Women’s Sports Column 15-21 September 2018

rugby ballWelcome 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….

Golf

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.

Evian Classic

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.

Netball

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.

Round Two

18 September

New Zealand 61-37 South Africa

Solonaima Falau scored 35 points from 37 attempts as New Zealand sailed past South Africa.

19 September

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.

World Cup

The group draw has been made for next year’s world cup:

Group A

Australia, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka

Group B

New Zealand, Malawi, Barbados, Singapore

Group C

Jamaica, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji

Group D

England, Uganda, Scotland, Samoa

Triathlon

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

      1. Vicky Holland (GB) 5540
      2. Katie Zafares (USA) 5488
      3. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GB) 4183
      4. Kirsten Kasper (USA) 3887
      5. Jess Learmonth (GB) 3810
      6. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 3750
      7. Jodie Stimpson (GB) 3658
      8. Taylor Spivey (USA) 3603
      9. Laura Lindemann (GER) 3423
      10. 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)

    Hockey

    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:

    22 September

    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.

    Equestrianism

    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:

    Dressage

    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.

    Eventing

    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.

    Football

    Just hours after last week’s column was published, Neil Redfearn resigned as manager of Liverpool.

    Continental Cup

    Sunday 16 September
    Group One – North
    Sheffield United 0-2 Birmingham City
    Staniforth, Hayles

    Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa
    Welsh 19’

    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’
    Howells 22’

    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

    FAWSL
    Bristol City 0-0 Chelsea
    Birmingham City 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
    West Ham 0-0 Reading
    Yeovil Town 0-7 Arsenal

    FAWC
    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

    FAWSL
    Everton 0-4 Manchester City

    FAWC
    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!

    Rugby League

    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.

    Cricket

    Sri Lanka v India

    Third ODI
    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.

    19 September

    First T20
    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.

    21 September

    Second T20

    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.

    16 September

    First ODI
    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.

    19 September

    Second ODI

    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.

 

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Women’s Sports Column 26 May – 1 June 2018

field-field-line-football-54567Welcome to this week’s column.  I missed quite a bit last week, didn’t I, so this week’s bumper offering will include a few highlights from the previous one.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s another week, another women’s sport initiative (yay!), likewise I get to play yet another game of “What on earth was the FA thinking?”  News and results also from cricket, rugby union, rugby league, golf, netball, tennis and lacrosse plus a round-up of who won what at the Women’s Sport Trust #Be a Game Changer Awards.

Football – off the pitch

No doubting the top women’s sports news of the week – the FA announcement as to who has been handed licences for the new Women’s Premier League and Women’s Championship.  I don’t know what you’ve read about it, but there’s precious little positive reaction out there.  Some clubs are even considering appealing the decision.  There are always winners and losers in such a process, but yet again the FA has done nothing to endear itself to supporters of women’s football and the clubs themselves.

Tony Farmer, founder of Chelsea Ladies and vocal supporter of women’s football through WSL Fans Utd, tweeted this (and I think this sums it up)

Team finishes 7th in WSL1 removed
Team wins WSL2 not promoted
Team wins FAWPL South promoted to T2
Team wins FAWPL North not promoted to T2
Team finishes 7th in FAWPL promoted to T1
Team finishes 4th in FAWPL MID1 promoted to T2
Club with no team placed in T2
Confused?

So to recap, the winners are, no doubt, Lewes, Manchester United (!), Leicester City and West Ham, while the losers are Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Watford, Blackburn Rovers, Oxford United, Southampton and Derby County.

14 teams applied for five licences in the part-time Championship.  They were awarded to Manchester United, Charlton (champions of third-tier in a play-off against Blackburn.  Blackburn didn’t make it even though they finished top of the Premier League North), Leicester City, Lewes FC and Sheffield United.

Current WSL1 side Sunderland were the big losers.  They had already indicated the need to go part-time and should have been confident of making the Championship, but they didn’t and are now due to languish in the new third-tier, the Women’s National League North.  Watford and Oxford United are also demoted to the third-tier.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, the FA’s head of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell said of Sunderland,

“They were in a very competitive competition to get in to the two leagues and we had to judge people on merit.

“Yes, it’s tough on them, but unfortunately, whenever you create these kind of step-changes, there are casualties, and I’m afraid they’re one of them.

“As we move the WSL to full-time, in order to improve competitive balance, get better broadcasts and eventually better commercial income. Some clubs couldn’t make that step.

“Others have stepped up to the mark. It has to be a commitment from the club to step up and move forward together with us.

“We’re in a very good place and I think in a few years from now, we’ll have a league that is the envy of the world.”

Well I certainly hope so, but serious doubts remain as to some of the decision-making.  Why 11 teams in the WSL?  Apparently this will be upped to 12 at the end of next season through promotion, but if the winners of the Championship are unable to fulfil the “professional” criteria, will they still be promoted or will it be a random appointment of a club that finished mid-table?

There have been some admirable statements from the unsuccessful clubs; both Oxford United and Derby County have committed to progressing their women’s sides and contesting to rise through the leagues via promotion.

I think I’ve exhausted myself with the ramifications of this now, so here’s the list of who is where in the top two tiers for next season:

Women’s Super League 2018-19
Arsenal
Birmingham City
Brighton & Hove Albion
Bristol City
Chelsea
Everton
Liverpool
Manchester City
Reading
West Ham United
Yeovil Town

Women’s Championship 2018-19
Aston Villa
Charlton Athletic
Doncaster Rovers Belles
Durham
Leicester City
Lewes FC
London Bees
Manchester United
Millwall Lionesses
Sheffield FC
Sheffield United
Tottenham Hotspur

Other football news

What a week for England’s Lucy Bronze.  She began the week by winning the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award and ended it as a Champions League winner!  In a public vote she beat Netherlands star Lieke Martens into second, while Australia striker Sam Kerr was third.

Chelsea Ladies are no more – well they’re changing their name (not before time, in my opinion) to Chelsea Football Club Women.

Also with Chelsea, midfielder and Norway captain Maren Mjelde has shown her commitment to the club by signing a new three-year contract.

Reading, meanwhile, have released Harriet Scott, Melissa Fletcher and Kirsty Linnett after deciding not to renew their contracts.  Fletcher, a Wales international, had been with the club since she was eight years old.

US midfielder Heather O’Reilly has left Arsenal after 18 months.  But Netherlands international Danielle van de Donk, Sari van Veenendaal and Dominque Janssen have all signed new contracts.

Bristol City Women’s head coach Willie Kirk has left the club after three years.  He had been offered a new contract, with his current one expiring in the summer, but turned it down.

Manchester City are also in the transfer news; Jane Ross and Tessel Middag have been released on the expiry of their contracts, but they have signed Bristol City forward Lauren Hemp.

England squad for Russia World Cup Qualifier

The squad has been announced for the qualifier against Russia:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Mary Earps (Reading), Carly Telford (Chelsea)

Defenders: Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Abbie McManus (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City)

Forwards: Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Ellen White (Birmingham City)

The game is on Friday 8 June with a 5pm kick-off UK time and will be on the BBC red button.

Football – on the pitch – Champions League Final

Wolfsburg 1-4 Lyon (aet)
0-0 after 90 mins

It was all too easy for Lyon in the end, but in the early stages Wolfsburg went toe-to-toe with the holders.

But Lyon always had the better chances and had goal-line technology been in place the match could have been over in normal time as Lyon’s Amandine Henry’s shot looked to have crossed the line before Noelle Maritz cleared it from inside the goalmouth.

After a goalless 90 minutes, the German side took the lead with a deflected shot from Pernille Harder.

But the game arguably turned on the sending off of Wolfsburg defender Alexandra Popp for a second yellow card.

Lyon capitalised quickly and ruthlessly and Wolfsburg soon tired.  Amandine Henry scored the equaliser before substitute (and why wasn’t she starting as she was fantastic when she came on) Shanice van de Sanden put in two pinpoint crosses for Eugenie le Sommer and Ada Hegerberg to score and take the game away from Wolfsburg.

Camille Abily scored the fourth, somewhat flattering Lyon and hard on Wolfsburg and the French side had won their fifth Women’s Champions League title.

Tennis – on the court

French Open

We’re reaching the end of the first week at Roland Garros.  British number one Jo Konta continued her poor French Open form, exiting in the first round, losing to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 4-6 3-6.  Heather Watson got to round two; in the first round she played an excellent match to defeat      Océane Dodin of France 6-3 6-0.  She was, however, unable to replicate this form in the second and was soundly beaten by sixteenth seed Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6 4-6.

Over the next couple of days the round of 32 in the singles will be completed.  Conqueror of Konta, Putintseva, is still going strong, having defeated Wang Qiang 1-6 7-5 6-4. Others through to the round of 16 so far are thirteenth seed Madison Keys, 6-1 7-6 winner over twenty-first seed Naomi Osaka and fourteenth seed Daria Kasatkina 6-1 1-6 6-3 winner over Maria Sakkari.

There are plenty of seeds still in it and don’t forget Serena – more news next week.

Tennis – off the court

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is to bestow its highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, on Evonne Goolagong Cawley for her contribution to tennis both on and off the court.

During a distinguished career Goolagong Cawley won the French Open and Wimbledon at the age of 19 in 1971 and in total won seven Grand Slam singles title, six Grand Slam doubles titles and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title.

