Welcome to this week’s column. Major news from rugby union this week. Regular readers will know that I have a healthy disrespect for some sports governing bodies. The RFU is one body that seems to take one step forward and one back. With World Rugby’s Development plan for the women’s game published last year, the RFU really had to up its own game, especially after the non-renewal of 15s contracts debacle post World Cup. So, more on that to come, along with stories from triathlon, netball, rugby league, tennis, football, hockey, cricket, equestrianism and golf.
Let’s crack on….
First to the shocking news that leading Spanish amateur golfer, Celia Barquin Arozamena has been murdered in the USA. She was found dead on the Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa on Monday 17 September.
Barquin, who was 22, won the European Ladies’ Amateur championship in July and was in her last year at Iowa State University.
A man has already been charged with her murder.
The Evian classic was won by Angela Stanford of the USA. It was her first major win and she took it by one shot.
Her compatriot, Amy Olson, was a shot clear of Stanford, who was in the clubhouse on -12. But on the last hole Olson double-bogeyed with a six.
There was a tie for second between Olson, Austin Ernst and Mo Martin (USA) and Kim Sei-young (Kor).
Top British finisher was Georgia Hall who finished on -6. Charley Hull was one behind her on -5, but Bryony Law saw a disappointing end to her challenge as she finished on +6.
Somehow the beginning of the Quad Series completely passed me by last week, so there is quite a bit to catch up on.
Round One – 15 September
New Zealand 39-52 England
Helen Housby scored 28 points as the Roses recorded their biggest ever win over the Silver Ferns.
Australia 61-44 South Africa
Caitlin Bassett scored 31 for the Diamonds as they produced a dominant display against the Proteas.
New Zealand 61-37 South Africa
Solonaima Falau scored 35 points from 37 attempts as New Zealand sailed past South Africa.
Australia 52-47 England
The Roses were unable to repeat the heroics of the Commonwealth Games final as they fell to the Diamonds in Newcastle (Aus). Caitlin Bassett was in the points again, scoring 37 points from 40 attempts. Helen Housby was again top-scorer for England with 29 from 35.
Round three is on 23 September in Melbourne, with England taking on South Africa and Australia playing New Zealand.
The group draw has been made for next year’s world cup:
Australia, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka
New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados, Singapore
Jamaica, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji
England, Uganda, Scotland, Samoa
Vicky Holland of Great Britain became triathlon world champion last weekend after she finished second in the Grand Final.
Katie Zafares of the US had held a 34-point lead going into the final, but finished third and thus 52 points behind Holland.
Final points standings
- Vicky Holland (GB) 5540
- Katie Zafares (USA) 5488
- Georgia Taylor-Brown (GB) 4183
- Kirsten Kasper (USA) 3887
- Jess Learmonth (GB) 3810
- Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 3750
- Jodie Stimpson (GB) 3658
- Taylor Spivey (USA) 3603
- Laura Lindemann (GER) 3423
- Rachel Klamer (NET) 3306
Tennis – Pan Pacific Open
We’re at the semi-final stage at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. In the quarter-finals, Camila Giorgi went through after Victoria Azarenka retired hurt, Donna Vekic beat second seed Caroline Garcia in straight sets 6-3 6-4, third seed and US Open Champion Naomi Osaka defeated eighth seed Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-4 and fourth seed Karolina Pliskova overcame Alison Riske in three sets, 6-1 6-77-6.
The semi-final draw:
Pliskova v Vekic
Giorgi v Osaka
Top Briton, Jo Konta, was knocked out in straight sets in the round of 16 by Vekic, 6-3 7-5.
Rugby Union – off the pitch
The biggest rugby news comes this week from the RFU, which has announced it is to introduce women’s full-time 15s contracts this season. The new deals will come into effect on 1 January 2019.
There will be 28 full-time contracts for England Women plus seven Elite Player Squad (EPS, the current agreements), making a total of 35 contracts.
“We are delighted to be able to offer full-time contracts to our 15s players,” said RFU chief executive Steve Brown.
“This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport.”
The England squad will now be based at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, giving them a top-class permanent base with access to some of the best facilities in the country.
