Women’s Sports Column 8-14 September 2018

field-field-line-football-54567Welcome to this week’s column.  I’m back!  Didn’t miss much did I?  Just the end of the Kia Super League, the start of the WSL, the start of the rugby union Premier 15s season, the Lionesses qualifying for the World Cup?  No, not much.

I can’t pretend to give you updates on all that, so I hope you managed to get your women’s sport fix elsewhere over the last couple of weeks.  Mind you, I also hope you’re back to read my column again this week!

But my goodness, there’s plenty to get through this week including stories from cycling, tennis, golf, football, cricket, netball, athletics, rugby union and mountain biking.

Before we start though, congratulations to Surrey Stars for their Kia Super League triumph on 27 August.   Just when I thought Loughborough Lightning may bag the title at last, they completely crumbled in the final and Surrey Stars were the winners.  Without resorting to saying “cricket was the winner” this year, I’d just like to say that the tournament  this season was excellent – the new expanded fixture list to include both home and away ties makes so much more sense.  Shame it’s all going to go in 2020…..

Cycling – Kristina Vogel

I was going to start with the US Open women’s singles final, but hey, some things are more important and Kristina Vogel’s story is one of them.

Back at the end of June double Olympic champion Kristina Vogel crashed into another rider during training.

The spinal injury she sustained has left her unable to walk.

In an interview with Der Spiegel she said,

“I believe that the sooner you accept a new situation, the sooner you learn to deal with it.

“I was in pain, but there are no words….On the first X-ray images my spine looks like an Ikea folding table.

“In the meantime, I really thought that I was dying. But I said to myself: ‘I cannot let go here now.’

“No matter what fate holds for you, life goes on, in my case now on four wheels instead of two wheels. My arms are now my legs too.”

Without wanting to sound mawkish, one does imagine that, having come to terms with her situation, she will be incredibly determined and ultimately successful in whatever she tackles next.

You can here Vogel talking about the crash and its aftermath in the BBC’s BeSpoke podcast:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06l0l6g

Tennis – US Open

Where to start with this?

Williams v Osaka

Sticking to the facts: Naomi Osaka in the US Open champion and a worthy winner.  She won in straight sets 6-2 6-4.

In addition to this, Williams was given a code violation for coaching, penalised a point for smashing her racquet and finally docked a game for verbal abuse.

That much we know and is fact.   The rest is now so bound up in name-calling, claim and counter-claim that whatever I say would not change any minds or make things clearer.

Any regular reader will know that I admire Serena immensely and the greatest feeling I have about this whole episode is sadness.  I am said that Osaka did not receive the recognition she deserved at the time – in fact I’m just sad that any of it happened.

I’m not going to say Serena was right in her prolonged outburst, but I do understand her frustration.  There are faults on both sides.  There is sexism in the game of tennis (as there is in most sports).  I saw a tweet from someone who showed a picture of a baseball player with his finger in the umpire’s face and it was described as “arguing a strike”.  Serena’s similar picture with the pointing finger is described as “having a meltdown”.

How is it remedied?  By calling it into question, certainly, but not, as Serena did, during a championship final.  Serena has been fighting both racism and sexism throughout her career and I think, at this point, at the age of 36 she probably was just wondering why she was still having to battle with it.  She went too far.  I nearly put, “but that’s who she is”, but that is the Kevin Pietersen defence and I don’t hold with it.

Women’s tennis has a long way to go in its fight for equality.  The sight of a frustrated Williams endeavouring to fight her corner will have, unfortunately, done nothing to help.

Other finals

Thirteenth seeds Ash Barty and Coco Vandeweghe won the women’s doubles, coming from a set down to beat second seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos 3-6 7-6 7-6.

Both pairings were unseeded in the mixed doubles final.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray won it, beating Alicja Rosolska and Nikola Mektic 2-6 6-3 11-9.

After dropping the first set they fought back to level and the third went to a match tie-break.  They went 4-1 down in the tie-break, but came back again and won it on their fourth match point.

In the wheelchair singles, number two seed Diede de Groot defeated 2017 champion and top seed Yui Kamiji 6-2 6-3.

Mountain Biking

Rachel Atherton claimed her fifth Mountain Bike World Championship title at the weekend. She won the downhill final in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

She finished nearly ten seconds ahead of fellow Briton Tahnee Seagave.  Myriam Nicole of France was third.