She was also part of the Australian Fed Cup team that won in 1971, 1973 and 1974.

Since her retirement she has been active in promoting tennis for women in Australia and is an ambassador, advocate and role model for indigenous Australians.

For 12 years she has run the Goolagong National Development Camp which aims to improve the health, education and employment prospects of indigenous youngsters through tennis.

Rugby League

Just a couple of results from the Super League this week:

Saturday 26 May
Featherstone Rovers 22-46 Bradford Bulls

Sunday 27 May
Leeds Rhino 40-12 Castleford Tigers

St Helens are still top on points difference from Leeds Rhinos.  York City Knights have yet to register a point although they have at least one game in hand over most teams, and two over some.

Lacrosse

There was sad news from the world of lacrosse this week with the announcement of the death of Celia Brackenridge at the age of 67 from leukaemia.

Brackenridge had an illustrious career playing for and captaining both the England and Great Britain lacrosse sides.

On her retirement from the game she got into coaching and was England coach for the 1986 World Cup.  She was a scholar and student of the game and wrote several books on the sport.

But she was also passionate about equality in sport and was a part of the founding of the Women’s Sports Foundation UK.

At the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s she researched and worked in the field of the sexual abuse of young athletes by coaches, especially in football and in 2001 she worked with the FA on a new child protection strategy.

She was awarded an OBE for her serviced to Equality and Child Protection in Sport in 2012.

Netball

It was round 14 of 18 in the Netball Super League last weekend.  Performance of the weekend went to Loughborough Lightning, who ended Wasps Netball’s unbeaten run in stupendous style.  The full results were:

Friday 25 May
Celtic Dragons 38-78 Manchester Thunder

Saturday 26 May
UWS Sirens 51-43 Team Bath
Benecos Mavericks 59-40 Team Northumbria
Wasps Netball 47-60 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 28 May
Surrey Storm 42-51 Severn Stars

That win for Lightning could be vital as Wasps (36) lead at the top is cut to three points.  However they do have a game in hand over Loughborough (33) in second with Thunder (30) in third a further three points back.  Celtic Dragons and Team Northumbria prop up the table on 6 points.

Round 15 is this weekend:

Friday 1 June
Team Bath v Benecos Mavericks (7.30pm)

Saturday 2 June
Manchester Thunder v Wasps Netball (2.15pm Live on Sky Sports)
Team Northumbria v Celtic Dragons (6pm)
Surrey Storm v UWS Sirens (6pm)
Loughborough Lightning v Severn Stars (7pm)

Be a Game Changer Awards

The Winners were:

Sporting role model (Individual)
Stacey Copeland

Sporting role model (Team)
England Women’s cricket team

Ambassador for Women’s Sport
Lorna Boothe
Boothe is the most senior black woman in athletics administration

National Governing Body of the Year
England and Wales Cricket Board

Brand/Sponsor partner of the year
Investec (Principal Partner of GB and England Women’s Hockey)

Inspiring Initiative (Local)
Crawley Old Girls
Enabling older women to learn to play football

Inspiring Initiative (National)
England Rugby’s inner warrior campaign

Imagery of the year
“Standing in the light”

Media initiative of the year
The Tough Girl Podcast

Outstanding contribution
Carol Isherwood
Former England rugby captain and founding member of the Women’s RFU.

Golf

Changes are afoot in the world of golf.  I’m not going to lump this into the wonderful world of hashtagged initiatives, as it seems there could be more substance to this one.

I do see stormy times ahead for the R&A though if it truly wants to improve the lot for women and girls who want to get into the sport.

In an interview with the BBC, Chief Executive, Martin Slumbers (could have been nominative determinism gone mad, but it’s obviously not) has said that “Doing nothing is not an option” when it comes to improving the “recruitment, retention and progression” of women in golf.

Considering it is only four years since the R&A voted to admit women members, this is somewhat of a seismic shift.

Enter the Women in Golf Charter.  Actually it’s inspiring stuff.  Give it a read.  There will be huffing, puffing and some rebellion I don’t doubt, but the old order is changing throughout sport and although golf may be one of the more difficult ones to crack, it is doable if enough people have the will.

Cricket

Women’s T20 Challenge

A women’s IPL is surely a step closer as the Trailblazers and Supernovas put on a fine show, with the fight going down to the last ball, as the prelude to the men’s IPL final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

Trailblazers 129/6 (20 overs)
Supernovas 130/7 (20 overs)

Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers batted first.  Top scorer was Suzie Bates with 32, while Jemima Rodrigues got 25.  The Australian duo of Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry did the bowling damage with Schutt taking 2/18 and Perry 2/20.

In reply the Supernovas started well.  Openers Danni Wyatt and Mithali Raj scored 47 inside the first six overs, but as they lost wickets the run-rate rose until they needed four runs to win off the final over.  Poonam Yadav took 2/21 and Bates 2/16 and it was Bates to bowl the final over.  Perry drew the scores level with a single from the penultimate ball and Pooja Vastrakar hit the winning run with a thrash to mid-wicket.

So come on BCCI and the many potential sponsors out there – recognise a 24-carat gold opportunity when you see one.

#ShowUp

Let me start by saying it’s laudable.  Any initiative that encourages people to attend women’s sports events can’t be bad.  But I’ve got initiative fatigue and although I’d like to raise a glass to this fine new idea, I’m struggling.  What it has got going for it is that it’s not run by the FA….. Here’s the gist:

This partnership between Sky Sports and the Women’s Sports Trust encourages sports fans to try something different by attending a women’s event.  People are being asked to pledge their support by using the hashtag #ShowUp across their social media platforms.

All of the big names in women’s sport are backing it and Sky is also giving away 5,000 tickets to women’s sports events this year.

For all of us who have been #showingUp for years it’s nothing new, but the further we can reach into new audiences the better.  Get behind this new campaigning and check out the Youtube video here.

And finally,

Before we carried away on the big fluffy #ShowUp cloud, there was a more disturbing announcement this week from Women in Football (WIF).

It has seen a 397.2 per cent increase in the number of sex discrimination and harassment incidents reported than in the preceding 12 months.

Unsurprisingly social media accounts for a huge number of complaints.  Of the 271 incidents reported:

Match day incidents were up 133.3%
Workplace incidents up 112.5%
Social media incidents up 285.4%

Of course, before we all run for the hills we must also remember that it is only recently that the reporting of incidents has been made easy and is actively encouraged.

Any regular reader of this column will realise that the abuse is widespread, particularly in social media, and particularly in football.  There are a large number of women and men out there aiming to change this and little by little we’re making a difference.  But don’t expect this behaviour to be eradicated any time soon.  All we can do is keep at it and call it out when we come across it.  We will get there.  I do believe that, otherwise I’d have given up long ago.

Until next week.  Enjoy your sport!

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 June 2017

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  I got the feeling when I was preparing this that it would be a big one – so much news from so many different sports.  So forgive me if I’m brief with each piece – just trying to get as much in as possible.

So here we go.  Stories this week come from athletics, hockey, diving, netball, football, rugby union, cycling, tennis, triathlon and cricket.  It’s also Women’s Sport Week next week, so this makes my “and finally”, with my usual combination of enthusiasm and cynicism.

Netball

Super League Final Four

I made no secret of it as I nailed my colours firmly to the Loughborough Lightning mast at the beginning of the season.  But I could not help but have that sinking feeling at the weekend when both Lightning and Wasps won well to go into the Final Four final.  And so it was borne out by the final result.  Loughborough will have the satisfaction of winning the league (by a whopping nine points), but they will be angry that the only team they couldn’t beat during the whole season was Wasps – twice.

Saturday 10 June

Semi-Finals

Loughborough Lightning 66-45 Team Bath

Wasps Netball 63-48 Manchester Thunder

Sunday 11 June

Third place play-off 

Manchester Thunder 56-48 Team Bath

Final

Loughborough Lightning 51-55 Wasps Netball

So congratulations to Wasps.  It’s been a great Super League season.

Tennis

French Open

Twenty-year old Jelena Ostapenko became French Open champion on Saturday.  She defeated third seed and tournament favourite Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3.

The unseeded Ostapenko was one set and 3-0 down before she came roaring back and in doing so became the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1983. She also became Latvia’s first Grand Slam champion.

It was an amazing performance and hopefully the world number 47 will have a great future.

Surbiton Trophy

Magdalena Rybarikova won the Surbiton trophy, beating Britain’s number two Heather Watson in in the final in straight sets, 6-4 7-5.

Nottingham Open

Laura Robson exited the Nottingham Open in the first round.  She went out to American Julia Boserup 6-4 6-3.

Heather Watson also lost in the first round, going out to fourth seed Alison Riske of the USA 6-2 6-3.

Meanwhile Britain’s number one, Johanna Konta is through to the quarter-final.  Her first round opponent, fellow Briton Tara Moore, retired with a foot injury.  At the time Konta was up 6-2 3-0.  It was Konta’s 300th career singles win.

She played Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in round two, winning comfortably 6-4 6-1.

Konta plays Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the last eight.

Aegon Trophy, Manchester

Britain’s number three, Naomi Broady is through to the quarter-finals with a second round win over American Maria Sanchez 7-6 7-6.

