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.


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.


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.


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

Friday 12 August


Loughborough Lightning 168/6 (20 Overs)

Surrey Stars 134 all out (19.5 overs)

Lightning won by 34 runs


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


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 – 26 March – 1 April

kicking offAs you may have noticed, I have been somewhat pre-occupied by a certain cricketing tournament over the last couple of weeks. But now I’m back. I don’t propose to go over what has happened in women’s sport during that time, as you’ll have all caught up with everything via the mainstream press (not), but here’s a glimpse of what has happened this week.

This week’s stories come from cricket (surprise), football, tennis, golf, skating, Commonwealth Games, cycling, netball and the Boat Race.

The Women’s World T20 final will be between holders Australia and surprise finalists West Indies, who beat England and New Zealand respectively, in their semi-finals. You can read all you would like to on the tournament via my website www. https://pennyjhopkins.wordpress.com/ or via http://www.womenssportsuk.com/.

Can’t help thinking it should have been England v New Zealand, but neither played well enough in their semis to justify reaching the final. I’ll leave that there before I start ranting again.


The FAWSL is back! I’ve been so busy with the cricket I’ve hardly had time to notice it, but here it is. Manchester City are the early pace-setters with two wins out of two.

Here’s the current league table:

1 Manchester City Women 2 2 0 0 3 0 3 6
2 Chelsea Ladies 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 3
3 Liverpool Ladies 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 3
4 Arsenal Ladies 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3
5 Sunderland Ladies 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
6 Reading Women 2 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
7 Birmingham City Ladies 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
8 Notts County Ladies 1 0 0 1 0 1 -1 0
9 Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0

In fact there are lots of news stories from football this week – some of them not so good.

There have been claims that Frankfurt fans racially abused Swedish side, Rosengard’s players during their Women’s Champions League quarter-final. Uefa has opened a disciplinary case. The referee had to stop the game to consult with club officials before restarting.

There are also reports that Brazilian star, Marta confronted a fan over the issue. The investigation will report its findings on 5 April.

If found to be true, this is a really disappointing development for women’s football. Many people attend women’s football as a more family-friendly alternative to the aggression inspired by the men’s game. It needs to be stamped out, now.

Another disappointing story (but I’m not comparing them in terms of seriousness) that has appeared this week is that Wales’ women’s team has to wear to men’s shirts!

Surprisingly the Welsh FA didn’t have a comment to put forward on this, but striker Helen Ward said, in an interview with the BBC,

“We’ll wear what we’re given, but it is nice to be wearing a kit that fits and cut the right way,

“It’s really disappointing because a lot of shirts come in women’s sizes.”

Neither are there replica shirts for women who wish to wear a Welsh shirt for the European Championships in the summer. Adidas, suppliers of the Welsh shirts said:

“The shirts on sale are retailed as adult shirts, intended for both male and female fans.”

That’s all right then.


Over the pond, there have been big developments in football (or soccer, as they insist on calling it over there).

At a time when the argument over equal pay for women’s sports has been in the spotlight, five members of the USA’s World Cup winning team have filed a complaint against the US Soccer Federation for wage discrimination.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo have taken the action is desperation at the fact that they earn less than half of what male US players receive, even though they are current World Cup holders. In Hope Solo’s words:

“We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT [men’s team] get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

A point to realise is, unlike in women’s tennis, it is the women’s game that brings in the money, backing and audience in the US. So by that argument alone, are they not worthy of equal pay?

One might say, with tongue very firmly in cheek, that the male players should go down on their knees and thank the women’s game for its support. (Thanks to Raymond Moore, former Indian Wells CEO for this imagery).


Talking of tennis, Johanna Konta has continued her excellent form by reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open, where she was beaten by world number eight, Victoria Azarenka. Konta is the first British woman to reach this stage.

Although she had five break points in the match, she was unable to convert any of them and Azarenka won 6-4 6-2.

Had she beaten Azarenka she would have gone into the world top 20. As it is, she is at an excellent 23.

Heather Watson did not fare so well as she lost in the round of 16 to fifth seed, Simona Halep 6-3 6-4. She had been suffering with a niggling thigh muscle injury which hampered her ability to chase hard.

