Women’s Sports Column 4-10 May 2019

golf

Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through yet again this week.  So here we go.  Stories and news this week come from football, tennis, netball, squash, cricket, golf, rugby league, motorsport and cycling.

Let’s crack on.

 

Motorsport – the W Series

History was made last weekend as the women-only W Series began in Hockenheim.

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick won the first race with compatriot Alice Powell in second with Marta Garcia of Spain in third.  Chadwick had been on form all weekend; she was fastest in both rounds of qualifying and took pole by two seconds.

Races to come:

Round 2 – Belgium
Zolder, 17-19 May

Round 3 – Italy
Misano 7-9 June

Round 4 – Germany
Norisring, 5-7 July

Round 5 – Netherlands
Assen, 19-21 July

Round 6 – UK
Brands Hatch, 10-11 August

Tennis – on the Court

Prague Open

Jil Teichmann defeated Karolina Muchova in the final of the Prague Open.  It went to a deciding set and the final score was 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Rabat Open

Meanwhile in Rabat, Jo Konta missed out on a first title of 2019, losing in the final to Maria Sakkari of Greece 2-6 6-4 6-1.  Konta was a set and a break up, but Sakkari came back and in the end was too strong for Konta in the final set.

Madrid

This week the tennis world moves to Madrid.  Sam Stosur went out in the qualifiers.  Caroline Wozniacki retired during her first round match.  Fourteenth seed, Anett Kontaveit, went out Aliaksandra Sasnovich in three sets after taking the first set 6-0.  Thirteenth seed Madison Keys was also defeated in the round of 64, losing to Sorana Cirstea 3-6 6-4 6-1.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  Number one seed and world number one Naomi Osaka crashed out at the quarter-final stage, losing out to Belinda Bencic in three sets 3-6 6-2 7-5.

Bencic faces third seed Simona Halep, while in the other semi, Sloane Stephens (8) plays Kiki Bertens (7).  More news on how it all panned out next week.

Tennis – off the Court

Britain’s number two, Katie Boulter, has withdrawn from the French Open.  She will miss the rest of the clay court season with a back injury.

Football – World Cup

Phil Neville has named his squad for the World Cup which begins on 7 June.

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Man City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Man Utd), Steph Houghton (captain, Man City), Abbie McManus (Man City), Demi Stokes (Man City) Leah Williamson (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Jade Moore (Reading), Jill Scott (Man City), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Keira Walsh (Man City)

Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona) Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Man City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Birmingham City)

No sign of the Scotland squad announcement as yet.

FA Cup Final

Manchester City 3-0 West Ham United

In the end West Ham were well beaten, but they gave Manchester City a few scares along the way, fighting with every breath until the final whistle.

The first-half was tight with the underdogs matching City in every department.

But the pace and pressure told in the second-half as West Ham tired and Manchester City took advantage.

Keira Walsh hit City’s first from outside the penalty area on 52 minutes.  Georgia Stanway doubled the lead on 81 and Lauren Hemp hit the third two minutes from time.

With their win, City completed the domestic cup double, having won the Continental Cup final against Arsenal on penalties in February.

West Ham can certainly take great heart from their performance.  They competed well for the majority of the match and they have come a long way from those uncertain days when then manager Julian Dicks had to plead for every scrap of kit, every resource and any recognition at all.

One disappointment was that the crowd, although a good one at 43,264, was nearly two thousand down on that at last season’s final.  Not quite sure what went on there – I had heard 52k being bandied about in the days leading up to the match.

Nikita Parris

One player Manchester City will not have next season it seems is Nikita Parris.  She is out of contract at the end of the season, and the word is she is looking to follow England stars such as Lucy Bronze and Izzy Christiansen in a move abroad.  Both Lyon and Bayern Munich are thought to be interested in signing her.

FAWSL

Just one result to report and what a score!

Yeovil Town 0-8 Chelsea
England 4’ 27’ 47’, Cuthbert 16’ 51’, Engman 28’, Kirby 84’ 87’

Chelsea are now up to third in the table.  Bristol City have played their 20 games, everyone else has one game left to play, which takes place this Saturday, 11 May at 12.30pm.

FAWC

The final round of Championship matches also take place on Saturday, 11 May and start at 5.30pm.

Netball

After the eighteenth and final round of the regular season we now know the final four teams contesting the semi-finals this Saturday, 11 May.

Final round results:
Loughborough Lightning 67-56 Celtic Dragons
Saracens Mavericks 50-45 Strathclyde Sirens
Team Bath 72-50 London Pulse
Severn Stars 45-60 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 55-60 Manchester Thunder

Wasps finished six points ahead of the field with 45 points from 18 games.  Manchester Thunder, Team Bath and Loughborough Lightning all finished with 39 in second, third and fourth respectively on points difference.

As I said, the semi-finals are this Saturday and both are live on Sky Sports

Wasps Netball v Loughborough Lightning (5pm, Warwick University Sport & Wellness Hub)
Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (7pm, Wright Robinson College)

The third-place play-off and grand final are on Saturday 18 May, at the Copper Box.  Both Games live on Sky Sports from 3pm.

I know it’s a bit redundant to say this to you knowledgeable sports-lovers out there, but don’t forget this is not the end of the netball for this year.  The World Cup is coming!  It all begins in Liverpool on Friday 12 July.

Cycling

Tour de Yorkshire

Marianne Vos ended the two-stage Tour de Yorkshire as overall victor as she won the second stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.

Lorena Wibes, also of the Netherlands, had won the first stage.  Christine Majerus of Luxembourg was second, with Alison Jackson (Can), Roxane Fournier (Fra) and Lisa Brennauer (Ger) third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Vos led a three-rider break with Mavi Garcia and Soraya Paladin during the second stage.  She eventually outsprinted them to take the stage and the overall title.

Second stage result: 1. Marianne Vos (Ned) 3hrs 59mins 16secs, 2. Mavi Garcia (Spa) Same time, 3. Soraya Paladin (Ita), 4. Christine Majerus (Lux), 5. Amanda Spratt (Aus).

This led to a final classification of:

  1. Marianne Vos (Ned) 7hrs 34mins 27secs
  2. Mavi Garcia (Spa) +7secs
  3. Soraya Paladin (Ita) +9secs
  4. Christine Majerus (Lux) +1min 28secs
  5. Amanda Spratt (Aus) +1min 35sec

Of the British riders, the top three finishers were Hannah Barnes in eighth, Elizabeth Banks ninth, and Georgi Pfeiffer eighteenth.  Lizzie Deignan, in her first competition since giving birth in September, finished twenty-ninth.

Rugby League

Coral Challenge Cup

It was the first round of the Challenge Cup at the weekend, with the big sides yet to enter the competition.  The results from Sunday were:

Rochdale Hornets 12-56 Barrow
Halifax 24-14 Hull KR
Featherstone Lionesses 18-48 Stanningley
Widnes Vikings 16-14 Oulton Raidettes
Keighley Albion 26-22 Hull FC
Army RL 34-12 Huddersfield Giants
RAF Ladies 28-18 Leigh Miners Rangers Ladies

The next round is on Sunday 26 May and we are back to league action this weekend.

Cricket

County Cricket

I hope you all took advantage of the Bank Holiday to get out and see some women’s county cricket.  Last weekend’s divisions one and two were as follows:

Division One
Hampshire 131 all out (6 pts) lost to Yorkshire 190 all out (17 pts)
Kent 233/3 (18 pts) beat Warwickshire 232 all out (5 pts)
Surrey 241/7 (8 pts) lost to Lancashire 242/9 (17 pts)
Sussex 127 all out (6 pts) lost to Nottinghamshire 150 all out (17 pts)

Division Two
Berkshire 296/4 (18 pts) beat Worcestershire 77 all out (2 pts)
Devon 136/7 (17 pts) beat Cricket Wales 132 all out (5 pts)
Somerset 269/6 (18 pts) beat Durham Cricket Board 103 all out (4 pts)

For all fixtures please check out here.

T20 Challenge

Three from four of the matches in Jaipur have been played with the results so far:

Trailblazers 140/5 (20 overs)
Supernovas 138/6 (20 overs)
Trailblazers won by two runs

Trailblazers lost Suzie Bates for just one but Smriti Mandhana showed her class to put on 90 from just 67 balls, ably supported by Harleen Deol, who scored 36 from 44.  Deol fell in the nineteenth over and Trailblazers suffered a mini-collapse, suffering the loss of three wickets in the last over.

Radha Yadav took 2/26 from her four overs.

Supernovas started equally poorly with Priya Punia falling for one in the second over.  Chamari Atapatthu and Jemima Rodrigues steadied the ship and the lower order all contributed except Nat Sciver who was out for just one.   Sophie Devine scored 32 from 22 balls.

Supernovas needed 19 from the last over and Harmanpreet Kaur was not going down without a fight.  She hit the first four balls, off Jhulan Goswami no less, for four.  They needed three from the last ball but Tahuhu was run out attempting a bye and Trailblazers had won by two runs.  Sophie Ecclestone contributed with a fine 2/11 from her four overs.

Trailblazers 112/6 (20 overs)
Velocity 113/7 (18/20 overs)
Velocity won by three wickets with 12 balls remaining

Although Bates this time got a start, it was Mandhana who failed on this occasion, falling for 10 in the third over.  Deol batted well again, top-scoring with 43, but there was little contribution from anyone else in the lower order and Trailblazers subsided to just 112 off their 20 overs.

Ekta Bisht and Amelia Kerr took two wickets each.

In response, Velocity lost Hayley Matthews early, for just five.  Shafali Verma (34) and Dani Wyatt (46) took it on before, I’d love to say it, the curse of Nelson struck and they lost no less than 5 wickets on 111.  Somehow they managed to sneak over the line though with two overs to spare.  Deepti Sharma took 4/14 off her four overs, including three in the eighteenth.

Supernovas 142/3 (20 overs)
Velocity 130/3 (20 overs)
Supernovas won by 12 runs

Rodrigues top-scored with 77 not out for Supernovas as they put a good score together against Velocity.  She was supported by Atapatthu who scored 31 and Punia 16.

Velocity fell well short.  Matthews went early for 11 and Shafali Verma for 2.  Despite Wyatt (43), Raj (40) and Krishnamurthy (30) scoring well, they could not overhauls the Supernovas’ total.  However, it has been suggested that Velocity played to up their net run rate to get themselves into the final, rather than aiming to win the match.

This they achieved and so the final will be between Velocity and Supernovas on Saturday 11 May.  News of how this went in next week’s column.

Golf

 Sei Young Kim of South Korea won the LPGA Mediheal Championship after a play-off with England’s Bronte Law.  Law came from 10 shots back to get herself into a three-way play-off with Kim and Jeongeun Lee, also of South Korea.

Final round leaderboard:
-7 S Y Kim (Kor), J Lee (Kor), B Law (Eng); -5 C Hull (Eng), L Thompson (US), EH Ji (Kor), A Yang (Kor)

Kim won the tournament with a par on the first play-off hole, while Law and Lee made bogeys.

Squash

Former world champion Laura Massaro will retire from squash at the end of this season.

In her distinguished career, Massaro became World Champion in 2014.  She won three Commonwealth Games silvers, two in doubles and one in singles and was world number one in January 2016.

She won the World Series Finals in 2016 and 2017, the US Open twice and the British Open twice.

More news and views next week. 

 

Women’s Sports Column 9-15 February 2019

running track

Welcome to this week’s column.  With news of Lindsey Vonn’s last race, the wonderful Six Nations, football, netball, hockey, athletics, volleyball, cricket, speed skating and tennis I’d better get on…

Football

FAWSL

Last weekend’s results:

Sunday 10 February

Bristol City 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Manchester City 2-2 Chelsea
Wullaert 12’, Stanway 24’
So-yun Ji 50’, 89’

FAWC

Sunday 10 February

London Bees 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Dean 14’ (Pen), Johnson 22’ (OG), Wiltshire 47’

Leicester City 2-3 Crystal Palace
James 68’, Dugmore 74’
Whinnett 57’, Bryan 64’, 84’

FA Cup – Remaining Fourth Round Ties

We now know the full fifth round line-up, after the fourth was completed at the weekend:

Durham 5-1 Cardiff City
Millwall Lionesses 1-0 Lewes
Reading 13-0 Keynsham Town
Liverpool 6-0 MK Dons
Loughborough Foxes 0-2 Sheffield United
Charlton 3-3 Huddersfield Town (Huddersfield won 5-4 on penalties)
Stoke City 1-2 Aston Villa
Yeovil Town 1-3 Birmingham City

The fifth round takes place this Sunday, 17 February.

Hockey – on the Pitch

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

The league was back after its winter break last weekend:

9 February

Buckingham 2-1 Surbiton
Slough 1-1 Canterbury
University of Birmingham 2-2 Clifton Robinsons
Beeston 2-1 Bowdon
East Grinstead 1-2 Holcombe

10 February

Bowdon 4-1 Slough

All teams have played 11 now except Bowdon and Slough who have played 12.  With Surbiton suffering their third defeat of the season, Holcombe are now top with 25 points.  Surbiton are second on 22 with East Grinstead third on 19.  At the bottom, Canterbury have four points from 11, and Slough are just above them on eight, having played the extra game.

This weekend’s fixtures will take them all to 12 games played:

16 February

Clifton Robinsons v Buckingham (1pm, Coombe Dingle P1)
Holcombe v Beeston (2pm, Holcombe HC P1)
Canterbury v University of Birmingham (4pm, Polo Farm SC, P1)
Surbiton v East Grinstead (4pm, Surbiton HC Water)

Hockey – off the Pitch

Maddie Hinch has been named FIH Female Goalkeeper of the Year for the third year running.

Ayeisha McFerran (Ireland), Rachael Lynch (Australia), Maria Ruiz (Spain) and Ye Jiao (China) were also shortlisted.

Winter Sports

Speed Skating

Elise Christie won silver in the 500m at the last World Cup event of the season in Turin.

Martina Valcepina of Italy took gold and Maame Biney of the USA the bronze.

Lindsey Vonn

After crashing out in her penultimate race, the super-G at the Alpine World Championships in Are, Sweden the previous Tuesday, Vonn made amends in her last race, the downhill, winning bronze.  Defending champion Ilka Stuhec took gold and Corinne Soutar, silver.

In winning the bronze, Vonn became the first female skier to win a medal at six World Championships.  What a way to go out!

Cricket

Alyssa Healy scooped three prizes at the Australian Cricket Awards this week.  She won female ODI player of the year (6 matches, 329 runs at an average of 54.83), female T20I player of the year (17 matches, 578 runs at an average of 41.29) and also the Belinda Clark Award.

