Women’s Sports Column 14-20 April 2018

12928352_10201803729532769_8195423317764149816_nWelcome to this week’s column.  No prizes for guessing my top story of the week.  I’m glad to say that my “Give Australia the gold now” statement was proved spectacularly wrong.  Anyway, more of that later.

This week’s stories include a last round-up from the Commonwealth Games, plus news from football, netball, rugby, tennis, cricket and rugby league.

Let’s crack on, starting with those golden Roses!

Commonwealth Games

Netball Semi-final
Jamaica 55-56 England

What a comeback!  England were six down at half-time and I, for one, thought it was all over.

The Roses made a terrible start, completely failing to get to grips with Jamaica’s huge 6’ 6” shooter, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.  They were also profligate at the other end; as Jo Harten admitted, “I had a shocker of a start.”

But in the third quarter they began to pull it back and by the start of the fourth they were only three goals down.

It was neck and neck in the final quarter and with 30 seconds to go it was 55-55.

From England’s centre pass Helen Housby missed the shot to win it with just seven seconds left.  It looked to be going into extra-time when Harten made up for her bad start by taking the rebound and popping it in with one second left on the clock.

Netball Final
Australia 51-England 52

If you thought the semi was tense, it had nothing on the final.  I don’t think I was alone in thinking the Diamonds would run away with it – but how wrong I was.

It was 25-25 at half-time.

In the third quarter the Roses went behind again and were four goals down going into the final quarter.

But they pulled it back yet again and with 20 seconds to go it was 51-51.  They couldn’t do it again, could they?

Well, yes they could.  This time it was Helen Housby who held her nerve after first Harten then Housby herself missed the chance to take the game.  Australia were penalised for contact and

Housby put away the shot to take the game on the buzzer.

As part of the defenders’ union, can I just put in a word for the England defenders?  The shooters get the glory, but without the fabulous performances from Geva Mentor and captain Ama Agbeze, plus the whirlwind that is Serena Guthrie, the Roses would not have won it.

Other Commonwealth Games Highlights

Hockey: England’s women won bronze, demolishing India 6-0 in the bronze medal match. Sophie Bray scored a hat-trick with Hollie Pearne-Webb, Alex Danson and Laura Unsworth also on the scoresheet.

Badminton: Gabby and Chris Adcock retained their mixed doubles title in an all-England final, defeating Lauren Smith and Chris Ellis 19-21 21-17 21-16.  Smith also won silver with partner Sarah Walker in the women’s doubles.  And England made it six medals, taking mixed team bronze.  Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour claimed bronze in the women’s singles.

Boxing: Wales’ Lauren Price won gold in the -75kg category, defeating Australia’s Caitlin Parker on a split decision.  Sandy Ryan of England (-69kg) beat Rosie Eccles of Wales to take gold, with Lisa Whiteside also taking gold in the -51kg, beating Carly McNaul of Northern Ireland on points.  There were also silvers for Michaela Walsh and Kristina O’Hara.

Rugby Sevens: England claimed bronze in the inaugural Commonwealth Games appearance of women’s sevens.  They defeated Canada in the bronze medal match, 24-19.  New Zealand beat Australia 17-12 to take gold.

Squash: England claimed silver and Wales bronze in the women’s singles through Sarah-Jane Perry and Tesni Evans respectively.

Table tennis:  Bronze went to England in the team event, while England’s mixed doubles team of Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho took silver.

Basketball: England took silver in the women’s event, losing out to hosts Australia 99-55 in the final.  As with netball, basketball receives no UK Sport funding as it is seen as unlikely to bring in Olympic medals.  Will UK Sport have to think again after this?

Athletics: Jade Jones of England completed a remarkable double when she claimed bronze in the T54 marathon, having won gold in the para-triathlon earlier on in the Games.  She was then selected as flag-bearer for the England team at the closing ceremony.  The England women’s 4x100m team of Dina Asher-Smith, Asha Philip, Lorraine Ugan and Bianca Williams won gold in a time of 42.26, beating Jamaica (42.42) and Nigeria (42.75).  Laura Weightman claimed bronze in the 5,000m and  Morgan Lake silver in the high jump (both England).

Apologies again to those I have missed.

Netball – off the court

England’s Commonwealth Games gold is, and I’m not going to shy away from saying it, a “watershed” moment for the sport in England, and the UK.

But a rosy future for the sport in this country is not guaranteed.

At the moment the sport receives £13.9m for the grassroots game and £3m for the national team from Sport England.

It’s a lot of money – agreed.  But there are 160,000 girls and women currently playing netball in England and numbers are growing.  It will take all of that money to sustain and promote this growth with the excitement surrounding the “Back to Netball” and walking netball programmes.

When it comes to the elite game, UK Sport contributes little to netball.  The Superleague has done a tremendous amount over the past few years to fund itself.  It has got backing from Sky Sports and has sponsorship deals with Vitality and Mrs. Crimble’s, amongst others.

UK Sport is supporting next year’s World Cup in Liverpool, but it is still reluctant to put money into the elite game.  As we know, UK Sport is all about success – funding those who are already successful to do more (not the place for this debate here) so isn’t it time for them to put its hand in its pockets for netball?  Do England really have to win the World Cup before they are counted as successful?

Netball – on the court

The Vitality Superleague is back this weekend after the Commonwealth Games break.  And if the venues are not packed out for this round of matches, I’d like to know why.

Fixtures:

Saturday 21 April
Manchester Thunder v Surrey Storm (5pm)
Team Northumbria v Severn Stars (6pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Benecos Mavericks (7pm)

Sunday 22 April
Wasps Netball v Team Bath (3pm) – This is the live fixture on Sky Sports

Football – off the pitch

The Michael Oliver/Gianluigi Buffon debacle

Which dimwit decided it would be a good idea to post Lucy Oliver’s mobile number on social media after her husband refereed the controversial Champions’ League quarter-final between Real Madrid and Juventus?

Apart from the fact that Michael Oliver made the correct decisions, why should someone think it was acceptable to drag Lucy into the argument?

Not that they stopped at that, of course.  They had to go on to make threats and abuse her generally.

Did they think it was acceptable because Lucy is an excellent and experienced referee in her own right?  Or was it just because she is a woman and, therefore, fair game?

Who knows?

The bottom line is it’s not acceptable in any way.  Not the abuse of Michael Oliver.  Not the abuse of Lucy Oliver.  Not at all.

Over to UEFA to sort it out.

Millwall Lionesses

In the last week it has come to light that one of the stalwart teams of the league, Millwall Lionesses, is in financial trouble.

The WSL2 club has said it has “significant financial discrepancies” and opened a crowdfunding page earlier this week to try to raise money to complete the season.

Emilie Perry, Chair and sole director, resigned in March and the club says “all external funding channels have been exhausted”.

The team currently lies second in the division and is unbeaten in 11 games.  Players and staff have said they are willing to play without salaries in order to finish the season.

This is pretty rotten news and questions must be asked of the FA (yet again), which has already approved the club’s application for what will be the Championship next season.  Surely it looked into the club’s finances?  The crowdfunder may be a great short-term solution, but the club will have to be sustainable in the future.  I know the men’s club support them both monetarily and in-kind, but let’s hope they find their own backer, and soon.

When I started putting the column together earlier on in the week, the page was just starting up.  By Wednesday they had exceeded their £10k target!   The page is still open for contributions though, so if you can, please click here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/millwalllionesses and let’s get them funded.

PFA Awards Nominations

The list of nominees for the Women’s PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards is out.

FAWSL 1:

  • Ramona Bachmann (Chelsea)
  • Millie Bright (Chelsea)
  • Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
  • Maren Mjelde (Chelsea)
  • Jill Scott (Manchester City)
  • Ji So-Yun (Chelsea)

Women’s PFA Young Player of the Year award:

  • Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea)
  • Gabby George (Everton)
  • Lauren Hemp (Bristol City)
  • Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
  • Georgia Stanway (Manchester City)
  • Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

The Awards ceremony is this Sunday, 22 April.  For what it’s worth, my votes would go to Millie Bright (own goals notwithstanding, is improving in leaps and bounds) and Georgia Stanway.  News of the winners next week.

Football – on the pitch

The semi-finals of the FA Cup took place last weekend and it was good to see them televised by the BBC (to hoots of derision from the Neanderthals, of course).  We now know the final will be between Arsenal and Chelsea.  Here’s how the semis unfolded:

Everton 0-1 Arsenal

It’s a sixteenth FA Cup final for Arsenal but heartbreak for Everton as the Gunners scored a stoppage-time winner to take them through.

Dan Carter opened the scoring or Arsenal on 25 minutes and went into the break with this slender lead intact.

In the second-half Everton equalised from the penalty spot.  Chloe Kelly calmly converted after Dominque Janssen was penalised for bringing down Courtney Sweetman-Kirk in the box.

The winner came in the 91st minute as Louise Quinn headed in from corner and the Gunners were through.

Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

Two goals from in-form striker Fran Kirby were enough to see Chelsea into the final.

But City will be disappointed with their defensive performance as much as their toothlessness in attack.

Kirby was on the scoresheet as early as the fifth minute.  She latched on to a ball that should have been cleared by City captain Steph Houghton, to race through and put it past the ‘keeper.

In the second-half she did it again, this time Jen Beattie the defender with the error.

Chelsea are still in the hunt for three trophies; the FA Cup, the League title and the ultimate prize of the Champions’ League.  Manchester City have seen a slump in form that they will have to end if they are to realise their own dreams of retaining the WSL1 title and winning in Europe.

League Results:

Sunday 15 April

WSL2

London Bees 1-3 Durham Women
Sheffield FC 4-0 Watford Ladies

Wednesday 18 April

WSL1

Bristol City 0-2 Liverpool
Everton 0-1 Chelsea
Manchester City 3-0 Sunderland
Arsenal 3-1 Reading
Yeovil Town 0-0 Birmingham City

WSL2

Millwall Lionesses 2-1 Aston Villa
London Bees 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Thursday 19 April

WSL2

Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-1 Durham Women
Oxford United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

So it’s as you were at the top of WSL1 with Chelsea on 32 points from 14 games, three points clear of Manchester City, although City have a game in hand.  Arsenal are third, five points behind City with two games in hand over the leaders.

At the bottom, Yeovil registered their first point of the season this week with a home draw against Birmingham City.

In WSL2 Doncaster Rovers Belles are still top with 35 points from 13 games. Beleaguered Millwall are second with 29 points from 12 games.

Watford are bottom with just one point from their 11 games.

Tennis

Fed Cup

The GB Fed Cup team for the World Group II play-offs has been announced.

It will comprise Jo Konta and Heather Watson for singles and Anna Smith and Gabi Taylor for the doubles.  It will be Taylor’s debut, a reward for her fine start to the year that has seen her rise from 323 in the world to 175 after winning three challenger series titles.

If they win against Japan, they will be in World Group II for 2019, but if they lose they will go back to the Europe/Africa Zone.

The tie, which will be played on hard courts, will be this weekend; 21-22 April at Bourbon Beans Dome in Miki, Japan.  There will be radio coverage on BBC 5 Live and also on the BBC Sport website.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards has been appointed Hampshire’s new director of women’s cricket.  She takes over from Bob Parks.

In an interview with the Hampshire CC website Edwards expressed her enthusiasm for the new role:

“I see an ambitious organisation that will compliment my passion for domestic cricket,” she told the club website.

“I look forward to working with players, coaches and staff to help Hampshire become one of the leading domestic clubs in the country for women’s cricket.”