She will play top seed Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei in the last eight.

Injuries

Simona Halep

The French Open runner-up has pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next week with an ankle injury.

This means that wildcards will now be given to Naomi Broady and Heather Watson and there will, therefore, be three Britons, including British number one Johanna Konta, in the draw.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton due to a thigh injury.  She had been awarded a wildcard to compete in Birmingham.

She is not expected to return until the end of July.

Cycling

The Women’s Tour

Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma claimed the overall Women’s Tour at the weekend, after the final stage in London.

The Stage Five results were:

  1. Jolien D’Hoore – 1hr 28mins 23secs
  2. Hannah Barnes – same time
  3. Christine Majerus – same time
  4. Roxane Fournier – same time
  5. Katie Archibald – same time

Overall standings:

  1. Katarzyna Niewiadoma – 16hrs 34mins 53secs
  2. Christine Majerus – +1min 18secs
  3. Hannah Barnes – +1min 30sec

Other British finishers were Alice Barnes in 6th, Dani King in 9th, Katie Archibald in 18th and defending champion Lizzie Deignan who finished in 42nd place.

Hockey

England had a disappointing international weekend at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

10 June

England 1-5 Argentina

Argentina took the lead through an Agustina Habif penalty corner on 17 minutes.  Lily Owsley almost equalised a couple of minutes later but her shot went wide.

On 22 minutes England were level from Surbiton’s Hannah Martin’s well worked penalty corner.

The teams went in all square and with all to play for in the second-half.

But it was all downhill for England as two penalty corners, from Martina Cavallero on 44 and Magdalena Fernandez on 48 took Argentina well in front.

And English misery was complete when Delfina Merino on 56 and Eugenia Trinchinetti on 60 scored field goals to make it 5-1.

It was a somewhat experimental England side with several new faces but it was also an excellent performance from the Argentinians.

11 June

England 2- 2 Netherlands

Netherlands won 4-3 on penalties

As always seems to be the way between these two, this was a game to savour as England came from 2-0 down to force the game into a penalty shootout.

The Dutch took the lead on just three minutes with a goal from Laura Nunnink after a pinpoint Frederique Matla cross.

They doubled their lead on 15 minutes after some fine counter-attacking hockey – the shot from  Laurien Leurink to powerful for Maddie Hinch to keep out.

But England were not out of it.  Alex Danson scored on 42 minutes and and then Sophie Bray pulled them level on 52 from a great cross by Susannah Townsend.

The shootout went to sudden death.  Hollie Webb thought she had scored the winning goal, but it was disallowed for having touched her foot.

Matla put the next Dutch penalty away, Nicola White’s was saved and the Netherlands had won.

 EuroHockey Club Cup (EHCC)

With German teams finishing as runners-up in the top division of the women’s EHCC and winning the second division (the Trophy), they will have two places for next year’s event and England will only have one.

Surbiton Ladies will be the England’s representatives in 2018.

Rugby Union

Red Roses on Tour

England 53-10 Australia

England started their International Women’s Rugby Series with a convincing win over Australia at Porirua Park, New Zealand.

Although the Wallaroos took the lead in the third minute when Ashleigh Hewson went over for a try, it was pretty much all Red Roses action from then on.

They scored nine tries in all with Sarah McKenna bagging a hat-trick and Kay Wilson a brace.  The other tries came from Izzy Noel-Smith, Abbie Scott, Vicky Fleetwood and Harriet Millar-Mills.  Emily Scott put over four conversions.

Canada 20-27 England

The Red Roses continued their fine form against Canada in Christchurch.  They scored four tries; two from Lydia Thompson and one each for Abbie Scott and Kay Wilson.  Emily Scarratt kicked seven points.

Canada’s tries came from Carolyn McEwen and Karen Paquin, while Magali Harvey kicked two penalties and two conversions.

New Zealand are also in fine form.  They defeated Canada in their first match, 28-16 and Australia in their second, 44-17.

The two unbeaten sides, the Black Ferns and the Red Roses meet on Saturday at the Rotorua International Stadium in a winner-takes-all shoot-out.

Japan

Just as Japan were the surprise package at the men’s World Cup in 2015 (who can forget their incredible win over South Africa?), it seems the Japanese women should not be underestimated in this year’s tournament in Ireland.

They have just undertaken a short tour of Ireland and Wales and although they lost narrowly twice to an Ireland XV, they defeated Wales 52-10 this week.

They have been drawn in Pool C with Australia, France and Ireland.  And all should ensure they don’t take the points for granted when playing the Asian Champions.

Sevens

England’s sevens squad, meanwhile takes part in the Malemort Sevens at the weekend.  The squad is Natasha Brennan, Katie Mason, Alice Richardson-Watmore, Millie Wood, Olivia Jones, Deborah Fleming, Heather Fisher, Kelly Smith, Lotte Clapp, Jo Richardson-Watmore, Holly Aitchison and Chantelle Miell.

Malemort is the first leg of Rugby Europe Women’s Grand Prix Series.

Pool A: Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain

Pool B: France, Belgium, Wales, Sweden

Pool C: England, Ireland, Italy, Portugal

England’s pool games will be as follows (all times BST):

Saturday 17 June
v Portugal, 9.44am
v Italy, 12.29pm
v Ireland, 3.14pm

It’s an important two-part series for England as it will be their last chance to quality for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July 2018.  Qualification through the HSBC Rugby Women’s Sevens Series is unlikely as England are currently eighth after five of the six rounds.

Football

On the Pitch

England’s Euros warm-up

Switzerland 0-4 England

England put in another impressive display in Biel to win comfortably against Switzerland this week.

After a first half-hour’s stalemate Jordan Nobbs broke the deadlock with a fine 20-yard curler.

Ten minutes later they were two-up when Fran Kirby went round the Swiss Goalkeeper, Gaelle Thalmann to score from close range.

In the second-half Jodie Taylor scored twice and England could have had more.

Scotland’s Euros warm-ups

Mixed fortunes for Anna Signeul’s side as they prepare for the Euros next month.

Scotland 2-0 Romania

Lisa Evans started the scoring for the home side after just two minutes, when she headed in from a Fiona Brown cross.  They went in 1-0 up and then doubled their lead just after half-time when Jane Ross headed in another cross from Brown to seal the win.

It was a good, positive, attacking performance from the Scots.

Sweden 1-0 Scotland

Scotland’s second game was against altogether tougher opponents.

Although Sweden dominated the game they were unable to break through the Scottish defence until the 84th minute, when Caroline Seger headed home after almost constant Sweden pressure.

Off the Pitch

News broke this week that Dame Heather Rabbatts has announced she is to step down from her role as an FA non-executive director and board member.

In her resignation letter she cited her frustration “at the lack of progress for BAME coaches.”

The FA will now have to recruit three, not two women to its board in time for the beginning of the 2018/19 season, in order to adhere to the new Code for Sports Governance.

She made such a significant contribution in what must have been, at the very least, an unhelpful atmosphere.  She will be missed and I hope those women that come after her can harness some of her confidence and strength and will be able to make their own telling contributions.

Signings

Manchester City have made their first signing of the summer.  They have signed defender Mie Jans from Brondby for next season.

City fans will also be relieved that captain Steph Houghton has signed a new contract.  The club’s website stated:

“I’ve only ever seen my future at the club.

“This will be my fourth season and I’ve loved every single minute of it. I had no intention of going anywhere else and this is my home now.”

The length of the contract has not been disclosed.

Bristol City Women have also been dabbling in the transfer market this week.  They have signed Belgian striker Yana Daniels from Anderlecht.

WSL Structure

Everton will be the team to replace Notts County in WSL next season.

Only they and Doncaster Rovers Belles applied.  Everton finished top of the WSL2 Spring Series.

The Belles have seven days to appeal the decision.

Cricket

England continued their World Cup warm-up with a match against India this week.

They beat India by 140 runs in Loughborough.  Returning captain Heather Knight took three wickets, as did left-arm spinner Alex Hartley.  Nat Sciver continued her fine form with 69.  Lauren Winfield also put in a good knock of 50.

England 243 all out

India 103 all out

Next warm-up will be against Sri Lanka on 19 June in Chesterfield.

Triathlon

Leeds Triathlon (World Triathlon Series)

The winner of the Leeds event was Flora Duffy of Bermuda in a time of one hour 57 minutes, 02 seconds.  Second was Taylor Spivey of the USA in one hour 58 minutes, 32 seconds and in third was Alice Betto of Italy in one hour 59 minutes, 36 seconds.

First Briton home was Jessica Learmonth, who finished sixth in a time of two hours, one minute and 06 seconds.

Non Stanford finished in 11th.

Speaking of whom, Stanford has had to withdraw from the European Championships in Kitzbuhel, Switzerland at the weekend, due to illness.  No further details have been given, but she is believed to have been feeling ill since competing in Yokohama in May.

Diving

Britain’s Lois Toulson won 10m platform gold at the European Championships in Kiev this week.

She scored 330.70, with Russians Anna Chuinyshena (326.90) and Iuliia Timoshinina (313.3) capturing silver and bronze.

The World Championships take place from 14 July in Budapest.

Athletics

There was sad news this week as it was revealed that double Paralympic champion Kadeena Cox has had two of her gold medals stolen.