Athletics

Another week, another championships, this time the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Last weekend saw Team Americas claim the title, beating defending champions, Europe, by 29 points.

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, the Continental Cup takes place every four years.  This year’s was the third event, with the Americas having won the first and Europe the second.  Teams from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa take part.  It replaced the World Cup for individual nations in 2010.

There were seven British women taking part.

Highlights:

Dina Asher-Smith finished second in the 100m in 11.16 seconds.  The winner was Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast who ran in a time of 11.14 seconds.

Kristal Awuah, Bianca Williams, Imani Lansiquot and Asher-Smith finished second in the 4 x 100m in a time of 42.55 seconds. The Americas won by just under half a second.

Meghan Beesley finished fourth in the 400m hurdles behind Janieve Russell of Jamaica.

Shara Proctor finished fifth in the long jump as Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen claimed the triple jump/long jump double.

The Americas also won the 100m hurdles through Jamaica’s Danielle Williams as team-mate Kendra Harrison of USA finished second.

Americas sealed the win by claiming victory in the mixed 4x400m relay. Their team of Christian Taylor, Luguelin Santos, Stephenie Ann McPherson and Shaunae Miller-Uibo won in a time of 3:13.01 ahead of Africa in second and Asia in third.  The European team was disqualified.  Miller-Uibo won three titles including the 4 x 400m, 4 x 100m and the 200m.

Caster Semenya won the women’s 800m for Africa in one minute 54.77 seconds.

Great North Run

It was a Kenya 1-2-3 in the women’s race.  Vivian Cheruiyot won it with a personal best time of 67 minutes 43 seconds.  Brigid Kosgei (67:52) was second and Joyciline Jepkosgei (68.10) came third.

Martyna Snopek of Poland won the women’s wheelchair race in 63 minutes 02 seconds.

Rugby League

Two results from last weekend in the Women’s Super League:

Featherstone Rovers 12-20 York City Knights
Wigan Warriors 10-12 Castleford Tigers

With most teams having played 10 games, St Helens lie top on points difference with 15 points from Wigan Warriors.  Leeds are third with 14, but have only played nine games.  At the bottom, York City Knights claimed their first win of the season at the weekend and are now level  with next to bottom Featherstone Rovers on two points.

Golf

It’s the final women’s major of the season this weekend, the Evian Championship in France.

After the first round Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Maria Torres of Puerto Rico are on -6, one shot ahead of Austin Ernst of USA.  Ryu So-yeon (Korea), Brooke Henderson (Canada) and Nasa Hataoka (Japan) are one further back on -4.

Georgia Hall lies -3, Bryony Hall -2 and Charley Hull +1.

Netball

Domestic

A double blow for Loughborough Lightning this week as top players Peace Proscovia and Beth Cobden both confirmed they are to leave to play In Australia.  Proscovia is going to Sunshine Coast Lightning (yes, lightning), In Australia.  She gave an emotional interview, which you can see here:

http://loughboroughsport.com/blog/2018/09/06/proscovia-heading-for-pastures-new/

She finishes studying for her MSc at Loughborough this autumn and then will go on to do a PhD at the University of the Sunshine Coast.  Loughborough’s loss will very much be Sunshine Coast’s gain.  We will be able to see Peace back in this country when she plays for Uganda at next year’s World Cup in Liverpool in July.  If you can’t wait that long, England play Uganda in a three-match series in November/December this year.  Check out www.netballengland.co.uk for details.

Cobden is off to play for Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Netball World Cup

Qualifying is finished and we now know the 16 teams who will be vying for the World Cup crown in July.

Automatic qualifiers:

England (host nation), Australia, New Zealand Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.

Qualifers from regional tournaments:

Scotland, Northern Ireland, Fiji, Samoa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

The group draw will be made on 15 September.  More news of that next week.

General tickets go on sale on 19 September – get in as soon as you can.  Click here for details.

Cricket

India and Sri Lanka are warming up for the T20 World Cup in November with a three-match ODI and five-match T20 series in Sri Lanka.

India have already clinched the ODI series, having won the first two matches with points counting towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

First ODI
11 September, Galle
Sri Lanka 98 all out (35.1 overs)
India 100/1 (19.5 overs)
India won by 9 wickets

It was a one-sided start in Galle.  Sri Lanka could only muster 98, skittled out with nearly 15 overs to go.  Captain Jayangani top-scored with 33, but only two other players made it into double figures.

