars 54-45 Sirens

This weekend sees round seven with Sky’s televised match on Monday 3 April being Thunder v Mavericks.  The action starts at 7.30pm.

Tennis

Miami Open

Jo Konta has become the first British woman to get to the final of the Miami Open.

She beat Venus Williams 6-4 7-5 in the semi-final and will now play Caroline Wozniacki in the final on Saturday.

Wozniacki beat Karolina Pliskova 5-7 6-1 6-1.

If Konta takes the title she will rise to seven in the world rankings.

Rugby Union

Bristol finished unbeaten and at the top of the table in the Women’s Premiership.  The final round of matches finished as follows:

25 March 2017

Lichfield Ladies 48-0 Richmond Women

26 March 2017

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 44-17 Worcester Valkyries

DMP Sharks 5-21 Saracens Women

Bristol Ladies 48-7 Wasps Ladies

The unfortunate Lichfield played a marvellous final Premiership game and ended up second in the table, just one point behind Bristol.

Pos Team P W L PD BP Pts
1 Bristol Ladies 14 12 2 338 12 60
2 Lichfield Ladies 14 12 2 251 11 59
3 Aylesford Bulls Ladies 14 10 4 222 9 49
4 Saracens Women 14 9 5 158 10 46
5 Worcester Valkyries 14 6 8 -22 7 31
6 Richmond Women 14 3 11 -274 5 17
7 Wasps Ladies 14 2 12 -375 5 13
8 DMP Sharks 14 2 12 -298 4 12

The play offs will be on 9 April:

12pm Portway Rugby Development Centre

Bristol v Saracens

1pm Cleve RFC

Lichfield v Aylesford Bulls

The Grand Final will be on 23 April at 12pm.

Curling

Team Muirhead were at it again this week as Scotland took bronze at the World Women’s Curling Championships.

They beat Sweden 6-4 to take the medal, while the gold went to Canada as they defeated Russia 8-3 in the final.

Gymnastics

It was the British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool last week.

Ellie Downie just gets better and better, taking vault, bars and all-round gold medals.

Phoebe Turner won gold on the beam.

There was a surprise result in the floor when the title went to 15-year old newcomer Maisie Methuen, beating Claudia Fragapane into silver.

Football

Women’s Champions League quarter finals

Manchester City Women 1-0 Fortuna Hjorring

City win 2-0 on aggregate.

It was a tight affair at the Academy Stadium and became clear early on that it was unlikely to be a goalfest.  In the end City made one of their few chances pay when Lucy Bronze headed home from a Mel Lawler corner just before half-time.  US star Carli Lloyd has a great chance earlier in the half after speeding through the Danish defence, but she hit it wide.  In the second half she was quieter but had a header cleared five minutes from the end.

In the other games:

Lyon 0-1 Wolfsburg

(Lyon win 2-1 on aggregate)

Paris Saint Germain 4-0 Bayern Munich

(PSG win 4-1 on aggregate)

Barcelona 2-0 Rosengård

(Barcelona win 3-0 on aggregate)

City play cup holders Lyon in the semi-final.

FA Cup quarter finals

Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland

Sunderland took the lead through a Lucy Staniforth penalty, but after that it was all Chelsea.  Two goals from Ramona Bachmann and two from Hannah Blundell plus one from Drew Spence saw Chelsea into the semis.

Liverpool 2-0 Notts County

The home side were two up before half-time, with County unable to respond.  Caroline Weir scored in the third minute with Natasha Harding hitting a second before the break.

The Lady Pies were unable to break down the Liverpool defence in the second half.

Birmingham City 1-0 Arsenal

The holders went out to a single goal from Marisa Ewers.  After a goalless first-half the winning strike came in the 77th minute after Arsenal had missed several chances.

Birmingham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger had a stormer, saving from Kim Little, Danielle Carer and Danielle van de Donk in the first-half and Katie McCabe and Jordan Nobbs in the second.