Rugby Union

It will be Saracens v Harlequins in the Premier 15s final on Sunday.  The second-leg of the semi-finals were as follows:

Saracens 45-26 Gloucester-Hartpury

Having received a sound beating in the first leg, 62-0, Gloucester-Hartpury showed real fight against Saracens in the second.

Indeed the away side took the lead through a try from Rachel Lund.  But Saracens soon came back and by half-time their lead was 19-14, as they scored through Bryony Cleall, Helena Rowland and Hannah Botterman.  Gloucester-Hartpury also put a second score on the board through Mary-Ann Gittings.

The home side started strongly in the second-half, with Garnet Mackinder and Marlie Packer both crossing the whitewash.

Saracens skipper Lotte Clapp went over again to make it 38-14, before the away side countered again, Sophie Tandy scoring their third.

Rowland grabbed her second try of the match, but it was Gloucester-Hartpury who put the last score on the board as Tandy going over for her second.

Harlequins 22-7 Wasps

Wasps only needed to win by seven points or more to secure their final spot, but it was not to be.

It was Quins who opened the scoring on 25 minutes, after 20 minutes of Wasps pressure.  Stacy White went over in the corner and Quins were ahead.  Jess Wooden went over for a second shortly after.

After the break the home side scored another two tries, through Deborah McCormack and Vickii Cornborough and the game and tie, were effectively sealed.

Danielle Waterman finally went over for Wasps, but there was no way back.

The final is a week on Sunday, 29 April at Ealing Trailfinders.  Kick-off is 3pm.  Adult tickets are £10 and children go free.

Rugby League

I realise that rugby league is woefully underrepresented in this column.  I also know I have promised to rectify this before, but have never quite managed it.  I will make an effort this season!  The RFL is really getting its act together to promote the game and it certainly becoming more high-profile.  It’s not made it onto the BBC website yet, but as they can barely cover the men’s, it’s no great surprise (couldn’t be because it’s from oop-North, could it?  Why are they based in Salford if not to redress the North/South bias?).  And to give the BBC its due, I did hear Dave Woods, its excellent rugby league correspondent, talking about the new season during the interval of a men’s superleague match last week.

Anyway, I started out my journalistic career covering Sheffield Eagles for the Sheffield University newspaper, so I’ve really got no excuse.

The Superleague comprises seven teams: Wigan Warriors, Featherstone Rovers, St Helens, York City Knights, Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos (the first appearance for a Leeds team) and Castleford Tigers.

The 2018 Superleague season got underway last weekend and the result were:

Wigan Warriors 54-0 Featherstone Rovers
St Helens 40-0 York City Knights
Bradford Bulls 16-32 Leeds Rhinos

There is a fine website dedicated to both the men’s and women’s game.  Check it out here

And finally,

As I’ve not mentioned netball for a couple of thousand words or so, I feel justified in putting it in just one more time in this column.  I’m happy to say that the comments on various websites after the Roses’ triumph were, by and large, positive.  In fact, there were several along the lines of (men) not being interested before, but being converted to the skills, excitement and atmosphere of the sport through their Commonwealth Games viewing.  Of course, there were still the Neanderthal naysayers citing the supposed irrelevance, worthlessness, sheer girliness of the game.  And, bizarrely, those (men again) on the other side, harping on at it being sexist that it’s a “girls’ game” and that men don’t play.   In their (mighty) opinion there’s no way it should be an Olympic sport if there were only women playing it.

They obviously don’t know that actually there’s quite a big following for men’s netball – clubs and everything!  Even mixed leagues!  So instead of crying “sexist” why don’t they just pick up a ball and try it?  Get involved, get better and get it to a level whereby they could hold big tournaments.  I’ll tell you why, because it’s easier for them to denigrate it and call it worthless if they’re “not allowed” to play it!

More news and views next week.

 

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Women’s Sports Column 7-13 October 2017

camerawomanWelcome to this week’s column.  After last week’s short, but perfectly formed column, this week promises to be another bumper effort!  Good grief, women, what are you doing playing/officiating in/running/campaigning about all this sport?  Whatever next?  In fact there’s so much to put in I’m going to have to leave it to you to find this weekend’s fixtures for the various sports leagues.  No room!!

Anyway, on to the news.  Stories this week come from cricket, rugby union, rugby league, football, netball, gymnastics, hockey and tennis.  Plus, a tiny rant from me for this week’s “And finally”.

Let’s crack on.

Netball

It was a clean sweep for England as they retained their Netball Europe Open Championships title at the weekend.  They were the clear favourites to take the title and put together a fine series of wins to remain unbeaten by the end of the tournament.

Results:
5 October
Fiji 34-52 Scotland
Wales 46-47 Northern Ireland

6 October
England 61-48 Scotland
Fiji 40-61 Wales
England 75-44 Northern Ireland

7 October
Fiji 46-58 Northern Ireland
Wales 49-58 Scotland
England 94-31 Fiji

8 October
Scotland 45-46 Northern Ireland
England 72-50 Wales

Final Standings:

P W D L PTS
England 4 4 0 0 8
Northern Ireland 4 3 0 1 6
Scotland 4 2 0 2 4
Wales 4 1 0 3 2
Fiji 4 0 0 4 0

Football

Off the pitch

Eventually….

Manchester City have apparently asked to talk to the FA about the response of the officials and services available after Pauline Bremer broke her leg in the game against Everton on Saturday.

According to Sportsmail City are unhappy at the lack of emergency services available at the game.  The ambulance apparently did not arrive for an hour and her teammates had to carry her off on a stretcher.

Both clubs had medics available, but there were no emergency services and there is no FA requirement for them to be even at top flight women’s games, whereas they must be available at all men’s professional games.

So, hey ho FA, here we go again.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s all a part of their half-brained thinking.  Last week it was the announcement of a fully professional first tier of women’s football; this week it’s revealed there’s not even an ambulance present at current matches.  Just who is putting these schemes and ideas together?  Are they even aware of the present situation?  Before we move on to the next big thing, can we get the present middle-sized thing right first, please?

Yeovil

Yeovil Town Ladies announced this week that they were going to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £350,000 necessary to put in a bid to be part of the new fully-professional top tier.

As reported a couple of weeks ago, the deadline to apply is 10 November.

The club has said,

“We have the structure, facilities and ambition to become a full-time professional club given time, but we currently do not have the financial support to do this.

“We do not have the budget to allow our players and coaches to become full-time athletes, unless further investment comes our way soon.”

And while you can applaud the club’s ambition and appreciate that it is currently where it is on merit, you have to wonder about the wisdom of building a long-term future on a crowdfunding campaign.  If they don’t have the investment now, is a one-off injection of £350,000 make the club any more sustainable?

I’m hoping they’ve done the sums and I apologise if I am wrongly doubtful. It’s a great club that has come so far and deserves a shot.

Here’s the link to the campaign should you wish to contribute:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/turning-professional-in-the-top-tier-of-the-fawsl

And it’s not just in this country that women’s football is sadly underestimated and treated with contempt:

Brazil

A number of former Brazilian women internationals have sent an open letter to their federation to protest at some of their recent actions.

And although they attack some specific issues, such as the sacking of head coach Emily Lima, their key complaint is one heard again and again throughout women’s sport –

“We, and almost all other Brazilian women, are excluded from the leadership and decision-making for our own team and our own sport”.

Lima’s sacking led to five members of the current Brazilian squad to retire from international football; Cristiane, Francielle, Rosana, Andreia Rosa and Maurine have all given up on their international careers.

But it’s the set-up and governance of the women’s game that is the main focus of the protest.  FIFA has guidelines in place that say women must be included at all levels of governance of the game.  But the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) does not follow these guidelines – indeed there are no women on its governing board.

Can we expect FIFA to intervene?  Impose sanctions?  I suspect not.  But both the CBF and FIFA will have to respond in some way.  And when they do, I’ll be covering it.

England

Mo Marley has named her first squad as interim England Manager.  A squad of 24 has been named for the friendly against France, which takes place on Friday 20 November at the Stade du Hainaut.

The match will be shown live on the BBC red button – friendlies on the TV, whatever next?

Goalkeepers: Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Mary Earps (Reading), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Gemma Bonner (Liverpool), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Jess Carter (Birmingham City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool) 

Midfielders: Izzy Christiansen (Manchester City), Jade Moore (Reading), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jo Potter (Reading), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Reading)

Forwards: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Dan Carter (Arsenal), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal)

Norway – Good News!

And some good news to round off the “off the pitch” section.

The Norwegian Football Association announced this week that it is to pay the same to both male and female internationals.

Head of the Norwegian Players’ union, Joachim Walltin, said,

“Norway is a country where equal standing is very important for us, so it is good for the country and for the sport.

“For the girls, it will certainly make a difference. Some of them are working and studying, as well as playing football, and it’s hard to improve then.

“The feeling of being really respected is very important for them. The federation can see it as an investment to increase the level of the women’s team.”

And so say all of us.  Norway is taking the lead here – it would be good to see others follow suit.

On the Pitch

It’s been a busy week with WSL, Continental Cup and Champions League action all taking place.  After this week’s results we’re now down to the last 16 in the Champions League and it’s good to report that both English clubs went through, but Glasgow City went out on the away goals rule.  

Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea
Chelsea win 3-2 on aggregate

This was a fine result for Chelsea after being only one up after the home leg.  It was tight all the way through, but when Fran Kirby stuck away an excellent goal on 60 minutes, thereby securing an away goal, the task seemed much easier.

Bayern needed three in 30 minutes and were stung into action.  They pulled one back after sustained pressure as substitute Gemma Davison deflected the ball into her own net and then Lucie Vonkova pounced on some poor goalkeeping from Lindahl to poke home from close range.

Chelsea resisted wave after wave of attack, much as they did in the first leg.  The home side had a good shout for a penalty when the ball seemed to strike Millie Bright’s arm, but the referee waved it away.

Bayern did put the ball in the net in injury time, but it was disallowed for a push in the box and Chelsea held on for the win.

The Bayern staff and manager were not happy with what they perceived as Chelsea time-wasting as player after player went down.  And while there certainly was an element of this, the players had also played themselves into the ground and were genuinely feeling the effects.  Several times Chelsea were down to ten and playing on.  Ramona Bachmann appeared to have pretty constant cramp for the last half-hour!

Manchester City 3-0 St Polten
Manchester City win 6-0 on aggregate

It was an altogether easier night for Manchester City as they cruised past Austrian champions St Polten and into the last 16.

With a healthy 3-0 cushion from the away leg, City matched the tally with goals from Nikita Parris, Jill Scott and Mel Lawley.

In truth, it wasn’t a flowing performance from City and a better team would have made them pay.  Jane Ross missed a penalty in the first-half and was then anonymous for the rest of the game.  The defence, still adapting after losing Lucy Bronze to Lyon, looked creaky at times.  But they’re through and will, no doubt, take confidence from the tie to go on into the last 16.

Glasgow City 4-1 BIIK Kazygurt
4-4 on aggregate, but BIIK Kazygurt go through on the away goal

It was heartbreak for Glasgow City as they so nearly came back from a 3-0 away deficit to complete a miraculous win.

Their task was made so much harder as BIIK took an early lead through Chinwendu Ihezuo and the home side needed five.

Abbi Grant scored a hat-trick and Noelle Murray one to bring the sides level on aggregate.

Then Glasgow were awarded a penalty with eight minutes to go and the chance to win the tie.  But Leanne Ross hit the post and the chance was lost.

City had further chances to score but the ball refused to go in the net and Glasgow had gone out at the round of 32 stage for the third year running.