She had left the medals, from the 2015 IPC World Championships T37 100m and T35-38 4 x 100m relay, in her car outside her house in Prestwich.

Let’s hope they are returned.

And finally,

It’s that time again!  It’s Women’s Sport Week next week.  And those of you who have been with me for some time will know of my mixed feelings about this.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for shouting about women’s sport (as well you know), but I still think every week should be “Women’s Sport Week”.

But until this is the case, and let’s face it this is a long, long way away, let’s celebrate.  I want you all to go out and talk about women’s sport next week.  Tweet about it, Facebook it.  Do all those lovely social media things.  But also watch it and read about it.  I know you’ll have to make a bit of an effort to find it (hence this column), but I promise you it will be worth it.

And of course, if you’re a female reader of this column, you can always get out and play something!  Book a court, go for a run, go bowling, walk up a hill, have a kickabout in the park – then shout about it!

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to celebrate Women’s Sport Week.  Let me know and I’ll Tweet the best and check out www.womeninsport.org for more ideas and information.

 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 May 2017

county2Welcome to this week’s column.  We’re heading towards some exciting stuff this summer – but then there’s always exciting stuff in the world of women’s sport, isn’t there?  Well I think so, and I’m glad to see my followers do too.  This week I have stories from football, netball, tennis, athletics, hockey, cricket and lacrosse.  Plus a disheartening “And finally” from cricket – remember I said I was going to stop reading the comments sections after articles?  Well I haven’t yet, but this week has made me even more resolved to do so.

Onward!

Netball

Round 16 of the Super League was completed over the weekend.  Loughborough are still top of the pile after a convincing win over Celtic Dragons on Saturday.  Lightning lead the table by nine points.  The others in the top four are Wasps, Thunder and Storm.  Bath are still in the hunt for a Final Four place as they are level with Bath on 30 and lie in fifth.  This week’s scores were:

Friday 19 May

Severn Stars 64-47 Team Northumbria
Team Bath 63-47 Sirens

Saturday 20 May

Loughborough Lightning 74-44 Celtic Dragons
Hertfordshire Mavericks 46-60 Manchester Thunder

Monday 22 May

Wasps Netball 64-70 Surrey Storm

This Bank Holiday weekend it is round 17.  I will be at Loughborough v Team Northumbria on Saturday, so if you see me come and say hello!

This round’s televised match is on Monday 29 May and is Manchester Thunder v Team Bath.  It will be live on Sky Sports at 7.30pm.

Lacrosse

As usual thanks to Martin for keeping me on my lacrosse toes.  Last week Centaurs were crowned National Club Champions.

The three winners of the North, South East and South West leagues played in a round-robin format tournament to decide the champions.

The scores were as follows:

Oxton 15-4 Bristol Bombers
Centaurs 25-3 Bristol Bombers (15-3) Mercy ruling
Centaurs 10-10 Oxton

Thinking of the Lacrosse World Cup, which is only 50-odd days away, there were several England and Wales players on show.  Oxton had England players Torz Anderson, Sophie Brett, Charlotte Lytollis and Olivia Wimpenny.  The Centaurs had five Wales players in their team as well as England player Sophie Morrill.

Although the two teams could not be separated at the final whistle, the title went to Centaurs on goal difference.  As the mercy ruling had been applied at 15-3, the difference was just one goal.

Tennis

Off the Court

Injuries

Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from the Strasbourg Grand Prix with a back injury.  She retired during the second set of her first-round match against American Shelby Rogers.

With the French Open only a week away there must be a doubt as to whether Wozniacki will take her place in the draw.

World number four Simona Halep may also be a doubt as she tore an ankle ligament during the Italian Open final.  She has described her chances as “50-50”.

Players returning

Petra Kvitova is hoping to play at Wimbledon, she has revealed this week.  We still do not know if she will play in Paris, but if not she definitely has her sights on a return at Wimbledon.  She has already won the title twice and it will be good to see her back on the court as soon as possible.

Another player who may make her return at Wimbledon is Victoria Azarenka.  She gave birth to a son in December and now she says she is “ready to start competing” again.  She will play in one of the warm-up tournaments and then hopefully take her place in the main draw.

If she plays her first tournament within 12 months of giving birth she will retain her ranking of six in the world.

Qualifying for Roland Garros

Heather Watson is through to the second round of qualifying after beating Russian Anastasiya Komardina 3-6 7-5 6-1.   She has to win two more matches to make it to the main draw.  However, British numbers three and four, Naomi Broady and Tara Moore lost in the first round of qualifying and will not compete.

Laura Robson

Laura Robson is still on the comeback trail. Her persistence and tenacity cannot be denied, and it seems to be paying off.  She won the ITF 60k Kurume tournament in Japan last week and now moves back into the world top 200.  She moves from 218th to 169th.  She defeated fellow Briton Katie Boulter in the final 6-3 6-4.  It is hard to believe she is still only 23.

On the Court

Italian Open

Eighth seed Elina Svitolina won the Italian Open last weekend.  She defeated sixth seed Simona Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1.  As mentioned earlier, Halep tore an ankle ligament during the match and is now a doubt for the French Open.

Strasbourg Grand Prix

The quarter-finals took place on 25 May and the results were:

Samantha Stosur(6)  beat Carla Suarez Navarrro(4) 7-5 6-4
Daria Gavrilova (7) beat Ash Barty 6-4 6-7 7-6
Caroline Garcia (5) beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-2
Peng Shuai (8) beat Shelby Rogers 6-0 6-4

The semi-finals will be on 26 May and the draw is:

Peng v Stosur
Garcia v Gavrilova

Hockey

Hannah Macleod has announced her retirement from international hockey.

She was part of the GB team that won gold so thrillingly at Rio in 2016.

Macleod will now concentrate on her coaching role with the England Under-21 squad.

Cricket

Quadrangular Series

19 May

South Africa 323/8 (50 overs)
Ireland currently 203/6 (50 overs)
South Africa won by 120 runs

Third place play-off

Ireland finished their tournament on a winning note as they beat Zimbabwe in the third place play-off.

Ireland 254/5 (50 overs)
Zimbabwe 235 all out (49.4 overs)
Ireland won by 19 runs

Captain Laura Delaney led from the front as she scored 81 for Ireland with Shauna Kavanagh backing her up with 67.  But Ireland will be really happy that they were able to take 10 Zimbabwe wickets.  Pick of the bowlers was seamer Aoife Beggs who took 5/52.

Final

India continued their excellent form in the final as they reduced South Africa to 156 all out in just over 40 overs.  They then reached their target losing only two wickets and with 102 balls to spare.

South Africa 156 all out (40.2 overs)
India 160/2 (33 overs)
India won by 8 wickets

Top scorer for South Africa was Sune Luus with 55.  The phenomenal Jhulan Goswami was in the wickets again taking 3/22 off 8 overs, while Poonam Yadav took 3/32 off 9.

India lost Deepti Sharma early on for 8 and Mona Meshram for 2, but the in-form Punam Raut with 70 and captain Mithali Raj with 62 saw them home. South Africa also bowled 15 wides.

Athletics

The news came this week that Welsh discus thrower Philippa Roles has died at the age of 39.  Roles competed at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 for Team GB.  She finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Delhi and sixth in Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.

No cause of death has yet been revealed.

Her personal record was 62.89 metres, which is fourth in all-time British rankings.

Football – On the Pitch

Spring Series

Saturday 20 May

Arsenal Ladies 4-2 Birmingham City Ladies

Arsenal are now second in the table with this win over the Blues at the Hive.  The away side took the lead in the first minute when Rachel Williams headed home a Sarah Mayling cross.  Heather O’Reilly equalised for the Gunners two minutes before half-time from a through-ball by Danielle Van De Donk.

After the break Van De Donk got a goal of her own to put the home side ahead, but just three minutes later Williams was on the scoresheet again to equalise for Birmingham.

But in an inspired substitution saw Arsenal take the points as Louise Quinn headed in from a free kick in the 78th minute to make it 3-2 and again from a corner in the 90th to make the final score 4-2.

Bristol City Women 1-1 Liverpool Ladies

It was honours even at the Stoke Gifford stadium as Bristol took a valuable point from the Spring Series’ early pace-setters, Liverpool Ladies.

The away side were on top throughout but were held until the 80th minute when Katie Zelem fired in after a poorly-cleared cross.

It looked as though Liverpool had secured the win, but City weren’t beaten and five minutes later Lily Agg headed in from Claire Emslie to see the points were shared.

Sunday 21 May

Manchester City Women 5-1 Yeovil Town Ladies

It is safe to say that City have hit their straps.  Things started badly for Yeovil when on 10 minutes Ann-Marie Heatherson turned a Lucy Bronze cross into her own net.  Two minutes later City were two up when Jill Scott lobbed keeper Megan Walsh.

On 20 minutes Lucy Quinn got one back for the Lady Glovers, but there was to be no comeback.

Jane Ross scored the Champions’ third before half-time and the game was effectively over as a contest.

In the second-half Ross grabbed a second and Kosovare Asllani City’s fifth.  Ellie Roebuck saved a penalty from Sarah Wiltshire for Man City.

The only fly in the ointment for City was Carli Lloyd’s 89th minute straight red card for an elbow.