The Betty Wilson young cricketer of the year award went to Georgia Wareham and female domestic player of the year was Heather Graham.

Rugby Union – Six Nations

England 41-26 France

Quite surprisingly, this game was only ever going one way.  England were 24-0 up and coasting at half-time, and although France came back to put a good number of points on the scoreboard, it was never going to be enough to overhaul the Red Roses.

A record crowd of 4,674 were at Doncaster to see it.

England scorers:
Tries: Breach (2), Cleall (2), Smith, Botterman, O’Donnell
Conversions: Mclean (3)

France scorers:
Tries: Bourdon (2), N’Diaye, R Menager
Conversions Bourdon (3)

Italy 3-3 Wales

Stalemate in Lecce as neither side could make the decisive score to win the match.  Robyn Wilkins scored a penalty to give Wales the lead after 30 minutes.  In the second half, Michaela Sillari drew the home side level with a penalty on the hour.

Wales thought they had snatched it late on when Jasmine Joyce went over from a breakaway, but the visitors were pulled back for a forward pass.

The home side then had a chance to win it, but a second Sillari penalty went wide.

Italy scorers:
Pen: Sillari

Wales
Pen: Wilkins

Scotland 5-22 Ireland

Ireland opened the scoring through Aoife McDermott, but Scotland drew level through Hannah Smith.

It looked as if they would go into the break level, but Ireland had other ideas as Leah Lyons went over again to make it 10-5 to the away side at half-time.

Straight into the second-half Ireland were on the attack again and five minutes in Alison Miller grabbed their third try of the match.

Anna Caplice bagged the bonus point try just before the hour, picking up the ball from the back of a ruck to crash over.

Scotland scorers:
Tries: Smith

Ireland scorers:
Tries: McDermott, Lyons, Miller, Caplice
Conversions: Fowley

Other Rugby News

It was announced this week that England will play the Barbarians at Twickenham in June.  The Barbarians’ women’s side was only formed in October 2017.  This will be the first time they have played England.

They will play before the men’s team in a double-header on Sunday 2 June.

The game kicks off at 12.45pm with the men’s following at 3pm.

Tennis – on the Court

Fed Cup

Group A

Great Britain 2-0 Hungary
Katie Boulter triumphed in the first rubber against Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-7 7-6.  This was followed by another three set victory for Jo Konta 6-2 6-7 7-6.

Greece 2-1 Slovenia
Valentini Grammatikopoul beat Kaja Juvan 7-6 5-7 6-3.  Maria Sakkari defeated Dalila Jakupovic 4-6 6-4 6-3.  The doubles rubber was a walkover for Slovenia.

Group B

Serbia 2-1 Croatia
Olga Danilovic defeated Jana Fett in the first rubber 2-6 6-2 7-6.  The second went to Croatia as Donna Vekic beat Aleksandra Krunic 1-6 7-5 6-1.  The deciding doubles went to Danilovi and Krunic as they beat Jurak and Konjuh 1-6 6-1 6-4

Turkey 3-0 Georgia
Cagla Buyukakcay defeated Mariam Bolkvadze in the first rubber 6-4 6-1.  In the second, Pemra Ozgen beat Ekaterine Gorgodze 7-6 6-3.  The doubles were a walkover to Turkey.

Great Britain and Serbia finished top of their respective groups, each winning three from thee ties.  They faced each other in the promotion play-off

GB 2-0 Serbia
In the play-off, both Boulter and Konta kept up their tremendous run of form:

Boulter beat Ivana Jorovic in the first rubber 6-4 6-3 Konta struggled in her match and was visibly distressed at the end through physical exhaustion.  She came through her match against Aleksandra Krunic 7-6 3-6 6-2.  The doubles rubber was not played.

The World Cup Group II play-off draw was also made this week and GB have a home tie.

They will play Kazakhstan in April with the venue yet to be announced, although it may well be at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Meanwhile, the World Group semi-finals look like this:

20-21 April

France v Romania
Australia v Belarus

Qatar Open

Having seen off Sam Stosur in qualifying (7-6 3-6 6-4), unseeded Anna Blinkova then put out seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-6 6-4.  She finally succumbed in the next round, to Barbora Strycova in a bizarrely scored match, 6-0 3-6 6-0 to the unseeded Strycova.

We are now at the semi-final stage, which will be completed today, Friday 15 February:

Simona Halep (1) v Elina Svitolina (4)
Angelique Kerber (3) v Elise Mertens

We are also at the semi-final stage in the doubles, with only one seeded pairing left in the competition.  Both games again today, 15 February:

Chan Hao-Ching/Latisha Chan v Jelena Ostapenko/Veronika Kudermetova
Alison Riske/Ons Jabeur v Demi Schuurs/Anna-Lena Grönefeld (4)

Tennis – off the Court

Maria Sharapova had withdrawn from next month’s Indian Wells tournament.

She is suffering ongoing problems from a shoulder injury that has forced her to withdraw or retire from two of her last three events since playing in the US Open in September.

Volleyball

Last weekend’s results from the Women’s Super League Top 5 were:

9 February

Durham Palatinates 3-0 Malory Eagles UEL (25-16, 25-18, 25-22)
London Orcas 0-3 Tendring VC Ladies (17-25, 14-25, 15-25)

Durham are top with 29 points from 10 games.  Tendring are second with22 from nine.

Women’s Super League Bottom 4:

9 February

Sheffield Hallam 3-1 Birmingham Volley Club1 (25-17, 25-22, 25-27, 25-16)

All teams have played nine games.  Sheffield are top with 12 points, then come Polonia SideOut London (6), Bristol VC1 (4) and Birmingham Volley Club1 (3).

Athletics

British Indoor Championships

More team GB places have been booked as we build up to the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March.

Results in full:
Pole vault: 1. Holly Bradshaw (4,80m), 2. Jade Ive (4.40m), 3. Sophie Cook 4.30m)
Triple Jump: 1. Naomi Ogbeta (14.05m), 2. Laura Samuel (13.61m), 3. Alexandra Russell (13.27m)
60m hurdles: 1. Cindy Ofili (8.16), 2. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (8.27), 3. Gabriella Ade-Onojobi *13.21)
60m: 1. Asha Philip (7.19), 2. Rachel Miller (7.20), 3. Kristal Awuah (7.35)
3000m: 1. Laura Muir (8:48.03), 2. Melissa Courtney (8:50.61), 3. Amy Eloise Neale (8:59.86)
Shot Put: 1. Sophie McKinna (17.97m), 2. Amelia Strickler (17.28m), 3. Adele Nicoll (15.58m)
5000m walk: 1. Heather Lewis (22:55.15), 2. Madeline Shott (25:15.58), 3. Pagen Spooner (26:43.74)
Long Jump: 1. Katarina Johnson-Thompson (6.46m), 2. Jahisha Thomas (6.36m), Abigail Irozuru (6.35m)
High jump: 1. Morgan Lake (1.94m), 2. Bethan Partridge (1.87m), 3. Nikki Manson (1.80m)
400m: 1. Zoey Clark (52.85), 2. Amber Anning (53.00), 3. Laviai Nielsen (53.03)
200m: 1. Hayley Mills (23.59), 2. Kiah Dubarry-Gay (24.01), 3. Melissa Roberts (24.28)
800m: 1. Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (2:05.04), 2. Mari Smith (2:05.68), 3. Adelle Tracey (2:05.72)
1500m: 1. Jemma Reekie (4:17.08), 2. Sarah McDonald (4:18.10), 3. Katie Snowden ( 4:19.34)

Netball

Last weekend’s Vitality Superleague results were as follows:

Friday 8 February
Strathclyde Sirens 46-50 Celtic Dragons

Saturday 9 February
Severn Stars 49-62 Manchester Thunder
Loughborough Lightning 50-75 Team Bath

Monday 11 February
London Pulse 49-69 Surrey Storm
Wasps Netball 54-50 Saracens Mavericks

Wasps are still top with four wins from four.  Manchester Thunder are second on the same points but with an inferior goal average.  Team Bath are third on nine points from four games.  At the bottom, there are two teams with three points from five games; London Pulse and Strathclyde Sirens.

This weekend’s round six fixtures:

Saturday 16 February
Manchester Thunder v Loughborough Lightning (5pm)
Severn Stars v Surrey Storm (6pm)
Saracens Mavericks v Team Bath (6pm – Live on Sky Sports)

Monday 18 February
Celtic Dragons v Wasps Netball (7pm)
London Pulse v Strathclyde Sirens (7.30pm)

And Finally,

Is she a woman?  Is she a man?  It still seems that no-one can agree.  While they debate her physical make-up, what happens to Caster Semenya’s mental health?  How does she feel having her gender debated in this way?  Will she have to undergo treatment to lower her testosterone levels?  If so, when tested she will have show the lower levels six months before competition.

Earlier this week it was reported that the IAAF’s lawyers will say Semenya is a “biological male”.  The organisation has denied this.

Now Semenya’s lawyer has said that she is “unquestionably a woman”.

Semenya herself says,

“It is not fair. I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.

“It is not fair that I am told I must change. It is not fair that people question who I am.”

I’m not arguing with her.  I just want her to be able to run – where she wants to run.

Not here next week, so more news and views in a fortnight. 

Women’s Sports Column 29 September – 5 October 2018

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

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

Tennis

Wuhan Open

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

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

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

China Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still to play: Wang Qiang v Aryna Sabalenka

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

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

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

Both matches to be played Saturday 6 October.

Race to Singapore

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

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

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

Netball

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

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

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

Cricket

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

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

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

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

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

Third T20
29 September

Abandoned without a ball being bowled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

England

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rugby Union

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

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

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

There are no Premier 15s fixtures this weekend.

Rugby League

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

Friday 28 September
St Helens 24-14 Castleford Tigers

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

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

Play-offs

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

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

Football

Sunday 30 September

FAWSL results:

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

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

Liverpool 0-1 Reading
Chaplen 36’

Bristol City p-p Everton

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

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

FAWC results:

Manchester United 0-0 Durham

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

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

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

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

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

Champions League

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

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

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

FA Women’s National League Cup

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

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

Ties will be played on 14 October.

Lionesses

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

Scottish football

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

In an interview with BBC Scotland she said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Cup Qualification

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

Netherlands v Denmark
Belgium v Switzerland

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

Motorcycling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Athletics

Great Scottish Run

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

Volleyball

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

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

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

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

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

Got that?  Good.

There has only been one fixture so far this season:

Bristol VC1 2-3 London Orcas

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

Hockey

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

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

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

This weekend’s fixtures:

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

And finally,

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

And, and finally,

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

Check out the facts and figures here:

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

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

More news and views next week.

Women’s Sports Column 9-15 June 2018

Swell2Welcome to this week’s column.  Something a bit different on offer this week as I’ve just read a really excellent book on women’s swimming; Swell by Jenny Landreth and I wanted to share my view of it with you.

But before I get on to that, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t get the usual stuff in, so this week sees stories from football, cricket, cycling, tennis, netball, athletics and rugby league.

Let’s crack on.

 Cricket

No prizes for guessing the performance of the week – 17-year old Amelia Kerr made history this week when she broke Belinda Clark’s record for an ODI innings of 229, scored in 1997, when she scored 232 not out against Ireland in Dublin on Wednesday.   But she didn’t leave it there – she also took 5/17 in her seven over spell.    Her 232 came from 145 balls and included 31 fours and two sixes, the second of which, on the last ball of the innings, took her to the record.  She also became the youngest double-centurion (male or female) across all cricket formats.

In fact, Ireland have been given a bit of a battering in their series against New Zealand and the White Ferns are getting into some serious form before they face England later in the summer.  In the only T20 they won by 10 wickets and in the ODIs New Zealand have won by 346, 306 and 305 runs.

England v South Africa

Well it’s been a “game of two halves” so far in this three-ODI series.  Which England team will turn up on Friday?  Who knows?  But it’s clear that England must be more consistent if they are to dominate their opponents this summer, while South Africa will take great heart at their own progress.

First ODI – Worcester
9 June

England 189/9 (50 overs)
South Africa 193/3 (45.3 overs)
South Africa win by 7 wickets with 27 balls remaining

England won the toss and elected to bat.  And what a dismal performance it was.  Amy Jones fell first for 19, but Beaumont, Taylor and Knight made only 12 between them as they slumped to 39/4.

Only Katherine Brunt, you can imagine her chuntering about having to do it all on her own, showed any fight, scoring 72 not out from 98 balls as wickets fell around her.

It was also great bowling from South Africa; Shabnim Ismail took 3/25 from 10 overs and Ayabonga Khaka 3/42 from her 10.

England’s bowlers had as poor a day as their batters.  Opener Lizelle Lee smashed 92 not out from 128 balls, Dane van Niekerk 58 and Mignon du Preez 36 not out as South Africa claimed a comprehensive victory.

Second ODI – Hove
12 June

England 331/6 (50 overs)
South Africa 262/9 (50 overs)
England win by 69 runs

England had obviously been told to up their game at Hove.  And up it they did.  Centuries for Beaumont (101 from 109 balls) and Taylor (118 from 106 balls) saw them post a competitive 331.  Only Nat Sciver failed to contribute, making just six.

But was it enough?  A blistering start from the South African openers took them to 142 off 25 overs when Wolvaardt fell for 32.  Lizelle Lee, meanwhile, was dispatching the ball with ease again and made 117 off 107 balls before she went bowled Georgia Elwiss, caught by Danni Wyatt, an innings that included 13 fours and five sixes.

Chloe Tryon came in further down the order and caused mayhem, scoring 44 off 26 balls.  But after she was out, again caught by Wyatt off the bowling of Ecclestone, South Africa couldn’t maintain the momentum and fell well short.

One-all in the series and all to play for today (Friday 15 June).

Tennis – on the Court
French Open

World number one Simona Halep broke her Grand Slam duck at the weekend as she defeated Sloane Stephens of the US, 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Stephens made a storming start, looking a class above Halep, hitting winner after winner as Halep couldn’t keep up and she took the first set 6-3.

But Halep found a reserve of strength in the second, taking four games in a row after going a break down.  Although Stephens tried hard to strike back, Halep took the set 6-4.

The third ended up quite one-sided as Halep took control and Stephens tired.  She broke the American twice to take a 4-0 lead.  There was no coming back for Stephens and Halep took the match with her first match point.

It was a fitting final between two well-matched players, even though Stephens was somewhat of a surprise finalist.  As a result of this run Stephens will rise to fourth in the world rankings.

 Nottingham Open

 On to the glories of the all too brief grass season.

We’re at the quarter-final stage of the Nottingham tournament, but there are a couple of earlier round results that bear mentioning.