Round of 16

There are eight seeded teams and eight unseeded in the last 16 and the good news for Manchester City is that they have snuck into the seeded pot.  Chelsea are not so lucky:

Seeded
Lyon (FRA, holders)
Wolfsburg (GER)
FC Rosengård (SWE)
Barcelona (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
Brescia (ITA)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Sparta Praha (CZE)

Unseeded
Linköping (SWE)
Chelsea (ENG)
Montpellier (FRA)
LSK Kvinner (NOR
BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)
Gintra Universitetas (LTU)
Stjarnan (ISL)
Fiorentina (ITA)

The draw will be made on Monday 16 October with everyone wanting to avoid Lyon and Wolfsburg!

FAWSL1

7 October
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool
Everton 2-3 Manchester City

8 October
Arsenal 1-1 Bristol City
Reading 2-2 Birmingham City
Yeovil Town 0-1 Sunderland

Chelsea are top on goal difference with three wins from three.  Manchester City are equal on points, but five behind on goal difference.  Sunderland are third on six points.  Neither Everton nor Yeovil have yet taken a point, with the Lady Glovers bottom with a worse goal difference.

FAWSL2

8 October
Durham 4-0 Watford
London Bees 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Millwall Lionesses 4-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
Sheffield FC 2-1 Aston Villa
Oxford United 2-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Millwall are top of division two on goals scored.  Both they and Oxford United are on seven points from three games.  They have the same goal difference, but Millwall have scored three more goals.  Durham are third on six points.  Aston Villa, London Bees and Watford are still to register a point with Watford bottom of the pile on goal difference.

Continental Cup

The Cup begins in a group stage this year with four groups, the top two from each going through to the knockout stage.

The Groups are Groups One and Two (North) and Groups One and Two (South).  If games end in a draw at 90 minutes, they go straight to penalties.

Group 1 (N)
Liverpool 6-0 Sheffield FC
Durham 0-0 Sunderland (Sunderland won 3-2 on penalties)

Group 2 (N)
Birmingham City 4-0 Oxford United
Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-3 Everton

Group 1 (S)
Arsenal 7-0 London Bees
Watford 1-0 Millwall Lionesses

Group 2 (S)
Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 Yeovil Town
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Bristol City

Gymnastics

Claudia Fragapane claimed bronze in the floor at the World Gymnastics Championships in Montreal at the weekend.

Japan’s Mai Murakami took gold with a score of 14,233, Jade Carey of the USA, silver, 14,2 with Fragapane coming in with 13.933.

Amy Tinkler finished 17th in the all round final with a total of 50.899.  It was quite an achievement as she was taking part just seven weeks after ankle surgery.  Morgan Hurd of the USA took gold with 55.232, with Ellie Black of Canada in silver position and Elena Eremina of Russia taking bronze.

Hockey

This week’s Investec Women’s Hockey League results were as follows:

7 October
Buckingham 0-0 Holcombe
Slough 1-0 Canterbury
Bowdon 0-2 East Grinstead
Surbiton 1-0 Leicester

8 October
Clifton Robinsons 1-4 University of Birmingham

This means that with three games gone, Surbiton are still top on goals scored from Slough.  Both are on seven points.  In third lie Holcombe with five.  Canterbury are still bottom with one point.

Rugby League

I realise I have been somewhat remiss in my coverage of women’s rugby league – in fact I’ve just never covered it.  I have no defence.  I love rugby league – in fact the first piece I ever wrote for the Sheffield University newspaper was on Sheffield Eagles.  So, in an attempt to redeem myself, there were two big stories this week.

Grand final
Bradford Bulls 36-6 Featherstone Rovers

Bradford Bulls scored seven tries through seven different players to ensure they won the inaugural Women’s Super League Grand Final at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday.

It also ensured a league and cup double for the Bulls who won the Challenge Cup earlier in the season and meant they completed the season with a 100% record.

At half-time it was still all to play for as Bulls led 16-6.  The Bulls began with tries from captain Kirsty Moroney and Lois Forsell.  Georgia Roche scored for Rovers, who then took and scored the conversion. Bulls then scored their third through Charlotte Booth.

But Rovers couldn’t score again in the second-half as the Bulls ran away with it.  Claire Garner, Amy Hardcastle, Charlene Henegan and Haylie Hields all crossed for tries, while Garner put over four conversions.

World Cup Squad

England have named 23 players in the squad to take part in the World Cup in November in Australia.

Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls), Andrea Dobson (Featherstone Rovers), Beth Sutcliffe, Charlotte Booth, Claire Garner (all Bradford Bulls), Danielle Bound (Thatto Heath St Helens), Danika Priim (Bradford Bulls), Emily Rudge (Thatto Heath St Helens), Emma Slowe (Featherstone Rovers), Faye Gaskin, Jenny Welsby (both Thatto Heath St Helens), Jessica Courtman(Bradford Bulls), Jodie Cunningham (Thatto Heath St Helens), Katherine Hepworth (Castleford Tigers), Kayleigh Bulman (Featherstone Rovers), Kirsty Moroney, Lois Forsell (both Bradford Bulls), Rachel Thompson(Thatto Heath St Helens), Rhiannon Marshall, Sarah Dunn (both Featherstone Rovers), Shona Hoyle, Stacey White (both Bradford Bulls), Tara-Jane Stanley (Thatto Heath St Helens).

England’s group fixtures begin against Papua New Guinea Orchids on 16 November.

The tournament final will be before the men’s at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on 2 December.

Group fixtures will be played at the Southern Cross Stadium, Woolooware, NSW.

16 November: Papua New Guinea Orchids (kick-off 09:30 BST)
19 November: Australian Jillaroos (04:45 BST)
22 November: The Cook Islands (04:45 BST)

 Belinda Sleeman

 Meanwhile, the men’s Rugby League World Cup has appointed its first female official.  Australian Belinda Sleeman is one of 24 officials selected.

Needless to say she has already accomplished a series of first – the most recent being the first woman to officiate at a Test Match, when she was a touch judge at the Fiji v Tonga match in May.

Watch out everyone – female officials are on the march at last.  They are progressing as never before in rugby (both codes), football and cricket.  Coming to a match near you!

Rugby Union

 Barbarians Women’s Team

The invitational team, the Barbarians are to introduce a women’s team.

The side’s first game will be against Munster on 10 November at Thomond Park, with further fixtures to be announced in due course.

Giselle Mather will coach the team and Fiona Stockley will manage it.

So far Susie Brown (Scotland), Fiona Coghlan (Ireland), Claire Cripps and Megan Goddard (England), Elen Evans (Wales), Emma Jenson (New Zealand), Christelle Le Duff (France) and Kelly Russell (Canada), have accepted invitations to play.  These eight start with 440 international caps between them.

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

Last weekend’s scores were as follows:

Saracens Women 30-0 Wasps Ladies
Harlequins Ladies 36-10 DMP Sharks
Loughborough Lightning 30-19 Firwood Waterloo Ladies
Bristol Women 28-20 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
Richmond Women 48-12 Worcester Valkyries

Harlequins Ladies are top with four from four and maximum bonus points.  Saracens lie second, a point behind, with Bristol three points further back on 16 after winning three of their first four matches.  At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries remain pointless, with Firwood Waterloo and DMP Sharks on one and two points respectively.

Cricket

Australia have announced their squad for the Ashes, which start on 22 October.  As we know, captain Meg Lanning is out and her place is taken by Rachel Haynes, a decision that has raised some eyebrows as it has been suggested that Haynes has been picked mostly for her captaincy skills rather than her cricketing skills.  We’ll see in just over a week whether this proves to be an inspired decision (or not).

There are six uncapped players in the squad, two of whom are just returning from long-term injury; Lauren Cheatle has been out for six months with a shoulder injury, while Tahlia McGrath has been out for eight months with a stress fracture.

The squads in full:

Test squad: Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (Capt), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

ODI squad: Beams, Blackwell, Bolton, Cheatle, Gardner, Haynes, Healy, Jonassen, McGrath, Mooney, Perry, Schutt, Villani, Wellington.

ICC Women’s Championship

The quest to qualify for the 2021 World Cup began this week.  Four teams qualify automatically. The first round of fixtures is between West Indies and Sri Lanka and the first game was played on Wednesday 11 October:

Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Tarouba
Sri Lanka 136 all out (49.4 overs)
West Indies 138/4 (39 overs)

It was a comfortable win for the home side in the first game of three on Wednesday.  Yasoda Mendis top scored for Sri Lanka with 34.  Fletcher, Matthews and Taylor took three wickets each.  The only downside for West Indies was Hayley Matthews retiring hurt during the West Indies innings.  Kycia Knight made only one and captain Stafanie Taylor, two, but the middle order all contributed to see the Windies home.

The second game is on Friday 13 October.  Each game is worth two points in the Women’s Championship.

Tennis

On the Court

China Open

Caroline Garcia of France took the China Open title, beating new world number one Simona Halep in the final, 6-4 7-6.  She then pulled out of the Tianjin Open with injury.

Tianjin Open

Of course, at this stage of the season, it’s another week, another tournament.

The quarter-finals of the Tianjin Open have just been decided:

S Peng (3) beat S. Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1
M Sharapova beat S. Vögele 6-3 6-1
S Errani beat S McHale 5-7 7-6 6-1
A Sabalenka beat L. Zhu 6-3 6-4.

The semi-finals, which take place on Saturday 14 October, will be Errani v Sabalenka and Sharapova v Peng.

Off the Court

Johanna Konta is still suffering with a foot injury and has been forced to withdraw from the Kremlin Cup, which takes place next week.  It means she will no longer be able to qualify for the end of season Singapore tournament.

The places have been decided for Singapore and are:

  • Simona Halep (Romania)
  • Garbine Muguruza (Spain)
  • Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)
  • Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
  • Venus Williams (USA)
  • Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)
  • Caroline Garcia (France)

And finally

First, let me start by saying God bless the BBC for its efforts in promoting women’s sport in the face of all the bile produced by the Neanderthals every week, who feel their “No-one cares”, or more usually “Who the **** cares?” postings are the sharpest, wittiest comments since Oscar Wilde put pen to paper.

However, (and you knew this was coming) I do have to take issue with their Women’s Champions League coverage.  Last week Chelsea’s first leg match against Bayern Munich was on 5 Live Sports Extra. And very good it was.  The match, which Chelsea won 1-0, was excellent, and the tie was left on a knife-edge.  So it was with some excitement that I tuned in for the second leg on Wednesday, only to find that it wasn’t being covered.  So what was being covered?  The Manchester City v St. Polten tie on Thursday.  So what do these two matches have in common?  They’re the HOME legs.

So the BBC can “splash the cash” to send a reporter to London and Manchester, but can’t stretch to Germany or Austria.  Can you imagine John Murray being told he could cover Manchester United at Old Trafford, but couldn’t travel to an away leg – anywhere in Europe?

I did find the Chelsea game, by the way; excellent coverage, commentary and pictures via Chelsea TV on YouTube.  Would recommend.

Meanwhile, BBC, cover both legs will you?

And, and finally – a special shout out to Ipswich Town Ladies who annihilated Norwich City Ladies 8-1 in the Premier League South East Division One this week.  Fabulous hat-trick for Zoe Cossey.  Good one, ladies.  Come on you Tractor Girls!!

Women’s Sports Column 30 September – 6 October 2017

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  After the turmoil of last week, this week seems to have returned to some semblance of normality and I’m all for it.  News this week comes from netball, football, rugby union, athletics, gymnastics, speed skating, golf, tennis and hockey.

Netball

It’s the Netball Europe Open Championships in Cardiff from 5-8 October.

England Roses are defending champions and the top side in the world to be competing at three in the world rankings.

The other teams taking part are Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Fiji (invitational team).

There will be coverage on the BBC via Connected TV, online and the BBC Sport App.

