Women’s Sports Column 20-26 April 2019

tennis ballsWelcome to this week’s column.   Apologies for my prolonged absence, but hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the women’s sports news without me.  But also, hopefully, you’re still with me as I return to the weekly blog.

I can’t pretend to be able to go through everything I’ve missed, but there’s plenty write about just from this week, so let’s crack on.

Stories and news this week come from football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league, hockey, netball, tennis and motor sport.

Tennis

Fed Cup

Great Britain beat Kazakhstan 3-1 in the promotion play-off to get into World Group II for the first time in 26 years.

Jo Konta started with a hard-fought win over Zarina Diyas in her customary three sets, 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Kazakhstan took the second rubber as a heartbroken Katie Boulter went down in three sets to Yulia Putintseva 3-6 6-2 7-6.

Konta beat Putintseva in the third rubber, again in three sets, 4-6 6-2 7-5

to make it 2-1 to Great Britain.

Boulter came through in the fourth match against  6-7 6-4 6-1, which meant Great Britain took the tie 3-1 and didn’t have to play the doubles rubber.

World Group

Meanwhile, in the World Group, the final will be between Australia and France.

Semi-final results:

France 3-2 Romania

Romania took 1-0 lead in Rouen as Simona Halep defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-1.

Caroline Garcia drew France level, beating Michaela Buzarnescu in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.

In the third rubber, Halep won again, beating Garcia in three sets, 6-7 6-3 6-4 to take Romania ahead again, but in the final singles rubber, Pauline Parmentier defeated Irinia-Camelia Begu 6-3 2-6 6-2.

The tie was 2-2 going into the doubles, which went the way of France as Garcia and Mladenovic defeated Halep and Niculescu 5-6 6-3 6-4.

Australia 3-2 Belarus

Australia reached their first Fed Cup final for 26 years after they defeated Belarus in Brisbane at the weekend.

Belarus won the first rubber with Aryna Sabalenka beating Sam Stosur in three sets, 7-5 5-7 6-3.

Ash Barty levelled it with a win over Victoria Azarenka 7-6 6-3.  Barty also played the third rubber, defeating Sabalenka 6-2 6-2.

In the fourth, Azarenka comprehensively defeated Stosur 6-1 6-1, to take it to a deciding doubles rubber.

Barty and Stosur came out on top, defeating Azarenka and Sabalenka in three sets, 7-5 3-6 6-2.

The final will be in Australia over the weekend of 9-10 November.

Stuttgart Open

We are at the quarter-final stage in Stuttgart and the matches look like this:

Anastasija Sevastova (7) v Petra Kvitova (3)
Kiki Bertens (6) v Angelique Kerber (5)
Naomi Osaka (1) v Donna Vekic
Victoria Azarenka v Anett Kontaveit (8)

News on how it all panned out next week.

Istanbul Open

We are at the same stage in Istanbul and the matches are as follows:

Barbora Strycova v Elena Rybakina
Petra Martic (6) v Kristina Mladenovic
Lara Arruabarrena v Marketa Vondrousova
Veronika Kudermetova v Margarita Gasparyan

Again, more news next week.

Football

Champions League – Semi-Finals

Lyon 2-1 Chelsea

Chelsea grabbed a potentially vital away goal on Sunday, but it could and perhaps should have been even better for the London side.

Lyon took the lead through a Magdalena Eriksson own goal on 27 minutes.  Eleven minutes later the home side were two up when Amandine Henry scored from a corner.

Chelsea had the chance to pull one back on half-time when they were awarded a penalty.  Fran Kirby took it, but it was saved by Sarah Bouhaddi in the Lyon goal.

In the second-half, Chelsea did pull one back through Erin Cuthbert.

The second leg, at Kingsmeadow, is this weekend, on Sunday 28 April.  Kick-off is at 2pm.

Bayern 0-1 Barcelona

The Spanish side take a one-nil lead into the second leg.  After a goalless first-half, the only score came in the 63rd minute, through Kheira Hamroaui.

The second leg is also on Sunday 28 April at 11am.

FAWSL

With just two games to go in the regular season, Arsenal are in the box seat.

They have a four point lead at the top over Manchester City.  Arsenal have 48 and City 44.  Chelsea are third, some way back, on 36.  At the bottom, Yeovil are already gone and lie on -3 having had points deducted for going into administration.

Last weekend’s results:

Reading 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Furness 49’

Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Quinn 4’, Miedema 28’
Boye-Hlorkah 61’

Liverpool 5-2 Bristol City
Babajide 11’ 41’ 65’, Daniels 45’ Hodson 90+1’
Kerkdijk 35’, Fahey 83’ (OG)

West Ham 1-2 Birmingham City
Leon 27’ (Moorhouse sent off on 41’)
Ladd 44, Arthur 75’

FAWC

Manchester United have been crowned champions and will next season compete in the WSL.  They beat Crystal Palace 7-0 on Saturday to claim the title.