In the round of 16 we had the match-up many wanted to see – Johanna Konta v Heather Watson.  In the end the tie went to the fourth seed, Konta, 6-4 7-6 and she now plays the unseeded Dalila Jakupovic in the quarters.

The standout British performance, though, came from Katie Boulter.  She is through to her first WTA quarter-final after she defeated Sam Stosur of Australia 7-6 6-1.  She plays number one seed and another Australian, Ash Barty, later on today (Friday 15 June).

The other two quarter-finals are Donna Vekic (6) v Mona Barthel and Naomi Osaka (3) of Japan v Mihaela Buzărnescu (5) of Romania.

Heather Watson is still in action in the doubles and is through to the semi-finals with partner Mihaela Buzărnescu, where they face Lizette Cabrera and Irina Falconi for a place in the final.

Tennis- off the Court
 Sara Errani

 Sara Errani’s doping ban has been increased from two to ten months.  She tested positive for banned drug letrozole – a cancer drug taken by her mother which somehow got into the family’s food.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted that the medicated had got into the food, but said that Errani was guilty of a “light degree of fault”, and dished out a 10-month ban.

She was initially banned for two months but the Italia anti-doping agency asked for a longer ban.

Errani, unsurprisingly, is unhappy with the decision,

“I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has ever happened or been managed – in my humble opinion – in such a shameful manner,” she said.

Maria Bueno

Brazilian tennis star, Maria Bueno, has died at the age of 78.

Bueno, Latin America’s most successful female tennis player won 19 major titles during her career in the 1950s and 60s.  This included three Wimbledon singles titles (1959, 1960, 1964) and four US titles.

She also won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title twice, first with althea Gibson in 1958 and then again with Billie Jean King in 1965.

Cycling

The Women’s Tour

Apologies for being so slow but the Women’s Tour of Britain is upon us and this year the prize fund has been doubled – matching that awarded in the men’s race.  For the first time it also has its own broadcast coverage, instead of being tacked on to that of the men’s race.

ITV4 are screening highlights of each of the five stages, as follows:

Stage One: Framlingham to Southwold
Wednesday 13 June, 21:00

Stage Two: Rushden to Daventry
Thursday 14 June, 20:00

Stage Three: Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa
Friday 15 June, 20:00

Stage Four: Evesham to Worcester
Saturday 16 June, 20:00

Stage Five: Dolgellau to Colwyn Bay
Sunday 17 June, 21:00

Check out the website: http://www.womenstour.co.uk/

Stage One

Jolien D’hoore  (Mitchelton-Scott)won stage one, ending up on Southwold seafront (one of the loveliest places on Earth), finishing ahead of former World Champion Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cipollini) and Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb).

Dani Rowe (King) was the highest finishing Briton in fifth.

Stage Two

The Green Jersey passed to Coryn Rivera after stage two when she won the stage in a sprint finish with Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Team) in Daventry.    Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam) was third.

Rivera now has a 15-second lead over the field.  Dani Rowe (King) lies in second with Vos in third.

Para-cycling

Sarah Storey will make her return the Great Britain Para-cycling team at the Road World Championships in Italy from 2-5 August.

The women’s team: Karen Darke, Hannah Dines, Lora Fachie (piloted by Corrine Hall), Megan Giglia, Crystal Lane-Wright, Mel Nicholls, Liz Saul, Sarah Storey, Katie Toft.

Mountain Biking

After Tahnee Seagrave’s triumph last week at Fort William, Rachel Atherton has won gold at the next Mountain Bike World Cup leg in Leogang, Austria.

Miriam Nicole of France took silver and Australian Tracey Hannah, bronze.  Seagrave had finished third, but was disqualified being adjudged to re-enter the course on the wrong side of a marker.

Football

 Plenty of football news this week:  home nations qualifiers, just what is going on a Liverpool? and the worst kept secret in football is finally confirmed.

Friday 8 June
Russia 1-3 England

It was a good performance from England against a poor Russian side that saw them go back to the top of Group A.

Nikita Parris opened the scoring with a header after 22 minutes.  Jill Scott then got two (27 and 36 minutes) to put the visitors into a three-nil lead.

After the break the Lionesses took their foot off the gas and will be disappointed that they allowed the home side to score, Elena Danilova taking her chance to make the final score 3-1.

Sunday 10 June
Northern Ireland 0-5 Netherlands

The European champions looked a class apart as they demolished Northern Ireland at home.

The Irish managed to keep the score down to just 1-0 by half –time, the goal coming through Lineth Beerensteyn.

But the second-half saw four more through Danielle van de Donk, Shanice van de Sanden, Sherida Spitse and Jackie Groenen and the Netherlands are four points clear of Norway at top of Group C.

Tuesday 12 June
Wales 3-0 Russia

England weren’t on top of the table for long.  Wales put in an excellent performance to beat Russia in Newport on Tuesday and take them one point back ahead of their English rivals.

After a goalless first-half, Wales upped their game and Kayleigh Green bagged a brace (48 and 62 minutes) before Tash Harding sealed it with 22 minutes to go.

Russia had nothing in response.

Poland 2-3 Scotland

Performance of the week, however, must go to Scotland who came from two goals down to beat Poland in Kielce on Tuesday.

The Poles took an early lead through Dzesika Jaszek, which they held until half-time.  On 66 minutes they were two-up when Sophie Howard turned the ball into her own net.

But Scotland fought back.  Kim Little bagged the first from a free-kick and Jane Ross brought it level with nine minutes to go.

Lisa Evans got the winner in the 90th minute to take the Scots to just three points behind Switzerland, who are top with six wins from six and 18 points.

Casey Stoney

It was announced this week that former England captain Casey Stoney will be the manager of the new Manchester United women’s team.

In an interview with the BBC she said,

“This the biggest club in the world.

“The fact we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity.

“I truly believe Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”

Let’s face it, expectation will be incredibly high; having attracted such a high-profile manager, it will also attract some equally high-profile players.  If they don’t win the Championship at the first attempt, questions will be bound to be asked.  Stoney is never one to shirk a challenge though, and for us neutrals it promises to be quite something to behold.

Liverpool

What on earth is going on?   This week they’ve lost a manager, gained a manager and dispensed with the services of three more players.

England defender Alex Greenwood, Martha Harris and Amy Turner have all reached the end of their contracts and have been released.

Wales captain Sophie Ingle has left to re-sign for Chelsea.

Not long after, manager Scott Rogers also left the club after three years in charge.  He had been number two to Matt Beard from 2014 until Beard left for the States in 2015.

But that was not the end of the story this week.  Chief executive Peter Moore said,

“The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”

An understatement: just four days later, Liverpool revealed their new manager to be Neil Redfearn.

Redfearn had been manager of Doncaster Rovers Belles since December 2017.

 “It is a massive privilege and real honour for me to have been appointed as manager of Liverpool Ladies. It is a team with big potential which should be challenging for trophies on a regular basis.

“Liverpool Football Club is a huge club and I have every confidence that we will be competing at the top end of the Women’s Super League this season. I am over the moon to have been given this opportunity and cannot wait to get started,” he said.

It’s certainly been a turbulent couple of weeks for the Reds and Redfearn will have to have a clear plan of action – surely he has a number of signings in his sights and will need to bolster the squad after all the departures.  He needs to show his own and the club’s commitment to the women’s game as a response to some of the recent questions raised about the owners’ motivation and support for the women’s side.

Yeovil Town

The Lady Glovers have announced Lee Burch as their new boss.  Burch was formerly at Millwall Lionesses and won the League Managers Association’s WSL2 manager of the year this season.

He will have the task of seeing Yeovil through their first season as a full-time professional side in the new Women’s Super League.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith backed up her British record run in Oslo last week with victory in the Stockholm Diamond league event.  She won in a time of 10.93, just 0.01 seconds outside her new British record.  Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast was second.

At the same meet, Lorraine Ugen won the long jump with 6.85m, while Laura Muir finished second in the 1500m behind Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia and Beth Dobbin was second in the 200m.

Netball

Last weekend’s Superleague results:

Friday 8 June
Team Bath 42-43 Loughborough Lightning

Saturday 9 June
Celtic Dragons 42-83 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 52-51 Team Northumbria
Benecos Mavericks 47-52 Manchester Thunder

Monday 11 June
Manchester Thunder 68-48 Celtic Dragons
Severn Stars 55-36 UWS Sirens

Leaders Wasps bounced back (and how) this week with a thumping win over Celtic Dragons, while second-placed Lightning played out a thrilling game, winning by a single point over Team Bath.

Thunder are also making a late run and there are now three teams on 39, stretching ahead of the field.  Wasps play their game in hand this weekend so all should become much clearer by the end of this round of games.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

Friday 15 June
Team Bath v Wasps (7.30pm)

Saturday 16 June
Celtic Dragons v UWS Sirens (4pm)
Severn Stars v Team Northumbria (6pm)
Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder (6pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)

Monday 18 June
Wasps Netball v Benecos Mavericks (7pm Live on Sky Sports)

Rugby League

Just one result from the Super League this week:

Sunday 10 June
Wigan Warriors 50-0 York City Knights

And finally,

When you read a good book about women’s sport or even a general sports book written by a woman, and it’s a fabulous read, you should just shout about it.  So here I am, SHOUTING.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with swimming and it appears from this book that I’m not alone.  I love swimming in the sea, but living in landlocked Leicestershire means I don’t get much opportunity.  I hate swimming in indoor pools – too self-conscious, too slow, too much chlorine.  It’s quite a while since I’ve actually been swimming and this book has encouraged me to try again.  Hence I will not be here next week, because hopefully I will be swimming in the sea!

Anyway, the book I’m talking about is Swell, by Jenny Landreth.  It was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 (somewhat of a miracle in itself).  And what a great read it is.

It’s a mixture of autobiography (or Waterbiography as Landreth calls it), and a history of women’s swimming in Britain.  I learnt so much.  As in most aspects of women’s history, women had to fight for every minute of allowed swimming time in Britain.  From being able to go in the sea (via ridiculous bathing machines) to being allowed a couple of hours a week in a public baths, each right has had to be negotiated and battled for by bands of determined women and girls who could not stand by and let the inequalities and injustices of women’s swimming go unchallenged.

There is a wealth of detail in this book; how and where women were first allowed to swim, what they were allowed to wear (no change there, then) and with whom they were allowed to swim.  How could they learn to swim when men were the only teachers and they weren’t allowed to be at the pool at the same time?

Landreth talks about the real heroes of women’s swimming – those who pioneered; in the sport itself, in its organisation and in its coaching.  She raises a glass (or two) to those who broke through the boundaries and are still doing it today; those who swim long distance, elite swimmers and the every day woman who still has to fight to do her 10 lengths of the baths of a morning before the rest of the world claims her time.

It’s a marvellous, incredibly funny book that will make you laugh out loud (I guarantee).  I laughed out loud and punched the air in equal measure.

Go out and buy or borrow it folks.  It should definitely be on everyone’s sporting bookshelf.

Swell is published by Bloomsbury with a retail price of £9.99.

As I said, there will be no column next week, as I will hopefully be swimming somewhere in the North Sea next week , emerging blue no doubt and cursing Jenny Landreth soundly for encouraging me to get out there.  Back with you all in a fortnight.  

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 12-18 May 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty again to get into this week.  Sorry I missed doing a full report on the FA Cup final as it was a great match – so just a quick review.  Stories this week come from tennis, football, rugby league, hockey, cricket, netball, sports administration and rugby union.  Plus, this week’s “And Finally” is a positive news story about a brilliant new campaign launched by Women in Football. 

So let’s crack on.

Hockey

It’s the Women’s EuroHockey Club Cup in Surbiton over the next four days.  Play is already underway.  English hopes lie with Surbiton, the current Investec Premier League champions, while the Republic of Ireland is represented by UCD Ladies.

So far the results have been:

17 May

    • Mannheim (GER) 0-1 Hamburg (GER)
    • AH & BC Amsterdam (NED) 8-0 UCD Ladies (IRL)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) 5-0 Victorya Smolevichi (BLR)
    • Club Campo de Madrid (ESP) 2-0 Surbiton (ENG)

We then go into a series of fixtures as follows:

18 May

    • UCD Ladies (Loser M2) v Mannheim (Loser M1)
    • Victorya Smolevichi (Loser M3) v Surbiton (Loser M4)

19 May

    • AH & BC Amsterdam (Winner M2) v Hamburg (Winner M1)
    • ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Winner M3) v Club Campo de Madrid (Winner M4)

20 May

    • Loser M5 v Loser M6 (7th/8th place)
    • Winner M5 v Winner M6 (5th/6th place)
    • Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 (3rd/4th place)
    • Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (Final!)

Football – on the Pitch

Both FAWSL titles have been decided.  Chelsea secured the WSL 1 title on Tuesday, while Doncaster Rovers Belles were crowned champions on Sunday.

WSL1 Results

Saturday 12 May
Yeovil Town 0-2 Bristol City
Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
Reading FC 3-0 Liverpool
Chelsea 2-1 Sunderland AFC

Sunday 13 May
Everton 0-3 Birmingham City

Tuesday 15 May
Bristol City 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea secured the WSL1 title, and league and Cup double on Tuesday with a fine away win at Bristol City.  Drew Spence opened the scoring on 10 minutes and they maintained this one-goal lead until the 88th minute when Jonna Andersson sealed it with the second.  Their final game of the season is away at Liverpool on Sunday, when all games kick off at 12.30pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Manchester City 5-0 Yeovil Town
Sunderland AFC 0-2 Arsenal

WSL2 Results

Saturday 12 May
London Bees 0-0 Sheffield FC

Sunday 13 May
Durham 4-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Oxford United 1-2 Watford
Millwall Lionesses 0-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

The Belles had already sealed their championship win on Wednesday with a 2-1 win at Sheffield FC.  On Sunday they won again against the Lionesses with a Jade Pennock deflected shot.  Doncaster will not be promoted, however, as they applied to be in the new Women’s Championship (replacing WSL2) next season.  Their last game of the season is on Sunday 20 May when they are at home to Oxford United.  All games kick off at 2pm.

Wednesday 16 May
Watford 0-5 Sheffield FC

FA Cup Final
Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea

I was sorry to miss out on reporting more fully on the FA Cup final, which took place on 5 May, particularly as it was a cracking, competitive match and a record crowd of 45,423 saw a great advertisement for women’s football.

What a game for Ramona Bachmann, who has so often flattered to deceive for Chelsea.  After a quiet, even first half, the game needed a spark.  Enter Bachmann who scored twice to completely change the complexion of the game and take it away from Arsenal.

Disappointingly, some of Arsenal’s big names, including a particularly subdued Jordan Nobbs, just couldn’t up the tempo when needed.