 Bristol City 1-2 Manchester City

Bristol took the lead as Hayley Ladd headed an unfortunate own goal, but by half-time Manchester were level through Claire Emslie.

Nikita Parris hit the winner just before full-time, when it seemed likely the tie was heading into extra time.

FA Cup Semi-final draw

Manchester City v Liverpool

Birmingham City v Chelsea

Both ties should take place on Monday 17 April.

Athletics

Jo Pavey has been awarded a bronze medal from the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, after the original second-place finisher, Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegasse was stripped of her title for a doping offence.  American Kara Goucher has been upgraded to silver and Pavey to bronze.

Squash

Laura Massaro won her second British Open title this week when she beat fellow English woman 11-8 11-8 6-11 11-6.

In doing so she became the first English woman for 66 years to win two British Open titles, having first won it in 2013.

Ice Hockey

Three cheers for the US women’s ice hockey team this week.  They were so fed up over the lack of equality with the men’s game that they threatened to boycott their own world championships in protest.

Just two days before the championships were due to begin they called off the protest as it was announced an agreement with USA Hockey had been reached.

The fine details have not been released but are thought to include a new improved pay deal plus better marketing and promotion from the governing body.  There will also be more support for women’s hockey at grassroots level.

Badminton

India Open

Britain’s Chris and Gabby Adcock are through to the quarter-finals of the India Open.  They beat Yang Lee and Hsu Ya Ching of Taiwan 23-21 22-20 to get there.

They face Bodin Isara and Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand in the next round.

But Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are out of the mixed doubles and Smith and Sarah Walker out of the women’s doubles.

And finally,

A quick tribute to Hazel Irvine, who has announced that she will anchor the BBC’s Masters coverage for the last time in April 2017.

Irvine was a real trailblazer for broadcasting women, particularly in sports considered traditionally “male”.  She has fronted the BBC’s golf broadcasts for 25 years.

I’m a big admirer of Hazel’s.  She is understated, intelligent and knowledgeable, but doesn’t ram her knowledge down the viewer’s throat.

Glad to say she will continue to present the snooker and other major events.

And I’m also pleased to say that Eilidh Barbour will take over in the golf hot seat, and will start with the PGA Championship in May.

Women’s Sports Column 29 October – 4 November

gambia-goalkeeper

Welcome to this week’s column.  As usual there are plenty of great stories and good news out there this week, but I start with a crushingly awful story – something I never thought I’d have to write.  And it’s back to the sexist rubbish we all have to put up with for this week’s “And finally” to send you all off in a good mood!

Let’s crack on.  Stories this week from football, rugby, Fast5 netball, ice hockey, golf, cricket, cycling, tennis and speed skating.

Fatim Jawara

This week it was announced that the goalkeeper of the Gambia’s women’s national side died crossing the Mediterranean on a migration boat from Libya.  More than 3,300 migrants have died in this crossing in 2016.

Jawara, who was just 19, made her debut in 2015 in a friendly against a team from Glasgow.

According to UN figures, 60% of the population of the Gambia live in poverty and a third live on $1.25 or less a day.

While we in Britain campaign for better pay in sport for women, we should perhaps remember that Britain’s women are in clover compared to others throughout the world.  This doesn’t mean we should stop campaigning, but perhaps sometimes we should take a wider view.  Mind you, perhaps those male footballers who “live” on hundreds of thousands of pounds a week should also think about it too.

Football

We now know that it’s Yeovil and Bristol Academy who will be promoted to FAWSL1 next season.

London Bees 2-0 Yeovil Ladies

The Lady Glovers secured promotion at the London Bees at the weekend with a 2-0 win.  They still have the chance to win the title, but at the moment have to be satisfied with the fact they will be playing in WSL1 next season.

After a goalless first half, Yeovil took the lead in the 56th minute through Kayleigh Green.  They doubled their lead ten minutes from the end with a goal from Nadia Lawrence.

All teams have just one game to go and it is between Yeovil and Bristol Academy for the title.  At the moment the Somerset side are top on goal difference.