Joshi took 3/16 and Goswami 2/13.

India knocked off the total with 181 balls to spare.  Raut was the only wicket to fall, caught by Surangika off the bowling of Ranaweera for 24.  But Mandhana scored 73, Raj came in to face two balls, not scoring and India had won the match.

Second ODI
13 September, Galle
India 219 all out (50 overs)
Sri Lanka 212 all out (48.1 overs)
India won by 7 runs

The second ODI, by contrast, was a tightly fought affair with Sri Lanka only falling just short in their chase.

India started relatively poorly and at one stage were 36/3.  Bhatia top-scored with 68 and Raj scored 52 as they posted what they probably thought would easily be a winning score.

But Sri Lanka showed they can be doughty competitors.  Jayangani top-scored again with 57 and there were much better contributions throughout the batting order.  Siriwardene scored 49 before she was run out and de Silver 31, but they couldn’t quite get over the line.  Three run-outs did not help their cause.

Further news and scores next week.

Meanwhile South Africa begin a five-match ODI series against the West Indies in Bridgetown at the weekend.  Again there will be news of this next week.

England do not play again until 4 November, when they begin their World T20 warm-ups against Australia.

Rugby union

The new Premier 15s season got underway last weekend:

8 September
Firwood Waterloo 5-38 Saracens
DMP Sharks 27-24 Worcester Valkyries
Bristol Bears 17-32 Wasps
Gloucester-Hartpury 24-38 Harlequins
Loughborough Lightning 22-19 Richmond

After the turmoil of the restructure, this season should be all about consolidation and improvement.  There should be some good contests out there and the more support we show women’s rugby, the more it will thrive (as with all women’s sport).  There is tremendous goodwill towards the sport at the moment, especially at domestic level, so if you can, get out there and give them your support.

This weekend’s round two fixtures:

15 September
Wasps v Loughborough (1.35pm, Ealing Trailfinders RFC)
Saracens v Worcester (2.30pm, Allianz Park)
DMP Sharks v Gloucester-Hartpury (3pm, Northern Echo Arena)
Richmond v Firwood Waterloo (5pm, Richmond Athletic Ground)
Harlequins v Bristol Bears (5.30pm, The Stoop)

Football

After all the Wales v England and Scotland’s qualification for the World Cup excitement a couple of weeks ago (all of which I missed), it was back to domestic duty this week as the WSL kicked off and midweek also saw the first leg of the Round of 32 of the Champions League.

WSL

9 September
Reading 4-0 Yeovil
Davison 5’, Williams 11’, Bruton 59’ pen, Allen 61’

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-1 Bristol City
Graham 70’

Arsenal 5-0 Liverpool
Miedema 6’ 39’ 90’, Evans 14’, Little 35’

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City

Birmingham City 1-0 Everton
Wellings 1’

Championship
9 September

Aston Villa 0-12 Manchester United
James 10’ 23’, Sigsworth 25’ 33’ 35’ 49’ 61’, Zelem 29’ pen, Hanson 55’ 59’, Green 66’, Toone 69’
Good for football?  I don’t think so.

Millwall Lionesses 0-3 Lewes
Quayle 2’, Carter 24’, Bergin 44’

Sheffield United 0-2 Durham
Salicki 57’, Reid 79’

Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 London Bees
Haines 73’ pen, Green 80’
Howells 22’

Crystal Palace 0-2 Leicester City
Johnson 18’, Morgan 75’

This weekend it’s back to Continental Cup action – I hope you’re all keeping up with this.  For fixture details see: https://womenscompetitions.thefa.com/Support/Fixtures

Champions League – Round of 32, 1st leg

Wednesday 12 September

BIIK-Kazykurt 3-1 Barcelona
Although Toni Duggan scored for Barcelona, they will have to win well at home to progress.

Rayazan 0-1 Rosengard

Barcelona FA (Cyprus) 0-2 Glasgow City
Two red cards in the game as Rita Akaffou and Leanne Ross were sent off for Barcelona and Glasgow respectively.  Goals for Glasgow came from Hayley Lauder 3’ and Leanne Crichton 83’.  Glasgow must have a good chance of going through with their home leg to come.