Two great strikes by Bachmann were the difference. She scored on 48 and 60, ripping the heart out of Arsenal.  Vivianne Miedema pulled one back for the Gunners on 73, but the resurgence was short-lived.  Just three minutes later Fran Kirby got into the action, slotting home a fine shot to make it 3-1.

Football – off the pitch

Chelsea captain Katie Chapman has announced that she will retire from playing at the end of this season at the age of 35.

In a distinguished career, Chapman won 94 England caps, taking part in two World Cups and three European Championships.

Domestically, she played for Millwall, Fulham, Charlton, Arsenal and Chelsea, winning 10 FA Cups in total.

Since joining Chelsea in 2014, she has won the FA Cup/league double in 2015, the WSL Spring Series in 2017 and the 2018 FA Cup.

She will now take up an ambassadorial role with Chelsea.

Cricket

Exciting news from women’s cricket this week.  There will be a women’s T20 exhibition match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai before the first IPL Qualifier on Tuesday May 22.

It will be broadcast live around the world and also live on Sky Cricket from 9.20am.  Make no mistake, this is a big thing for women’s cricket in India and it could pave the way for a future women’s IPL.

Many of the superstars of the women’s game will be playing:

IPL Trailblazers: Smirti Mandhana (c) Alyssa Healy (wk), Suzie Bates, Deepti Sharma, Beth Mooney, Jemima Rodrigues, Danielle Hazell, Shikha Pandey, Lea Tahuhu, Jhulan Goswami, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Dayalan Hemalatha.

IPL Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Danielle Wyatt, Mithali Raj, Meg Lanning, Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Pooja Vastrakar, Megan Schutt, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Anjuja Patil.

Wow – should be quite an event and I hope it gets the crowd and the coverage it deserves.

Tennis – Off the Court

Alize Cornet was facing a ban for missing three drugs tests in a year, but an independent tribunal has found that the doping control officer did not take “reasonable steps” to locate her for the third test.

The first test (3 November 2016) was missed as she left early for a flight to a competition, the second (26 July 2017) because again she had already set off for competition in the United States.

At the time of the third attempt (24 October 2017), Cornet says she was in her apartment but her intercom was broken.  She did not receive a phone call or any other attempt to contact her to conduct the test.

The tribunal accepted this as “frank and compelling” evidence.  Cornet also had two completed tests in that time, in March and October 2017.

Tennis – On the Court

Korea Open

British wheelchair tennis player Lucy Shuker won the Korea Open singles title this week.  She beat her doubles partner, Giulia Capolcci of Italy, in the final, 6-2 3-6 6-3.

As a pairing they also won the doubles title.

Shuker will go into the Japan Open next week, full of confidence.  The Japan event is part of the Super Series which is the next level down from the Grand Slams.

Madrid Open

Petra Kvitova won a tight Madrid Open final, beating Kiki Bertens 6-6 4-6 6-3.  It was an epic final, lasting just under three hours.

Italian Open

Kvitova then pulled out of the Italian Open, taking place this week.   Also missing is Serena Williams, who pulled out of both Madrid and Italy, instead concentrating on a return at the French Open, which begins on 27 May.  Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has said that she “came back too early” after the birth of her first child, but is confident that she will be back, “Serena can achieve anything,” he said in an interview with the WTA website.

Johanna Konta was due to play Kvitova in the first round, but instead took on Magdalena Rybarikova, winning 6-4 6-3.

In the second round she faced Hsieh Su-wei, winning 6-0 6-4, but she fell in the third against current French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko in three sets, 2-6 6-3 6-4.  She started so well and confidently, while Ostapenko could not find her form at all and seemed to be struggling with the conditions.  Konta was 4-1 up after just 17 minutes.  But in the second set the tables were turned and Konta quickly lost the confidence she had shown in the first.  Ostapenko took her chances, taking the match with her first match point in the third set.

We are now at the quarter-final stages:

Angelique Kerber (11) v Elina Svitolina (4)
Maria Sharapova v Jelena Ostapenko (5)
Anett Kontaveit v Caroline Wozniacki (2)
Simona Halep (1) v Caroline Garcia (7)

Meanwhile at the same tournament Karoline Pliskova lost her temper with a vengeance, attacking the umpire’s chair with her racquet after she was beaten by Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

She had a smash called out when serving at 30 all, five games all in the third set.  Television replays showed it to be in, but on clay the reviews are done by physical marks (I’ve never quite understood that) and as there was no mark to be seen, the call stood.

At the end of the match Pliskova repeatedly hit the chair with her racquet frame.  She now, needless to say, faces a fine.

Rugby Union – Canada Sevens

New Zealand retained their Canada Sevens title in Langford on Sunday, defeating Australia in the final, 46-0.

Portia Woodman scored the first try, followed quickly by one for Ruby Tui.  Kelly Brazier scored a third after Australia had conceded a penalty and the Black Ferns took a quick tap.

They still had time to score again before half-time as Woodman went in for a second and it was 22-0 at the break.

It was no better for Australia in the second-half.  Niall Williams went in twice and then captain Sarah Goss barrelled over for a seventh.

Brazier went in for her second and New Zealand’s eighth to leave Australia stunned and well beaten.

Other Placings

USA claimed bronze with a 21-5 win over France and Canada finished fifth, beating Ireland 29-12.

The Challenge Trophy went to Japan as they beat Spain 26-21.

Pool Results

Pool A: Fiji 24-14 England; New Zealand 51-0 Brazil; Fiji 47-14 Brazil; New Zealand 22-0 England; England 31-17 Brazil; New Zealand 12-7 Fiji

Pool B: Russia 14-35 United States; France 33-7 Japan; Russia 7-24 Japan; France 22-19 United States; United States 28-7 Japan; France 45-0 Russia

Pool C: Spain 0-7 Ireland; Australia 22-7 Canada; Spain 10-24 Canada; Australia 31-19 Ireland; Ireland 17-19 Canada; Australia 43-10 Spain

England finished seventh, equalling their best place of the series so far, beating Fiji 29-24.

The final round takes place in Paris on 8-10 June, with Wales competing by invitation.

Rugby League

Last weekend’s results were as follows:

Sunday 13 May
Featherstone Rovers 32-40 Castleford Tigers
Bradford Bulls 72-10 York City Knights
Wigan Warriors 16-6 St Helens

Castleford Tigers lead the table with seven points from four games.  St Helens lie second with six points from four games.  Leeds Rhinos are also on six points, but from three games – they are third on points difference.  York City and Featherstone are yet to take a point.

Netball

Round 12 of the Netball Super League was last weekend.  The results were:

Saturday 12 May
UWS Sirens 45-59 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 51-56 Team Bath
Team Northumbria 51-58 Manchester Thunder
Severn Stars 55-44 Benecos Mavericks

Monday 14 May
Celtic Dragons 38-66 Loughborough Lightning

This weekend’s Round 13 fixtures:

Friday 18 May
UWS Sirens v Loughborough Lightning (7pm)
Surrey Storm v Wasps Netball (7.45pm)

Saturday 19 May
Benecos Mavericks v Celtic Dragons (3pm)
Manchester Thunder v Severn Stars (5pm)

Monday 21 May
Team Bath v Team Northumbria (7pm – Live on Sky Sports)

Sports Administration – Sport England

Jennie Price will quit her position as Chief Executive of Sport England at the end of October.

She took over in 2007 in the heat of London’s 2012 Olympic bid.  Since she has been in post, the number of people playing sport regularly has gone up by 1.6 million.

Price was also instrumental in the formation of the This Girl Can campaign.   She was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to sport.

And finally,

Use it, shout it, talk about it #Whatif is trending.  So what is #What if?

It’s the new campaign launched by the organisation Women in Football, at Twitter HQ in London on Wednesday.

It is aimed at everyone; football professionals, businesses and members of the public who are encouraged to pledge one way they could take action to contribute to helping improve things for women and girls in football.

There are already some high-profile names involved and the pledges already received should make a difference.  These include:

Sky Sports – #WhatIf Sky Sports committed to including female talent as studio pundits on Gillette Soccer Specials from the 2018/19 season onwards 

SPORF – #WhatIf @SPORF amplified the reach of women’s football by fully integrating coverage of the women’s game on online communities

Twitter – #WhatIf Women in Football had its own emojil on Twitter

Betfair – #WhatIf Betfair ring-fenced 50 per cent of their Cash4Clubs grassroots grants for women’s teams to help support their growth and sustainability

Forza Football – #WhatIf Forza Football made live score updates and results for women’s football games easily accessible across the world

Anyone can make a pledge, be it large or small, as an individual or corporately.  Check out the story: https://www.womeninfootball.co.uk/news/2018/05/16/whatif-we-changed-the-landscape-of-football-forever/

Or contact Leanne Dingle via leanne@womeninfootball.co.uk for more information.

There is a great will to improve the lot of women in all aspects of football.  Although I constantly despair at the comments made by those who obviously have nothing better to do, I do believe that women’s football is a good and improving product, worthy of investment by individuals and companies alike.  Let’s get behind this campaign – make your own pledge and keep #Whatif trending.

From my own point of view, I do what I can but #Whatif I can do more?  #What if I pledge to tweet more, cover more in depth and promote women’s football wherever I can.  Let’s do it.   

And, and finally,

Congratulations to Chelsea Manager, Emma Hayes, who this week gave birth to a baby boy.  Not content with a championship and FA Cup double, she is now a Mum!  Talk about multi-tasking…..

Sorry to be flaky, but there will be no column again next week, but I’ll be back in a fortnight with more news and views. 

Women’s Sports Column 21-27 April 2018

test tubesWelcome to this week’s column.  After the netball frenzy of last week, it’s all calmed down a bit.  But there’s still plenty going on with stories from athletics, football, rugby union, rugby league, cricket, golf, cycling, tennis and netball. Plus another depressing “And finally”.  Sorry folks, but it’s got to be done.

Let’s crack on.

Athletics

The big breaking news this week comes from the IAAF and its attempts to restrict women with higher testosterone levels from competing in their best events.  Well, that’s how I see it, anyway.  If you have followed me for any length of time, you will know this is subject I have covered before and this announcement has thrown it all up in the air again.

Even if it didn’t mean it to appear so, this new ruling has been seen as a direct attack on South African 800m/1500m runner Caster Semenya.  The acceptable testosterone levels will be reduced in the new directive, but only for those in 400m-1mile events.

If a woman with higher testosterone levels is to compete, they will have to take medication for six months previous to competition.

In its statement the IAAF stated,

“The sport has a lot of athletes with DSD (hyperandrogenism).

“It is not just the one or two females you hear about in the media. In elite female athletics, the number of intersex athletes is 140 times more than you might find in the normal female population.

“As world governing body, we need to ensure a level playing field for all athletes. The research and evidence clearly shows there is a performance advantage in female athletes with DSD over the track distances covered by this rule.”

This very hypothesis was successfully challenged by Indian sprinter Duttee Chand in 2015, which caused a similar ruling to be suspended.  This is the first attempt by the IAAF since then to re-introduce a ruling on acceptable testosterone levels.

The IAAF will also have to contend with the accusation that this is a racist rule.  There can be no doubt that a powerful, strong, black woman is a troubling image for some people and the IAAF appears to be reinforcing this with its new ruling.

If the IAAF is so convinced that intersex athletes are such a threat, why doesn’t it just go the whole hog and re-introduce the invasive gender tests many women were subject to for so many years?  Then it could ban anyone who it feels doesn’t conform to its idea of “natural”.

I cannot believe there is not a better way to sort this issue.

The new rules should come into effect in November 2018, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was delayed due to legal opposition.

If you would like to read more of my research and views on this see below:

http://www.wispsports.com/womens-sports-blogs/extra-cover-by-penny-hopkins/makes-woman-woman/

http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2013/11/gender-testing-in-sport-back-in-the-news/

http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2015/08/sport-gender-testing-guidelines-suspended/

Cricket

History was made at Lord’s on Tuesday when Middlesex played their first ever appearance on the main pitch in front of a record crowd of over 5,000 – a mere 85 years after their founding.

MCC were captained by Charlotte Edwards and the side also included England’s Sarah Taylor and Georgia Elwiss.

MCC batted first, scoring 145/3 in their 20 overs.  Top scorer was Alex Rogers on 72.

In reply, Middlesex made a good start, but fell behind the required rate until it was nine-per-over.  But Maia Bouchier took it on, and they needed 30 off the last four overs.

In the end it went down to the wire as Hayleigh Brennan hit a boundary off the penultimate ball to win it for Middlesex.  Bouchier finished on 39 not out with captain Natasha Miles having made 38.

But, as you will realise, the result was very much secondary to the historic aspect of the game.  Onward and upward for women’s county cricket (hopefully).

Smriti Mandhana

The BCCI has nominated Smriti Mandhana from the women’s game and Shikhar Dhawan from the men’s game for the prestigious Arjuna award 2018.  These awards are given annually by the Indian Government’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to recognise outstanding achievement in sport.  The awards have been given since1961 and it is only the second time a woman has been nominated, after Harmanpreet Kaur received the same honour in 2017.

Tennis – on the Court

Fed Cup
Great Britain lost their tie against Japan at the weekend.  While Jo Konta won both of her singles matches, Heather Watson lost both of hers, which took it down to the doubles.  GB now returns to the Europe/Africa Zone.

I’m not sure that playing a doubles team of Watson/Konta is the way forward – surely it makes more sense, if you have a team of four, that two will be doubles specialists?

Watson lost the first rubber to Osaka 2-6 3-6.  Konta levelled the tie by beating Nara 6-4 6-2.  On day two, Konta beat Osaka 6-3 6-3, but Watson lost to Nara 6-7 4-6.

The deciding doubles was the only rubber to go to three sets.  Kato/Ninomiya defeated Konta/Watson 6-3 3-6 3-6.

Meanwhile the Fed Cup final will be between Czech Republic and defending champions, USA.

The Czechs beat Germany 4-1 in their semi-final.  They were 2-0 up after the first day, but then Julia Goerges beat Karoline Pliskova 6-2 6-2 to bring it back to 2-1.  But Petra Kvitova then defeated Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-2 and then the Germans retired from the doubles, giving the Czechs the 4-1 tie win.

The USA were 1-1 with France after the first day of singles.  On day two, Sloane Stephens beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-2 6-0 and Madison Keys defeated Pauline Parmentier 7-6 6-4 to give USA an unassailable 3-1 lead.  France won the dead rubber doubles to take it to 3-2.

The final will be on the weekend of 10-11 November in the Czech Republic.