Sunderland AFC 0-7 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea were five-up by half-time in this match and even had time to miss a penaly – a complete mauling for the Lady Black Cats.

Gemma Davison missed the spot kick that would have put Chelsea one-up, but it obviously did not knock their confidence.

Erin Cuthbert scored the first on 17.  Karen Carney doubled the lead on 31 after a precise pass from So Yun Ji.  Three minutes later Maren Mjelde got their third and substitute Ramona Bachmann the fourth on 41.  Cuthbert scored her second just before half-time and a dejected Sunderland team left the field.

Sunderland’s defence performed much better in the second-half, but they couldn’t stop the returning Fran Kirby from scoring a double on 80 and 85 minutes to complete the rout.

Chelsea would have been very heartened to welcome back Kirby after injury but disappointed to see Eni Aluko limp off in the first-half.

Thursday 25 May

Manchester City Women 1-0 Chelsea Ladies

After their stunning win on Sunday, Chelsea would have been fancying their chances against the champions.  There was, unsurprisingly, an emotional atmosphere at the Academy Stadium as a minute’s silence was held for the victims of the attack on the Manchester Arena on Monday.

But it was Chelsea who had trouble in settling.  They were defence-minded in the first-half and by the time they decided to take the attack to City it was too late and Manchester had got into their stride.

The only goal of the game came from Toni Duggan just before the half-hour.  How Chelsea must be sick of the sights of Duggan who has now scored 10 goals in 10 games against them.  Nikita Parris also looked lively for City although her finishing left something to be desired.

Off the Pitch

Notts County

Well, I didn’t see this coming.  New Notts County owner Alan Hardy has confirmed that he plans to bring women’s football back to the club.

As you will know, I have had plenty to say on this subject and could say plenty more, but this new announcement has thrown me somewhat.  I don’t want to be sceptical or cynical and would be more than happy to see a new team, so I’ll hold my thoughts until we see just what comes next.

This is what Hardy has said so far:

  • He wants to put together a sustainable model, which first sees a girls’ academy being set up.
  • He wants a clear pathway for academy players to progress through to a women’s first team.
  • He sees it as a long-term project
  • He knows they will have to work through the leagues and divisions but is willing to commit to that

On the problems he had with the previous set-up:

“Unfortunately, the ladies’ team I inherited was an entity on its own. There was just the first-team; there was nothing that was attaching it to the club in any way – probably because it was brought over from Lincoln and it had no structure or foundations.

“As of next season, we will have an under-nines, under-10s and under-11s girls’ academy, which will be playing in the boys’ Young Elizabethan League (YEL).”

All good words so far.  I just hope that the FA offers as much support as it can – very often (and I know I’ve said this before) I feel the FA has all the ideas (the “initiatives” – ugh beginning to dislike that word) regarding women’s football, then sets everyone adrift to fend for themselves with little or no back-up.  And before you all yell that clubs have to sustain themselves and why should they be propped up by the governing body – I don’t mean that they should be propped up – just that the FA should be aware of potential problems or issues and should be available to provide assistance.

It’s not just football that does this, but I would suggest the ECB and RFU are equally culpable.  And to support this, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes had her say about the FA this week.

Emma Hayes

The Chelsea manager pulled no punches on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.  She said that the FA is guilty of treading women’s football as an “afterthought” – something with which I would heartily agree.

She made the claim with reference to the training and pay of match officials.  She said that the pool of referees is too big and when it comes to payment, officials at WSL matches are paid around half the amount of those in the men’s National League (the top division of which is the fifth tier of English football).

The FA was quick to issue a response to the criticisms.  With respect to the officiating “problem” it has a “Gameplan for Growth” strategy:

“We acknowledge there is more to do but our commitment is clear”, it said.

“The FA is also: developing a pathway to recruit, train, deploy and mentor more women and men, from all walks of life, to referee at every level of the women’s game, and we’re reaching out to everyone involved, including clubs, to get a clearer understanding of peoples’ perceptions of officiating and seeking ways in which standards could be improved.”

It’s very interesting that the FA felt the need to issue a statement only hours after the interview.

Bibiana Steinhaus

The Bundesliga will see its first female referee next season.  38-year old policewoman Bibiana Steinhaus had previously been a fourth official at a Bundesliga match and has been a German FA referee since 1999.

She has already refereed the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and the women’s 2012 Olympic final.

Did I read some of the comments after this article on the BBC?  Yes I did.  Were they as bad as you think?  Yes, they were.

Signing

Arsenal have signed Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema from Bayern Munich for the new 2017/18 winter WSL season.

Miedema, a forward, already has 48 caps for the Netherlands and had been at Munich for three seasons.

And finally,

The BBC released a “Breaking news” item online this week that said that both Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor are included in Mark Robinson’s World Cup squad.  Any genuine cricket fan will see this as great news.  It is a real result that Taylor is available for selection and that Knight looks to be overcoming injury.

So, and yes, I know I should know better by now, I thought I’d look at the congratulatory comments after the article.  Except at that point, there weren’t any.  There were just four or five from men saying this was not news and why were the BBC covering it?

For a brief, fleeting but naive moment I thought the comments meant that both players were so good they couldn’t be left out.  Alas no.  What they were actually saying was that the article was not news because there was no competition for places in the squad and they just put anyone available in it, and of course, by implication, that women’s cricket was beneath notice.  They were, of course, displaying their total ignorance of the subject: Sarah Taylor has been out of the England set-up for a year, dealing with her anxiety issues, whilst Captain Heather Knight sustained a stress fracture in her foot at the training camp in the UAE and was (and still may be) a doubt for the World Cup.

So what makes these men think they are qualified to comment?  Do they care that they are so spectacularly wrong?  Probably not, but I just wish the wilfully uninformed would stay out of it.

If you can’t be bothered to get your facts right, don’t be bothered to comment.  Thanks.

And finally (2)

I’m currently writing a short four-part history of cricket for WiSP Sports.  If you would like to read part one here’s the link:  WiSP Sports.

There will be no column next week as I’m away watching the Champions’ Trophy – yes I do watch men’s sport too…..

Women’s Sports Column 15-21 October

wembley

Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, golf and cycling. As usual I say, who knew all this was going on?  No-one if you stuck to the mainstream media outlets……

Football

FAWSL1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-2 Notts County Ladies

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ relegation was confirmed on Sunday as they lost at home 2-1 to Notts County Ladies.

A crowd of 820 passionate, mainly Donny fans were there to see their side slump to their fourteenth straight loss.

Doncaster took the lead in the seventh minute through Carla Humphrey, currently on loan from Arsenal, but they could neither add to nor defend the lead.

The Lady Pies equalised through Aileen Whelan on 22 and just three minutes later, County’s star striker, Jess Clarke curled a spectacular effort into the top corner to go ahead.

Neither side could add to the scoring in the second half and the Belles’ fate was confirmed.

Belles manager, Emma Coates, was still upbeat after the game.  In an interview with the FAWSL website she said,

“We’ve learned lessons this year so that if we come back up we’ll do it the right way, the Belles way and learn from what we’ve done wrong.

“Maybe we’ve been naïve in the past but we didn’t come up as champions, it’s even tougher coming up in second and we had a big turnover of players over a short space of time. I want to keep this team together and build something long term.”

Champions League

Manchester City have been drawn against Danish side Brondby in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The first leg, which will be in Manchester, will be on 9 or 10 November, with the return fixture on 16 or 17 November.

The full draw for the last 16:

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v BIIK-Kazygurt (KAZ)

Barcelona (ESP) v FC Twente (NED)

Slavia Prague (CZE) v Rosengard (SWE)

Manchester City (ENG) v Brondby (DEN)

Brescia (ITA) v Fortuna Hjorring (DEN)

Lyon (FRA) v FC Zurich (SUI)

Eskilstuna United (SWE) v Wolfsburg (GER)

Bayern Munich (GER) v Rossiyanka (RUS)

Under 17s Women’s World Cup

The final of the Under 17s Women’s World Cup will be between North Korea and Japan and will take place at the Amman International Stadium on Friday 21 October at 6pm GMT.

In the semi-finals, which were played on Monday 17 October, North Korea beat Venezuela by three goals to nil, whilst in the other Japan beat Spain by the same scoreline.

The third place play-off, between the two beaten semi-finalists, will be on Friday 21 October at 3pm GMT.

Details of the results of the two matches will be in next week’s column.

FA Cup

It was announced this week that Wembley will continue to host the Women’s FA Cup beyond 2017.

How far we’ve come!  Previous venues have included Dunstable Town FC and Glanford Park, home of Scunthorpe United.

The prize money for the 2016-17season has been tripled to £27,000 (still considerably less than some male footballers are on per week).

Tickets for the 2017 final will, as they were this year, be free for children.

Signing

Arsenal have re-signed Scotland midfielder Kim Little from Seattle Reign.

She will re-join ahead of the 2017 season (due to shift to winter), but the Gunners have not specified the length of her contract.

England Women’s Player of the year 2016

The shortlist for the award has been revealed:

Steph Houghton

Jordan Nobbs

Karen Carney

Jill Scott

Young Player of the Year shortlist:

Millie Bright

Danielle Carter

Alex Greenwood

Nikita Parris

Winners will be announced at the FA Women’s Football Awards on Friday 18 November.