With World Rugby showing its commitment to women’s rugby, the RFU could not really do anything else but fall into line. It has always talked a good game, and for periods had backed it up with actions and resources. Let’s hope that this time the RFU keeps its focus and does not get sidetracked by the lure of Sevens.
Rugby union – on the pitch
Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:
Wasps 20-40 Loughborough Lightning
Saracens 43-7 Worcester Valkyries
DMP Sharks 14-57 Gloucester-Hartpury Women
Richmond 12-24 Firwood Waterloo
Harlequins 26-26 Bristol Bears
After two games, Saracens are top with two wins and two bonus points (10 points in total). Loughborough are second on nine and Harlequins third on eight. At the bottom there are two teams yet to register a win. Richmond are bottom with one bonus point, with Worcester just above them with two bonus points.
This weekend’s fixtures look like this:
22 September 2018
Firwood Waterloo v Wasps (12.30pm, Firwood Waterloo Rugby Club)
Worcester Valkyries v Richmond (2pm, Sixways Stadium)
DMP Sharks v Saracens (3pm, Northern Echo Arena)
Bristol Bears v Gloucester-Hartpury Women (4.50pm, Ashton Gate)
Loughborough Lightning v Harlequins (5pm, Loughborough University)
England goalkeeper, Maddie Hinch, has announced she is to take a break from international hockey. In reality, this will probably mean only one international season as she has said,
“I still have the goal of going to Tokyo 2020 if selected.”
She is aiming to concentrate her efforts on playing for her club side, Stichtsche in the Netherlands.
Investec Women’s Hockey League
The domestic hockey season begins again this weekend. The first round of Premier League fixtures are as follows:
Buckingham v East Grinstead (12 noon, Stowe School)
Slough v Surbiton (12.30pm, Slough Hockey Club)
Beeston v University of Birmingham (2pm, Nottingham Hockey)
Canterbury v Clifton Robinsons (2pm, Polo Farm SC)
Holcombe v Bowdon (3pm, Holcombe Hockey Club)
For hockey news, fixtures and results for all divisions, check out the England Hockey website.
This week has seen the start of a somewhat disrupted World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. The advent of storm Florence meant that some events were cancelled and some moved around. As you will all know by now, equestrian sports are not my favourite and probably a bit of a blind spot, but here is what has happened so far:
Great Britain won bronze in the team event as Olympic champions Germany won gold and USA silver. The team of Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester, Emile Faurie and Spencer Wilton took third, edging out Sweden and have now qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
In the individual event Isabell Werth of Germany took gold, Laura Graves of USA silver and Charlotte Dujardin, bronze.
Sophie Wells of Great Britain took gold in the individual para-dressage. She finished ahead of Frank Hosmar of Netherlands , who took silver and Regine Mispelkamp of Germany, bronze.
Great Britain dominated in the eventing, taking both individual and team gold. Ros Canter won the individual title, Padraig McCarthy of Ireland took silver and Ingrid Klimke of Germany, bronze.
In the team event Canter, Piggy French, Gemma Tattersall and Tom McEwan finished ahead of the Ireland team of McCarthy, Cathal Daniels, Sam Watson and Sarah Ennis – Ireland’s first team world medal since 1966. France took the bronze.
Show jumping is still to come with the team finals on 21 September and individual finals on 23 September. For more information and results check out the WEG website.
Just hours after last week’s column was published, Neil Redfearn resigned as manager of Liverpool.