WSL1

Arsenal Ladies 2-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

It was also a goalless first half at Boreham Wood, although Arsenal were always in control.  The deadlock was finally broken in the 65th minute when Jodie Taylor finished from close range.  She got her second eight minutes later to seal the win for the home side.

Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies

WSL1 champions, Manchester City drew in their last match to ensure they went through the season unbeaten.

Birmingham took the lead in the sixth minute through an Aoife Mannion penalty after Andrine Hegerberg was brought down in the box by Lucy Bronze.

It took Manchester City until the 54th minute to equalise when Demi Stokes hit the top corner.

Chelsea Ladies 3-2 Reading Women

Chelsea have ensured they will finish as runners-up in WSL1, securing their Champions’ League place in the process.

Eni Aluko scored Chelsea’s first and Ana Borges doubled the lead before Lauren Bruton pulled one back from the penalty spot.

Aluko scored a second from close range to take the Blues 3-1 up.  Melissa Fletcher got Reading’s second in second-half stoppage time, but it was merely a consolation.

Off the pitch

FiFA has announced the shortlist for Women’s Player of the Year.  No British representation, but an impressive line-up.

Camile Abily (FRA)

Melanie Behringer (GER)

Sara Däbritz (GER)

Amandine Henry (FRA)

Saki Kumagai (JPN)

Carli Lloyd (USA)

Dzsenifer Marozsán (GER)

Marta (BRA)

Lotta Schelin (SWE)

Christine Sinclair (CAN)

Rugby Union

It was round seven of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol won yet again, but it was another thumping defeat for Wasps.

29/10/16

Worcester Valkyries 12-34 Lichfield Ladies

DMP Sharks 20-28 Richmond Women

30/10/16

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 59-0 Wasps Ladies

Bristol Ladies 27-5 Saracens Women

For more details of these games please see my report for Women’s Sports UK.

Netball

The Fast5 World Series was won by New Zealand last weekend as they beat Australia 41-16 in the Grand Final at the Hisense Arena in Melbourne.  The hosts were unbeaten after the league stage, but New Zealand were too strong for the Aussies in the final to take the trophy for the sixth time.

The league table finished:

PL W D L PTS
Australia 5 5 0 0 10
New Zealand 5 4 0 1 8
England 5 2 1 2 5
Malawi 5 2 0 3 4
Jamaica 5 1 0 4 2
South Africa 5 0 1 4 1

 England will be happy with their performance.  They beat Malawi 43-22 and Jamaica 32-19 in the group games.  They only lost by a point to New Zealand, but they lost their second game against Malawi, the play-off, 32-35.

Ice Hockey

Great Britain’s women have never qualified for the Winter Olympics.  Now they are just three stages away from qualification for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

They are currently playing in a qualifying series in Kazakhstan in a round-robin tournament against the home side, Mexico and Poland.

In the first match they came from two goals down to win 3-2.

Kimberley Lane pulled the first goal back midway through the third period.  Saffron Allen levelled the game with just 81 seconds left on the clock and Angela Taylor scored again with a minute to go to clinch the win.

GB couldn’t reproduce this form in the second game as they went down to Poland 3-4.

Schedule:

Thursday, 3 November

Great Britain 3-2 Mexico

Kazakhstan 1-4 Poland

Friday, 4 November

Great Britain 3-4 Poland

Kazakhstan v Mexico

Sunday, 6 November

Mexico v Poland

Kazakhstan v Great Britain

Cycling

On the track

This weekend the Track World Cup takes place in Glasgow.

Katie Archibald will be looking to continue the good form she showed at the European Track Championships in Paris last month.

Archibald will race alongside Emily Kay, Danni Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson in the endurance events, but there will be no female sprinters competing.

Off the track

Big news from British Cycling this week as they announced that its ex-technical director, Shane Sutton, was indeed guilty of using sexist language towards Jess Varnish.