Sarajevo 0-5 Chelsea
All over in Chelsea’s favour, you’d have to think.  Goals from Millie Bright 6’, Drew Spence 22’, Maria Thorisdottir 36’, Ji So-yun 87’ and Adelina Engman 89’ see them well ahead going into the second leg.

ZFK Spartak Subotica 0-7 Bayern Munich
Zhytiobud-1 1-6 Linkoping
Avaldsnes 0-2 Lyon
Honka 0-1 Zurich
Thor/KA Women 0-1 Wolfsburg
Ajax 2-0 Sparta Praha
Fiorentina 2-0 Fortuna Hjorring
St Polton 1-4 PSG
Juventus 2-2 Brondby

13 September
Gintra 0-3 Slavia Praha
Lillestrom 3-0 Zvezda 2005

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Manchester City
Gemma Bonner scored in the 16th minute and City looked to have won it until Madrid equalised on 89 minutes through Kenti Robles.

Second leg fixtures are 26-27 September

Lionesses

Don’t forget, England have a series of friendlies coming up in October and November.  It all begins on 6 October at Meadow Lane, Nottingham against Brazil.  Kick-off time for that one is 12.30pm.  Then the Lionesses face Australia at Craven Cottage, Fulham on Tuesday 9 October at 7pm and finally they play Sweden on Sunday 11 November at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, Rotherham at 1.30pm.  Let’s get these games sold out.  Tickets available from the FA website: https://ticketing.thefa.com/

That’s more than enough for this week.  More news and views next week.

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Women’s Sports Column 9-15 June 2018

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

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

Let’s crack on.

 Cricket

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

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

England v South Africa

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

First ODI – Worcester
9 June

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

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

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

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

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

Second ODI – Hove
12 June

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

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

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

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

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

Tennis – on the Court
French Open

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

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

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

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

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

 Nottingham Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennis- off the Court
 Sara Errani

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

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

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

Errani, unsurprisingly, is unhappy with the decision,

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

Maria Bueno

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

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

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

Cycling

The Women’s Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stage One

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

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

Stage Two

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

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

Para-cycling

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

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

Mountain Biking

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

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

Football

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

Friday 8 June
Russia 1-3 England

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

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

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

Sunday 10 June
Northern Ireland 0-5 Netherlands

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

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

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

Tuesday 12 June
Wales 3-0 Russia

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

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

Russia had nothing in response.

Poland 2-3 Scotland

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

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

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

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

Casey Stoney

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

In an interview with the BBC she said,

“This the biggest club in the world.

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

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

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

Liverpool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeovil Town

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

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

Athletics

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

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

Netball

Last weekend’s Superleague results:

Friday 8 June
Team Bath 42-43 Loughborough Lightning

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

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

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

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

This weekend’s fixtures are:

Friday 15 June
Team Bath v Wasps (7.30pm)

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

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

Rugby League

Just one result from the Super League this week:

Sunday 10 June
Wigan Warriors 50-0 York City Knights

And finally,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 3-9 June 2017

fieldhockeysticksBack to usual this week with a new column.  It’s a relief really after seeing (or not seeing) the rained off Aus V NZ Champions Trophy match at Edgbaston on Friday.  And thanks also must go to the foul-mouthed Kiwi who was sitting behind me f-ing and blinding throughout.   He was so miserable that when the kids came on to play kwik cricket all he could say was “those kids suck at cricket”.  At least he didn’t say “those f-ing kids suck at cricket”.   Hey ho.  Let’s crack on.

Stories this week come from netball, canoeing, judo, cricket, football, tennis, hockey, triathlon, mountain biking and cycling.

Netball

The Final Four line-up is decided.  I went to see Lightning v Team Northumbria on 27 May.  Loughborough won comfortably, having already qualified for the Final Four, but I was a bit concerned about some of the complacent play that took place later on in the game.  It wasn’t very professional, and better opponents would have taken advantage.  Altogether, though, a job well done and on to the Finals.

Results from round 18

Sirens 57-43 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Celtic Dragons 52-47 Team Northumbria

Wasps Netball 49-35 Team Bath

Manchester Thunder 60-45 Severn Stars

Loughborough Lightning 71-63 Surrey Storm

So, in the regular season, Lightning finish top of the table by a whopping nine points on 51.  Wasps Netball, the only team to defeat Lightning, finished second with 42, Manchester Thunder third on 39 and fourth were Team Bath on 33.  Last season’s champions, Surrey Storm, finished fifth on 30 and do not qualify.