World number one and defending champion Serena Williams is also out after losing 6-7 6-1 6-2 to fifteenth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.


It’s golf time again! In the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in California, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is just one shot off the lead after the opening round.

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew is one shot off the lead after the opening round of the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major of the year. Ai Miyazato of Japan and Azahara Munoz of Spain are five under, one ahead of Matthew, Shiho Oyama and Lee-Anne Pace. Charlie Hull is three behind the leaders, carding a 70 for her first round.


The World Figure Skating Championships are currently taking place in Boston, (Mass., not Lincs.). Britain’s top ice dancers, Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland came a career-best and creditable seventh. They finished ninth in 2014.

The winners were the reigning champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron from France with two American pairs, Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates claiming silver and bronze respectively.


Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson has expressed a wish that Wales bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

“We just have to be a bit brave and a bit bold and go for it because the Commonwealth Games is a brilliant event,” said Baroness Grey-Thompson.


Great news for women’s cycling this week as RideLondon announced a total prize fund of £78,000 for its women’s race 0n 30 July. This is exactly the same as that for the men’s RideLondon-Surrey Classic, which takes place a day later.

Double Olympic Champion Laura Trott has been in the forefront of the campaign for equal prize money.

She says women’s cycling is “getting the recognition it deserves”.

With a month to go, Manchester Thunder appear to be closing on the title in the Netball Superleague. They are three points ahead of the second team, Hertfordshire Mavericks.

The latest round of fixtures, on Saturday 26 March yielded the following results:

Hertfordshire Mavericks 64 40 Team Northumbria
Manchester Thunder 69 51 Team Bath
Yorkshire Jets 39 56 Surrey Storm


This year’s Women’s Boat Race took place on Sunday 27 March. Oxford won their fourth in a row as Cambridge nearly sank in the difficult conditions.

Plenty of praise went to the Oxford cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams, who ensured the boat moved across the river to where the conditions were slightly better, but Cambridge should also be given their due for continuing when the easier option would have been to give up and stop.


And finally, I could have written double the amount this week, which shows how much women’s sport there is out there, if only we could find any coverage of it… I would like to recommend to you the book I’m reading at the moment – it’s called “Kicking Off – How Women in Sport are Changing the Game” by Sarah Shepherd. The first chapter is basically what I’ve been writing about for the last five years – the cycle of no audience, no sponsorship, no development, no media coverage…. etc, and will make you want to scream. But there are also some wonderfully positive chapters which recognise just how far we’ve come – interviews with greats like Billie-Jean King, Maggie Alphonsi, Chrissie Wellington and others. Read it.


Women’s Sports Column

cricket25-11 March

Welcome to this week’s column. This week’s stories come from tennis, football, netball, cycling and cricket.

A good week again for British women’s tennis. After reporting on Heather Watson’s progress in the Monterrey Open last week, she only went on to win it! She beat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the final 3-6 6-2 6-3. It is Watson’s third WTA title win.

And the tournaments keep on coming. Watson is in action again this week, this time in Indian Wells. She is through to the second round after beating Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 7-6 4-6 6-1. She takes on 32nd seed Monica Niculescu in round two.

One of the most heartening sights of the week was the return of Laura Robson to the WTA tour. She was beaten in the first round at Indian Wells 7-6 6-2 by Magdalena Rybarikova, but the result didn’t really matter. It was the first time Robson had been in a tournament since the US Open in August 2015.

“I’m 100% better. The last time I felt pain was in January,” said Robson in an interview with the BBC.

Of course, we can’t ignore the other big tennis story of the week. Maria Sharapova announced this week that she had failed a drugs test during the Australian Open in January. She tested positive for the banned substance, meldonium. She had been taking the substance since 2006, apparently for health reasons. Meldonium has only been on the banned substances register since the beginning of this year.

The ITF (International Tennis Federation) has provisionally suspended Sharapova. She could face a 2-year ban.

Not wanting to be controversial, but I just wonder what the reaction would have been had it been Serena Williams who had failed the test….