Fixtures are as follows:

Thursday, 5 October
16.25 Fiji v Scotland
18.25 Wales v Northern Ireland

Friday, 6 October
11.55 England v Scotland
17.55 Fiji v Wales
19.55 England v Northern Ireland

Saturday, 7 October
10.25 Fiji v Northern Ireland
15.55 Wales v Scotland
17.55 England v Fiji

Sunday, 8 October
09.55 Scotland v Northern Ireland
11.55 England v Wales

Football

Plenty of football news, as you would expect, this week. There were WSL1 and WSL2 league matches at the weekend, plus the round of 32 first leg fixtures in the Champions League, midweek.  But first, some World Cup news.

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has been expelled from the 2019 Women’s World Cup after it emerged that it fielded 10 ineligible players in the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympics.

The team had already been banned from the 2020 Olympic Games.

Not only were some players ineligible, but others used forged or false documents in order to qualify.  The country’s football association has also been fined $102,000.

Domestic news

Former Hibernian Ladies manager, Chris Roberts, has been appointed as Bristol City Women’s first team coach and technical director.

Roberts had been at Hibs since 2014.

He rejoins his former Hibs boss, Willie Kirk, who is currently Bristol City manager.

Champions League

St Polten 0-3 Manchester City Women

All the goals came in the first half in Austria with England trio, Demi Stokes, Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris all hitting the back of the net.  The tie would seem to be over and City will be looking forward to the return leg.

Chelsea Ladies 1-0 Bayern Munich

It was a case of hanging on for Chelsea as they scored early on, but were unable to add further goals at Kingsmeadow.

The Blues had an outstanding first half, attacking all the way and were unlucky to in at half-time just one up, through Drew Spence.

The second-half was a completely different matter.  Munich pressed constantly but were profligate in front of goal.  They had countless corners and set pieces, but were unable to score.

Unsurprisingly Chelsea tired in the second-half and never looked like adding to their tally.  They may rue not scoring more in the first period when they go to Munich.

BIIK-Kazygurt 3-0 Glasgow City

Glasgow will do well to come back from a three-goal deficit.  After a goalless first-half, the home side scored three goals in the first ten minutes of the second, effectively putting the tie beyond Glasgow.

Begaim Kirgizbaeva, Kaelyn Korte and Gulnara Gabelia scored the goals for the home side.

Other Scores

Wednesday 4 October

Medyk Konin 0-5 Lyon Féminines
Apollon Ladies FC 0-1 Linköpings FC
FC PAOK 0-5 Sparta Prague Women
Gintra Universitetas 1-1 FC Zürich Frauen
ZFK Minsk 1-3 Slavia Prague Women
Avaldsnes IL 0-4 Barcelona Femenino
LSK Kvinner 0-0 Brøndby IF Ladies
Ajax Vrouwen 1-0 Brescia Femminile
Atlético de Madrid Femenino 0-3 VfL Wolfsburg Ladies
Firenze Femminile 2-1 Fortuna Hjørring
Montpellier Féminines 0-1 Zvezda 2005 Women

Thursday 5 October

CFF Olimpia Cluj 0-1 Rosengård Women
Stjarnan Women 1-1 WFC Rossiyanka

WSL1

Friday 29 September
Liverpool 0-3 Reading

Saturday 30 September
Manchester City 5-2 Arsenal
Bristol City 1-0 Yeovil Town
Sunderland AFC 0-6 Chelsea

Sunday 1 October
Birmingham City 2-1 Everton

WSL2

Saturday 30 September
Sheffield FC 3-1 London Bees

Sunday 1 October
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 Durham
Doncaster Rovers 2-2 Millwall Lionesses
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa
Watford 1-3 Oxford United

Check out this week’s upcoming fixtures on the excellent FAWSL website here

Athletics

The current British champion javelin thrower Joanna Blair has been provisionally suspended after failing a doping test.

She tested positive for a “prohibited substance”, although it has not been revealed what the substance was.

She now has the right to a hearing and right to appeal the decision.

Speed Skating

South Korea’s Choi Min-jeong took all three titles at the first World Cup event of the season in Budapest at the weekend.

Britain’s Elise Christie finished fourth in the 1500m and third in the 1000m.

Kim Boutin of Canada took silver in both events while Deanna Lockett of Australia finished third in the 1500m.

In the 500m Arianna Fontana of Italy was second and Shim Suk Hee of South Korea, third.

The other World Cup events take place in the Netherlands, China and South Korea.

Golf – New Zealand Open

This event saw some atrocious weather as the golfers tried their very best to complete their rounds.

If you’d like to get a flavour of what conditions were like in the final round on Sunday, check out this video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/41460869

The eventual winner was 20-year old Canadian Brooke Henderson.  She somehow managed a -3 69 fourth round to win by five strokes – a total of -17.

The weather finally caused the final round to be suspended on Sunday and the remainder played on Monday.  Henderson had played six holes when play was suspended.

China’s Jing Yan finished second with Hee Young Park of South Korea in third at -11.

The conditions were slightly better on Monday but the players still had to play on through strong winds.  The organisers were criticised for making the players continue on Sunday, but most of the players seemed to support the move.

Third round leader Belen Mozo of Spain finished tied fifth with fellow Spaniard Beatriz Recari and Su Oh of Australia.

Tennis

Jo Konta

The British number one has pulled out of next week’s Hong Kong Open with a foot injury.

She hopes to be able to compete the following week in Moscow.

China Open

We’re at the quarter-final stage of the China Open and three of the four matches have been played:

Petra Kvitova (12) beat Barbora Strýcová 6-3 6-4
Simone Halep (2) beat Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (9) beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4

The fourth quarter-final is between third seed Elina Svitolina and Caroline Garcia.

Ostapenko faces Halep in the first semi-final on Saturday, while Kvitova must wait until later on Friday 6 before she knows who her opponent will be.

Hockey

The EuroHockey Club Cup in May 2018 will be held at Surbiton Hockey Club.  It will be the first time the competition has been hosted by an English club.

The teams taking part will be Surbiton, two Dutch clubs; HC’s-Hertogenbosch and AHBC Amsterdam, two German teams; UHC Hamburg and Mannheimer HC, Club Campo Villa de Madrid from Spain, Irish club UCD Ladies HC and HC Victorya Smolevichi from Belarus.

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Results from 30 September

Surbiton 3-1 Clifton Robinsons
Holcombe 3-1 University of Birmingham
Bowdon Hightown 0-0 Slough
Leicester 2-0 East Grinstead
Buckingham 4-2 Canterbury

Fixtures Saturday 07 October

Surbiton v Leicester
Bowdon Hightown v East Grinstead
Buckingham v Holcombe
Clifton Robinsons v University of Birmingham
Slough v Canterbury

Surbiton are top on goals scored after two games.  Three other teams are also unbeaten; Slough, Bowdon and Holcombe.  All four have the same goal difference.

Gymnastics

The World Gymnastics Championships are taking place in Montreal on 2-8 October.

Claudia Fragapane is looking to get to the final of the floor, while Georgia-Mae Fenton looks to do the same in the uneven bars.

Amy Tinkler, recently returned from injury, is likely to make the all-round final

Rugby Union

Off the Pitch

For the second week running, it’s all happening at Wasps.  Soon after the column had been published last week, Wasps made their fifth Red Rose signing, this time Danielle Waterman, from Bristol.  This squad is now truly formidable, and even if they take some time to “bed in”, it can’t be long before they start storming up the table.  Indeed they recorded their first win at the weekend – see below for details.

But on the debit side, Elizabeth Crake appeared before an RFU disciplinary hearing this week after being cited for biting in Wasps’ match against Gloucester-Hartpury Women.  Crake admitted biting Ceri Large and has been suspended for six weeks.

On the Pitch 

Results from last weekend in the Premier 15s

30 September 2017
DMP Sharks 28-32 Wasps Ladies
Gloucester-Hartpury Women 29-0 Richmond Women
Firwood Waterloo Ladies 16-20 Bristol Ladies
Worcester Valkyries 0-74 Saracens
Loughborough Lightning 19-40 Harlequins Ladies

This week saw a first win of the season for Wasps as they showcased their new signings.  Gloucester-Hartpury Women, Harlequins Ladies and Saracens all remain unbeaten, with Gloucester-Hartpury top on points difference.  Saracens are third on 14, having failed to secure maximum bonus points.  Worcester Valkyries are yet to register a point, while the other two teams without a win are Firwood Waterloo and DMP Sharks, who have one losing bonus point and two losing bonus points respectively.

Fixtures this weekend:

7 October 2017
Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies (2pm Allianz Park)
Harlequins Ladies v DMP Sharks (3pm Surrey Sports Park)
Loughborough Lightning v Firwood Waterloo Ladies (3pm, Loughborough)
Bristol Ladies v Gloucester-Hartpury Women (4.30pm Portway Rugby Development Centre)
Richmond Women v Worcester Valkyries (5.15pm Richmond Athletic Ground)

So whatever your sport, make sure you get out this weekend to support the fantastic women the length and breadth of the country who give their all for their teams, clubs and fans every week.  If you can’t get out, follow your sports via media coverage (where possible!) and make sure you talk about it!  Get the message out there – women’s sport deserves to be talked about too!

Women’s Sports Column 11-17 February

netball 1140Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get our teeth into again this week as we see stories from golf, football, cricket, speed skating, Laureus Sports Awards, netball, cycling and rugby union.  Also, back to form in the “And finally” department.

Golf

Oates Vic Open

After her storming start last week, Laura Davies was unable to maintain momentum over the weekend, eventually finishing back in the pack at three under.  However another Briton, Melissa Reid, won the tournament on 16 under, finally triumphing on the fourth play-off hole, claiming her sixth Ladies European Tour title.

She and Germany’s Sandra Gal were tied on 16 under after 72 holes.  They played the 18th three times, both parring each time, but on the fourth attempt Reid parred again while Gal bogeyed.

-16 M Reid (Eng), S Gal (Ger); -14 S-H Oh (Aus), A Yin (US); -12 HJ Choi (Kor)

Other Britons’ scores:

-7 F Parker (Eng); -5 H Burke (Eng), K Henry (Sco); -4C Booth (Sco); -3 L Davies (Eng)

Australian Open

The Australian Open is now underway in Adelaide.

Top of the leaderboard after round one is Katherine Kirk of Australia who carded an eight under 65.  Four players are currently tied second on six under; Chella Choi of Korea, Jane Park and Marissa Steen of USA and Min Lee of Taiwan.

Top placed Briton after one round is Michele Thomson who is tied for sixth on five under.  England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is tied for 17th on three under.

Speed Skating

There was further success for short track skater Charlotte Gilmartin this week as she took her second consecutive World Cup bronze medal in Minsk.

She was third in the 1,000m.  China’s Han Yutong won gold in 1 minute 31.008 seconds, Rianne de Vries took silver, with Gilmartin 0.233 seconds behind the winner in third.

This is certainly looking like ideal preparation for Gilmartin for the World Championships next month in Rotterdam.

Cycling

Timely news this week after the “And finally” of last week which outlined why, according to Mr. Opinionated, women are no good at sport because they get pregnant.

Laura Kenny has announced that she is pregnant.  Not strictly a cycling story, but, if Mr Opinionated would like to suggest that Kenny has never been “any good” at sport I fear he might lose that one.  And, if he were to suggest, that she will never come back to be as good again, I daresay there may be a fair few who take on that bet……

Netball

Needless to say, after the sport took a pummelling last week, netball has come out fighting.  The best response I have seen is from former England netballer Tamsin Greenway.  Netball is cool after all, who knew?

Read the whole article (and cheer) here: Tamsin Greenway  (perhaps steer clear of the comments if you want to stay cheery though).