The Final Four extravaganza will take place this weekend at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, the event having been moved from the Manchester Arena.  The two semi-finals and the final will be live on Sky and the fixtures are:

Saturday 10 June

Loughborough Lightning v Team Bath (15.30)

Wasps Netball v Manchester Thunder (17.45)

Sunday 11 June

Final (16.30)

There will also be a 3rd-4th place play-off.

 All will be covered on Sky Sports

Judo

Britain’s Sally Conway won a silver medal at the European Judo Open in Romania this week.  She was lost in the final of the -70kg category by Marie Eve Gahie of France.

Conway had beaten fellow Briton Gemma Howell in the semi-final.  Howell went on to take bronze by defeating Carola Paissoni of Italy.

It is all good build-up for them as they work towards the World Judo Championships, which take place in Budapest from 18 August to 3 September.

Cricket

On the Pitch

England played a World Cup warm-up match against West Indies at Loughborough on 7 June.

Nat Sciver was outstanding with both bat and ball.  West Indies won the toss and chose to bat first.  They were bowled out for 150 in the 50th over.  Captain Stafanie Taylor top scored with 59, while for England Sciver took 4/39 from her 10 overs.  Offspinner Dani Hazell took 3/21.

England reached their target with 14 overs to spare, but the teams decided that England would bat out their 50 overs for practice.   Sciver made 85 and Tammy Beaumont a half-century.  Katherine Brunt hit quick 49 and England made 281/7 off their 50 overs.

Off the Pitch

Cricket Australia announced this week that from now on their international sides will be known as “Australian men’s cricket team” and “Australian women’s cricket team”.   This may sound like nothing new, but actually it’s a big deal.  When do you ever hear the Men’s Cricket World Cup described as the Men’s Cricket World Cup and not the Cricket World Cup?  They have also dropped the “Southern Stars” name unless using it colloquially.  It puts the two teams on an equal footing when being spoken or written about.  And that’s got to be good news for women’s sport in Australia. 

Cycling

Women’s Tour

The Women’s Tour started on Wednesday 7 June.  The first stage, from Daventry to Kettering in Northamptonshire was won by Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland.  Marianne Vos of the Netherlands came in second with compatriot Christine Majerus in third.  Highest placed Briton was Alice Barnes who came in seventh.

The second stage was through Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and was won by Dutch rider Amy Pieters.  Second was Hannah Barnes, who took over the best-placed Briton position from sister Alice.

In general classification, Niewiadoma is still first with Vos in Second and H Barnes in third.

The third stage on Friday 9 June will be Atherstone to Leamington Spa, while the fourth is on Saturday and is Chesterfield and Derbyshire.

The whole race finishes on Sunday 11 June in London with a route that begins and ends in Regent Street St James.

Full details of the winners and timings next week.

Cicle Classic

There was a tight sprint finish to the Cicle Classic in Melton Mowbray on Sunday.  Katie Archibald took the win with Laura Massey in second and Nikki Juniper, third.

After four of nine rounds, Chanel Mason leads overall.

Football

Chelsea Ladies were crowned Spring Series champions on Saturday.  It went down to the wire on the last day as any one of the top four could have clinched the title.  But Chelsea were in pole position and there was no way they were going slip up.

Saturday 3 June

Sunderland 1-1 Reading Women

Reading had most of the pressure in the first half-hour before they finally took the lead on 30 minutes through Mel Fletcher.

But Reading were rueing their missed chances on 53 when substitute Beverly Leon unleashed a fierce shot which nestled in the bottom corner of the Reading goal, earning the home side a point.

Liverpool Ladies 1-3 Manchester City Women

The visitors took the lead on 29 minutes when Jill Scott headed home a Jennifer Beattie flick from a Toni Duggan corner.  The lead was doubled on the stroke of half-time when Mel Lawley hit a shot from 20 yards into the top corner.

After the break City soon got their third when a Megan Campbell free kick from 25 yards slipped in and the game was over as a contest.

Liverpool grabbed a consolation goal in the 90th minute from another long-range shot.

Liverpool will be disappointed with their season’s end as they were going well as early leaders in the Spring Series.