Sunday 16 September
Group One – North
Sheffield United 0-2 Birmingham City
Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa
Bristol City 0-3 Manchester City
Emslie 52’, Nadim 66’ (pen), Weir 72’
Group Two – North
Durham 3-3 Liverpool
Roberts 3’ 19’, Cottam 61’
Bradley-Auckland 2’, Babajide 71’, Sweetman-Kirk 87’
Everton 3-2 Reading
Walker 14’ 27’, Kaagman 56’
Finnigan 24’ (OG), Chaplen 77’
Group One – South
Crystal Palace 0-4 Chelsea
Engman 10’, England 56’ 64’, Spence 59’
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 London Bees
Umotong 27’, Brazil 36’, Whelan 89’
Yeovil Town 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Wiltshire 7’, Haines 22’ 39’ 61’
Group Two – South
West Ham 4-0 Millwalll Lionesses
De Graaf 6’ 86’, Visalli 9’, Kmita 12’
Lewes 0-9 Arsenal
Van de Donk 6’, Miedema 21’ 27’ 60’, McCabe 26’, Little 37’ 45’ (Pen) 68’, Evans 59’
There were also midweek Super League and Championship matches:
Wednesday 19 September
Bristol City 0-0 Chelsea
Birmingham City 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
West Ham 0-0 Reading
Yeovil Town 0-7 Arsenal
Charlton 2-0 Aston Villa
Leicester City 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Lewes 2-1 Crystal Palace
London Bees 2-1 Millwall Lionesses
Thursday 20 September
Everton 0-4 Manchester City
Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield United
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the FA has a new website for the women’s game. Having tried to extract information from it several times now, I have to say it really is hard work. I’m “sure” it will improve as time goes on, but patience is not my strong point and at the moment it is pushing what patience I have to its limit!
There were three Super League fixtures at the weekend:
Bradford Bulls 32-10 Featherstone Rovers
Castleford Tigers 20-32 Leeds Rhinos
York City Knights 6-38 Wigan Warriors
Most teams have now played 11 matches. Leeds are top with 18 points, with Wigan in second just one point behind. At the bottom, York City and Featherstone Rovers both have two points, with York at the bottom on points difference.
Sri Lanka v India
India 253/5 (50 overs)
Sri Lanka 257/7 (49.5 overs)
Sri Lanka won by 3 wickets
Sri Lanka claimed their first win of the series in fine style at Katunayake on Sunday 16 September.
Mithali Raj scored a huge 125 not out from 143 balls as India set Sri Lanka a big total. Smriti Mandhana contributed with 51 and Deepti Sharma 38.
But Sri Lankan captain, Chamari Atapattu, capped a fine all round personal ODI performance with a knock of 115 from 133 balls, to give her side a chance. It went down to the final over, with Sri Lanka needing six to win. They took three singles from the first three balls off Sharma then Dilhari scored two off the fourth. She then scored a four off the fifth ball to take her own score to 12 and to win the match for the home side. It also gave Sri Lanka two priceless points in the ICC Women’s Championship.
India 168/8 (20 overs)
Sri Lanka 155 all out (19.3 overs)
India won by 13 runs
Mandhana was out for a duck, but Bhatia top-scored with 46 and Rodrigues and Krishnamurthy scored 36 each as India posted a competitive total in the first T20.
In response the Sri Lankan openers put on 39 in just under three overs before Mendis was out for 32 from 12 balls. After that, wickets fell regularly and although Kaushayala made a spirited 45, Poonam Yadav weighed in with 4/26 off her four overs and Sri Lanka were all out 13 short.
Sri Lanka had reached 49/3 off 7.5 overs before the heavens opened in Colombo and the match was abandoned.
There are three more T20s scheduled; 22, 24, 25 September. More news next week.
Meanwhile, South Africa are also in action in the West Indies.
South Africa 201/9 (50 overs)
West Indies 161 all out (46 overs0
South Africa won by 40 runs
Lizelle Lee went for a duck, but Laura Wolvaardt scored 45, Sune Luus 58 and Dane van Niekerk 46 not out as South Africa posted a gettable 201/9. Stafanie Taylor took 3/37 off her 10 overs.
But Marizanne Kapp had other ideas. She took 3/14 off nine overs as West Indies were skittled out for 161. Hayley Matthews was her first victim, caught by Lee for a duck. Shemaine Campbelle scored 46, but wickets fell all around her and when Kapp took two more in three balls (Aguilleira 1, Fletcher 0) the target was looking distant. Campbelle’s spirited resistance ended when she was last wicket to fall in the 46th and South Africa had won by 40 runs.
South Africa had reached 177/8 off 38 overs when the rain hit Bridgetown and the match had to be abandoned. This was a pity for West Indies as they had South Africa in a good deal of trouble.
There is still one ODI (22 Sept) and five T20s to come.
More news and views next week.