Last weekend’s results:

Manchester United 7-0 Crystal Palace
James 9’ 83’ 85’ 90’, Arnott 33’, Galton 35’, Sigsworth 46’

Sheffield United 4-1 London Bees
Cox 36’, Sarri 52’, Rayner 76’, Pennock 88’
Littlejohn 50’

Durham 1-0 Millwall Lionesses
Roberts 69’

Charlton Athletic 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Ejupi 41’, Graham 46’
Dean 53’ (PEN), Neville 71’ 80’

Aston Villa 2-2 Lewes
Ale 4’, Hutton 34’
Rood 45’ 90+2’

Everyone has two games to go.

West Ham

The FA Cup finalists have had their plea to move their men’s home game against Southampton on May 4 rejected.  Their match is due to kick off at 3pm on Saturday, with the FA Cup final kicking off at 5.30pm.

PFA Women’s Team of the Year

The Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year has been announced and features nine players from Arsenal, Manchester City or Chelsea.

Sophie Baggaley (GK) (Bristol City), Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Demi Stokes (Man City), Ji Sun-Yun (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Man City), Aoife Mannion (Birmingham City), Kim Little (Arsenal), Lia Walti (Arsenal), Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Man City), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)

BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019

The shortlist for the award, drawn up by the BBC World Service is:

Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg), Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars and Perth Glory), Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais)

You can vote via the BBC website and voting closes on Thursday 2 May.  The winner will be announced on 22 May.

Netball

Vitality Netball Superleague

Last weekend saw a double round of fixtures with rounds 15 and 16 being completed.  The results were as follows:

Round 15 – Saturday 20 April
Strathclyde Sirens 44 -59 Loughborough Lightning
London Pulse 42-71 Manchester Thunder
Wasps Netball 76-42 Surrey Storm
Severn Stars 42-53 Team Bath
Saracens Mavericks 55-50 Celtic Dragons

Round 16 – Sunday 21 April
Wasps Netball 64-48 Celtic Dragons
Strathclyde Sirens 47-44 London Pulse
Surrey Storm 46-51 Severn Stars
Loughborough Lightning 60-57 Manchester Thunder
Team Bath 45-51 Saracens Mavericks

So with just two full rounds to go, Wasps are top with 39 points from 16 games.  The other three in the top four spots are Thunder (36), Team Bath (33) and Lightning (33).  Mavericks are fifth on 30 and could still qualify if results go their way.

Round 17 is this weekend:

Friday 26 April
Strathclyde Sirens v Wasps Netball (7.30pm)

Saturday 27 April
Celtic Dragons v Surrey Storm (4pm)
London Pulse v Loughborough Lightning (4pm)
Saracens Mavericks v Severn Stars (4pm – Live on Sky Sports)
Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (5pm)

The Grand Final is at the Copper Box in London on Saturday 18 May with the third/fourth place play-off at 3pm and the final at 5pm.  Both matches will be live on Sky Sports and the link to buy tickets is here.

Rugby Union

Tyrell’s Premier 15s

The Premier 15s Grand Final will be between Harlequins and Saracens, who beat Loughborough Lightning (26-10) and Wasps (31-13) respectively in their semis.

In the regular season the two teams finished top and second with Saracens top on 17 wins from 18 with Harlequins seven points behind them and with 15 wins.  Should be a classic.

You can still buy tickets here.  Under 16s get in for free.

The final is on Saturday 27 April at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton.  Kick-off is at 17.45.  The match will be live on Sky Sports Action.

Sevens

It was the fourth of six rounds of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens series at the weekend in Kitakyushu.

England looked as if they were about to claim their first round title since 2016 when Canada pinched it right at the end.

Final

Canada 7-5 England

England scored a try through Amy Wilson Hardy late in the first-half.  It looked as if this was to be the decisive score until Canada captain Ghislaine Landry broke through the defence to score behind the posts, giving herself an easy conversion opportunity.  She kicked the extra points and the title went to Canada.  It was Canada’s first leg win since 2017.

USA finished with the bronze, defeating France 24-12.

New Zealand could only manage fifth, beating Australia in the play-off 34-26.

The Women’s Standings are as follows:

  1. New Zealand 72
  2. Canada 66
  3. USA 64
  4. Australia 56
  5. France 46

The fifth round is in Langford, Canada over the weekend of 11-12 May.