Rugby

Women’s Premiership

It was round five of the Women’s Premiership last weekend and the top two met at Bristol.

The results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 15-55 Saracens Women

Worcester Valkyries 36-13 DMP Sharks

Bristol Ladies 19-15 Lichfield Ladies

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 17-5 Richmond Women

For a more in-depth review of these games please see my round-up on www.womensportsuk.com.

RFU News

It seems that this season will be the last of the Women’s Premiership as this week England Rugby announced that from next year there will be a new competition – the Super League (yes we have already got super leagues in football, netball and cricket)

The competition will comprise 10 teams – entry is open to any who can fulfil “minimum operating standards”.  These standards are yet to be published, but in all likelihood it will be the eight current Premiership teams plus two others, probably from the Championship.

Expressions of interest are invited by 11 November.  Application packs will go out on 14 November and the deadline for applications will be 6 January 2017.

Tennis

Serena Williams has withdrawn from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore with a shoulder injury.

She has not played competitively since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September.

This means that there is still a place up for grabs and it could go to British number one, Johanna Konta.  The only person who can beat her to the place is the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro (currently 10th in the rankings) has already pulled out of the final qualifying tournament, the Kremlin Cup, through injury.

Johanna Konta can only be overtaken by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the race to qualify for the WTA Finals, after Carla Suarez Navarro’s hopes ended in Moscow.  Suarez Navarro could have passed Konta by winning the Kremlin Cup but retired with a wrist injury in round two.

Konta is not competing this week as she is still recovering from injury so it will be an anxious wait on the sidelines for her as she follows Kuznetsova’s progress.

With 470 points to be awarded for the Kremlin Cup the standings are as follows:

  1. Angelique Kerber (Germany) – Qualified
  2. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) – Qualified
  3. Simona Halep (Romania) – Qualified
  4. Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) – Qualified
  5. Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – Qualified
  6. Madison Keys (USA) – Qualified
  7. Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) – Qualified
  8. Johanna Konta (Great Britain) – 3455 points
  9. Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) – 3170 points
  10. Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) – 3080 points

 

Also in tennis, British duo Naomi Broady and Heather Watson got the final of the Hong Kong Open but lost to Chan Yung-jan and Chan Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei 6-3 6-1.

The Chan sisters were top seeds and the Hong Kong win was their third tournament win of the year.

Golf

 Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After two rounds of the Blue Bay event the leaderboard stands as follows:

-12 Minjee Lee (Aus)

-6 Caroline Masson (Ger)

-5 Carlota Ciganda (ESP)

-5 Jessica Korda (USA)

-4 Xi Yu Lin (Chn)

-4 Chella Choi  (SKor)

-4 Sandra Gal (Ger)

———–

-2 Charley Hull (Eng)

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news this week from both on and off the field.

West Indies v England

England took the West Indies series 3-2 with dominant display in fifth ODI this week.  An excellent display with bat and ball plus tighter fielding ensured success.

In short, the three games at Sabina Park were topsy turvy affairs, much in keeping with the first two games.  These three also offered points towards the ICC Women’s Championship and therefore towards World Cup qualification.

The third game saw England win the toss and bat.  They posted 220 with opener Lauren Winfield scoring 79 and Nat Sciver 58.  West Indies suffered a pretty terrible collapse and were all out for 108 with top scorer Shaquana Quintyne with 21.

West Indies won the fourth game, having this time won the toss and chosen to bat.  They scored 223/6 with the excellent Stafanie Taylor hitting 85.  Although a big total, England were initially cruising in reply, but no less than five run outs saw them fall short as they were all out for 181.

The series was level again at 2-2.

When Stafanie Taylor won the toss in the last match some thought it was already job done.  But this match bucked the trend.  England’s bowlers were tight and lethal, especially the star of the tour, Alex Hartley, who took 4/24 as the Windies were reduced to 155 all out.

In the end England made it look easy and reached their target in just 38.5 overs.  Nat Sciver scored 58.

I have written a more detailed review of the series for Women’s Sports UK.  Read it here: England women take series 3-2

England still need two points for automatic qualification to the World Cup next year.  They should secure this easily in Sri Lanka next month.

Meanwhile the result also means that Australia have won the inaugural ICC World Championship trophy as neither West Indies nor England can now catch them.

South Africa v New Zealand

We are now five games into a best of seven series and New Zealand are currently 4-1 up. The latest two games at Paarl on 17 and 19 October both went the way of the White Ferns.

In game four the home side batted first, making 194 all out in 49 overs.  Top scorer was captain Dane van Niekerk with 48.  But it was not enough as the visitors knocked off the chase in a ridiculous 28.2 overs with Rachel Priest clubbing 86 from 67 balls and Amy Satterthwaite 81 from 71.

New Zealand batted first in game five.  They scored 208/8 off their 50 overs with opener Natalie Dodd top scoring with 52.  South Africa couldn’t compete and were all out for 113, meaning New Zealand won by 95 runs.  The only significant batting contributions came from Mignon du Preez with 62 and Sune Luus with 27.  Also a worry for the home side was Marizanne Kapp retiring hurt without scoring.

There are two more games at Paarl for the Proteas to restore some pride.

ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2020

Cricket Australia has announced that the women’s event will be a standalone tournament, held separately from the men’s event.

The ICC has backed the plan to hold the two events six months apart.

All of the previous five World T20s have been held in parallel with the men’s with the semi-finals and final played as double-headers.

This is undoubtedly a step forward for women’s cricket and heartening that Cricket Australia and the ICC see women’s T20 as strong enough to hold its own as an event.

The women’s tournament will be in February/March 2020 and the men’s in October/November.

Cricket Australia Chairman, David Peever, said;

“WBBL has taught us that there is an audience for women’s cricket both live and on prime-time television and this decision means we have the opportunity to hold the biggest women’s sporting event ever held in Australia.”

There have been so many initiatives and announcements recently regarding Australian women’s sport that it seems that the various sports are now in competition to see who can make the most positive strides!

Australian women’s cricket

As mentioned above, it seems that everyone in Australia is keen to invest in women’s sport at the moment.

This week Cricket Australia also announced it is to invest $15 million in cricket to “keep pace with AFL [Aussie Rules], netball”.

The investment comes from the Commonwealth Bank and is aimed at the women’s game and diversity over the next three years.

This follows hot on the heels of the governing body’s announcement of an extra $4 over four years for the development of girls’ and women’s cricket.

Time for everyone else to catch up, I feel…..

Cycling

The Road World Championships in Doha

Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen won the women’s race with Britain’s Lizzie Deignan fourth.

Dideriksen beat Kirsten Wild from Netherlands in a sprint finish with Finland’s Lotta Lepisto in third.

European Track Championships in Paris 19-23 October

Britain’s medal tally (women) after two days currently stands at three.

On the first day British Olympic champion cyclist Katie Archibald won silver in the elimination race.  She was beaten by Kirsten Wild, who seems to have gone seamlessly from Doha to Paris.  Laurie Berthon of France was third.

On the second day Elinor Barker claimed silver in the scratch race.  Ausrine Trebaite of Lithuania won the race with, you guessed it, Kirsten Wild in bronze.

There was a bronze in the women’s team pursuit for Emily Kay, Dannielle Khan, Manon Lloyd and Emily Nelson.  Italy took the gold with Poland silver.

 

Women’s Sports Column 9-15 July

standard-pitch-dimensionsIt’s column time again – gosh this week has gone quickly. I’d like to say it will be an island of sense in this sea of world chaos, but I think I might just be guilty of over-selling it….

Anyway, this week we have stories from athletics, tennis, football, golf, cricket, gymnastics, rugby union (missed from last week) and a happy story for “And finally”.

Obviously the selections are being made for Rio at the moment. Apologies if I don’t get everyone in here, but it’s pretty well publicised news that can be picked up in the mainstream press (is it possible?).

A couple of athletics stories should be mentioned, though. After I reported Jo Pavey had achieved the qualifying time for the 10,0000m last week, she has indeed been picked for Rio.

On the other side of the coin is high jumper Isobel Pooley. She will miss the Olympics due to an ankle injury. She could compete, but has been told that it would be unwise to do so as it would make the injury worse, so she has pulled out. Pooley may well have been a medal contender.

Britain also had a good final day of the European Championships with the women’s 4 x 400m winning gold with the fastest time in the world this year. France were second and Italy, third.

The four; Emily Diamond, Anyika Onuora, Eilidh Doyle and Seren Bundy-Davies took the title in a time of 3:25.05 seconds.

The full women’s athletics squad for Rio is as follows:

100m: Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Daryll Neita. 200m: Dina Asher-Smith, Jodie Williams. 400m: Christine Ohuruogu, Emily Diamond, Seren Bundy-Davies. 800m:Lynsey Sharp, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke. 1,500m: Laura Muir, Laura Weightman.5,000m: Eilish McColgan, Stephanie Twell, Laura Whittle. 10,000m: Jo Pavey, Beth Potter, Jessica Andrews. 3,000m steeplechase: Lennie Waite. 100m hurdles: Tiffany Porter, Cindy Ofili. 400m hurdles: Eilidh Doyle. High jump: Morgan Lake. Pole vault:Holly Bradshaw. Long jump: Lorraine Ugen, Shara Proctor, Jazmin Sawyers.Hammer throw: Sophie Hitchon. Discus throw: Jade Lally. Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jessica Ennis-Hill. Marathon: Sonia Samuels, Alyson Dixon.