Football

Signings, signings everywhere this week as we draw nearer to the Spring Series.

Manchester City

Top of these (even making it on to mainstream news) is the signing of FIFA World Player of the Year, Carli Lloyd, by Manchester City on a short-term deal.

Lloyd has scored 96 goals in 232 appearances for the USA.

She will play in the Spring Series and also the Champions League and FA Cup.

The significance of this news certainly cannot be underestimated. Lloyd is only the third American player to move to England, following Crystal Dunn to Chelsea and Heather O’Reilly to Arsenal.

However, the move may also be a sign of the WSL’s “haves and have-nots” problem, mirroring the problems in the men’s league.  There does seem to be a very definite split developing between Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and the rest.  There are set to be many words written on this subject before the Spring Series starts so watch this space as the analysis continues.

Notts County

The Lady Pies have ventured into the transfer market again this week.  They have signed Republic of Ireland centre-back, Louise Quinn, from Swedish club Eskilstuna United.

Arsenal

The growth in Chinese football shows no sign of slowing.  They are now making bids for some of the world’s top female players.  This week Nigerian winger Asisat Oshoala left Arsenal to join Dalian Quanjian.

Sunderland

Despite going part-time, Sunderland have made two signings this week.   Goalkeeper Anke Preuss joins them from FFC Frankfurt and midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg from ASGM Verona.

Preuss is in line to replace England international goalkeeper Rachel Laws who left Sunderland this week to join WSL2 side Durham.

Chelsea

Chelsea have also dipped into the market again this week signing defender Deanna Cooper from London Bees.

Yeovil Town

Yeovil Town Ladies have decided to travel round Somerset to play their home games in the Spring Series.  The Lady Glovers were promoted as WSL2 champions and will play their debut games at three grounds; Huish Park, their usual home, Taunton Town FC and Bridgwater Town FC.

Not sure it will catch on as a concept, but anything that showcases the women’s game to a more widespread audience can’t be bad.

FA Cup

The FA Cup fourth round takes place on Sunday 19 February.  The fixtures are as follows:

Coventry Ladies v Aston Villa Ladies
Durham Women v Everton Ladies
Millwall Lionesses v Nottingham Forest Ladies
Sheffield Ladies v Doncaster Rovers Belles
Tottenham Ladies v Brighton Ladies
West Bromwich Albion WFC v Leicester City Ladies

Results next week.

Indian Women’s League

We have a winner in the inaugural Indian Women’s League!

The semi-finals took place on 11 February and produced the following results:

Eastern Sporting Union FC 4-1 Alakhpura FC

Rising Student FC 2-0 FC Pune City

The final was on 14 February:

Rising Student FC 0-3 Eastern Sporting Union FC

Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi

I’m glad to tell you that All India Football Federation published a good report of the final.

ESU pressed from the off but were unable to score until the 32nd minute when Kamala Devi tapped in from close range from a Prameshowri Devi cross.  This was the score at half-time.

When Prameshwori Devi added a second on 57 minutes the game was effectively killed off.  Kamala Devi added ESU’s third and her second on 66 minutes to seal it.

Jabamani Tudu won the “Emerging Player Award”

Umapati Devi was “Most Valuable Player”

Kamal Devi was the tournament’s top scorer with 11 goals.

It all seems to have been a success, so let’s hope it continues and expands.

For a more in-depth report read here

 Cricket      

We are now at the Super 6s stage in the Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka.  As you will all know by now it is not in the ICC’s remit to make it easy, so we now have six teams fighting for four places in the World Cup in England later this year.

Three games took place on 15 February:

India 205/8
South Africa 156 all out
India won by 49 runs

South Africa put India in to bat.  Raj scored 64 and opener Meshram 55 as India posted a middling total of 205.  But in reply South Africa were on the back foot from the off as openers Lee and Wolvaardt were dismissed for 1 and 0 respectively.  Chetty top scored with 52, but Pandey took four wickets for 34 and Bisht three for 22 as South Africa were all out for 156 and India had won by 49 runs.

Pakistan 212/7
Sri Lanka 216/5 (47.4 overs)
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets

Sri Lanka won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat.  They made a poor start when opener Ayesha Zafar was dismissed in the second over for just one.  But a partnership of 119 between Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan steadied the ship.   Good contributions lower down the order led to Pakistan posting a decent score of 212.

The Sri Lankan response was good all the way down the order as all batters contributed.  Kaushalya top scored with 65 off 75 balls and in the end the win was comfortable.

Bangladesh 145/3 (39.1 overs)
Ireland 144 all out (47.1 overs)
Bangladesh won by 7 wickets

Bangladesh won the toss and chose to field.  Shillington top scored in the Ireland innings with 37, but a regular clatter of wickets meant that they were only able to post 144, committing the cardinal sin of not using all their overs.

Bangladesh made light work of the chase, losing only three wickets in the process and knocking off the runs with more than 10 overs left to spare.  Sharmin Akhtar top scored for Bangladesh with 52.

Three games took place on 17 February:

Bangladesh 155/8 (50 overs)
India 158/1 (33.3 overs)
India won by 9 wickets

India ran out easy winners against Bangladesh as they won the toss and chose to field.  Hoque top scored with 50 for Bangladesh and Akhter made 35, but although they managed to bat out their innings they were not scoring in a hurry and 155 never looked like enough.  Joshi was the stand out bowler for India with 3/25 from her 10 overs.

India knocked off the runs in just under 34 overs.  Meshram and Raj again combined after Sharma was out for one to score 78 and 73 not out respectively.

Sri Lanka 142/9 (50 overs)
South Africa 145/1 (36.1 overs)
South Africa won by 9 wickets

Sri Lanka won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat.  Opener Hansika scored 48, but the total of 142 was never likely to be enough.  Sune Luus took 3/40 in her 10 overs with van Niekerk taking 2 for a miserly 14 from her 10.

Lizelle Lee scored 35 off 29 balls before she was out, but then Wolvaardt and Luus each scored half centuries to get to the target with ease.

Pakistan 271/5 (50 overs)
Ireland 185 all out (48.5 overs)
Pakistan won by 86 runs

Pakistan will be very satisfied with this performance after they won the toss and chose to bat.

Javeria Khan top scored with 90.  Nahida Khan scored 72 and Nain Abidi 44.  Opener Ayesha Zafar will be disappointed that she was out for 11!

It was always going to be a monumental task for Ireland to put together any kind of meaningful response.  Cecilia Joyce top scored with 41 with Garth and Isobel Joyce making 33 each, but in the end the chase was too tough and they subsided to 185 all out off 48.5 overs.  Ireland can no longer qualify for the World Cup.

There is one more round of games which takes place on 19 February with the final on Tuesday 21, but don’t forget four countries actually qualify.

Rugby Union

Six Nations

It was round two of the Six Nations last weekend and there were some pretty big scores.

11 February

Wales 0-63 England

England ran in 11 tries on Saturday as they destroyed Wales with a thrilling performance.

Amy Wilson-Hardy, Amy Cockayne, Natasha Hunt and Lydia Thompson had all over by the 23rd minute and the bonus point was already in the bag.

By half-time the lead was 38-0.  In addition to the first four tries further scores came from Katy McLean and Sarah Hunter, with Emily Scarratt putting over four conversions.

The second-half went pretty much the way of the first.  Thompson scored two more tries while Wilson-Hardy bagged a second and Danielle Waterman two to complete the scoring.

France 55-0 Scotland

Although France were only up 17-0 at half-time, they eventually ran in nine tries to beat Scotland on Saturday.

The home side took the lead after 18 minutes with a try from Safi N’Diaye.  Shannon Izar made it two on the half-hour.  Lenaig Corson scored a third before half-time with Christelle Le Duff adding the extras to make it 17-0 at the break.

Just into the second-half France secured the bonus point with a try from Elodie Poublan.

Elodie Guiglion, Jade Le Pesg with two, Caroline Ladagnous and Lisa Martin were the other try scorers.  Le Duff hit two conversions and Cabalou, three.

12 February

Italy 3-27 Ireland

Ireland left it late to secure their bonus point in L’Aquila.

The away side pressed consistently until they were given a penalty which was slotted over by Nora Stapleton.

Italy were then awarded a penalty and Michela Sillari kicked it to make it 3-3 at half-time.

Hooker Leah Lyons went over for the first try for Ireland just after the resumption, with Stapleton converting.  Sophie Spence scored Ireland’s second and Paula Fitzpatrick the third, but it was not until the dying moments that Hannah Tyrell popped over for Ireland’s fourth and the bonus point to take them above England in the table.

Laureus Sports Awards

Rachel Atherton’s mantelpiece must be starting to buckle under the weight of the awards she has won recently.  And this week she received another, the Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Simone Biles won the Sportswoman of the Year award.

Sportsperson of the Year with a disability went to Beatrice Vio, Italian wheelchair fencer who won gold at the Rio Paralympics.

And a special mention for me goes to the Refugee Olympic Team who won the Sport for Good Award for Sporting Inspiration.

And finally, we all know that women are responsible for just about everything bad in the world; famine, poverty, climate change, corruption etc ., but the nadir has now been reached.  This week a Hearts fan has blamed the poor atmosphere at Tynecastle as being down to “too many women” attending games.   In his considered opinion:

“As a follow on from the atmos thread I think a contributing factor is the make up of our support – too many women.

“I’ve no idea what the % of female fans is here compared to other SPL clubs, but what I do know is that we do have a lot of women and this has noticeably increased over the past years.

“It is also no coincidence that as their presence has increased our fan base has become more muted and feminised.

“This then bleeds into other aspects of the club, we have a completely girly away kit that makes PHM cringe any time we see the players run out in it.”

He went on (yes I’m afraid he did),

“If women want to go to games then fine. If I flipped it around and thought about following a ladies netball team it would feel a bit odd to me.

“Even going around watching women’s football every week would feel odd to me.

“I genuinely and honestly have no idea why women would even want to be involved in a culture and sport that is absolutely a man’s thing.

“I would take zero enjoyment from following something that was always historically a female thing.”

So there you have it.  Needless to say this comment has received somewhat of a backlash (male and female).  As several people have pointed out, if it weren’t for the (female) Chair of Hearts, Ann Budge, there would be no club, as she saved them from liquidation when she took over…..

Women’s Sports Column 4-10 February 2017

12928352_10201803729532769_8195423317764149816_nWelcome to this week’s column.  There are things good and bad this week, as usual.  I have found it difficult to be upbeat this week, some of the reasons for which I outline in “And finally”, but I hope that the news I give here is largely positive and makes you all feel positive about women’s sport.

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

Football

Notts County

Things are looking up for Notts County.  I reported a couple of columns ago that a winding-up order had been issued.  This threat now seems to be receding.

The petition has now been adjourned for 49 days.  The new Notts County owner, Alan Hardy, attended the hearing.

They still have to find the money to pay off their debt to HMRC.

But there seems to be no exodus of players from the club – in fact they are still making signings.  They are also advertising for a physio, so hopefully they will pull through.

Watford

Another club seemingly in trouble is Watford Ladies.

Last week they conceded their FA Cup tie against Doncaster Belles without a ball being kicked.  The club statement said that this was done,

“in order to ensure necessary preparations were fully in place ahead of the start of the league fixture programme”.

But since then they have appointed a new head coach, Keith Boanas, and held a series of meetings to discuss the future.  They have assured the league and their fans that “we believe we’re now on a very firm footing”.

Hopefully the club is in the process of ironing out its problems and will be back on course soon.