Rugby League

While I’ve been off, the rugby league season has started once more, so apologies for the lack of coverage so far.  All Super League teams have played two games.  Castleford Tigers are top on points difference, having won both of their games, including a hammering of York City Knights away 80-0.  Needless to say, this has given a bit of a fillip to their points for column.  Leeds Rhinos and St Helens have also won their first two matches.

This weekend there are four fixtures:

Sunday 28 April
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos (13.00)
York City Knights v Wigan Warriors (14.00)
Bradford Bulls v Wakefield Trinity (14.00)
St Helens v Featherstone Rovers (17.45)

If you haven’t already had a look at the rugby league website, I would encourage you to do so.  It is very informative and kept up to date.  Check it out here:

Hockey

Apologies again, but it’s the time of year when I start to try to get my head around the hockey play-offs.  If you don’t know what happens at the end of the season, here are the regulations (thanks to the England Hockey website):

Investec Women’s Hockey League Champions and European Qualification
At the end of the regular season the team who finishes top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division will receive an automatic place in the EuroHockey Club Championships as England’s second ranked team. They can improve on this ranking, and compete to be crowned English Champions, in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Finals tournament. 

The team who wins the Investec Women’s Hockey League Final will be crowned Investec Women’s Hockey League Champions and will be England’s first ranked team in the EuroHockey Club Championships for the subsequent season. In the event that the team finishing top of the league at the end of the regular season also wins the Final, the runners-up in the Final will be England’s second ranked team in the EuroHockey Club Championships.

What are the Investec Women’s Hockey League Play-Offs?
There are two types of play-off that determine which teams are promoted and relegated in the Investec Women’s Hockey League.

Investec Premier Division Play-Off
Here the winners of the three Conferences join the ninth-placed team from the Premier Division to battle it out in a round robin tournament for two spaces in the top tier, with the tenth-placed side having been automatically relegated.

Investec Conference Play-Offs
Here the teams that finish ninth across the three Conferences fight it out for survival. The winner of this round robin tournament will stay up while the other two will be relegated to their respective regional league along with the teams that finished in 10th in each Conference. The fixtures are played across three weekend with each side play a home and an away tie. The five regional league winners are then promoted to fill the vacant spots.

Holcombe finished top of the table in the regular season with 41 points from 18 games.  Surbiton finished second on 38 and East Grinstead third on 34.  East Grinstead were also deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player.  Buckingham finished fourth on 29.

Canterbury finished tenth on just eight points and have been relegated.

Play-off dates are still to be announced.  More news when I have it (Yes Martin, I know it’s simple really).

EuroHockey Club Cup

Amsterdam were triumphant at the EuroHockey Club Cup last weekend.

It was the last edition of the competition before it becomes the EHL in 2020.  Amsterdam will take their place in that competition with this win.

The tournament, also held in Amsterdam, saw the hosts beat Real Sociedad in the final 7-0.

The places finished as follows;

Bronze went to Alster, who been Den Bosch 2-1 in the third place match.

Hamburg beat English representatives Surbiton 4-1 in the 5th/6th place match.

Loreto defeated Ritm Grodno 2-1 in the 7th/8th place play-off.

FIH Pro League

Great Britain are currently lying seventh in the table after losing their fourth match of six against Germany on Wednesday.  Hannah Grablach scored a double on 38’ and 58’ as they won 2-0.  Great Britain’s next match is against China on Friday 3 May.

Australia are top with six wins from seven matches and a win/loss percentage of 85.71.  Argentina lie second having played 10 matches.  They have a win/loss percentage of 83.33.  Great Britain’s win/loss percentage is 27.78 from six matches.

And Finally,

Don’t forget it’s Women’s County Cricket Day on 6 May.  Get down to see your local county in action if you can.  You can read all about in my piece published last week.

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 8-14 October

books
Just some of the excellent books available about women’s sport, by women!

Welcome to this week’s column.  It’s another bumper week for women’s sports news, so let’s plough straight in.  We have stories from athletics, cricket, rugby, football, sailing, tennis and cycling this week plus a shocking “and finally” to make you angry and indignant.

 

Athletics

To athletics first where Jessica Ennis-Hill has announced her retirement this week.  It was not entirely unexpected news but sad nevertheless.

Ennis-Hill has done so much to change how women who decide to have a child and then return to their sports are viewed.

She won a memorable gold in the heptathlon at the 2012 Olympics in London and this year claimed silver in the same event in Rio.

On her Twitter account she said that it was,

“one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make…I’ve always said I wanted to leave on a high and have no regrets.”

She is bound to have many more years ahead of her being an ambassador for athletics and for women (and mothers) in sport.