Relays: 4x100m: Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Daryll Neita, Dina Asher-Smith, Bianca Williams, Ashleigh Nelson, Louise Bloor. 4x400m: Christine Ohuruogu, Emily Diamond, Seren Bundy-

It was a stunning end to Wimbledon last weekend. Serena Williams was an absolute vision of sporting prowess as she blasted Angelique Kerber off the court to win 7-5 6-3 in the singles final. It was her 22nd grand slam victory, bringing her level with Steffi Graf.

Later on in the day on Saturday she still had enough passion and puff to win the doubles with sister Venus. They beat fifth seeds Babos and Shvedova 6-3 6-4.

Heather Watson made up for her disappointment in the singles by taking the mixed doubles title with partner Henri Kontinen from Finland. They beat fifteenth seeds Farah and Groenefeld 7-6 6-4. They had never even played together before the championships began.

As I reported last week, it was the first time there had been wheelchair singles at Wimbledon. Top seed Jiske Griffioen of Netherlands took the title against compatriot Aniek Van Koot, who had beaten British favourite Jordanne Whiley in the semi-final, 4-6 6-0 6-4.

Whiley did take the wheelchair doubles title with her partner and best mate Yui Kamiji from Japan. The top seeds beat second seeds Griffioen and Van Koot 6-2 6-2.

The girls’ singles was won by Anastasia Potapova of Russia beating of Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-4 6-3 and the girls’ doubles champions were Usue Arconada and Claire Liu of USA, who beat Caty McNally (USA) and Mariam Bolkvadze (Georgia) 6-2 6-3.

In other tennis news, it has been confirmed that Maria Sharapova will miss the Olympics as the verdict of her appeal will not be known until September.

 

Big news from English football this week.  It has been announced that from the season 2017-18, the FAWSL will become a winter league instead of a summer league. It will be played from September to May. This brings it in line with other European divisions.

It’s a big, bold decision – part of the thinking behind a summer league is that it will attract fans who are missing the men’s game during the summer. But it is good to know that the FA thinks the women’s game can stand on its own and that attendances will stay as they are or even improve.

A one-off competition, the FAWSL Spring Series will take place from February to June 2017, alongside the FA Cup, to transition from one schedule to the other. This will also benefit the England team as they prepare for the European Championships which take plce in Netherlands in July/August 2017.

There will also be a winter break in the 2017-18 season from mid-December to mid- January.

Whatever happens, the current situation could not have continued. The summer schedule was bitty at best, with four weeks sometimes between games. This is just not acceptable to England’s top clubs who want to be competitive in Europe.

 

Results from FAWSL1:

Saturday 9 July

Liverpool Ladies FC 2-0 Reading FC Women
Harding 17’
Coombs 24’

Sunderland AFC Ladies 4-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Mead 34’, 45+3’
Sharp 39’
Chaplen 78’

Sunday 10 July

Arsenal Ladies FC 2-0 Notts County Ladies FC
Van de Donk 10’
Dobbs 56’

Chelsea Ladies FC 1- 1 Birmingham City Ladies
Aluko 52’
Ayisi 48’

Also some news which is, on the face of it, comical, but actually is another one of those occasions when you think about it and say, “it would never have happened if it were a men’s game.”

Last week a game between Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign in the NWSL had to be moved due a scheduling clash. It was moved to the outfield f a nearby baseball stadium. Consequently a pitch was marked out that was barely big enough for children to play on.

Two problems with this: a) why was a music festival scheduled in the Sahlen’s Stadium – surely they knew there was a game on? And b) what on earth went on to mark out such a ridiculous pitch?

Needless to say the players and coaches were not happy. The Reign coach, Laura Harvey said,

“for any players/staff to be put in a position like we were tonight is not acceptable”.

Jeff Blush of the NWSL made this statement:

“the field dimensions were not up to our standards, but due to various factors, the league office made the decision to grant an exception for this evening’s match. In retrospect, we made the wrong decision.”

Do you think?

 

Talking of farce, another situation occurred at the US Women’s Open last week. Brittany Lang won the title, but only after Anna Nordqvist was given a two-stroke penalty during the play-off for grounding her club.

Sounds logical? Yes, but the penalty occurred in the second hole of a three hole play-off but the players were not informed until they were on the final hole. Lang made a par on the final hole, while Nordqvist only made bogey and lost by three strokes.

Nordqvist was quite laid-back about it considering she was only told about the penalty after she had played her third shot on the last. She said she didn’t know if it would have made any difference to the eventual outcome, but she certainly would have been more aggressive on the last if she had known she had two shots to make up.

Again, you have to say, would this have happened if it had been between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIroy?

 

Two pieces of cricket news this week. Firstly, Cricket Australia has announced that it is to invest $4 million in grassroots women’s cricket.

The money, “Growning Cricket for Girls”, will go to better coaching facilities and improving the cricketing pathway for 11-18 year olds. $1 million per year for four years will go into local associations, clubs and secondary schools. Of this, $50,000 will go towards employing full-time female participation specialists.

Secondly, Scottish Wildcats have qualified for the ICC Global Qualifier to get into the World Cup. They have take an unassailable 2-0 lead against Netherlands Women.

Both games were decided by the Duckworth/Lewis method due to rain.

In the first, Scotland posted 218/5 off their 50 overs. Netherlands were set a revised target of 161 in 26 overs, but fell short on 133/7, losing the game by 27 runs.

In the second, Scotland batted first again, posting 222/9 off their 50. Rain intervened again and Netherlands were set 178 in 37 overs. They fell short again, ending on 169/6 and losing by 8 runs.

Scotland now goes forward to the ICC Global WCWC Qualifier in 2017.

 

So it’s good news for Australian cricketers, but not so for its gymnasts. The Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) has announced that it is shutting its Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence in Perth at the end of 2016.

Needless to say the closure is largely due to funding issues, but Gymnastics Australia has denounced the decision in a public statement:

“On the eve of the Olympics, women’s sport in Australia has been dealt a huge blow by today’s shock revelation that one of the nation’s premier training centres for elite gymnasts is to close,”

GA’s President, Jacqui Briggs-Weatherill went on to say,

“This is a very cruel and short-sighted decision by WAIS that if not reversed will end the Olympic ambitions of many young women in one of Australia’s fastest growing sports.”

 

For the last couple of weeks the Women’s Rugby Super Series has been taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Didn’t see it in the mainstream media even though England’s women are currently World Champions? No, neither did I and, to my eternal shame, I missed reporting on it last week. Anyway, to make amends, here are the details:

The tournament took place between USA, Canada, France and England.

England were dealt a shocking and bitter blow in the first game on 1 July as they were beaten 52-17 by Canada. They recovered to beat France 17-13 on 5 July and then beat USA comfortably 39-13. This match included an impressive hat-trick of tries from winger Lydia Thompson.

Canada were the eventual winners of the tournament, unbeaten in their three matches. England finished second with two wins, France third with one and USA fourth having lost all of their matches. England will take heart from their comeback, having fallen to such a disastrous defeat in the first game.

 

And finally, this great story pinged into my inbox this week – I don’t know how many of you will have seen it already, but it bears re-telling. Manar Sarhan, a dentist from Cairo, has become Egypt’s first female football pundit. She appears on the private CBC television channel and has recently been commenting on Euro 2016 matches.

She started volunteering in journalism in 2002, filming her favourite Egyptian club Zamalek. She then wrote for several newspapers before being discovered by the CBC channel.

Unsurprisingly the reaction was mixed. She says:

“I was mocked in the beginning. They would tell me ‘Girls belong in kitchens’,” (I think we’ve all heard that one)

But Sarhan is not one to give up. She is now acknowledged as an expert on the subject;- her analysis of tactics and team plans is regarded as impressive.

She has learnt Spanish so that she can follow La Liga and also intends to learn Italian and Portuguese to be able to follow more European football.

Her ultimate aim is to work in European football. Go get it, I say!

Women’s Sports Column – 2-8 July

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get through this week including football, cricket, athletics, tennis, golf, rugby league, netball, transgender rights, sailing and, I’m afraid, another corking “And finally”.

It’s about time that people realised that when it comes to football it’s no use relying on England’s men to come up with the goods (brilliant stuff from Wales, by the way). Last year we cheered, yelled and cried along with the Lionesses as they brought home a bronze medal from the World Cup in USA. Well, this week, Team GB’s deaf women footballers did their thing and won a bronze at the Deaf World Cup in Italy.

It was a tough tournament as when China withdrew at the last minute the format was changed from two groups to just one round-robin first stage.

Each of the six teams played five times in nine days!

The top two played for the gold, while the third and fourth finishers played for bronze.

Team GB had a mixed first stage; they began with at 2-2 draw against Poland, then they beat hosts Italy 5-0, lost 4-0 to USA and beat Turkey 6-0. They needed to beat Russia in the last game to play in the gold medal match. However, Russia scored in the last minute to win the game 1-0 and send GB to the bronze medal match.

They faced Poland again for bronze and this time a draw was never on the cards. They went 1-0 up and held on until five minutes from the end when Ceara Toal from Leicestershire scored a second to secure the medal.