After reporting Laura Trott’s first gold medal at the World Track Cycling Championships, needless to say she won again before the event was out, this time in the omnium. She was 12 points ahead when it came to the final 100-lap points race. And she never looked in trouble. She dominated from the start and the gold medal was confirmed with 20 laps to go.

France’s Laurie Berthon finished second with American Sarah Hammer in third.


England finished third in the SheBelieves Cup on goals scored after losing against Germany and drawing with France this week.

England were incredibly unlucky against Germany. They led through Toni Duggan header up until the 76th minute when they conceded an own-goal and a penalty to lose the game. Gilly Flaherty put the ball into her own net, which was unlucky enough, but the penalty award was a real shocker. Fara Williams, winning her 150th cap was adjudged to have foul tackled Alexandra Popp, when it was obvious to all except the officials that she took the ball cleanly.

England Head Coach, Mark Sampson, was unhappy about the standard of officiating. This has been a recurrent theme in women’s football recently and will have to be tackled by football’s governing bodies.

Good football was at a premium during the France match, not because the teams weren’t capable, but because the pitch was so dire. France really should have taken the lead in the first half as they had several chances, and England were relieved to go in level at half-time.

To counteract the pitch, both sides resorted to the long ball in the second half, but the deadlock was not to be broken and the game finished 0-0.

The winners of the tournament were USA after they beat Germany 2-1. Germany took the lead through Anja Mittag, but the hosts came back with two goals in six minutes from Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis.

Wales finished the Cyprus Cup without a win. Their last hope was against Hungary on Wednesday, but they lost 2-1 to a goal in the last minute. This was the 5th/6th place play-off. Four games, two draws, two defeats. The tournament winners were Austria. They beat Poland in the final 2-1.

Really sad news from Doncaster Belles this week. Their midfielder Ashleigh Mills has had to retire at the age of 20 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

She posted on Twitter:

“I have tried so hard to get back but my legs just won’t go. Unfortunately this disease cannot be beaten and has taken my dream.”


The latest round of Netball Superleague results were as follows:

Friday 4th March
Celtic Dragons 53 45 Team Northumbria
Team Bath 60 44 Loughborough Lightning

Saturday 5th March

Yorkshire Jets 44 49 Manchester Thunder
Surrey Storm 50 55 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Monday 7th March

Hertfordshire Mavericks 67 45 Celtic Dragons


The World T20 Cup starts on Tuesday in India. I’ll be covering it for WSUK, so expect plenty of match reports, news and comment. I’ll keep posting the links on my blog so you can follow it all. England begin on Thursday against Bangladesh. The media coverage is, surprisingly, a bit hit and miss. Some of it is on Sky, some on TMS. So if you can’t follow it live, I suggest you check in on my blog or on WSUK to keep up with what’s going on.

I have previewed the tournament and the chances of the two groups for WSUK: group A and group B.

And finally, Women in Sport has announced its first patron – England women’s football Head Coach, Mark Sampson. Yes, it’s a man. But he is, in my opinion, a really good choice. He is unstinting in his promotion of women’s sport and has the ear of people who may actually be able to make a difference.

In accepting the position he said,

“Greater equality in sport is a cause men need to get behind as much as women do and I look forward to working more closely with the charity to further its mission.”

Women’s Sports Column

laura trott27 Feb – 4 Mar 2016

It’s been another busy week for women’s sport, but is there any other kind? Well yes if the mainstream media are anything to go by….

Off the soapbox and here we go. This week’s stories come from cycling, cricket, tennis, skiing, netball, rugby union and football.

The stunning Laura Trott claimed gold again this week at the Track Cycling World Championships in London. She won the scratch race beating Kirsten Wild from the Netherlands into second. In an interview with the BBC Trott said,

“When I was in the race I wasn’t feeling that good,” said Trott. “But it worked out perfectly for me. I’m so happy. I let everybody get on with it and raced my own race.”

It seemed she was out of it with five laps to go, but she came to take the sixth World Championship gold of her career.

Becky James claimed keirin bronze in an impressive display – just reward for a rider who has suffered so much injury over the last three years. The winner of the race was Germany’s Kristina Vogel with the Australian Anna Meares in second.