Varnish alleged that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby” as he was not going to select her for the world class programme.

The British Cycling Board found that Sutton “used inappropriate and discriminatory language”.

It’s a case that has split British cycling.  Victoria Pendleton backed Varnish in her claims while Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins expressed scepticism at the alleged comments.

Sutton has suggested that he will appeal the decision.

“I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made,”

he said.

Golf

After two rounds of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi the leaderboard stands as follows:

-13 O Kristinsdottir (Ice); -10 G Hall (Eng), G Nocera (Fr), B Allen (US), H Clyburn (Eng)

Georgia Hall is currently lying in joint second largely due to her second round course record of 64.  It was a round that contained eight birdies.

Speed Skating

The speed-skating World Cup begins in Calgary on 4 November.

Top British speed-skater Elise Christie will be hoping that she has a better experience than she had at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 when she was disqualified three times.

Last season she won races at the World Cup and in Europe.

She took some time out of training this week to speak to the BBC about her preparation for Calgary. She has been trying out new ideas including racing against men to improve her overtaking skills in the face of greater power.

The GB women’s squad comprises Elise Christie, Charlotte Gilmartin, Kathryn Thomson, Jennifer Pickering, Samantha Morrison and Hannah Morrison.Top of Form

Tennis

Dominika Cibulkova has taken the end of season WTA Finals title in Singapore.

She beat world number one Angelique Kerber in the final 6-3 6-4.

She had lost to Kerber at the round-robin stage – in fact she only won one game from three, but she secured her place in the final with a three set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Saturday.

Meanwhile in Zhuhai, China the top 12 players who didn’t qualify for Singapore are playing in the WTA Elite Trophy.

The players are divided into four pools of three with the woman finishing top of each group going through to the semi-finals.

Britain’s Johanna Konta confirmed her semi-final place this morning after beating Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-2 in her final round-robin match.

She will play Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina on Saturday while the other semi-final will be between Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and home favourite Zhang Shuai.

All games are shown live on BT Sport.

Cricket

England pace bowlers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt have signed up for the WBBL.  They will both play for Perth Scorchers.

Former England captain Charlotte Edwards has already signed for the Adelaide Strikers, while current England captain Heather Knight will play a second time for Hobart Hurricanes.

The tournament begins in December and will, according to its website, be covered by BT Sport.

England Performance Pathway

This week the ECB announced the restructuring of the women’s performance pathway.  Over 120 players will be involved at some level and the system will now comprise four elements:

  • England Women’s Squad – run by England Women’s Head Coach, Mark Robinson and Assistant Coach, Alastair Maiden, New central contracts will be announced by the end of 2016.
  • England Women’s Senior Academy – John Stanworth will take up the new role of Head Coach of the England Women’s Senior Academy. 19 players have been selected from 13 counties for the Senior Academy programme, which will be based at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough.
  • England Women’s Academy – Loughborough Lightning coach Salliann Briggs will lead the Academy programme for emerging talent, which is also based at Loughborough. Centre. 17 players from 10 counties have been selected for the Academy.
  • Regional Development Centres – six Regional Development Centres will be directly aligned to the Kia Super League structure, providing a local base for young players to gain experience.

And finally,

Harvard University, that esteemed seat of learning, has had to suspend its men’s soccer team after it was found that its members had been making copious notes about their female counterparts, not about their footballing talent, but a ratings system based on their attractiveness and what sexual positions they thought the players would prefer.

The men’s team, currently lying top of the Ivy League, will now forfeit the rest of its games for the season.

It seems that this ratings document was not a one-off but a tradition stretching back to 2012.

In the University newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, the female players made a statement saying they were

“appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.

“More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives.”

And so say all of us.

However, the men’s coach Pieter Lehrer did not seem to condemn his players but rather concentrated on the fact that his team would now miss out on a possible title.  He said that the team was,

“beyond disappointed that our season has ended in this way, but we respect the decision made by our administration”.

Hardly a damning indictment of their reprehensible conduct……