Cricket

Another week, another bizarre item of news from cricket.

As you will all know by now, the Women’s World Cup takes place in 2017 in England and Wales.  The International Cricket Council (ICC) has just announced the schedule of fixtures.  As a friend of mine commented,

“What buffoon arranged the schedule for the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England next summer?” (Thanks Martin)

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

The 28 round-robin matches will take place on eight days; on six days there will be four matches and on the other two, two matches.  So if you want to go and see the games in person, the most you can see is eight.  Whoever thought this would be a good idea?  How does Sky cover this?  One thing’s for certain, they’re not going to give over Sky Sports 1-4 to show all four on a day!  And you can’t blame them.  So, essentially, the women’s cricket-loving public is being short-changed again.

It’s something I repeatedly come up against – the organisers or governing body says “we’re behind women playing {insert sport here} all the way.  Here’s a brilliant tournament/initiative/league to show how much we are behind it!”

Then the reality kicks in and they can’t deliver.  They can’t give it the resources, time, and above all, money, to do it justice.  It’s too late to get the ICC to think again in this case, but I would implore them to look at what they’ve done and despair (apologies to mangling of Shelley).  There, rant over.

 

On the field it’s honours even between West Indies and England after the first two ODIs in the five-match series in Jamaica.  England won a tight first game by five runs and West Indies won the second after England lost their last six wickets for 17 runs and the hosts won by 38 runs.  For a more detailed round-up of these two matches please check out my report for www.womensportsuk.com. 

The sides now move to Sabina Park for the next three matches.  These count towards the ICC Women’s Championships and, therefore, towards automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

 

South Africa are also currently playing a seven-match ODI series against New Zealand.  With three matches gone the series stands at 2-1 to New Zealand.  The visitors won the first game in Kimberley by 12 runs with the home side falling short of their relatively small 128 run target.

South Africa struck back in the second winning by four wickets.  They chased down 223 with a top score of 80 from captain Dane van Niekerk and a contribution of 42 from Lizelle Lee.

The third game was an easy win for New Zealand as they surpassed their target of 189 in just 33.1 overs, losing one wicket in the process.  Although Rachel Priest was out for 10, captain Suzie Bates with 82 and Amy Satterthwaite with 89 took the game away from South Africa.

The teams now move on to Paarl, where the fourth ODI takes place on Monday 17 October.

 

Also this week it has been announced that former England captain Charlotte Edwards will play for the Adelaide Strikers in this year’s Women’s Big Bash League, which will take place in December and January.  Last season she played for Perth Scorchers.

 

Rugby

It was the fourth round of matches in the Women’s Premiership at the weekend.   Bristol are still unbeaten and sit at the top of the table with 20 points.  Lichfield are just behind them, second only on points difference:

DMP Sharks 10-67 Bristol

Lichfield 33-15 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

Saracens 5-19 Worcester Valkyries

Richmond 15-10 Wasps

For an in-depth round-up read my piece for www.womensportsuk.com. 

 

Tennis

There was bad news for Johanna Konta this week after she was forced to withdraw from the Hong Kong Open with an abdominal strain.  She pulled out before her second round match against Wang Qiang.

Konta is currently in the final qualifying position for the end of season tournament in Singapore.  But this position is not secured yet and it could go to Dominika Cibulkova if she reaches the final at the Linz Open.

Heather Watson is through to round two having beaten Marina Erakovic 7-5 7-6 in round one.  She will play Caroline Wozniacki next.

 

Football

I have to confess that the Under 17s Women’s World Cup, which is being held in Jordan, has completely slipped under my radar.

England put in some fine performances to get to the quarter-finals, including defeating Brazil 2-1 in their third group game to get them through to the knockout stage.  In the other group games they drew 3-3 with North Korea and 0-0 with Nigeria.

On 13 October they played Japan in the quarter-final, but lost 3-0 to Japan.  Goals from Endo in the third minute, and two from Ueki in first-half injury time and the 80th minute saw Japan win to meet Spain in the semi-final.

The other semi-final will be contested by Venezuela and North Korea.

Both semi-finals take place on Monday 17 October.

 

The second leg of the Champions’ league matches took place this week:

Zvezda 2005 0-4 Manchester City Women

City completed a 6-0 aggregate win to reach the last 16.

They were 2-0 up at half-time with two goals from corners; one from Jennifer Beattie and one from Lucy Bronze.

After the break Beattie headed in her second with Izzy Christiansen scoring the fourth for city just before the end.

 Bayern Munich 1-4 Hibernian Ladies

Hibs were already 6-0 down from the first leg and little hope of improving their situation in Germany.