Bristol City Women 0-5 Arsenal Ladies

Arsenal ended their campaign with a storming win at Bristol on Saturday, and in doing so ended the Spring Series unbeaten.

It was all square until just before the half-hour when defender Louise Quinn headed home for Arsenal’s first.

Despite pressure, there was no further scoring in the first-half, but after the break it took Jordan Nobbs only four minutes to get their second from a Jodie Taylor pass.

Chloe Kelly scored Arsenal’s third in the 73rd minute with substitute Danielle Van De Donk getting the fourth five minutes later.

Beth Mead was last on the scoresheet when she put away Arsenal’s fifth on 83.

Birmingham City Ladies 0-2 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea sealed the title with a 2-0 win at Solihull Moors on Saturday.

After a tight opening spell Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Birmingham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger fouled Fran Kirby in the area and Karen Carney scored the resultant penalty.

Gemma Davison and Kirby missed relatively easy chances to increase the lead before half-time, but could not take them and the league leaders went in just 1-0 up.

Kirby turned poacher on 58 when she turned in from close range after Berger lost a Davison cross.

After that the champions-elect never looked in trouble and duly celebrated their deserved win at full time.

The table finished with Chelsea on 19 points from eight games.  Manchester City finished second with an inferior goal difference to Chelsea’s.  Arsenal Ladies finished third a point behind, with early leaders Liverpool fourth on 14.

Triathlon

Lucy Charles won the inaugural triathlon Championship in Samorin, Slovakia at the weekend.   She finished the event in four hours, 13 minutes and 59 seconds.

Annabel Luxford of Australia was second.

Tennis

French Open

The women’s final will be between the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko and number three seed Simona Halep.   Ostapenko becomes the first unseeded woman to reach the final at Roland Garros since 1983.

Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) beat Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) (11) 4-6 6-2 6-2

Ostapenko lost the first five games of the match

Tamea Bacsinszky (SWI) (30) beat Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) (13) 6-4 6-4

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) (2) beat Caroline Garcia (FRA) (28) 7-6 6-4

Simona Halep (ROM) (3) beat Elina Svitolina (UKR) (5) 3-6 7-6 6-0

Semi-Finals 8 June

Ostapenko beat Bacsinszky 7-6 3-6 6-3

Halep beat Pliskova 6-4 3-6 6-3

The final is on Saturday.  Radio coverage is on 5Live from midday.

Mountain Biking

There was elation and disappointment for Rachel Atherton this week at the Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill at Fort William.

She qualified well ahead of the field in five minutes 29.222 seconds, a full 13 seconds of Tracey Hannah of Australia, who finished second.

Fellow Britons Tahnee Seagrave and Manon Carpenter both crashed, although Carpenter recovered to qualify in fourth.

Myriam Nicole of France finished qualified third.

But it was not to be for Atherton in the final.  She had to pull out before the race even began after dislocating her shoulder in a practice run.

Tracey Hannah won the race and Manon Carpenter finished fourth.

The next round is this weekend in Leogang, Austria.

Canoeing

The Canoe Slalom European Championships were held in Slovenia from 1-4 June.

Great Britain’s women claimed two golds the individual gold in C1 went to Kimberley Woods and she was also part of the three that claimed top spot in the C1 team event.

Woods won individual gold with 110.31 points, ahead of Tereza Fišerová of the Czech Republic on 112.90 with Nadine Weratschnig of Austria on 116.19 in bronze.

The C1 team of Woods, Mallory Franklin and Eilidh Gibson won the event for the second year in a row.  Their points tally was 153.24.  Silver went to Germany on 157.32 with the Czech Republic winning bronze on 158.48.

Hockey

Surbiton’s and Canterbury’s women were in action representing English hockey in the EuroHockey Club Cup in Den Bosch last weekend.

Eight teams took part with Surbiton finishing fourth and Canterbury sixth.

Surbiton beat CSV Complutense of Spain to reach the semi-finals, but couldn’t overcome hosts HC‘s-Hertogenbosch, losing 7-1.  They lost the 3rd/4th place play-off to the other Dutch team, AH&BC Amsterdam 3-1.

Canterbury lost their 5th/6th place play-off to CSV Complutense.