There are two WTA tournaments taking place this week; Stuttgart and Istanbul.  As of today (Friday 27 April) we are at the quarter-final stage of both.

Stuttgart Open

Simona Halep (1) v Coco Vandeweghe
Anett Kontaveit v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Elina Svitolina (3) v Caroline Garcia (6)
Karolina Plíšková (5) v Jelena Ostapenko (4)

Istanbul Open

Maria Sakkari v Arantxa Rus
Caroline Wozniacki (1) v Pauline Parmentier
Polona Hercog v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Donna Vekić v Irina-Camelia Begu

Tennis – off the Court

The LTA has announced it wants to see 1,600 women qualifying to coach in the next five years.  This would double the number currently working in the sport.

The announcement was made at the Women’s Coach Conference in Birmingham this week.

In her speech, Judy Murray said,

“I believe that girls respond better to female role models.

“The LTA want to see more female coaches who can encourage girls to take up, and stay in, sport.”

Football

Lots of football news to get through this week, both on and off the pitch.

On the Pitch

Champions League

It was a poor week for the British teams in the Champions League semi-finals as Manchester City could only draw at home, while Chelsea suffered a comprehensive home defeat.  Both teams will now find it difficult progress to the final.

Manchester City 0-0 Lyon

City would have been hoping for a lead to take back to Lyon, but it was not to be.

Lyon had the lion’s share of possession throughout, but relatively few chances.  Their best came through Eugenie Le Sommer just before half-time and substitute Camille Abily just after.  And in the closing minutes Karen Bardsley pulled out a fine save to deny Amandine Henry’s header and to keep it level after the first leg.

Mel Lawley had a good chance for City, but the Lyon ‘keeper, Sarah Bouhaddi, pushed her shot over the bar.   Nikita Parris also volleyed over, but, in truth, City had few chances.

City will have to play exceedingly well to beat Lyon on their own turf.

Chelsea 1-3 Wolfsburg

If the Manchester City result was disappointing, Chelsea’s first leg was nothing short of a disaster.

The home side started well and took the lead through Fran Kirby in just the second minute.

But a header from Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir and an own goal from Maren Mjelde meant the German side went in 2-1 up at half-time.

In the second-half Wolfsburg were clearly the better side and got a third through Lara Dickenmann.

Both second legs are this Sunday, 29 April.

FAWSL

This week’s WSL1 and WSL2 scores were:

Saturday 21 April
FAWSL1
Yeovil Town 0-0 Arsenal
Sunderland AFC 1-2 Bristol City

Sunday 22 April
FAWSL1
Reading 3-0 Everton

FAWSL2
Durham 2-1 Millwall Lionesses
Tottenham Hotspur 2-4 Sheffield FC
Aston Villa 1-0 Oxford United
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Watford 0-4 London Bees

Tuesday 24 April
FAWSL1
Arsenal 3-0 Liverpool

No change at the top in WSL1, but Yeovil have now picked up two points in two games at the bottom.  Bristol City also picked up their third win of the season, taking them to 10 points, still second from bottom, but level on points with Everton, who are third from bottom.

Millwall Lionesses spurned their chance to close the gap on leaders Doncaster, as the top two both lost at the weekend.  Brighton are now only one point behind Millwall in third, but Watford are still bottom with a single point.

Off the Pitch

Fran Kirby scooped the PFA Women’s Player of the Year award on Sunday at the Grosvenor House Hotel.  Bristol City’s Lauren Hemp picked up the PFA Young Women’s Player of the Year.

Casey Stoney also received a Special Achievement award.

And the week got even better for Kirby as she won the inaugural Football Writers’ Association’s (FWA) Women’s Footballer of the Year award on Tuesday.  It’s great to see that football writers now care about women’s football enough for there to be an award!

The shortlist for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018 has also been announced.  The contenders are:

Lucy Bronze (Olympique Lyonnais & England)
Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg & Denmark)
Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars/Perth Glory & Australia)
Dzsenifer Marozsan (Olympique Lyonnais & Germany)
Lieke Martens (Barcelona & Netherlands)

Check out the profiles of the contenders and how to vote here.  You have until 8am on Tuesday 8 May make your choice.

Golf

After the first round of the Mediheal Championship in California, the lead is shared by five golfers: Lydia Ko (NZ), Caroline Hedwall (Swe), Kim In-kyung (Kor), Jessica Korda (USA) and Su Oh (Aus) on -4.  England’s Charley Hull is one back along with Kim Sei-young (Kor), Celine Herbin (Fra) and Lexi Thompson (USA).

Rugby union

Kitakyushu Sevens (World Sevens Series Round Three)

New Zealand won the latest round in the World Sevens in Japan on Sunday.  They defeated France in the final 24-12.  In doing so, they closed the gap in the Sevens standings to six points.

England beat China 36-5 to finish seventh.

Semi-Finals: New Zealand 17 – 12 Australia; France 21 – 0 Spain
11th Place Match: Japan 14 – 33 Canada
Challenger final: United States 24 – 19 Ireland
7th Place Match: China 5 – 36 England
5th Place Match: Fiji 7 – 30 Russia
3rd Place Match: Australia 19 – 5 Spain
Final: New Zealand 24 – 12 France

Rugby league

Just two results from the Super League this week:

Sunday 22 April
York City Knights 0-62 Castleford Tigers
Bradford Bulls 4-42 St Helens

Cycling

Good news all-round for women’s cycling this week.

It was announced this week that Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen will compete in the Tour de Yorkshire in May.  Britain’s Katie Archibald and Dani Rowe will also race.

The two-day race starts in Beverley on 3 May and ends in on a course of 162 miles.  It’s a race that is gaining in profile and popularity and this year will be broadcast live on television.

The second piece of interesting news is that former UCI president Brian Cookson is planning to develop a professional women’s cycling team by 2009.

In a s statement he said,

“Over the next few months, I am going to be exploring the possibilities of setting up a new professional cycling team structure.  My intention is that this should begin with the establishing of a UCI Women’s WorldTour Team for 2019 – a team that will meet or exceed the new high standards that are likely to be put in place by the UCI for the new two-tier structure for Women’s Teams that was developed during my term as UCI President.

“I am not just talking about a top-level team in the traditional sense. There has never been so much interest in women’s sport, fitness and health generally, and this is clearly reflected in the interest in women’s cycling, not just at the elite level, but in terms of general participation. It seems to me that we are at a moment of real opportunity for women’s cycling. We are at a pivotal point, a sea-change in attitude towards women’s sport in the media and amongst the public is taking place, and we should seize this opportunity.”

“I am putting this idea out there because I want to stimulate the decision-makers in those companies, many of whom (men and women) enjoy cycling themselves, to start to think about the possibilities.  The potential return on their investment could be very substantial, but I want to make it clear that it will need innovation, creativity, and a major effort from their side to make that happen.”

He is hoping the team will be based in the UK, but this will be largely dependent on being able to raise the required sponsorship.

Although Cookson was unsuccessful in his bid for a second term as president, he is still a name in the cycling world and will hopefully carry the gravitas needed to secure the serious amount of sponsorship money he will need to get the team off the ground.

Netball

The Vitality Superleague is back!  Round eight’s results were:

Saturday 21 April
Manchester Thunder 62-57 Surrey Storm
Team Northumbria 43-47 Severn Stars
Loughborough Lightning 54-41 Benecos Mavericks

Sunday 22 April
Wasps Netball 61-44 Team Bath

The table is a bit higgledy-piggledy at the moment as although we’re on round eight, not all teams have played eight games; indeed the Dragons and the Sirens have only played six each.  At the moment Wasps are top with a one hundred per cent record, nine wins from nine (27 points).  Thunder are second with six wins from seven games (18 points) and Mavericks third with six wins from eight games (18 points).  Team Northumbria are bottom, yet to get off the mark after eight games.

This weekend’s fixtures are:

Friday 27 April
Wasps Netball v Manchester Thunder (7pm)

Saturday 28 April
UWS sirens v Surrey Storm (2pm)
Celtic Dragons v Team Northumbria (4pm)
Severn Stars v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)

Sunday 29 April
Benecos Mavericks v Team Bath (5.30pm) (Live on Sky Sports)

Women’s Sports Trust – Be a Game Changer Awards

The shortlists for the Be a Game Changer Awards have been announced.  The public vote is from 30 April – 13 May.

Categories are: Sporting Role Model – Individual, Sporting Role Model – Team, Ambassador of Women’s Sport, National Governing Body of the Year, Inspiring Initiative – National, Inspiring Initiative – Local/Grassroots, Imagery of the Year and Media Initiative of the Year.

To see all those shortlisted, click here – and don’t forget to vote!

And finally,

In a similar theme to last week’s “And Finally”, you will be unsurprised to know that it is a rant – so if you’ve had enough of me ranting I’d stop reading now.

This rant is over something I find mind-bogglingly bizarre and concerns, yet again, the keyboard warrior commentators at the end of BBC football posts.

Last weekend, as outlined above, it was the PFA Awards.  Now, if I’m not wrong there’s a Men’s award and a women’s award, also a Young Player (male) and Young Player (female) award.  So why then, were there on the end of the BBC article, not just one but several males asking why the outcome of the women’s award had been included.  One suggested it was another example of women’s football “being rammed down our throats”.

I do feel there really is only one answer to this; the BBC was covering the whole event, as they are supposed to do.  Not just half of it.  How would it be if they gave the result of the Best Film award at the Oscars, but not that of the Best Director award?  It would be half a story.

Seriously, this one has had me scratching my head for most of the week.  The level of misogyny against women’s football is not diminishing – in fact I would contend it is increasing.  Sorry to end on a negative note, but it’s dispiriting to see it again and again.  Yes, these are obviously males with limited social skills, probably living with their mothers and yes, I probably should laugh at them.  But what I fear is that they are actually fully functioning members of society who go on to (or already have) wives/partners and daughters……

And, and finally,

Don’t forget it’s the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s final on Sunday, at the Trailfinders Sports Club in West Ealing at 3pm.  Be there to see what’s sure to be a cracking match between Saracens and Harlequins.

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 March 2018

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  There’s plenty to get through, yet again, especially in the football department, so I’d better crack on.  Stories this week come from the Winter Paralympics, football, cricket, rugby union, hockey, Commonwealth Games, netball, tennis and badminton.  Plus an “And Finally” that’s just a bit of banter, really… honest guv.

Winter Paralympics

Team GB has won three medals so far at the event in Pyeongchang.

The first medal went to Millie Knight and Brett Wild, who took silver in the visually impaired downhill.  Henrieta Farkasova and guide Natalia Subrtova of Slovakia took gold and Eleanor and Chloe Sana of Belgium bronze.  Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jen Kehoe didn’t finish.

Fitzpatrick and Kehoe won silver in the visually impaired super combined.  Henrieta Farkasova and Natalia Subrtova won gold again, while Melissa Perrine and Christian Geiger of Australia won bronze.  The other British participants, Millie Knight and Brett Wild and Kelly Gallagher and Gary Smith finished fourth and seventh respectively.

Fitzpatrick and Kehoe struck silver again in the giant slalom.  Needless to say, Farkasova and Subrtova won gold with Perrine and Geiger won bronze.  Gallagher and Smith finished fifth and Knight and Brett, seventh.

Disappointingly, the Team GB curlers failed to make the semi-finals.  The gold medal match will be between China and Norway, while the bronze medal match will be between South Korea and Canada.  Both matches take place on 17 March.

Football – off the pitch

The FA has received 15 applications to join the new WSL and Championship.  There are nine places up for grabs in total, up to four in the WSL and five in the Championship.

We won’t know the outcome until the end of May, but it is thought that Charlton Athletic, Coventry United, Crystal Palace, Derby County and Sheffield United are amongst those vying for places in the second tier.

Anita Assante

Anita Assante has had surgery on the knee injury sustained at the SheBelieves Cup.  She will be out for some time in recovery.

Steffi Jones

Germany has sacked the national side’s national head coach, Steffi Jones after poor results at the SheBelieves Cup and at last year’s European Championships.

Former German international striker Horst Hrubesch has been appointed as interim coach.

The team has upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Slovenia in April.

Football – on the pitch

Continental Cup final
Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City

City’s dream of the quadruple crumbled on Wednesday as Arsenal won their fifth Continental Cup final at Wycombe.

The only goal in a tightly-contested game came on the half-hour through Vivianne Miedema, after she was put through by Jordan Nobbs.

City seemed out of sorts in the first-half, barely registering a shot.  In the second, they had better chances, through Nikita Parris, Jane Ross and Claire Emslie, but the Gunners’ defence held strong.

Sunday 11 March
FAWSL 2

Aston Villa 1-3 Durham

Wednesday 14 March
FAWSL1

Yeovil Town p-p Reading

Netball

Round six of the Vitality Netball Super league was completed during the week:

Friday 9 March
Team Bath 51-60 Manchester Thunder

Saturday 10 March
Celtic Dragons 49-40 Severn Stars
Benecos Mavericks 46-44 UWS Sirens
Wasps Netball 74-38 Team Northumbria

Wasps are top of the table with seven wins from seven and 21 points.  There is clear water between them and Manchester Thunder who are second on1 5 points from five matches and Benecos Mavericks lie third, also on 15, but from six matches.

This weekend’s round seven fixtures are as follows:

Friday 16 March
Manchester Thunder v Benecos Mavericks (7.30pm)
UWS Sirens v Severn Stars (7.30pm, Live on Sky Sports)

Saturday 17 March
Loughborough Lightning v Tam Bath (6pm)
Team Northumbria v Surrey Storm (6pm)

Sunday 18 March
Wasps Netball v Celtic Dragons (6pm)

Tennis

We are at the semi-final stage of the Indian Wells tournament.  The quarter-final results were:

Simona Halep (1) beat Petra Martic 6-4 6-7 6-3
Daria Kasatkina (20) beat Angelique Kerber (10) 6-0 6-2
Naomi Osaka beat Karolina Pliskova (5)
Venus Williams (8) beat Carla Suarez-Navarro (27) 6-3 6-2

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Williams faces Kasatkina, while Halep takes on Osaka.

Serena Williams lost to her sister Venus in the third round in straight sets 6-3 6-4.

Commonwealth Games News

Athletics

Kadeena Cox has withdrawn from England’s Commonwealth Games team through injury.  She was due to run in the T38 100m at the Gold Coast Games.

Hockey

England has announced its squad for the Commonwealth Games.  They will face South Africa, Wales, India and Malaysia in their Pool B games with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals.