The eventual winners were USA who beat Russia in the final 3-0.

This achievement should not be underestimated. The women had to raise every penny to get to the championships. There was quite a lot of publicity when Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland contributed 5k to help get the women there, but there were hundreds of other people who gave what they could by chucking into collection buckets at the FAWSL (and other ) games.

 

England’s women cricketers completed a clean sweep over Pakistan on Thursday with a sixth win in a row. They won all of their ODIs comfortably and were equally good in the three T20s. Before the series started I expressed concern at the route new coach Mark Robinson was taking by dispensing with the services of Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway. England were also without Sarah Taylor for the whole series.

In my preview for Women’s Sports UK I suggested that if ever England were there for the taking by Pakistan, this would be the time. So from now on I’m going to cease with the punditry and just present the facts! I’ll be writing a suitably chastened review for WSUK which I would encourage you to read but just to point out the records broken in the series:

    • Highest ODI total: 378-5 (Lauren Winfield 123, Tammy Beaumont 104, Natalie Sciver 80), 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 total: 187-5 (Tammy Beaumont 84, Lauren Winfield 72), 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Highest ODI opening partnership: 235 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 opening partnership: 147 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Heather Knight became the first player in the world (male or female) to take 5 wickets (5-26) and score a half century (50*) in a ODI
    • Tammy Beaumont’s 342 run aggregate in the Royal London ODI series was the highest ever in a three-match ODI series (male or female)

In other exciting cricket news, the ICC has applied for women’s cricket to be included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in South Africa.   If it happens, it will be yet another showcase for women’s cricket, so fingers crossed that the ICC will be successful in their application.

ICC Chairman, Shashank Manohar, said

“The Board has taken a strategic decision to support the inclusion of women’s cricket in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as it will enhance the profile of the sport and create additional exposure and experiences for female cricketers, as well as opportunities to engage with the Commonwealth Games on important social justice issues and initiatives.”

He went on to say that the Olympic Games will be another target for women’s cricket and the ICC will be meeting with the IOC later on this year.

 

The European Athletics Championships have been happening this week in Amsterdam. Dina Asher-Smith claimed a stunning gold on Thursday in the 200m with a season’s best 22.37 seconds.

Tiffany Porter could not defend her title, but took a creditable bronze in the 100m hurdles.

And we have to say all hail Jo Pavey (again). She has just run the Olympic qualifying time for the 10,000m at the age of 42. She finished in fifth in Amsterdam with a season’s best 31 minutes 34 seconds. She will now have to see if she is selected, but it will be a crying shame if she isn’t.

The only sad news to report is that after missing out on the 800m final and picking up an injury, Jenny Meadows has decided to retire.

 

Not much to cheer about for British women’s tennis at Wimbledon over the last fortnight (so far).

As I suggested in my last column, Angelique Kerber was far too strong for Laura Robson in the first round and she lost 2-6 2-6. It may be some consolation to Robson that Kerber has now reached the final and will play Serena Williams on Saturday 9 July.

More disappointingly, British number two Heather Watson also went out in the first round to Annika Beck 3-6 6-0 12-10, having squandered three match points.

Katie Swan lost in the first round to Timea Babos, 6-2 6-3. She was also playing in the Girls’ singles, but had to retire with a leg injury in the first round.

Naomi Broady was the fourth Briton to go out in the first round, losing 6-2 6-3 to 17th seed, Elina Svitolina.

British number one Johanna Konta went out in the second round, losing to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, 6-3 1-6 6-1.

Tara Moore had an excellent win over Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the first round, 6-3 6-2, but succumbed to 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second, 1-6 6-2 3-6.

Most exciting this Wimbledon week is that the championships is, for the first time, including wheelchair singles.

Wheelchair ace (no pun intended) Jordanne Whiley drew fellow Briton and doubles partner Lucy Shuker in the quarter final. She won the match 6-1 6-1 and will now face Aniek van Koot in the semi-final.

 

The football transfer window closed this week with Notts County Ladies making the most signings. There are mutterings and mumblings about just what is going on at Birmingham City Ladies, which reached a peak a couple of weeks ago when England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter revealed they had bought themselves out of their contracts. In very similar statements they expressed a kind of nebulous dissatisfaction with the club – this is Jo Potter’s:

ClGKFzvWEAAd5Zu

Notts County also signed goalkeeper Lizzie Durack from Harvard University.

England international Natasha Dowie and midfielder Becky Easton have left Doncaster Belles. Easton has decided to retire to concentrate on her studies, while Dowie has not signed elsewhere yet as she is concentrating on recovering from injury.

 

In excellent news for women’s rugby league this week, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have become the first Super League side to launch a women’s team.

Wakefield Trinity Ladies will be part of the Women’s Premier League from 2017. Championship sides Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls already have teams, but Wakefield will be the first Super League side.  It is a sign of the growth of women’s rugby league, but it is a shame that the ladies will not be playing at Wakefield’s Belle Vue ground, but will be based at local amateur club Sharlston Rovers.

 

Royal Troon Golf club has left the stone-age and voted “overwhelmingly” to allow women to join as members. In a statement they said that a recent consultation of current membership showed that over three-quarters were in favour of the move. While it is obviously a sound result, it’s probably only at “Two cheers” as E.M. Forster would have it, as it shouldn’t even be an issue in the 21st century.

 

The new line-up for the 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague has been announced, not without controversy. There will be three new teams; Severn Stars, Scottish Sirens and Wasps Netball. There will, however, be no place for Yorkshire Jets. Apparently the new line-up was published in error on England Netball’s website.

Jets finished bottom of the league last season, without a win to their name, and it is unclear what their future will be. Their captain, Stacey Francis, spoke to Sky Sports:

“It’s really sad and it’s really hard to get your head around.

“I’m a very loyal person and the core of Superleague franchises have been around for a long time now. I envisaged playing for the franchise for as long as I possibly could and absolutely building on last season.

“The performances and the results were poor but at no point did anyone say we were a lost cause in terms of performance, and the debrief at the end of season was incredibly productive and lots of conversations were already happening about how we would move forward next season.”

Let’s hope that the Jets keep their team together and their fanbase expanding. If they do this I can’t see how the Superleague could block their return in 2018.

 

As I predicted some time ago (and it gives me no pleasure to say this), the next big story in athletics will surround transgender athletes. As we near the Rio Olympics there are going to be more scare stories and general hysteria (word deliberately used) about the issue. I’m not saying that it’s not a serious issue, but the amount of ignorance and misinformation printed or published in the next few weeks will far outweigh any scientifically-based, thoroughly researched and balanced pieces.

Most recently I have seen:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3671937/Transgender-British-athletes-born-men-set-make-Olympic-history-competing-games-women.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/11903290/Eight-of-Irans-womens-football-team-are-men.html

I suggest you all read up on it – the facts not the fiction and make your own decisions. This is such a grey area that needs some sensible discussion. One thing we don’t need is the demonising of transgender athletes, whose lives and decisions, you can guarantee, will be under the microscope to the nth degree before they are allowed to compete at any event.

 

Sailing update from Abby Ehler:

In sailing this week, Team Magenta 32 competing in the World Match Race Tour were eliminated early in the qualifying series, much to their disappointment.  The team has continually been making positive ground in the 2016 circuit, racing against some of the worlds best match racers, and as the Tour’s first all-female team they have have certainly made their mark on the course.  Results aside there are many positives to take away from their involvement in this particular circuit including the inspiration provided to others, one supporter wrote in “You have together opened up another door for more women sailors to compete in what is a male dominated arena and you continue to inspire in so many more ways that you can imagine to so many.”  The team hope to secure funding to be able to continue their course in the high performance sailing world.

The ‘La Solitaire Bombard Le Figaro’ Race concluded on Thursday 7th July in La Rochelle following 1525 miles of coastal single handed racing split into 4 stages.  What makes this race so unique is that is requires the sailors to be excellent short course racers, skilled navigators and weather routers and able to pace themselves to manage the sleep deprivation and hard living conditions, whilst maintaining the boat at sea and above all being competitive and determined to get through all the challenges that this Race entails! There were a total of 39 competitors, 5 of which were women: Justine Mettraux (SUI), Cecile Laguette (FRA), Sophie Faguet (FRA), Claire Pruvot (FRA) and Mary Rook (GBR).  Justine Mettraux has finished the event 3rd in the Rookie division, a great achievement in her first attempt at this hardcore race!

 

And finally, curse of the creepy middle-aged man strikes again! Most of you will now have heard of British men’s player and number 772 in the world, Marcus Willis. He did wondrous things to reach round two of Wimbledon. And behind every great man, so they say, is a great woman – enter girlfriend Jenny Bate. Bate, a dental surgeon by profession, was apparently largely responsible for Willis not giving up on his tennis career when it seemed it was not going anywhere.

Unsurprisingly the BBC and newspapers committed many column inches and footage to the attractive woman. Not too worried about that, although we could have done without a shot of her after every point.

But BBC commentator Andrew Castle just couldn’t help himself,

“It’s a pity my dentist doesn’t look like that,” he snickered like a lecherous schoolboy.

And it’s a pity you don’t realise you’re old enough to be her father, Andrew…..