Final standings:

  1.  HC’s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands)
  2. UHC Hamburg (Germany)
  3. AH&BC Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  4. Surbiton (England)
  5. SPV Complutense (Spain)
  6. Canterbury Ladies HC (England)
  7. Hermes – Monkstown HC (Ireland)
  8. CSP Krylatskoye (Russia)

And finally

Long jumper Jazmin Sawyers admitted this week that she pulled out of a competition in Boston because of the “very bad periods” from which she suffers.

And boy did she pay for that admission on social media.

Even though she said,

“Can’t walk, intense pain radiating down my legs, head spinning, full body sweating, shouting, crying kind of bad,”

It brought out all the “boys” with their “ugh – too much information” kind of comments.  Fabulously Sawyers bit back,

“Ah so lovely to see so many men with insightful things to say in response to this article.”

And interestingly she also said that those making comments on the BBC site are usually the worst.  Funnily enough this is what I have also found.  It seems to be a platform for jokers and fools (and worse).

At last women in sport and in all walks of life are beginning to speak out about their period problems. And it’s only by discussing, analysing and gaining more information that we are going to be able to develop possible solutions.  Sorry chaps if it offends your delicate sensibilities, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to deal with it.

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 6-13 January 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Nearly half way through January already!  Plenty to get our teeth into this week with stories from hockey, tennis, football, cricket, rugby, winter sports and yet more awards.  This week’s “and finally” is a tricky one and I’ll leave you to form your own opinions.

Tennis

Johanna Konta has continued her good start to the season by winning the Apia International in Sydney.

She beat world number three, Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-2 to take the final in straight sets.

She broke Radwanska in the third game of the match and hit 18 winners in the first set alone.  She went 4-0 up in the second and never looked like letting it slip, winning the match with an ace.

Without wishing to curse her, she looks in great form going into the Australian Open.  She has, however, got a tough opening match in the first grand slam of the year; she faces the Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Laura Robson and Tara Moore have failed in their attempts to qualify for the Australian Open.  Both players lost in the first qualifying round.

Robson said she felt “flat” in losing in straight sets 6-2 6-4 to Amandine Hesse of France.

Moore was beaten 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 6-1 to Dalma Galfi of Hungary.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.  The top ten women’s seeds are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (GER)
  2. Serena Williams (USA)
  3.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
  4.  Simona Halep (ROU)
  5.  Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
  6.  Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
  7.  Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP)
  8.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
  9.  Johanna Konta (GBR)
  10.  Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP)

The date for Maria Sharapova’s comeback has been announced.  She will return at the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart on 26 April.

The tournament begins two days before her suspension ends and she will not be able to attend until the day of her first match.

Football

Kelly Smith

Biggest news of the week has to be the retirement from football of Arsenal and England striker Kelly Smith at the age of 38.

And what a playing career it was.  In 1999 she became Britain’s first female professional when she signed for American side New Jersey.

She won 117 England caps, scoring 46 goals.  She played in two World Cups and four European Championships.

She also had a prodigious career with Arsenal, winning five FA Cups in the process and in 2006-07 the UEFA Cup (now Champions League).

She was awarded an MBE in 2008 and was named FA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.

For the past two seasons she has been assisting manager Pedro Martinez Losa at Arsenal.  She is studying for her coaching badges and is looking to go into coaching as soon as she can.

One thing‘s for sure, you’ll never be able to keep her out of the game and the game would indeed be poorer without her.

She Believes Cup

The schedule for this year’s cup was announced this week.  England will play on the following dates:

France – 1 March (Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pennsylvania)

USA – 4 March (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey)

Germany – 7 March (RFK Stadium, Washington)

FA Cup

The FA Cup third round draw was made this week:

Blackburn Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield FC
Aston Villa v Cambridge United
Millwall Lionesses v London Bees
Leicester City v Liverpool Marshall Feds
Keynsham Town v Durham
Coventry United v Oxford United
West Bromwich Albion v Lewes
Doncaster Rovers Belles v Watford
Derby County v Nottingham Forest
Brighouse Town v Everton
AFC Wimbledon v Brighton & Hove Albion

Ties will be played on 5 February.

Rugby Union

World Cup

The schedule for the World Cup, taking place in July in Ireland, has been announced.