The squad in full:
Giselle Ansley (Surbiton), Grace Balsdon (Canterbury), Sophie Bray (Kampong), Alex Danson (Clifton Robinson), Sarah Haycroft (Surbiton), Maddie Hinch (Stichtse), Kathryn Lane (Leicester), Hannah Martin (Surbiton), Lily Owsley (Uni of Birmingham), Hollie Pearne-Webb (Surbiton), Ellie Rayer (East Grinstead), Amy Tennant (East Grinstead), Anna Toman (Wimbledon), Susannah Townsend (Canterbury), Laura Unsworth (East Grinstead), Ellie Watton (Holcombe).

Hockey

Investec Hockey Women’s League Premier Division

10 March
Holcombe 1-1 Leicester
Slough 1-8 Surbiton
East Grinstead 3-1 Buckingham
Bowdon 2-2 Clifton Robinsons
Canterbury 4-2 University of Birmingham

11 March
Leicester 1-2 Slough

With their excellent win at Slough, Surbiton are top with 31 points from 16 games.  East Grinstead lie second on 28 from 15 and Holcombe are third, also on 28, but from 16 games.

Leicester are bottom on 11 from 15, with Clifton Robinsons just above them on 14, also from 15.

Rugby Union – off the pitch

New Zealand

Great news from New Zealand as it was announced this week that the Black Ferns are to be awarded paid contracts for the first time.

A minimum of 30 players will be employed on contract and will also have access to medical and life insurance as well as maternity leave entitlements.

The contracts will commit players to 10-14 hours per week training as well as 50 days a year of training camps and fixtures.

This takes the team to a semi-professional status and players are still encouraged to work or study.

Rugby union – on the pitch

Six Nations

Well, what a weekend of Six Nations action last weekend!  Round four saw wins for France, Italy and Scotland in three thrilling encounters:

Saturday 10 March
France 18-17 England

A record crowd of 17,440 (that’s seventeen thousand) saw France snatch victory in the final minutes of the game to send the home crowd into delirium.

Abigail Dow opened the scoring for England with a try converted by Katy McLean.  Rachel Burford was yellow-carded for England, but France couldn’t capitalise.  However, shortly after they were back to a full compliment, Jessy Trémoulière crossed to get the home side on the board.  Her conversion attempt went wide off the post, but France were back to within two.

Right on half-time France took the lead with a try from scrum half Caroline Drouin.  The conversion was again missed, but France went in 10-7 up.

England started the second-half strongly.   Ten minutes in they scored a second try, this time through Amy Cockayne.  McLean was successful with the conversion and it was 14-10 to the visitors.

On 55 the deficit was cut to just one as Trémoulière slotted home a penalty, but with eight minutes to go England responded with a penalty of their own to make it 17-14 to England.

But the sucker punch came with just a minute to go.  The tremendous Trémoulière cut through one more time and went over to score the winning try.  The conversion was missed, but Les Bleues had won by one point.

Now they have the chance to win the Grand Slam this weekend when they take on Wales at Colwyn Bay on Friday.

11 March
Wales 15-22 Italy

Isabella Locatelli opened the scoring for the visitors on nine minutes.  It was converted by Michela Sillari.  On the half-hour Wales were on the board with a penalty from Robyn Wilkins.  Four minutes later Wales were ahead with a try from Alisha Butchers, but this went unconverted.

But the Azzurre were not to be outdone.  A minute before the break, Maria Magatti went over and Italy were 12-8 up.

Ten minutes into the second-half the away side were over again.  Locatelli looked to be going in for her second, but she was tackled.  She managed to get the ball away to Beatrice Rigoni for the try.

Melissa Clay was sin-binned for Wales and although they held out, there was a brief period when they were down to 13 as Butchers was also yellow-carded.  Somehow they managed not only to not concede, but when Clay had returned they scored the next try,  Sioned Harries going over and Wilkins converting, thereby cutting the deficit to two points.

But in the last minute Italy had the last word.  Sillari scored Italy’s fourth try and they had won by seven points.

Ireland 12-15 Scotland

Saturday also saw a fine win for Scotland at Donnybrook.

In a tight first-half only three points were scored, a penalty to Scotland kicked by Helen Nelson.

The away side redoubled their efforts in the second-half.  Nelson went over two minutes, but the conversion was missed.

Ireland got back into it on 50 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try.  Ireland pressed again and Megan Kennedy was yellow-carded for Scotland after the scrum collapsed.

On 62 minutes Ireland were on the attack, but Scotland full-back Chloe Rollie intercepted a loose pass going over the whitewash after running the length of the pitch.  It was converted by Lana Skeldon and the score was 15-7 to the visitors.

Ten minutes from time Ireland scored their second through Paula Fitzpatrick taking it to 15-12.  It went unconverted and although they repeatedly attacked in the last ten minutes, they were unable to break down Scotland’s defence.

The final round is this weekend with France going for the Grand Slam.  For some ridiculous reason, England v Ireland and Wales v France kick off within 30 minutes of each other in the early evening of Friday 16 March – big huh? to the schedulers there.

16 March

England v Ireland (Ricoh Arena, 5.30pm.  Live on Sky and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
Wales v France (Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, 6pm. S4C and FTV.)

18 March
Italy v Scotland (Stadio Plebiscito , 2pm GMT, Eurosport Italia)

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

10 March
DMP Sharks 5-13 Saracens
Firwood Waterloo 10-44 Gloucester-Hartpury
Loughborough 24-7 Bristol
Harlequins 14-12 Richmond
Wasps 55-5 Worcester Valkyries

Saracens are top on 72 points from 16 games, one point ahead of Harlequins who have played a game more.  Wasps lie third on 59 from 16.  The luckless Valkyries are still bottom on two points, with Firwood Waterloo second from bottom on 11.

Cricket

Australian tour of India

First ODI – 12 March
India 200 all out (50 overs)
Australia 202/2 (32.1 overs)
Australia won by 8 wickets

India won the toss and chose to bat first.  Pooja Vastrakar top-scored with 51 off 56 balls and there were other good contributions from Verma and Raut, but 200 was never likely to be enough.  Jess Jonassen took 4/30 off her 10 overs and Amanda-Jade Welllington 3/24 off six.

Australia knocked off the target with nearly 18 overs to spare.  Nicole Bolton scored 100 not out from 101 balls, Alyssa Healy 38, Meg Lanning 33 and Ellyse Perry 25 not out as they went one-up in the three match series.

Second ODI – 15 March
Australia 287/9 (50 overs)
India 227 all out (49.2 overs)
Australia won by 60 runs

Nicole Bolton was at it again, this time opening with 84 from 88 balls as Australia posted a formidable total.  Perry finished 70 not out and Beth Mooney scored 56.  Shikha Pandey took 3/61 from her 10 overs and Poonam Yadav 2/52 from her 10.

India made a decent start in response with an 88 opening stand before Smriti Mandhana was out for 67.  But although most of the batters got starts, they couldn’t go on and dropped behind the required rate.  In the end they were all out in the last over.  Jonassen was again the bowling star for Australia, taking 3/51 from 10.  Perry took 2/41 from 8.2 overs and Wellington 2/20 from four.

The third ODI is on 18 March.

Badminton

Chris and Gabby Adcock are through to the mixed doubles quarter-finals at the All England Badminton Championships, being held in Birmingham.

They face Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino of Japan in the evening session on 16 March.

And finally,

In the Barcelona v Chelsea (men’s) game midweek, Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois let in two goals through his legs.   Surely this only goes to prove that all male ‘keepers are c**p?

Sorry no column for two weeks now as I am away.

Women’s Sports Column 17-23 February 2018

winter-snow-nature-60561Welcome to this week’s column.  Last week I asked “what more does Elise Christie have to do to win a medal?”  Well, unfortunately that was answered this week by “wait until Beijing 2022” as she had a terrible experience x 2, crashing out in one and being disqualified from the other of her two remaining events.  But there has been plenty more to celebrate this week.  Stories come from the Winter Olympics, football, rugby union, cricket, netball and hockey.

So let’s crack on!

Winter Olympics

Marit Bjorgen

This week Marit Bjorgen of Norway became the most decorated Winter Olympian.  She has won four medals at Pyeongchang, taking her total to 14.

At this Olympics the cross-country skier won Bronze in the 10km, bronze in the team sprint with Maiken Caspersen Falla, silver in the pursuit and gold in the ridiculously exciting 4 x 5km relay.

Elise Christie

Love her or loathe her (and many do), she’s always good entertainment value.  Personally, I feel gutted on her behalf – is she under an Olympic curse?  There’s no denying her talent, she is a multiple world champion, after all.  So what happens when she sets foot on an Olympic course?

For the record, in the 1500m she crashed out on the final lap, colliding with Li Jinyu of China in the process.  She was taken to hospital and her place in the 1000m was severely in doubt.  She sustained ankle ligament damage and was not really fit to take part.  But she lined up in the 100m heat, even though she was obviously in pain.  She fell on the first lap, but the heat was restarted.  She finished second and would have qualified, but the judges said she had committed an offence during the race and was disqualified.

Skeleton

For all the trials and tribulations, British performance of the Games must go to Lizzy Yarnold.  She retained her skeleton title, taking the gold 0.45 seconds ahead of Jacqueline Loelling of Germany and with a fabulous performance by Laura Deas to secure bronze 0.62 seconds behind the winner.

Yarnold has shown such enthusiasm – she had such a poor season that no-one really expected her to win.  But when she did, it was with an abundance of joy that was clear to see.  It was also good to see her celebrate with her good friend Laura Deas.   A great competition all round.

Ice Hockey

There was a shock in the ice hockey final as the USA defeated Canada in a shoot out.   The scores were level after 2-2 after five penalties each.  Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the sixth for the USA but Meghan Agosta’s for Canada was saved by goalminder Maddie Rooney.

It’s the first time USA have beaten Canada in 20 years.

Bobsleigh

Mica McNeill and Mica Moore finished eighth in the bobsleigh.  Not bad for a crowdfunded team, who were not deemed to be deserving of mainstream funding.  Let’s hope this brings them further funding that sees them compete again in Beijing.

Curling

Team Muirhead fell to Sweden in the semi-finals 10-5.  The Swedes went ahead early, and although GB pulled it back to 3-3 after five ends, that’s as close as they got to being in front.

Team GB will now compete for Bronze against Japan on Saturday.

Lindsey Vonn

Another woman to have had a mixed games is US skiing star, Lindsey Vonn.  Before the Games started she endured some serious social media trolling criticising her for her political stance against President Trump.  More than once she was accused of being “un-American”.   She was also still grieving the loss of her Grandfather, who died in November and, it has been revealed that she scattered his ashes on the course in Pyeongchang where she won her bronze medal earlier in the week.

In competition, as already stated, she won a bronze in the Alpine downhill.  Gold went to Sofia Goggia of Italy with Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway in silver.

But it all went horribly wrong in the Alpine combined.  She was top after the first run, but in the slalom she went off course and failed to finish.   Michelle Gisin of Switzerland took gold with Mikaela Shiffrin silver and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, bronze.

Hopefully she will continue to compete, although we will not see her in another Olympics.

Football – on the pitch

FA Cup Fifth Round
Birmingham City 1-3 Manchester City (after extra time)
Arsenal 1-0 Millwall Lionesses
Cardiff City 1-3 Charlton Athletic
Chelsea 6-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Chichester City 0-3 Liverpool
Durham 5-2 Leicester City
Lewes 0-6 Everton
Sunderland AFC 3-2 Aston Villa

The draw has been made for the quarter-finals:

Sunderland v Manchester City
Liverpool v Chelsea
Arsenal v Charlton
Durham v Everton

Fixtures to be played the weekend 18-19 March.

Netball

It was Round 2 of the Vitality Superleague this weekend.  The scores were:

Saturday 17 February
Severn Stars 52-64 Wasps Netball
Team Northumbria 43-65 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 19 February
Celtic Dragons 35-54 Team Bath
Manchester Thunder 60-43 UWS Sirens
Benecos Mavericks 64-62 Surrey Storm

After two rounds, the table is split – five teams have two wins each and five have none from two.  Top are Team Bath on goal average, with Wasps second and Loughborough, third.

It’s a double-header this long weekend, beginning on Thursday and continuing until Monday.  The Sky televised match is on Monday 26 February:

Round 3
Thursday 22 February
Wasps Netball 69-37 UWS Sirens

Friday 23 February
Team Bath v Surrey Storm (7.30pm)
Manchester Thunder v Team Northumbria (7.30pm)

Saturday 24 February
Benecos Mavericks v Severn Stars (4pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Celtic Dragons (6pm)

Round 4
Monday 26 February
Loughborough Lightning v Manchester Thunder (7pm live on Sky Sports)
UWS Sirens v Team Northumbria (7pm)
Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (7pm)
Severn Stars v Team Baath (7.30pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Wasps Netball (7.30pm)

Football – off the pitch

Lionesses

The England squad for the SheBelieves Cup, which starts on 1 March has been announced.  Anita Asante is picked for the first time since 2015:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Chelsea).

Defenders: Anita Asante, Hannah Blundell, Millie Bright (all Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes (both Manchester City).

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen, Jill Scott, Keira Walsh (all Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Fara Williams (Reading).

Forwards: Karen Carney, Fran Kirby (both Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Melissa Lawley, Nikita Parris (both Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

All England’s games are being covered by the BBC:

England v France (1 March, 9pm)
Germany v England (4 March, 8pm)
USA v England (8 March, midnight)

Casey Stoney

Not one of sport’s best kept secrets, this week it was announced that Casey Stoney will join Phil Neville’s coaching staff when she hangs up her boots on Wednesday 21 February.

She will play her last game against Sunderland and then will travel with the squad and staff to the USA for the SheBelieves Cup.

Neville could not ask for a more knowledgeable, more respected addition to the team.  Her view of the game and her knowledge of the both the current squad and potential newcomers will be vital to the new manager.

Needless to say, the article on the BBC website prompted some unbelievable bile masquerading in some cases, but not in all of them, as “banter”, directed at Stoney, her sexuality, England women’s football, women’s football in general, Neville, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.  Really chaps (and yes, it is chaps), I know I’ve said this before, but for people who profess to have no interest in or knowledge of the women’s game, you all have an opinion.  And judging by what was left in by the moderators, I’d hate to see what was taken out as unacceptable……

Rugby Union

Last weekend’s Tyrell 15s Premier League results were:
17 February
Harlequins 80-7 Worcester Valkyries
Wasps 26-12 Bristol
Saracens 29-29 Gloucester-Hartpury
Loughborough Lightning 21-15 DMP Sharks

18 February
Richmond 20-12 Firwood Waterloo

All the teams have now played 15 matches.  Saracens’ draw sees their lead at the top of the table cut to just three points.  They lie on 68, with Harlequins on second with 65 and Wasps third on 54.  Worcester are still tethered at the bottom with two points, with Firwood Waterloo second from bottom on 11.