They went behind from an Anna Gerhardt goal and Scotland international Lisa Evans scored a second.  Gerhardt got a second before Abigail Harrison pulled one back to make it 3-1 at half-time.

The Scots battled on in the second half but Munich scored again through Vivien Miedema to make it 4-1 on the night and 10-1 on aggregate.

Wolfsburg 1-1 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea put in creditable performance in Germany but, in truth, the damage had already been done in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The visitors took the lead through an Eni Aluko goal as the striker took advantage of a defensive slip.  They held on to the lead until the 80th minute, when Wolfsburg equalised through Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir to make it 4-1 on aggregate.

Glasgow City 1-2 Eskilstuna United

After losing narrowly to Swedish side Eskilstuna last week Glasgow City would have been confident of taking the tie on home turf, but it was not to be.

Eskilstuna took the lead in the seventh minute through Olivia Schough.  Glasgow equalised just after half-time through Sarah Crilly, but they couldn’t score again and the Swedish side took the game away from them in the 58th minute with a second goal from Schough.

 

Off the pitch, as I reported last week, all kinds of shenanigans were allegedly taking place at West Ham Ladies, but this week it has been announced that West Ham United have taken the ladies’ side “in house”.

West Ham Vice-chair Karren Brady said they were “passionately committed to equality,” and that women’s football is a “high priority on our agenda.”

She added, “The addition of the ladies into the West Ham family is the solution my board and I have long sought.

“Not only does it secure the long-term future of the ladies’ side, but also guarantees current and future supporters, players and staff of the ladies’ team will form an integral part of the club’s bright future as we move forward.”

 

FIFA

The governing body of world football has appointed two women to senior positions this week.

Sarai Bareman is to be the first Chief Women’s Football Officer.  She will lead the newly created women’s football division.  She is the only female member of FIFA’s 2016 reform committee.

The other post, that of Chief Officer, Member Associations and Development, has gone to our own Joyce Cook, a tireless campaigner for equality in football and currently chair of Level Playing field, Managing Director of Centre for access to Football in Europe (CAFE)Top of Form and on the boards of Sports Ground Safety Authority and Women in Football.

 

Sailing

 A major rule change to the Volvo Ocean Race has been announced this week.  In theory it will make it easier for women to compete at this level.

The new rules mean that all-male teams are restricted to seven members and also give mixed teams a numerical advantage.

There will now be five possible crew combinations for the 2017-18 edition:

7 men

7men + 1 or 2 women

7 women + 1 or 2 men

5 men + 5 women

11 women

Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Mark Turner said,

“Sailing is one of the few sports where you can have mixed teams, and we want to take advantage of that, and also reflect the growing desire for greater diversity in businesses – in particular the kind who back the race teams today.

“We’re using the crew rules to incentivise skippers to bring one or more female sailors onboard. I really hope that it’s not necessary to have any rule at all in the future – but it seems it’s the only way today to ensure we can maintain progress.”

The race celebrates its 43rd anniversary this year and since it started there have been over 2000 male participants but only over 100 women.

 

Cycling

The Road Cycling World Championships have been taking place in Doha this week.

Amber Neben of the United States won her second individual time trial world title in a time of 36 minutes 37.04 seconds.  She was six seconds ahead of Netherlands’ Ellen van Dijk with Katrin Garfoot of Australia in third.

Britain’s Hannah Barnes was 14th and Hayley Simmonds 25th.

The team time trial was won by Dutch-based team Boels-Dolmans.  The team included Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitstead) and won in a time of 48 minutes 41.62 seconds, a full 48.24 seconds ahead of second place team Canyon-Sram which included Britain’s Hannah Barnes.   Fellow Briton Ciara Home was in the Cervelo Bigla team that finished third.

 

And finally,

In an interview with The Guardian this week, journalist and broadcaster Jacqui Oatley admitted that she had to call police when the comments she received on social media reached such a violent point that she felt under threat from them.

One person that particularly disturbed her threatened to go to her house and “cut” her among other, as she put it, “unmentionable” things.

Usually Oatley is phlegmatic about such comments so this obviously must have been something out of the ordinary.  It’s awful to even think that there is such a thing as “the ordinary” when it comes to this kind of stuff, but this is pretty much what any female sports journalist has to go through when they dare to comment on/write about/broadcast about men’s sport.

When she was covering the men’s Euros this year a rather nice chap suggested on Twitter that she should be “at home cooking the tea rather than presenting football”.  She responded by replying that she was a “bit busy doing my dream job”.

More women should be doing their dream job and if this doesn’t fit with a man’s view of a woman’s role, then this is the fault of the man, not the woman.