Indian Women’s League results

5 February

FC Pune City 0-5 Rising Student FC 

6 February

Aizawl FC 0-3 Eastern Sporting Union FC

Jeppiaar Institute 1-1 Alakhpura FC

8 February

FC Pune City 4-0 Aizawl FC

Rising Student FC 7-0 Jeppiaar Institute

9 February

Alakhpura FC 0-1 Eastern Sporting Union FC

That concludes the league stage.  The semi-finals, which take place on 11 February line-up as follows:

Rising Student FC v FC Pune City

Eastern Sporting Union FC v Alakhpura FC

I’m sorry I’ve only been able to bring the bare results, but it is all the information I have been able to glean.  I wish I could have seen some of the action, but I think it’s important just to mention it.

Cricket

The Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament is underway in Colombo.  The top three finishers go through to a “Super-6” section (it’s never simple with the ICC).  This is how it stands at the moment:

Team Matches played Won Lost tied No result Points
GROUP A            
India 2 2 0 0 0 4
Sri Lanka 2 1 1 0 0 2
Ireland 2 1 1 0 0 2
Zimbabwe 1 0 1 0 0 0
Thailand 1 0 1 0 0 0
GROUP B
Pakistan 3 2 1 0 0 4
South Africa 2 2 0 0 0 4
Bangladesh 3 2 1 0 0 4
Scotland 2 0 2 0 0 0
Papua New Guinea 2 0 2 0 0 0

Tennis

Great Britain have made a fine start to the Fed Cup this week.

Britain are seeded third out of the 14 nations taking part in Tallinn and first in their group.

They began their group C campaign with a 3-0 win against Portugal:

Both Heather Watson and Johanna Konta won their singles matches and then Jocelyn Rae and Laura Robson won the doubles to make it 3-0.

Heather Watson beat Ines Murta 6-1 6-1

Johanna Konta beat Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-2 6-4

Rae and Robson beat De Brito and Murta 6-2 6-3

The team then went on to beat Latvia by the same margin

Heather Watson beat Diana Marcinkevica 6-3 6-0

Johanna Konta beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-3

Rae and Robson beat Daniela Vismane and Marcinkevica 6-0 6-7 6-2

Great Britain play Turkey today (Friday).   The four group winners will play promotion play-offs on Saturday.  The two winning nations will then qualify for World Group II play-offs in April .

The group winners will play-off against the Group B winners on Saturday.

The groups line-up as follows:

Pool A: Poland, Georgia, Austria

Pool B: Croatia, Hungary, Bosnia/Herzegovina

Pool C: Great Britain, Turkey, Latvia, Portugal

Pool D: Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, Estonia

Golf

Britain’s Laura Davies equalled the course record with an eight-under-par 65 in the first round of the Oates Vic Open in Victoria, Australia.  She hit six birdies and one eagle in the process.

She heads the leaderboard by two going into the second round:

-8 L Davies (Eng), -6 N B Larsen (Den), H Clyburn (Eng), S Gal (Ger), W Hillier (Aus), M Reid (Eng), -5 H-J Choi (Kor), K Kirk (Aus), M Parra (Spa), A Yin (US)

Speed Skating

 Elise Christie will miss a second World Cup event because of concussion.  She was unable to compete in Germany last week and will also miss this weekend’s event in Belarus.

Christie is now focussing on the World Championships which take place in the Netherlands from 10-12 March.

Athletics

 US athlete and former Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson has been banned from athletics for three months after testing positive for a banned diuretic.

She said she was given hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure but didn’t understand the ramifications regarding doping.   Her ban has been in place since 1 December.

Netball

England were disappointingly well beaten by New Zealand in their second game of the Quad series in Liverpool.  They lost the game 61-37.  By half-time they were 11 behind and were never going to make up the difference.

They needed to improve greatly if they were to make it a game against Australia.  And this they did.  They still lost 47-46, but the improvement in their work-rate, shooting and defending will give coach Tracey Neville great heart.

With 10 seconds to go England only needed one goal to take into extra time, but Sharni Layton, so often the thorn in her opponents’ side intercepted to prevent the goal and win the game.

As expected, Australia retained their Quad series title this week, but they were made to fight for it every step of the way by the England Roses.

To some extent Neville will be frustrated.  She will wonder how three such different performances were produced.  They won in extra time against the Proteas, lost catastrophically to the Silver Ferns and ran the Diamonds close.  I don’t envy her trying to draw conclusions from this.

It was also good to see the BBC covering some of the games.

Wales v New Zealand

After the Quad series was over the Silver Ferns played two tests against Wales this week.  Although Wales are improving as a netballing nation, in truth it wasn’t much of a contest.  It was, however, a chance for netball fans to see Wales play one of the world’s best teams in Wales.

Wales 27-92 New Zealand

Wales 39-72 New Zealand

Wales were somewhat overawed in the first game, but fought well in the second to produce a much-improved display.  Wales will now be working towards the Commonwealth Games which take place on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Rugby

 Six Nations

There were wins for England, Wales and Ireland in the first round of the Six Nations last weekend.

Scotland 15-22 Ireland

Broadwood Stadium 3 February

Ireland took a bonus point win in the first game of the 2017 Championship to leave them top of the table after the first round of matches.

Scotland scored first through Jade Konkel, powering over after just five minutes.  Sarah Law scored the conversion to make it 7-0 to the home side.

Then Ireland had a period of sustained pressure which resulted in Sene Naoupu going over from close range.  The conversion was missed.

Ireland then scored their second, this time through Alison Miller, who went over in the corner, but the conversion was missed again.

Scotland hit back as Player of the Match Konkel went over again.  Law missed the conversion but then put over a penalty to make it 15-10 to the Scots at half-time.

After the break the Scots went down to 14 when Lindsey Smith was sin-binned.  Ireland took advantage and scored a try through Lindsay Peat that went unconverted.  The score was tied at 15-15.

Scotland had their chances to take the game away from the visitors, but first Law then Helen Nelson missed kickable penalties.

But Ireland made them pay and in the 82nd minute, Jenny Murphy crashed over under the posts to take the game.  Stapleton kicked the conversion and it was 15-22.

Scotland will see this as a definite chance missed to win their first championship game in seven years.

Italy 8-20 Wales

Stadio Comunale Pacifico Carotti, 4 February

Wales scored first with a penalty from Elinor Snowsill after eight minutes.

Prop Caryl Thomas then crashed over for the first try of the afternoon with Snowsill adding the conversion and it was 10-0 after 20 minutes.

Italy came back into it with a penalty from the boot of Michela Sillari, which was followed up soon after by a try for the home side through Manuela Furlan after good work from Isabella Locatelli.

Italy were unable to convert the try, however, and went in at the break 8-10 down.

Early in the second-half Wales stretched their lead as Dyddgu Hywel went in and then a third try came soon after from a driving Welsh maul and scored by captain Carys Phillips.

Italy did their best to pull it back, but were unable to breach the Wales defence again.

England 26-13 France

Twickenham 4 February

England came from 13-0 down at half-time to take the win at Twickenham on Saturday.

Shannon Izar drew first blood for the French as she intercepted a Katy McLean pass and ran 70m to score.  The conversion was missed but it was 5-0.

Emily Scarratt missed a penalty, but then Christelle Le Duff put one over in front of the posts to take it to 8-0.

Gaelle Mignot powered over from a maul for France’s second try of the half to go in 13-0 up at the break.

England came out for the second-half with renewed vigour and took the initiative from the off.

First Scarratt scored a penalty, then Danielle Waterman went in for England’s first try, converted by Scarratt to take it to a 10-13 game.

France then conceded another penalty for a high tackle.  Scarratt slotted home again and the game was level.

Another penalty saw England go in front for the first time and a second for another infringement at the scrum took the lead to six.

Amy Wilson-Hardy scored England’s second try, again converted by Scarratt to make the final score 26-13.

This weekend Tamara Taylor will make her 100th appearance for England when they face Wales on Sunday.

This weekend’s Six Nations fixtures:

 Saturday 11 February

Wales v England

Cardiff Arms Park

11.30am

France v Scotland

Marcel Deflandre

8pm (GMT)

Sunday 12 February

Italy v Ireland

Stadio Tommaso Fattori

1pm (GMT)

And finally,

I have to confess I’m feeling a bit low about the women’s sports world at the moment.  I won’t turn it into a rant as I don’t think I’ve got the energy, but it just seems to me that for every step forward there are two back.  Those in the “bubble” (I have mentioned this before), still maintain that great progress is being made, but you only have to look at two things to see that it’s not quite as easy as that; one is media coverage, the other the response to media coverage.

I’ve seen both that has caused me pain this week.  Firstly, the success of the expansion of netball has led Sport England to reward it with £16.9m of funding.  How was this greeted in the press?  I saw two articles, by women, one which said that no amount of money would make her go back to netball and the other by a woman who plays netball, who wrote a supposedly tongue-in-cheek piece on why netball isn’t “cool” and not “as much fun” as basketball.

The responses to coverage are even more depressing.  Women’s cricket journalist, Raf Nicholson, wrote a great piece this week for Cricinfo on the pros and cons of cricket double-headers.  There were some good and interesting comments on the piece at the bottom.  But the one that stood out was a man who thought this would be the correct platform to tell us all that women (in general, not cricketers or any specific group) will never be any good at sport because they get pregnant.   This wasn’t a one sentence reply either – it was lengthy.  Why this chap thought this was the place to air this view isn’t clear, but it was the comment that drew the eye.

Consequently, this week my store of optimism is at a low ebb.  Hopefully next week I’ll be back to my normal self and celebrating the world of women’s sport to the full!

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 28 January – 3 February 2017

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Over the next few weeks my posting may be sporadic due to a family bereavement – totally unprofessional to mention, but I’ll make every effort I can to keep the column going.  There’s so much going on that it will give me purpose and encouragement to carry on writing.

So, on that note, let’s crack on.  News this week comes from tennis, netball, winter sports, football, cricket, This Girl Can, rugby, Be a Game Changer and the biggest news from Australia for a while – the introduction of the Women’s Aussie Rules Football league.

Be a Game Changer Awards 2017

The public nomination period for the Women’s Sports Trust “Be a Game Changer” Awards 2017 is open from 1-15 February.  Check out the Women’s Sports Trust website for details.

The categories for nomination are:

Sporting Role Model (individual), Sporting Role Model (team), Ambassador of Women’s Sport, Sponsor Partnership of the Year, National Governing Body of the Year, Inspiring Initiative (National), Inspiring Initiative (Local/Grassroots), Photographer/Filmmaker of the Year, Imagery of the Year, Media Initiative of the Year, Media Individual of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sport.

If there’s someone you think should be recognised in any of these categories, don’t wait as the nomination period is a short one.

Netball

Quad Series

The Quad Series is currently underway.  This is the story so far:

Saturday, 28 January, Durban

Australian Diamonds 57-50 New Zealand Silver Ferns,

South Africa Proteas 55-60 England Roses (After extra time)

Tuesday, 31 January, Durban

South Africa Proteas 46-62 Australian Diamonds

Thursday, 2 February, Echo Arena, Liverpool

England Roses 37-61New Zealand Silver Ferns

Sunday, 5 February, SSE Arena Wembley, London

England Roses v Australian Diamonds (live on BBC Two from 1pm)

New Zealand Silver Ferns v South Africa Proteas

Rugby Union

Six Nations

Don’t forget it’s the start of the Six Nations this weekend.

It all kicks off tonight (Friday) with Scotland v Ireland at the Broadway Stadium.  Kick-off is 6.35.pm.  It will be covered in Ireland by RTE.

Ireland will be favourites to win even though they will be without regular captain Niamh Briggs.

