Welcome to this week’s column. Plenty of news and results again this week. Stories from rugby, netball, tennis, cycling, golf, football, bobsleigh, and the BBC’s “100 Women” is back and this time has a sports angle – see “And finally” for details.
Here we go.
Unfortunately there’s only one place to start again this week. I’d already written my piece about the Lionesses’ World Cup qualifier when the news about Mark Sampson broke. As those who follow this column know, I have tried to be scrupulously fair in covering the situation with nothing proven and the investigation seemingly ongoing. But this week, and let’s face it, it was coming, Sampson was sacked by the FA when “safeguarding issues” came to light from his time at Bristol Academy.
I’m still not going to go into the finer points here, and I know I’m not unique in saying this, but the FA have to take a long hard look at their systems. What on earth have they been playing at throughout this whole thing – basically did they really think if they shoved it all in a corner it would all go away? It was irresponsible at best and downright dangerous at worst.
And although it’s not my place, I can’t help feeling let down by Sampson. We all invested time, words and faith in him. As I said last week, I really resent the fact that all the column inches that should be devoted to the actual football, with the start of the new international campaign and the new WSL season, have been turned elsewhere.
I’ll say no more at this time except that women’s football deserves better, but sadly it’s no surprise that this is currently what it gets.
The first round of Premiership 15s was played last weekend. The results were as follows:
Saturday 16 October
Loughborough Lightning 46-12 Worcester Valkyries
Firwood Waterloo Ladies 13-22 Saracens
Wasps Ladies 32-38 Harlequins Ladies
DMP Sharks 3-32 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
Bristol Ladies 24-31 Richmond Women
This weekend’s fixtures are:
Saturday 23 September
Worcester Valkyries v Bristol Ladies – 2pm
Harlequins Ladies v Firwood Waterloo Ladies – 3pm
Gloucester-Hartpury Women v Wasps Ladies – 4.30pm
Richmond Women v DMP Sharks – 5pm
Sunday 24 September
Loughborough Lightning v Harlequins Ladies – 12pm
England Women under 18s sevens won the Rugby Europe U18 Championship in Vichy France, at the weekend.
After an impeccable group stage beating Wales 27-10, Russia 26-10 and 32-7, they went on to beat the Netherlands in the quarter-final 31-5, scoring five tries in the first half.
In the semi-final they met hosts France and won 17-0. They crossed the try line three times with their opponents unable to score.
They faced Wales in the final, who had beaten tournament favourites Ireland 15-12 in their quarter-final and Portugal in the semis 28-5.
They won the game 31-0, scoring five tries in the process.
The British Fast5 All-Stars event takes place this weekend at the O2 Arena in London.
“Across a five-hour session the eight teams will play in a double elimination format; two wins and the team will advance straight through to the semi finals, two losses will result in being knocked out of the tournament with teams winning one and losing one of their opening matches playing a deciding match for a place in the last four.”
Hope you’re following that. The teams taking part are Surrey Storm, Hertfordshire Mavericks, Manchester Thunder, Loughborough Lightning, Severn Stars, Wasps Netball, Team Bath and Team Northumbria.
There are big prizes up for grabs:
£25,000 for the winner
£20,000 runner up
£12,500 losing semi-finalists
If you win one game you get £10,000 and there’s even £5,000 for no wins!
So it’s well worth fighting for.
It all starts at 5pm and should be fast (as the name implies), furious and exciting. If you’re in the area go along – there are tickets still available. Check out the website for details: http://www.fast5allstars.com/
Goalden Globe Awards
Loughborough Lightning swept the board at the Goalden Globe Awards this week.
Goal shooter Peace Proscovia won Vitality Player of the Season and also Players’ Player of the Season.
Vicki Oyesola was named Young Player of the Season and outgoing Lightning coach Karen Atkinson won Coach of the Season.
The Vitality Netball Super League All Star VII was named as:
GK – Nicole Aiken-Pinnock (Sirens)
GD – Layla Guscoth (Team Bath)
WD – Beth Cobden (Loughborough Lightning)
C – Bongiwe Msomi (Wasps)
WA – Liana Leota (Manchester Thunder)
GA – Kathryn Turner (Manchester Thunder)
GS – Peace Proscovia (Loughborough Lightning)
The evening ended with a Special Recognition Award, which went to Sheelagh Redpath. Redpath has been involved in netball for over 40 years, making a significant contribution to developing the umpiring and officiating of the game. She was one of the original twelve women inducted into the England Hall of Fame in 2001.
Other Netball News
In other netball news, Hertfordshire Mavericks have re-signed England international Sasha Corbin. This will be her third spell at the club and she will captain the side during the 2018 Super League season.
Last season Corbin played for Northern Mystics in the New Zealand Premiership.
Also this week, Loughborough Lightning announced that their new Director of Netball will be Anna Carter. She had previously been the under-21 coach. Emily Perry is the new Pathway Head Coach and will work with assistant coaches Olivia Murphy and Maggie Birkinshaw.
World Cup Qualifiers
England 6-0 Russia
Prenton Park, Merseyside
In truth it was all too easy for England as they began their World Cup qualifying campaign. Although Russia had Ksenia Tsybutovich sent off in the first half, the gulf between the two sides was already apparent and the extra player probably wouldn’t have made that much difference.
A crowd of over seven thousand saw Nikita Parris start the scoring on 11 minutes, latching on to an accurate back-heel from Fran Kirby to slip the ball home. There was a somewhat heartening/uncomfortable (choose your adjective) celebration as Parris beckoned over the team and flung her arms around beleaguered coach Mark Sampson in an obvious show of support.
The Lionesses doubled their lead on 14 through Jodie Taylor.