The T20 Cricket World Cup draws ever nearer and the warm-up matches and series are still in full flow. The tournament is wide-open and there have been more shocks this week as the New Zealand Silver Ferns beat the Aussies 2-1 in their T20 series. At the moment it appears anyone can beat anyone! I will be covering the World Cup for http://www.womenssportsuk.com/. This will include previews of the two groups next week and daily reports and match reports from matches involving England and Ireland. It’s going to be good – take it from me!

Better news for British tennis this week as both Johanna Konta and Heather Watson progressed to the quarter finals of the Monterrey Open in Mexico. Konta, who is seed fourth will face one of two Belgians, Kirsten Flipkens or Alison van Uytvanck and Watson will be up again second seed Caroline Wozniacki or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

In skiing, after crashing in Andorra last week, Lindsey Vonn is out for the rest of the season. She was carried off on a stretcher on the day, and it appeared that she had sustained a knee injury, but a scan later revealed she has three fractures to her tibial plateau (around the shinbone).

Lots of netball news again this week. On the international front, it has been announced that England will take part in a new tournament in August. It will be held in New Zealand and Australia and is to be called the International Netball Super Series (everything’s “Super” these days isn’t it?).

The first event of the series will be in Auckland. The teams will be the Aussie Diamonds, NZ Ferns, SA Proteas and England Roses.

The Fixtures:

27 August, Auckland: New Zealand v England and Australia v South Africa
31 August, Hamilton: New Zealand v South Africa
31 August, Adelaide: Australia v England
4 September, Melbourne: Australia v New Zealand and England v South Africa

In the Superleague this week the results were as follows:

Saturday 27/2
Celtic Dragons 45 65 Team Bath
Loughborough Lightning 55 54 Surrey Storm
Hertfordshire Mavericks 48 57 Manchester Thunder

Monday 29th February

Team Bath 42 56 Hertfordshire Mavericks
Manchester Thunder 49 55 Surrey Storm
Yorkshire Jets 33 55 Celtic Dragons
Team Northumbria 47 46 Loughborough Lightning

This leaves Thunder and Mavericks on top with 15 points. Yorkshire Jets bring up the rear having not won a game yet this season.

The SheBelieves Cup began on March 3 with wins for Germany and USA. England were narrowly beaten 1-0 by the World Champions from a stunning 20-yard strike in the 72nd minute from Crystal Dunn. It was a tight game, though, and England possibly deserved a draw. England’s best chance fell to Toni Duggan, who, instead of crossing to a free player in the box, decided to shoot and her shot was easily saved by Hope Solo in the USA goal.

Germany beat France also 1-0 with an 83rd minute goal from Leonie Maier.

England play Germany next on 6 March. It will be live on the BBC from 10.45pm.

On a domestic note, the Media playback is not supported on this device

Women’s FA Cup fifth-round draw has been announced:

All ties are due to be played on 20 March

Birmingham City v Arsenal

Doncaster Belles v Chelsea

Brighton & Hove Albion v Sporting Club Albion

Reading v Millwall Lionesses

Yeovil Town v Sunderland

Liverpool v Manchester City

Notts County v Durham

Aston Villa v Everton

It was a close round of Six Nations Six Nations games last weekend. England beat Ireland in a tight match at Twickenham on Saturday 13-9. Read my match report at www.womenssportsuk.com. On Sunday, Italy beat Scotland 22-7. This represents a big improvement for Scotland, who have shown great heart during this year’s tournament. And in the third match, Wales claimed a notable scalp beating France 10-8.

And finally, while watching the live stream of the England v Ireland Six Nations game on Saturday, I began to have an interesting Twitter discussion with a couple of fellow women’s sports-lovers. We had all come to the same conclusion; if ITV had the cameras and personnel at Twickenham on Saturday to cover the men’s game, why couldn’t they have broadcast the women’s game as well? It needn’t have been on ITV1, but could have been on ITV4, where they show a lot of their sport. It would have sent a clear message to the rugby-watching public that the women’s game was worth investing in. But no, although it was on 5Live Sports Xtra it was only streamed on the RFU website. Come on, ITV get it sorted, or else we’re going to be stuck in the cycle of no promotion, no investment, no sponsorship, no interest for ever.