Wednesday 9 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

England v Spain 2pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Ireland v Australia (7pm)

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Wales 2.55pm

USA v Italy 4.30pm

Canada v Hong Kong 5.15pm

Sunday 13 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

USA v Spain 2.45pm

Ireland v Japan 5.15pm

France v Australia 7.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

New Zealand v Honk Kong 12 noon

England v Italy 2.30pm

Canada v Wales 5pm

Thursday 17 August

UCD Bowl Dublin

Italy v Spain 2.45pm

Wales v Hong Kong 17.15pm

France v Ireland 19.45pm

Billings Park, UCD Dublin

Canada v New Zealand 12 noon

England v USA 2.30pm

Australia v Japan 5pm

Tuesday 22 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Semi-finals 5pm and 7.45pm

Saturday 26 August

Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

Final 7.45pm

Women’s Premiership

Bristol lost their second game of the season at the weekend.  Their lead is now cut to one point – gained from the bonus point loss at Lichfield.  For a full report see WSUK.

8 January 2017

Saracens Women v Wasps Ladies
Postponed

Richmond 17-50 Aylesford

DMP Sharks 24-10 Worcester

Lichfield 15-12 Bristol

Winter Sports

Skiing

Lindsay Vonn is nearing her return to competition after breaking her arm nine weeks ago.

She will compete at Altenmarkt-Zauchensee in Austria on 14 January.

Over recent years Vonn has had to cope with several injuries.  She missed most of 2013 and 2014 with a knee injury.  She then fractured a knee again in February 2016.

Speed skating

Elise Christie has announced that she will not compete in the European Championships in Turin later this month.

She is going to use the extra time to prepare for the World Championships in March.

Christie won overall gold at the last European Championships and so will not be defending her title.

The European Championships begin on 13 January and the World Championships take place in Rotterdam from 10-12 March.

Cricket

The WBBL continues.  The current table is as follows:

played won lost points Net run- rate
Sydney Sixers 10 7 3 14 0.413
Hobart Hurricanes 10 5 4 11 -0.038
Melbourne Stars 10 5 5 10 0.342
Perth Scorchers 10 5 5 10 0.196
Brisbane Heat 10 5 5 10 -0.167
Sydney Thunder 10 4 5 8 -0.022
Adelaide Strikers 10 3 5 8 -0.249
Melbourne Renegades 10 4 6 7 -0.536

Indoor Hockey

The four semi-finalists of the Women’s Super 6s hockey have been decided.

Slough finished top with five wins from eight games and one loss.

Also through are Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury and Sutton Coldfield.

The finals take place on Sunday 29 January at the SSE Arena, Wembley.  Gates open at 10am and the action starts at 11am.

Outdoor Hockey

The third part of my history of women’s hockey was published by WiSP Sports this week.  You can read this and all my other pieces for WiSP here: www.wispsports.com

Laureas World Sports Awards

The Laureas shortlists were released this week.  Two female Britons made the lists:

Sportswoman of the Year award

Simone Biles (US) gymnastics, Allyson Felix (US) athletics, Angelique Kerber (Germany) tennis, Katie Ledecky (US) swimming, Elaine Thompson (Jamaica) athletics, Laura Kenny (GB) cycling.

Action Sportsperson of the Year award

Rachel Atherton (GB) mountain biking, Pedro Barros (Brazil) skateboarding, John John Florence (US) surfing, Chloe Kim (US) snowboarding, Kelly Sildaru (Estonia) freestyle skiing, Tyler Wright (Australia) surfing.

The winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be announced in Monaco on 14 February.

And finally,

In a survey by England Athletics, more than a third of 2,000 women surveyed said they had suffered some form of harassment when out jogging alone and more than 60% said they feel anxious while running on their own.

It has been suggested that an answer to this is to go out running in groups.  Now I see the value of this, I really do, but it’s not the answer.  There are plenty of benefits to be gained by running with others; the feeling of comradeship, someone to encourage you, making new friends, giving confidence, etc.  Women new to running would especially benefit.

England Athletics has put together a new programme called “Run Together”.  You can access the details here: www.englandatheltics.org

However, I would also point out that running in groups is not for everyone.  Some people run specifically to have time on their own.

And, of course, the real issue is that the women running should not have to change their habits due to the harassment.  Gone are the days (almost) when we say a woman was “asking for it” when they wear short skirts or drink too much.  So why is it the fault of the runner that they receive such abuse?  The harassers should surely change their attitudes and behaviour, not the runners?

I’ll leave it with you.

Apologies but there will be no column next week as I’m away.