On the half-hour Tsybutovich was given a second yellow card for handball in the area. Fran Kirby missed the resultant penalty, scuffing it badly and presenting an easy save for the Russian ‘keeper.
But six minutes later England were three-up when it was Kirby again who provided a pinpoint pass for Jordan Nobbs to score.
The home side were four ahead before half-time with the best goal of the lot, from Lucy Bronze, who made it look painfully easy to volley into the top right corner from outside the box.
In the second-half, unsurprisingly England took their foot off the gas, but to give them their due, Russia also regrouped and fought hard.
Toni Duggan got a brace to make it six. The first was the result of some fine close passing in the box. Russia will be disappointed with the sixth, though, which came from a miss-kick from a defender. Duggan pounced to lash the ball home for her second.
It was an all-round excellent performance from England. The Russian goalkeeper was also excellent, and prevented the Lionesses from scoring more. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan and Wales, the other teams in Group 1, will not be looking forward to playing England.
Northern Ireland 0-2 Republic of Ireland
The Republic took the lead in first-half stoppage time when Northern Ireland’s Rachel Furness headed in past her own goalkeeper and into the net.
Megan Campbell scored in the second to seal the win.
Kazakhstan 0-1 Wales
Jess Fishlock scored the only goal of the game to take the points for Wales. Fishlock starred throughout with two efforts I the first half.
Other international news
It was also announced this week that the Lionesses will play a friendly against France in Valenciennes on 20 October.
England defender Laura Bassett has joined Australian W-League side Canberra United. Bassett had been without a club since Notts County Ladies folded in April. She took time away to decide what to do, and was clearly affected by what went on at County. She obviously wanted to try something completely new and she is looking forward to the move:
“It’s out of my comfort zone and something I’ve never done before and it will be a real challenge for me to go overseas.”
The Evian Championship
After high winds and heavy rain the first round was cancelled and the tournament played over 54 holes.
Moriya Jutanugarn was leading after two rounds, but on the final round Anna Nordqvist carded a five-under par 66 to force a play-off for the title with Brittany Altomare.
Nordqvist took it on the first extra hole, with the weather deteriorating yet again into pouring rain and hail.
- Anna Nordqvist -9, 2. Brittany Altomare -9, 3, (tied) Lydia Ko, Katherine Kirk, Moriya Jutanugarn -8.
Catriona Matthew will be the European Solheim Cup captain at Gleneagles in 2019. The event will be held from 13-15 September.
In her time playing Solheim Cup she has won 18 matches and 22 points.
The UCI Road World Championships are going on in Bergen this week.
Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial
Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten took the title just 12 seconds ahead of compatriot Anna van der Breggen. Australian Katrin Garfoot claimed the bronze.
Van der Breggen had taken an early lead and stayed there until the third intermediate check. But on the descent van Vleuten gained 16 seconds on the leader.
The riders kept up the same pace to the end with van Vleuten winning the 21.1km race in 28:50.35 at an average speed of 43.8 km/h.
Hannah Barnes was top Briton, finishing in ninth. Elinor Barker finished in eighteenth.
Women’s Junior Individual Time Trial
Elena Pirrone took gold in the junior event, over a 16.1km course. She finished six seconds ahead of Alessia Vigilia, also of Italy. Madeleine Fassnacht of Austria came in third.
Britain’s Pfeiffer Georgi finished in seventh and Lauren Dolan, having crashed and sustained a serious leg injury at the half way stage, carried on to finish twenty-seventh. She will be unable to compete in the Junior Women’s Road Race and has been replaced by Lauren Murphy.
Women’s Team Time Trial
Similarly it was two teams from the Netherlands battling it out for the Team title. Team Sunweb (Rivera, Kirchmann, van Dijk, Brand, Mackaij, Stultiens) were the victors, with Boels Dolman (Canuel, van der Breggen, Blaak, Guarnier, Majerus, Pieters) finishing in silver.
Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling Team (Lepisto, Klein, Ludwig, Moolman-Pasio, Koppenburg, Gaumnitz) took bronze.
The Women’s Elite Road Race takes place on Saturday 23 September. Full television coverage on the BBC.
The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) announced this week that they are to withdraw funding for the women’s team. The announcement comes just five months before the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Apparently they were told there was no more money to fund them because of “an overspend”.
It will, however, continue to fund three men’s teams.
The BBSA issued a statement in which it said,
“The GB Bobsleigh programme is currently focusing resources on winning medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
“We are actively seeking commercial funding to further support our world class programme and we will continue to do so.”
The women’s team has already met the Olympic standard, but this is obviously not enough for the BBSA, which is basically saying that the women’s team have no chance of winning a medal, and therefore disappear off their list of priorities when money is tight.
The team is now hoping to raise £30,000 in order to fund themselves.
The BBSA is no stranger to controversy. It has received £10m of public funding in the four year cycle running up to Pyeongchang, but during the summer UK Sport cut its grant by £50,000 after athletes had complained about the “toxic atmosphere” surrounding the sport, including allegations of bullying, racism and sexism.
Bobsleigh driver Mica McNeill has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money. You can contribute here: https://www.gofundme.com/teammcneill
Heather Watson’s poor series of tournaments continued this week with a first round defeat in Seoul. She lost to Spanish world number 92 Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-3 0-6 6-1.
The top three seeds are all safely through to the second round; Jelena Ostapenko (1), Kiki Bertens (2) and Kristyna Pliskova (3).
Meanwhile, in Tokyo Johanna Konta was knocked out of the Pan Pacific Open by Barbora Strycova 7-5 7-6. Strycova will now face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-final.
The BBC’s “100 Women” challenge is back. And one of the categories is sexism in sport. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-41044889. Check it out and get involved in the conversation.