This weekend sees the third round of the Six Nations:

23 February
Scotland v England (Scotstoun, 7.05pm, live on Sky Sports)

24 February
France v Italy (Stade Furiani, 8pm GMT, French TV)

25 February
Ireland v Wales (Donnybrook, Dublin, 3pm, RTE & S4C)

Hockey
Argentina v Great Britain

Well, this series completely passed me by, for which hearty apologies.  GB avoided a series whitewash by winning the fourth game of five.

10 February: Argentina 2-1 Great Britain
GB took the lead through Susannah Townsend, but the hosts hit back through Maria Campoy and Eugenia Trinchinetti.  The GB team included players winning their first caps.

11 February: Argentina 3-1 Great Britain
Alex Danson’s 100th cap saw another loss for GB. The visitors took the lead on seven minutes through Elena Rayer, but again Argentina hit back.   Delfina Merino scored the equaliser.  By half-time Argentina were ahead, their second goal scored by Maria Granatto.  In the third period they grabbed another, through Julieta Jankunas.

14 February: Argentina 5-2 Great Britain
After two tight games, the third was a convincing win for the home side.  Maria Granatto scored after just five minutes, but shortly afterwards Alex Danson equalised. Granatto grabbed another  and Bianca Donati two to take it to 4-1.  Milagros Fernandez added a fifth, before Danson grabbed her second and fiftieth for Great Britain to make the final score 5-2..

17 February: Argentina 2-4 Great Britain
There was at last something to cheer about for GB fans in the fourth match.  Danson scored twice in the first quarter and sealed her hat-trick with nine minutes to go.  The fourth GB goal came from Laura Unsworth.  The Argentine goals came from Campoy and, with just five minutes remaining, Noel Barrionuevo got a second for the hosts.

17 February: Argentina 1-0 Great Britain
It was back to winning ways for the home side in the fifth and final match of the series.  Eugenia Trinchinetti scored the only goal of the game in the tenth minute.

Investec Hockey League Premier Division

17 February
University of Birmingham 5-0 Clifton Robinsons
Canterbury 3-2 Buckingham
Surbiton 1-1 Bowdon
East Grinstead 2-1 Leicester
Slough 0-1 Holcombe

After 13 games, University of Birmingham are top with 26 points, one point ahead of Surbiton.  Holcombe are third on 23.  At the bottom, Leicester prop up the table with 10 points. Just ahead of them are Slough on 12.

Cricket

Second T20
16 February
South Africa 142/7 (20 0vers)
India 144/1(19.1 overs)
India won by 9 wickets with 5 balls remaining

India went 2-0 up in the five-match series on Friday.  Again the batters mostly got starts, but no-on e could make the big score that would seriously cause problems.  Sue Luus top-scored with 33.  Poonam Yadav and Anuja Patil took 2/18 from four overs and 2/37 from four overs respectively.

In response Mithali Raj was in majestic form yet again.  She scored 76 not out from 61 balls with fine back-up from Smriti Mandhana with 57.  Harmanpreet Kaur came in when Mandhana was out in the fifteenth over, scoring seven to get India home comfortably.

Third T20
18 February
India 133 all out (17.5 overs)
South Africa 134/5 (19 overs)
South Africa won by five wickets with 6 balls remaining

Shabnim Ismail produced an excellent spell of 5/30 from 3.5 overs to help skittle India out for just 133.  But it was Marizanne Kapp who began the rout, taking the wicket of Raj for a duck in the first over.

Although Lizelle Lee was also out for five, in the first over of the response, Sune Luus scored 41off 34 balls and the middle order all contributed as South Africa won with an over to spare.

 Fourth T20
21 February
South Africa 130/3 (15.3 overs)
Match abandoned due to rain

India went into an unassailable 2-1 lead as the fourth match at Centurion was abandoned.

The last match in the series, and South Africa’s opportunity to draw it, is on Saturday 24 February at Newlands.

Alex Blackwell

Australia’s vice-captain, Alex Blackwell has announced her international retirement.

The 34-year old is Australia’s most-capped female player making 251 appearances over all formats.  She scored 5,250 international runs.

She will continue to play for Sydney Thunder in the WBBL.

And Finally,

Just a quick note to say it’s been a mixed week for reaction to women and women’s sport.  The Winter Olympics has been exciting and enthralling and, as several commentators on women’s sport have pointed out, no-one seems to say “it’s only women’s skiing” or “It’s only women’s short track.”  Why is this?  Why is it deemed “ok” for women to compete in these events, but not to play football?  Ah, but if I had the answer to this question, I would be a rich woman indeed….

Sorry, no column next week as I’m out and about.

 

Women’s Sports Column 3-9 February 2018

skisWelcome to this week’s column.  The Winter Olympics is upon us, the Six Nations has kicked off in style, the FA Cup is progressing and, sadly, the WBBL is now a distant memory.  Relive everything that’s happened this week here with stories from the Winter Olympics, cricket, tennis, golf, football, netball and rugby.

Let’s crack on

Winter Olympics

There was the worst news for British snowboarder Katie Ormerod this week as she was forced to withdraw before the Games even started, after suffering not one, but two crashes in training.

On Wednesday she fractured her wrist, but was determined to carry on, but on Thursday she crashed again, this time fracturing her heel.

She has now had surgery in Seoul and will stay in hospital for at least a week.

Ormerod was a real Olympic medal hopeful for Great Britain.

In other news, Great Britain’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony is Lizzy Yarnold.  Yarnold, who won gold in the skeleton at Sochi will be defending her title on 16-17 February.

There was also good news for Sochi Paralympic gold medallist, Kelly Gallagher.  She was originally not allocated one of the two places for visually impaired skiers, but has now been given one of the spare slots.  She will be partnered by new guide, Gary Smith.

Much more from the Games next week, when we will be in full swing.

Tennis

Fed Cup

Great Britain started their Fed Cup campaign with aplomb this week, defeating Portugal 3-0 in Tallinn.

Heather Watson beat world number 796 Francisca Jorge in the first singles rubber 6-4 6-1.  Then Johanna Konta won against Maria Joao Koehler, 6-1 6-0.

Anna Smith and Katie Boulter took the doubles against Jorge and Koehler 6-0 6-2.

Great Britain now plays Estonia, a different prospect from the Portuguese team.  If they win the tie and top the group, they will go into a play-off against the winners of Group C.  The winner of the play-off will qualify for the World Group II plays-offs in April.

It’s quite a complicated format, but here is Europe/Africa Group I:

Group A: Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia
Group B: Great Britain, Estonia, Portugal
Group C: Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Sweden
Group D: Latvia, Poland, Austria, Turkey

 St Petersburg Open

Petra Kvitova won the St Petersburg Open, beating Kristina Mladenovic in the final 6-1-6-2.

It is Kvitova’s 21st WTA title and she won it as a wildcard entrant to the tournament.

Rugby Union

Six Nations

Wales 18-17 Scotland

Wales started well with wings Jess Kavanagh-Williams and Hannah Bluck scoring tries in the first half.  They led 13-0 at the break.

On the restart Scotland pressed until Chloe Rollie went over, but Wales came back with a try from Kerin Lake.

Wales hit Scotland again with a second for Rollie, but the visitors launched a late comeback.

Ten minutes from time Jade Konkel pushed her way over and the conversion from Sarah Law cut the lead to 18-17.

But Scotland couldn’t quite overtake Wales as they opened their Six Nations account with a single point win.

France 24-0 Ireland

France claimed their first win, and bonus point, of the Championships on Saturday in Toulouse.

Les Bleues scored their first try of four after just six minutes through Cyrielle Banet.

Ireland then had a period of pressure that should have led to a try, but somehow the Irish just couldn’t break through, but then Jade Le Pesq went over for a second for France and it was 12-0.

Jessy Trémoulière scored a third before half-time to take the score to 17-0 at the break.

The second-half was more even but then Ireland suffered a blow as Ciara Cooney went down with a knee injury.

France were still looking for the bonus point, though, and seven minutes from time they got it as Le Pesq scored her second.  Ireland had no answers and the final score was 24-0.

Italy 7-42 England

England captain Sarah Hunter bagged three tries in the second-half to see England pull away in what had been a tight match up to this point.

At half-time it was 7-7.

England took the lead with a try from Sarah Bern, which was converted by Katy McLean.  But Italy pressed and Valentina Ruzza scored in the 34th minute and was converted by Michela Sillari to make it all square at the break.
Three minutes into the second-half McLean hit a penalty.  After that, England went up a gear (or several).

Sarah Hunter bagged her first and England’s second, quickly followed by their third, this time through Poppy Cleall.

Abigail Dow crossed for England’s fourth and it was Hunter again for the fifth.

Ellie Kildunne slid over with ten minutes to go and then, with the final play of the game, Hunter claimed a loose ball from the scrum to go over for her hat-trick.

The only disappointment for England was McLean’s kicking form – something that will need to be remedied in future, tighter, fixtures.

This weekend sees round 2:

Saturday 10 February
England v Wales (12.15)
Scotland v France (19.05)

Sunday 11 February
Ireland v Italy (13.00)

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

Here are the results from last weekend’s fixtures:

Gloucester-Hartpury Women 80-0 Worcester Valkyries
DMP Sharks 10-18 Firwood Waterloo
Saracens Women 41-0 Richmond Women
Bristol Ladies 13-12 Harlequins Ladies
Loughborough Lightning 26-20 Wasps Ladies

Saracens are 10 points clear at the top on 65.  Second, on 55, are Harlequins with Wasps third on 49.  Worcester Valkyries are still clearly bottom with just two points and a massive points difference of -712.  Firwood Waterloo are second bottom on 11 points.

Just one fixture again this weekend:

DMP Sharks v Harlequins (4pm, Darlington RFC)

Golf

Three cheers for the Oates Vic Open!  The event, held at Barwon Heads near Melbourne, had men and women competing at the same time, on the same course and for the same prize money of £370,000 apiece.

It’s an innovation that seems to be admired by both the women and the men.  The women’s winner was home favourite Minjee Lee, who won by five shots.  Another Australian, Simon Hawkes, won the men’s version.

The crowd gets to see both sets of players in action, widening both the fanbase and exposure of the sport to those who may not ordinarily have watched.

Some of the best Ladies European Tour golfers were in action as the tournament counts on the LET.

In an interview with the BBC, Cheyenne Woods said,

“They do value the equality in both men and women’s golf together.

“I think a lot of tours and sponsors can learn from that. You see it in the tennis game, just watching tennis the last few weeks, the Aussie Open. I think that hopefully in the next few years it will get more like this.

“I love the format.  It’s different from any professional event that we play. I think a lot of tours could learn from this format because it brings so many different fans to come and appreciate not only the men’s game, but the women’s game as well.

“From a player’s point of view, I love it. I love being alongside the men and from a fan’s perspective, it’s nice to get the best of both worlds.

“A lot of tours could take something from this, including the LPGA and PGA Tour and I’m hoping that in the next few years we can get a little something similar to this.”

Cricket

WBBL Final

The Sydney Sixers retained their WBBL title in style as they thrashed Perth Scorchers at Adelaide.

Perth Scorchers 99 all out (20 overs)
Sydney Sixers 100/1 (15 overs)

It was not the fitting end to an entertaining WBBL3 that we’d all been hoping for.

The Scorchers won the toss and elected to bat.  But from then on it all went wrong for the Scorchers.  It began with acceptable, if slow, opening partnership of 23, but as soon as Villani was out for 16 in the seventh over, all hell broke loose.  Bolton went for five and Sciver, two, in quick succession as the Scorchers slipped to 29/3.

Only Piepa Cleary with 18 not out provided any resistance as the Scorchers slumped to 99, taking 20 full overs to get there too, with Emily Smith run out for duck on the last ball.

Sarah Coyte (player of the match) was standout bowler, taking 3/17 off her four overs.  Erin Burns took 2/26 off her four.

It’s not unfair to say the Sixers cruised home, losing only one wicket in the process.  Alyssa Healy was probably kicking herself as she fell, stumped by Smith off the bowling of Emma King for 41.

Ellyse Perry (36) and Ash Gardner (22) took it home for the Sixers, in a mere 15 overs.

South Africa v India Series
Counts towards ICC Women’s Championship (qualifying for 2021 World Cup)

First ODI
India 213/7 (50 overs)
South Africa 125 all out (43.2 overs)
India won by 88 runs

The home side was out-classed in the first ODi in Kimberley.  The visitors won the toss and batted.  Opener Smriti Mandhana made 84 from 98 balls and Mithali Raj 45 as they posted a competitive total.  Marizanne Kapp was the standout bowler for SA, taking 2/26 off her 10 overs,

But it was the Indian bowling that caught the eye. The brilliant Jhulan Goswami took 4/24 from 9.2 overs and Shikha Pandey 3/23 from 8 as the hosts were skittled out with more than six overs to go.

The response started badly as South Africa slumped to 23/3 with Lizelle Lee (3), Trisha Chetty (5) and Mignon du Preez (0) all falling early.  Dane van Niekerk showed some resistance, scoring 41, before she was stumped off the bowling of Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

Laura Wolvaardt, Kapp and Sune Luus all made it into the 20s, but couldn’t push on.  No-one else got into double figures and India won by 88 runs.

Second ODI
India 302/3 (50 overs)
South Africa 124 all out (30.5 overs)
India won by 178 runs

It went from bad to worse for SA in the second ODI.  They won the toss and put India in to bat.  But India put them to the sword.

Smriti Mandhana showed her excellent form once again and was player of the match for the second game running.  She scored 135 from 129, finally stumped by Chetty off Raisibe Ntozakhe in the 44th over.

Harmanpreet Kaur scored 55 not out and Veda Krishnamurthy 51 not out as South Africa were only able to take three wickets in the innings.

Lizelle Lee top-scored for the home side with 73, but began to run out of partners before she was lbw to Deepti Sharma.

Marizanne Kapp was the only other player to get into double figures with 17.

Poonam Yadav took 4/24 off just 7.5 overs with Gayakwad and Sharma taking two apiece.

The third ODI will be on Saturday 10 February.</em

Football

FA Cup Fourth Round

There were some hefty defeats for lower-league sides in the fourth round with Chelsea putting 10 (ten) past London Bees and Sunderland 13 (thirteen!) against Brighouse Town.  The Chelsea score should give cause for concern considering the Bees are only one league down in WSL2 and so we see the ever-widening gap between the two divisions, a gap that is not going to close any time soon, if the FA’s new plans are anything to go by.