Teams:

Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Murrayfield Wanderers), Megan Gaffney (Edinburgh University), Lisa Thomson (Edinburgh University), Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers, capt), Rhona Lloyd (Edinburgh University), Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University); Tracey Balmer (Worcester), Rachel Malcolm (Lichfield), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Deborah McCormack (Aylesford Bulls), Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill).

Replacements: Lucy Park (Murrayfield Wanderers), Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), Katie Dougan (Edinburgh University), Sarah Bonar (Lichfield), Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead Jordanhill), Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield), Lauren Harris (Melrose), Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers).

 Ireland: M Coyne (Connacht); N Kavanagh (Munster), J Murphy (Leinster), S Naoupa (Aylesford Bulls), A Miller (Connacht); N Stapleton (Leinster), A Hughes (Leinster); L Peat (Leinster), L Lyons (Munster), A Egan (Belvedere); O Fitzsimons (Leinster), ML Reilly (Leinster); C Griffin (Munster), C Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), P Fitzpatrick (Leinster) capt.

Replacements: J Finlay (Leinster), I Van Staden (Ulster), C O’Connor (Connacht), E Anthony (Munster), N Fryday (Connacht), M Healy (Connacht), C McLaughlin (Ulster), E Considine (Munster)

Second to kick off will be Italy v Wales in Acona at 2pm on Saturday 4 February.

Wales: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets), Elen Evans (Scarlets), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Adi Taviner (Ospreys), Elinor Snowshill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys), Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (c) (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Newport Gwent Dragons), Mel lay (Ospreys), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys)

Replacements: Lowri Harries (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gwenllian Pyrs (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gemma Rowland (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jessica Kavanagh-Williams (Scarlets)

England v France takes place on Saturday at Twickenham at 7.35pm (after the men’s game).   This is already being billed as the Six Nations decider.

The game will be live on Sky Sports and on the radio on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.  There will also be highlights on BBC TV.

DMP Sharks second row, Tamara Taylor will receive her 99th England cap.

England:  Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Amber Reed (Bristol), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol)

If you can’t find TV or radio coverage, try the Six Nations You Tube channel.

Sevens

This Friday and Saturday sees the next round of the World Seven Series, this time in Sydney.

England finished third in Pool C on Friday as they beat Spain but lost to both Russia and the USA.  They failed to make the Cup quarter finals and now face Papua New Guinea in the Challenge Trophy semi-final.

England Women squad, Sydney

  1. Natasha Brennan, 2. Abbie Brown (C), 3. Alice Richardson-Watmore, 4. Millie Wood, 5. Lauren Cattell, 6. Rachael Woosey, 7. Heather Fisher, 8. Kelly Smith, 9. Fran Matthews, 10. Jo Richardson-Watmore, 11. Katie Mason, 12. Chantelle Miell

Pool C results

Friday 3 February

England 19-10 Spain

England 14- 22 USA

Russia 31-5 England

New Zealand, Australia and Russia finished unbeaten in their respective pools on day one.

Ireland beat Fiji and Brazil and lost to Australia in Pool B and to finish second.  They will face USA in their Cup quarter-final.

The full Cup quarter-final line-up is as follows:

New Zealand v France

Ireland v USA

Australia v Fiji

Russia v Canada

Australian Rules Football

Possibly the biggest thing to hit women’s sport in Australia in years.  The AFL has, at last, launched a women’s league and it is set to be huge.

The first game took place today and a crowd of 24,500 (with reportedly 1,000 locked outside) saw Carlton beat Collingwood 46-11.

No-one can say it hasn’t been a long time coming.  I’d love to go through the history here (perhaps a new column for WiSP Sports?), but I haven’t got time or space.  For a quick introduction try this piece by Russell Jackson in The Guardian.

For weeks on end now my social media timeline has been buzzing with the league’s imminent arrival.  Cricket Australia and other sports governing bodies must be quaking in their boots.

It’s not my game, I admit it now, but the enthusiasm is infectious and if I can find a reliable source for news, coverage and information I’ll certainly feature it in the future.

One thing’s for certain – the AFLW means business.

Football

Indian League

As I mentioned last week, the new Indian Women’s league is now go.  I’m happy to give the results so far:

28 January

Jeppiaar Institute FC 1-7 Eastern Sporting Union FC

Rising Student FC 6-1 Aizawl FC

29 January

FC Pune City 0-0 Alakhpura FC

30 January

Eastern Sporting Union FC 1-2 Rising Student FC

31 January

FC Pune City 1-0 Jeppiaar Institute FC

Alakhpura FC 6-2 Aizawl FC

2 February

Eastern Sporting Union FC 3-1 FC Pune City

Rising Student FC 0-1 Alakhpura FC

3 February

Aizawl FC 2-3 Jeppiaar Institute FC

Transfers

The threat of the demise of Notts County Ladies seems to have receded and they have started making signings again.  This week they signed striker Kirsty Linnett from Birmingham City.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have strengthened their forward line by signing England Under-23 striker, Beth Mead, from Sunderland.  This may have something to do with the news a few week ago that Sunderland are reverting to part-time status, while Arsenal could offer Mead a full-time contract.

I’m hoping this doesn’t signal an exodus from Sunderland, especially as they club went to such pains to reassure us all that their part-time decision was agreed by all – players and staff alike.

However, this week also saw midfielder Brooke Chaplen out of the door as she signed for Reading on an 18-months contract.

This Girl Can

Sport England launched the second phase of its This Girl Can campaign this week.

Since its inception in 2015, 1.6 million women and girls aged 14-40 have taken up or restarted sport.

The next four-week campaign will tackle fear of judgement, preventing women giving up sport and widening the approach to women in their 50s and 60s.

Look out for the adverts on social media, TV and the new fantastic billboards and posters at bus-stops.

Cricket

India

It is well known that the governing body of Indian Cricket, the BCCI, is undergoing a period of change and reform.   A new panel of administrators has been appointed to run the body.  And surprisingly, there is just one ex-player in the panel of four – and that ex-player is a woman.  Diana Edulji played for the Indian women’s team from 1976 to 1993.  She took 63 test wickets in 20 matches and 46 ODI wickets in 34 matches during this time.

Since her retirement she has been involved in sports administration, and is, thus, well qualified to help restructure the BCCI.

Needless to say she went through the ignominy suffered by so many cricketing women when she was refused entry to the inner sanctums of Lord’s even though she was in charge of the Indian tour of England in 1986.  Apparently she suggested that the MCC be renamed MCP (Male Chauvinist Pig).

She also clashed repeatedly with former BCCI president N Srinivasan who told her that regarding women’s cricket,

“I’m not interested, we have no choice but to run it, so we are running it for the sake of running it.”

She has also been a devoted advocate of better conditions and pay for the women’s game and is not afraid of wading into an argument.

Watch this space to see how it goes.

Kia Super League

Big news from the Kia Super League this week, with not only the fixtures being announced, but also a new broadcast package from Sky and TMS.

Thursday 10 August – Southern Vipers v Western Storm (Ageas Bowl, live on Sky Sports)
Friday 11 August – Yorkshire Diamonds v Lancashire Thunder (Headingley, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 12 August – Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning (Taunton, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 13 August – Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds (Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports)
Tuesday 15 August – Loughborough Lightning v Southern Vipers (Derby, live on Sky Sports)
Wednesday 16 August – Lancashire Thunder v Surrey Stars (Emirates Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports)
Friday 18 August – Loughborough Lightning v Yorkshire Diamonds (Loughborough)
Sunday 20 August – Lancashire Thunder v Loughborough Lightning (Blackpool CC)
Sunday 20 August – Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars (Ageas Bowl)
Sunday 20 August – Yorkshire Diamonds v Western Storm (York CC)
Wednesday 23 August – Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers (Liverpool CC)
Wednesday 23 August – Surrey Stars v Western Storm (Guildford CC)
Saturday 26 August – Surrey Stars v Loughborough Lightning (Guildford CC)
Saturday 26 August – Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (The Brightside Ground, Bristol)
Saturday 26 August – Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds (Arundel)
Friday 1 September – Finals day (1st Central County Ground, Hove, live on Sky Sports)

There will be six double-headers with the T20 Blast.  There will be coverage from every round on Test Match Special.  Personally I’m still not convinced about the efficacy of double-headers in either the cricket fashion (women playing before) or rugby fashion (women playing afterwards.).  I’d be happy to hear what you think.

WBBL

Perth Scorchers were unable to do the double last Saturday as the women’s team lost to the Sydney Sixers at the WACA in the final of the second WBBL.

The Sixers batted first and scored a respectable 124/5.  Alyssa Healy, in storming form throughout the tournament, was top scorer with 40 and Marizanne Kapp scored 34 not out.  English fast bowler Anya Shrubsole took 2/17.

The Scorchers were unable to reach the target though, falling short by seven runs.  They finished on 117/7 off their 20 overs.  Katherine Brunt top scored with 35 not out.  Nicole Bolton scored 34.  Sarah Aley took 4/23.

So that’s two from two for Sydney as the Thunder took the inaugural competition in 2016.

World Cup Qualifying Tournament

The World Cup Qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka gets underway on 7 February.

Group A comprises:  India, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand

Group B comprises: South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and PNG

Four places are still up for grabs.

Tennis

Serena Williams claimed her 23rd Grand Slam title on Saturday as she beat her sister Venus to win the Australian Open in Melbourne.

She won the match in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.

Winter Sports

More success for Britain in winter sports this week.

Snowboarder Katie Ormerod won a bronze medal in slopestyle at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

She scored 80.33.  The gold was taken by Julia Marino on 94.66.

Meanwhile, in bobsleigh, Mica Moore and Mica McNeill won junior Bobsleigh World Championship gold in Winterberg, Germany.

Moore of Wales and McNeill of England only teamed up this winter but have already won four medals in competition.  They won in Winterberg in a time of 53.96 seconds.  Anna Koehler and Franziska Fritz of Germany won silver with compatriots Kim Kalicki and Lisa-Sophie Gericke taking bronze.

And finally

French League Un club, Lille, have offered free match tickets to women after sexist banners appeared in the crowd with their match at Lyon.

I’m sure most of you have seen the banners; one was a picture of a man with the word “stadium” underneath, while the second was a woman with the word “kitchen” underneath.

Ironic really, as the Lille women’s team have won the French title 14 times…..

 

Women’s Sports Column 3-9 December

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  Not so much in the way of results this week, plus lots of news from around the world.  It’s a truly global column this week as you’ll see.  So read on for stories from football, cricket, rugby, golf, netball, tennis, taekwondo, cycling, sailing and, wait for it, kabbadi!  Also an “And finally” guaranteed to make you say, “Not before time….”  Let’s crack on.

Firstly this week, it’s official, “This Girl Can” (as if we didn’t know this already).

Figures published by Sport England this week have revealed that the number of women playing sport regularly in England has reached an all-time high of 7.21m.

This is an increase of 250,000 on the figures before the “This Girl Can” campaign was launched in 2014.

The gap between men’s and women’s participation has narrowed to 1.55m.

This is obviously good news but is not reflected by the coverage given to women’s sport in the media, which is still at a woeful seven per cent.

Netball

England 57-64 Jamaica

I was there at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 4 December to see a tight, excellent game between two well-matched sides.

It was my first in-person experience of a netball international and I can thoroughly recommend it.  I must say hell hath no fury like a crowd of mainly young girls when their team is behind……

England were ahead by two after the first quarter.  Jamaica came back to lead at half-time by four.  During the third quarter the crowd really got behind the Roses, stamping and cheering for all they (we) were worth.  The Jamaican goalkeeper and captain Malysha Kelly incurred the crowd’s wrath as she repeatedly fouled Joanne Harten shooting for England and the game got a bit physical.  In fact I hadn’t seen that much bumping and boring in netball since I played goalkeeper for my school against our local convent school.

Anyway, the barracking worked as Jamaica had a loose period and England pressed.  It was all square going into the final quarter and the noise was deafening.

Unfortunately for England, they couldn’t maintain their form and Jamaica pulled away with the final score 57-64.  They also took the series 2-1.  Epic stuff.

Special mention must go to England’s defence, Ama Agbeze and Ebony Beckford-Chambers who had the unenviable task of marking the Sunshine Girls’ goal shooter, Jhaniele Fowler, who is just the six feet six inches tall.  And she jumped too (unlike Peter Crouch).

Hockey

Shameless piece of self-promotion, I’d like to tell you about my latest series for WiSP Sports.  This time I’m writing a four-part history of women’s field hockey.  The first part has just been published, so here’s the link:  History of Hockey part 1

Sailing with Abby Ehler

Team Magenta 32 is the second match racing team to receive their Tour Card for the World Match Racing Tour season 2017. Sally Barkow from USA is together with her all-female team preparing for their second full season and their challenge for the World Championship title in match racing.  Founded in 1999, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the world’s leading professional sailing series. It features world class sailors and Olympic champions, with tour events staged around the globe.  Each stage, or World Championship event, now takes place in identically supplied one-design M32 high-performance catamarans to place the focus on teamwork and skill.

British professional sailors Dee Caffari and Hannah Diamond are this week working with Oman Sail to train and prepare 2 all-female Middle East teams for next year’s Sailing Tour of Arabia.

Since 2008 Oman Sail has been running sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani women and men. EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is contested in a fleet of identical Farr 30 yachts – one of the most exciting boats on the professional sailing circuit – along a course, which stretches each crew to the full, testing their skill, teamwork and versatility.

In its short history, EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has gained global recognition, attracting top amateur and professional sailors from four continents and blue-chip sponsors. Now in its seventh year, The Tour has become one of the most respected and dynamic sailing regattas on the international circuit.

Mike Slade’s British Maxi Leopard 3 crossed the finish line in, Grenada at recently to take Monohull Line Honours and win the International Maxi Association (IMA) Trophy for the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race.  The Maxi yacht was navigated by Britain’s Libby Greenhalgh, the only women in the crew of 17.  Libby Greenhalgh was the navigator onboard Team SCA in the last Volvo Ocean Race, and it is fantastic to see her continuing in that role at the elite level of the sport.

Football

Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria won their eighth Cup of Nations this week with a 1-0 victory over hosts Cameroon, in front of a 40,000 crowd in Yaounde.

Desire Oparanozie scored the only goal late in the game to ensure Nigeria retained the trophy they won in Namibia in 2014.

Cameroon were runners-up for the second tournament in succession.

Ghana finished third after they beat South Africa 1-0 in the bronze medal match on Friday.

In a further development, the Nigerian squad refused to leave their hotel in Abuja until they were paid allowances and bonuses for winning the Cup.

The total owed to each player amounts to $23,650 per player.

More details in next week’s column.

Chelsea

Chelsea Ladies have signed Swiss international striker Ramona Bachmann until 2019. She will join the Blues in January 2017 when the transfer window opens.  All the early signs are that Chelsea will be the big spenders (relatively speaking) going into the new season.

Women in Football Awards

On Tuesday I attended the Women in Football Awards, which were held at the BBC TV Centre in London.

It was a night not without its hitches, but discretion forbids me from saying more….

The awards were given as follows:

Woman of Inspiration Award: Lucy Oliver
Journalist of the Year: Amy Lawrence
Club Best Practice Award: Susan Whelan (Leicester City)
Coach of the Year: Kelly Chambers (Reading LFC)
Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze
Performance of the Year: Scotland Women for qualifying for 2017 Euros
Referee of the Year: Mary Harmer
Women in Football Business Award: Amy O’Brien (Fulham FC)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Sylvia Gore
Woman of the Year: Dr Eva Carneiro

Kabaddi

Pakistan will be holding its first ever women’s Kabaddi National Championships in Lahore this December.

At least seven clubs are expected to take part including Islamabad, WAPDA, Higher Education Committee and the Pakistan Army.

The tournament starts on 14 December.

Pakistan Kabaddi Federation Secretary, Muhammad Sarwar is excited about the move:

“The event is a huge step forward.  We want to encourage girls to develop an interest in the sport and even represent the national side in the future,” he said.

Taekwondo

Jade Jones will be part of the British taekwondo team that is taking part at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix finals in Baku on Saturday.

The other women in the team are Bianca Walkden, Rachelle Booth and Charlie Maddock.

Cycling

The BBC revealed this week that British Cycling only found its former technical director Shane Sutton guilty on one of the charges laid against him by cyclist Jess Varnish.

He was found guilty of using the word “bitches” to Varnish but eight other charges were dismissed including Varnish’s key complaint that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby.”

Sutton was also cleared of using any other offensive or discriminatory language and all bullying allegations.

Varnish has responded to the report with shock.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I am shocked and upset by this latest news and have instructed my solicitor to appeal against the findings of the internal investigation on my behalf.

“Having provided substantial evidence to back up my complaints, to now learn that the majority were not upheld is heartbreaking. I know what was said, and I know I’ve told the truth.

“I have requested from British Cycling the full investigation report to understand why the weight of evidence provided by me and others wasn’t sufficient for the board to uphold my complaints.”

Unfortunately, this story shows no sign of ending, with both sides unhappy with the results and British Cycling’s reputation taking a battering.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

Well it didn’t take long for former England captain Charlotte Edwards to announce her next move.  She has joined Hampshire.  She already sits as a non-executive director with Hampshire and Southern Vipers, so this clearly fits into the plan.

It will be a different experience for Edwards who is used to winning County Championships with Kent as Hampshire play in division two.

I surmise she will move into a coaching role once she finally hangs up her boots, but currently she clearly has an on-field contribution to make.

She will also be playing for the Adelaide Strikers in the upcoming WBBL.

Women’s Big Bash League

And talking of which, the WBBL starts this weekend.

The opening fixtures are:

10 December

Hobart Hurricanes v Perth Scorchers
Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades
Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars

11 December

Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers
Perth Scorchers v Hobart Hurricanes
Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat

There are plenty of England players in action:

Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont are at the Strikers, the Hurricanes have England captain Heather Knight, Danni Wyatt is at the Renegades and the Stars have Dani Hazell and Nat Sciver.  Becky Grundy comes in for Anya Shrubsole until 29 December and will play alongside Katherine Brunt at the Perth Scorchers.

If you have access to BT Sport keep an eye out as they are covering some of the matches.

Women’s cricket in Bangladesh

This is a great initiative.  Please read this piece on developing women’s cricket in Bangladesh.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/04/breaking-boundaries-bangladesh-women-cricketers-charity

Rugby Union

Bristol were back to winning ways at the weekend.  The scores were as follows:

Lichfield Ladies 75-17 Wasps Ladies
DMP Sharks 15-29 Aylesford Bulls Ladies
Richmond Women 10-52 Saracens Women
Bristol Ladies 34-10 Worcester Valkyries

For a more in-depth report see here

Golf

Dubai Ladies Masters

After two rounds of the Dubai Masters, there are two English players at the top of the leaderboard.  Top is Felicity Johnson on -7 with Florentyna Parker two behind on -5.  Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and Aditi Ashok of India are tied in third on -4.

Charley Hull is tied 23 on -1.

Tennis

There will be three women in the main draw of the Australian Open in January.  They are Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady.  It was at the 2016 tournament that Konta made her first appearance in a Grand Slam semi-final.  Let’s hope she can repeat this form in 2017.

And finally,

Three cheers for the Government of South Australia which this week decided to withdraw its support for the hideous tradition of “podium girls” at the 2017 Tour Down Under.

You will have seen them – I’m not going to produce images – of scantily clad young women doing nothing much but providing “window dressing” for the presentation parties at cycling events.  And not before time, at least at this event, they will be no more.

Instead there will be a number of junior cyclists helping to present the prizes.

The same authority has already withdrawn its funding of “grid girls” at the Clipsal 500 motor race.

Let’s hope that’s the kick that other governments/governing bodies need.

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to other sports news..

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

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

Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning

Lightning 124/7 (20 overs)

Storm 128/5 (19.3 overs)

Storm won by 5 wickets

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

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

 

Southern Vipers v Western Storm

Western Storm 140/5 (20 overs)

Vipers (143/3 18.5 overs)

Vipers won by seven wickets

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Saturday 27 August

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

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

 Wednesday 31 August

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

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

 Sunday 4 September

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

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

 

England Women U20 39-12 Canada Women U20

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

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

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

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

Jordyn Orlando scored a consolation try for Canada.

 

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

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

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

 

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

USA Swimming released a statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The final instalment of “Back to Netball after 30 years”

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I’m sorry I’ve left all you blog readers hanging for so long. Now I’m in a position to be able to write it again, but unfortunately this will be the last.

I’m not looking for a response to this blog. I’m not touting for sympathy and nor am I throwing my toys out of the pram.

Right, enough waffle, let’s tell you what has happened since I last blogged.

In my previous post I told you that the Fleckney Rogues were hanging by a thread. Since the “Just” scheme finished we had no coach and no matter how we tried we found it too hard to coach ourselves. Numbers dwindled until there were just three of us regularly turning out.

We really enjoyed it actually, made sure we did some drills and practice and some shooting work, but I think in our hearts we knew we couldn’t sustain it.

So when our money ran out, one of our number approached someone in the village who is a netball coach and asked her if she would be interested in starting a new group.

I’m glad to say she absolutely ran with the idea and starting advertising in the village and through Facebook.

Hence on Tuesday night there were 14 of us (including the three ex-rogues) ready to start again.

I was really looking forward to it, but on the way to the session I managed to hurt my foot somehow and I was hobbling. Still, I wasn’t going to let this stop me.

I noticed that the group was largely much younger than me and much fitter-looking, which I suppose should have set the alarm bells ringing.

We started with a warm up and then did some passing drills which were fine. I was still limping but just about managing to keep up.  The coaches were lovely and helpful.

However, it emerged that although some of the attendees hadn’t played netball since they’d left school, there were a number who played every week in other teams and leagues.

It soon became clear that they played at a different level and pace and I was left behind. Ok, so it’s probably just the way I think and I shouldn’t be so sensitive, but I felt old, short, slow and fat.

We played a game for the last half hour and I played in my favourite goalkeeping position. I was pretty awful, but I tried hard even though I was limping.

However, when my defensive “partner” suggested someone take over from me when we were trying different positions, I felt humiliated. I limped up the other end to play shooter (and you all know how good I am at that).

By the time we had finished I knew I wouldn’t be returning to this group. I felt very out of place. It’s no-one’s fault and I hope the group is great success, but I know I’m not going to be part of it.

It sounds like I’m whining, but I’m really not and I’m not bitter. I suffered too much humiliation at school PE go through it again as an adult and so I leave on my own terms. I know I’m not ready for walking netball yet, but I don’t think there’s anywhere else I fit in at the moment. Perhaps if I do get fitter this will change (can’t do anything about being short and old).

I’m carrying on with sport, though. I’m going to return to playing badminton with my husband and going to the gym. I know I’m pretty good at badminton (he’s never beaten me yet) and we play at our own pace. The gym is something I can do on my own, again at my own pace.

I will also keep writing about netball; the Super League, internationals, and some of you may have been reading the history of netball that I have been writing for WiSP Sports (final part to come next week!). I still love the game and I’m glad I had such fun while it lasted. I also hope to keep in touch with the Rogues as they feel like firm friends.

Here endeth the blog!