Liverpool 5-0 Watford
Aston Villa 4-0 Middlesbrough
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Manchester City
Cardiff City 0-0 Oxford United
Durham 2-1 Sheffield FC
Everton 3-1 Bristol City
London Bees 0-10 Chelsea
Reading 0-1 Birmingham City
Sunderland AFC 13-0 Brighouse Town
Tottenham Hotspur 0-3 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Yeovil Town 0-3 Arsenal
Millwall Lionesses 4-1 Coventry United

FAWSL1
Wednesday 7 February

Liverpool 0-3 Arsenal

Meidema 29 (pen), Janssen 45, Evans 62

England

According to reports, new England boss Phil Neville is looking to those English players who play abroad to possibly strengthen his squad.  Obviously stalwarts such as Lucy Bronze (Lyon) and Toni Duggan (Barcelona) will be firmly in his sights, but there are others, not so well known, who are also playing overseas and may come into the reckoning.

Australia: Jodie Taylor – Melbourne City, Laura Bassett – Canberra United
Cyprus: Ashleigh Bullock and Rosella Ayane – Apollon Limassol
Finland: Sarah Burn – Aland United
France: Lucy Bronze – Lyon
Germany: Leah Galton – Bayern Munich, Lily Agg – Frankfurt, Jessica King – FF USV Jena
Italy: Ellie Brazil – Fiorentina, Katie Zelem – Juventus, Emma Lipman – Verona, Sophie Williams – Calcio Latina
Netherlands: Abby Holmes – PEC Zwolle
Spain: Chloe Richards – Zaragoza, Toni Duggan –Barcelona
United States: Natasha Dowie – formerly Boston Breakers, Rachel Daly – Houston Dash

It’s a fair point.  Some of the European leagues, especially, are far ahead of the WSL when it comes to facilities, fanbase and player-experience.  Anything these players bring to a squad could be of benefit.  But it’s also true to say that the WSL has no shortage of excellent English players to choose from.  So Neville must balance the squad between home-based (and therefore easily accessible) members and those playing further afield.

It has also been reported that Neville has petitioned Manchester United in the hope that they will start a women’s senior team.  Good luck with that.

Netball

Don’t forget the Vitality Netball Superleague begins again this week.  Get out and support your local team!  But if you can’t, tune into Sky Sports on Saturday when they will be showing Wasps Netball v Surrey Storm at 7pm.

And Finally,

It would be remiss of me this week not to mention and celebrate the glorious 6th.  One hundred years ago on Tuesday, the Representation of the People Act 1918 became law, granting property-owning women over 30 the vote.  And yes, there was still plenty of opposition (there’s probably still some today!), and yes, there was (and is) still plenty of work to do if women are to play their fair part in all sectors of society.  Of course, that includes in sport, as inch by inch we redress the balance.

Women’s Sports Column 6-12 May 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through again this week including tennis, the unfathomable workings of FIFA, cricket, football, Ice hockey, the Women’s Sports Trust “Be a Game Changer” Awards and netball.  Plus a link to an excellent piece about women (or the lack of) in F1 and an “And Finally” which can be put in the category of “Am I surprised”….

So let’s crack on.

Tennis

Madrid Open

British number one, Johanna Konta lost in the first round of the Madrid Open this week.  She was beaten by in-form German Laura Siegemund, 3-6 7-6 6-4.

She was 3-0 up in the third set but Siegemund then took five games in a row to take control, and, eventually, the match.

Bouchard v Sharapova

For many the match they were waiting for came in the second round.  Eugenie Bouchard’s much publicised comment about Maria Sharapova being a “cheater” may as well have been posted in large letters above the court when this match took place.

Afterwards Bouchard said she was “motivated” to play well.

The match took three hours and Bouchard was finally triumphant 7-5 2-6 6-4.

Bouchard v Kerber

The third round match-up between Bouchard and Kerber looked to be even more mouth-watering, but the anticipated battle was not to be.  Kerber was suffering with an injury, later to be revealed as a thigh strain and the match ended with Kerber withdrawing at 6-3 5-0 down.

The quarter-final line-up is as follows:

CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) v Simona Halep (Rou) [3]

Eugenie Bouchard (CAN ) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [8]

Kiki Bertens (NED) v Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) [14] v Sorana Cirstea (ROU)

Netball

Loughborough Lightning have managed to dispel my commentator’s curse to become the first side to qualify for the “Final Four” event on 10-11 June in Manchester.  Lightning won again at the weekend and as Wasps lost surprisingly to Team Bath, the gap is now six points at the top of the table.  Lightning are top with 39, Wasps in second 33, Thunder in third also with 33 and Surrey Storm currently lie fourth with 24.  There are still places up for grabs with four rounds to go.

Round 14 results

Friday 5 May

Team Northumbria 60-48 Celtic Dragons

Saturday 6 May

Hertfordshire Mavericks 47-60 Sirens

Surrey Storm 52-59 Loughborough Lightning

Severn Stars 42-63 Manchester Thunder

Monday 8 May

Team Bath 55-53 Wasps Netball

Round 15 sees all the teams playing on Monday 15 May with the live game on Sky being the league leaders, Loughborough Lightning against Hertfordshire Mavericks with coverage starting at 7.30pm.

Round 15 fixtures:

Team Northumbria v Team Bath

Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm

Sirens v Severn Stars

Manchester Thunder v Wasps Netball

Loughborough Lightning v Hertfordshire Mavericks

Cricket

Quadrangular Series

There is a quadrangular series going on in South Africa as a warm-up for the World Cup, which takes place in June-July.  The teams involved are the hosts, South Africa, India, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

India have been the standout team so far having won all of their three games.  In doing so Indian fast bowler Jhulan Goswami became the highest wicket taker in women’s ODIs with 181.

Here are the results so far:

7 May

Zimbabwe 78 all out (26.5 overs)
South Africa 79/2 (11.4 overs0
South Africa won by 8 wickets

Ireland 96 all out (44.4 overs)
India 99/0 (18.4 overs)
India won by 10 wickets

9 May

South Africa 119 all out (39.3 overs)
India 121/3 (41.2 overs)
India won by 7 wickets

Ireland 209 all out (46.1 overs)
Zimbabwe 211/4 (47 overs)
Zimbabwe won by 6 wickets

11 May

South Africa 337/5 (50 overs)
Ireland 159/8 (50 overs)
South Africa won by 178 runs

Zimbabwe 93 all out (38.4 overs)
India 94/1 (18.3 overs)
India won by 9 wickets

Women’s Sports Trust #Be a Game Changer Awards

The awards were held on 11 May and the winners were:

Dame Sarah Storey  (Sporting Role Model – individual)
GB Hockey – (Sporting Role Model -team)
Kelly Simmons (Ambassador of Women’s Sport)
Vitality (Sponsor Partnership of the Year)
British Triathlon (NGB of the Year)
1000 Londoners (Imagery of the Year)
Hannah Bailey (Photographer/filmmaker of the Year)
This Mum Runs (Inspiring Initiative – local)
Youth Sport Trust – Girls Active (Inspiring Initiative – national)
Red Roses (Media Initiative)
Eleanor Oldroyd (Media Individual)
Jointly Kate Richardson-Walsh and Charlotte Edwards (Outstanding Contribution to women’s sport)

North American Sport

This story has been doing the rounds widely this week, but is another example of how women are short-changed in sport, not only as athletes or journalists, administrators or officials, but also as fans.

The Edmonton Oilers ice hockey team are through to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  In their wisdom they have, in deference to their male supporters, changed two women’s bathrooms into men’s to ensure that men don’t have to wait in a queue any longer than is absolutely necessary.

The women, of course, who apparently now have to wait up to half an hour to “go” don’t count.

Probably every woman I know will have a “standing in a toilet queue” tale of woe.  They will by no means be all related to sport, but certainly any woman who has read the story this week will be neither surprised nor impressed.

The club has said that significantly more men than women are attending the playoffs, but have yet to provide any factual evidence of this.

Meanwhile, the Oilers’ female fans will either have to cross their legs or miss the action.

Football

Off the Pitch

Scotland head coach Anna Signeul has been appointed to the International Football Association Board (IFAB) advisory panel.

The IFAB comprises representatives of the four British football associations, which have one vote each and FIFA, which has four votes.

The Advisory panel consists of coaches, managers, referees and former players from all over the world and acts as the decision-making body for the Laws of the Game.

FIFA

It never ceases to amaze me just how totally ridiculous a governing body FIFA is.  I know I’m not alone in this view, but it bears repeating.  And this tends to extend to the member confederations too.

This week the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had to elect a member to the FIFA Council seat reserved for a woman.  They had an outstanding, and I mean outstanding, candidate in Australian Moya Dodd.  So Dodd was elected?  Not a hope.

Let’s just take a moment to consider Moya Dodd.  She chaired the FIFA Women’s Football Taskforce, she has constantly and consistently championed women’s football -its development and its potential for investment and sponsorship.  She has over thirty years of experience as a former player, in law and in business.  She was co-opted on to the Executive Committee of FIFA in 2013.

The AFC Congress voted 27-17 to elect the head of the Bangladesh Football Federation Women’s Committee, Mahfuza Akhter Kiron.

There are six posts for women in the 37-strong council.  These women need to be knowledgeable, confident and able to contribute.  Let’s face it; they probably need to be much more of all of these things than the men – just to get heard.

Kiron is little-known outside Bangladesh and was unable to name the women’s World Cup champions when asked at an interview.  In February she apparently barred the Bangladesh women’s team from speaking to the media because they were publishing negative stories.  In response Bangladeshi journalists boycotted a press conference held to publicise the team’s participation in a tournament in Singapore, refusing to cover the story if Kiron was there.

There has been much comment about the appointment in the press with current and former players, administrators and football journalists all decrying the decision.

Obviously we will have to see what happens during Kiron’s tenure, and she shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, but if I were Moya Dodd I would be wondering how on earth I had missed out.

Lionesses

The England women’s team will play Denmark in their final warm up match before the Euros.  They will play at the Gladsaxe Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday 1 July, kicking off at 6pm BST.

On the Pitch

Women’s Under 17s Euros

The Women’s Under 17s Euros have been taking place in the Czech Republic over the last fortnight.

The semi-finals were played on 11 May:

Netherlands 0-2 Spain
Germany 1-1 Norway
Germany win 3-2 on penalties)

The final between Spain and Germany, the fourth such match-up in ten tournaments, will be on 14 May.

England had a mixed time of it, winning their first group game 5-0 against the Republic of Ireland, but losing the other two to the Netherlands (1-2) and Norway (0-2).

Spring Series

Liverpool Ladies are the early leaders in the Spring Series with three wins from four.  They are top by three points on 10 with current Super League champions Manchester City lying second on seven points from three matches.  Chelsea are third after playing only two games with six points.  Yeovil are bottom having yet to score a point from four matches.

At the risk of losing readers, I’d also like to point you in the direction of the WSL website, which is excellent.  They sometimes miss out a few details, but there’s always a report of each match published in good time.  Check it out: fawsl.com

Saturday 6 May

Sunderland AFC Ladies 1-0 Bristol City Women

Sunderland claimed their first win of the Series on Saturday.  After a tight first-half there was little to choose between the teams.

In the second-half there were long-distance shots from both sides, but the game was settled 14 minutes from time when Hayley Ladd committed a foul tackle in the box and Lucy Staniforth stepped up to score the resultant penalty.

Sunday 7 May

Birmingham City Ladies 0-2 Liverpool Ladies

Not the ideal confidence booster ahead of Birmingham’s FA Cup Final appearance this Saturday as they sank to a home defeat against early league pace-setters, Liverpool Ladies.

Ex Lady-Pie Jess Clarke was on target for the visitors in the 48th minute as Alex Greenwood crossed for her to head past Ann-Katrin Berger to give Liverpool the lead.

The win was sealed nine minutes from time when Gemma Bonner fired home from close range.

Reading FC Women 2-3 Manchester City Women

Reading thought they had the WSL1 champions beaten at Adams Park on Sunday, but they reckoned without the tenacity that won City the title last year

The visitors took the lead through Nikita Parris after just six minutes and this lead lasted until the 59th minute when Jade Moore equalised with a 20-yard shot that flew into the top corner.

The home side went ahead in the 74th minute with a penalty from Lauren Bruton, but the lead lasted just two minutes before Parris grabbed her second from a Megan Campbell long throw.  Campbell is fast becoming famous (or infamous) for this throw and she was in the action again two minutes later as she fired over another for Jill Scott to latch on to and put away to claim the points.

Yeovil Town Ladies 1-5 Arsenal Ladies FC

Yeovil took a hammering against Arsenal as the Gunners claimed their first win of the Spring Series.

The away side took the lead in the seventh minute with a penalty from Jodie Taylor after the ball was handled in the box.

Two minutes later the lead was doubled as Yeovil defender Molly Clark put the ball into her own net.

On 24 minutes Taylor grabbed her second and on 31 the on-form Danielle Carter got Arsenal’s fourth on and the game was effectively over.

Lucy Quinn pulled one back for the Lady Glovers just before half-time, but they went in 1-4 down.

In the second-half Heather O’Reilly scored a penalty for Arsenal to take the score to 1-5.

Tuesday 9 May

Bristol City Women 0-3 Manchester City Women

Toni Duggan completed an impressive 18-minute hat-trick to see Manchester City take their second away win in a week.

She got her first two minutes before half-time, from a Nikita Parris cross.

In the second-half she scored on 51 and 57 minutes, the first from the penalty spot and the second after being put through by Parris again.

FA Cup Final

It’s the FA Cup Final this weekend between Birmingham City Ladies and Manchester City Women.  The BBC is showing it live on BBC2 and the BBC website with updates on Radio 5 Live.  Kick-off is 5.15pm.  Should be a good one, if the Spring Series game last week is anything to go by.

Formula 1

I picked up on a rather good piece about the barriers to women in formula One.  Here’s the link if you’d like to read it for yourself: sidepodcast.com

And finally

Here’s a funny little anecdote that may, or may not, have you raising an eyebrow.  Apparently, former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has said he is “not comfortable” being interviewed by a female reporter – not a particular one, you understand, just women in general.

This all came out before the launch of his boxing academy in Dubai and was revealed by a spokesperson for the Dubai agency that represents him.  It was told to Arabian Business which was planning to interview him about the launch.  They were told that if they sent a female reporter the interview would be cancelled.

Since the revelation, both the agency and Tyson himself have tried to deflect interest in the “story” and have refused all further requests for comment.

I wasn’t there to hear either side, but sadly it’s all too easy to believe.  Just because we don’t hear this every day, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.  And while it does, women sports reporters will always be in the shadow of their male colleagues – commissioning editors will always have to consider who they are going to send to a story not just because of their capabilities, but also possibly because of their gender.