Women’s Sports Column


2-8 January 2016

This week sees plenty of news from cricket, netball, tennis rugby union and….darts!

There’s good and bad in this week’s cricket news.  Let’s get the bad over with first.  Undeniably Chris Gayle was completely out of line in his propositioning of journalist Mel McLaughlin on live TV during the BBL coverage this week.  She was there to do a job and he had no respect for that whatsoever.  Anyone who thinks she should have been flattered, amused or in any way pleased that this took place has no idea what it’s like for a female to be reporting on sport.

Right, enough of that, let’s get on to the good stuff.  The England squad for their tour of South Africa was announced this week.  Sarah Taylor will be aiming to win her 100th ODI cap in the first match on 12 February.  The only slight surprise inclusion in the squad of 15 is Tammy Beaumont, who hasn’t played for England since 2014 and will take part in the T20s only.

It will be the first tour for new head coach, Mark Robinson and points from the three ODIs will go towards qualification for the 2017 ICC Women’s Championship.  Currently England sit fifth with South Africa fourth.

And more good news is that BBC Test Match Special will deliver full commentary on all of the matches!

This is the schedule:

7.2.16 1st ODI Sahara Willowmoore Park, Benoni
12.2.16 2nd ODI SuperSport Park, Centurion
14.2.16 3rd ODI Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
18.2.16 1st T20I Boland Park, Paarl
19.2.16 2nd T20I Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town
21.2.16 3rd T20I Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

As reported last week, the WBBL is thriving in its first year.  Audiences have been excellent, both at the grounds and on television (if only we had something to watch/listen to here….).  As it stands, Sydney Thunder are top after 10 games with 16 points, Hobart Hurricanes second on 14 having played a game more with Brisbane Heat on the same points in third having played 13 games.  Sydney Sixers currently bring up the rear with a mere four points, but they can still make up places as they have only played eight games.  More news next week!

Netball is continuing its resurgence in popularity as Sky announced January as its Netball Month.  The new Superleague starts on 30 January with the “Vitality Netball Superleague Super Saturday”, which will be held at the Genting Arena in Birmingham and televised live on Sky.  All eight Superleague teams will be in action.

Before this, however, England play a three test series against world champions Australia.  Again televised by Sky, the matches are at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 20 January, and the Copper Box in London on 22 and 24 January.

If you’ve not watched professional netball before, please take this opportunity to do so.  It’s fast, exciting and skilful.

After splitting with her coach, Diego Veronelli, last month, Heather Watson is currently being coached by Judy Murray.  Murray will be working with Watson up to and through the Australian Open later this month.  There is no indication whether the relationship will continue beyond this point though, so watch this space for more news.

British number three and world number 122, Naomi Broady, has had an excellent, if controversial week.  She won the best match of her career in the first round of the ASB Classic in Auckland, when she beat world number 16, Ana Ivanovic 7-5 6-4.  Then came the controversy.  She beat Jelena Ostapenko 4-6 7-6 7-5, but there was an angry exchange with her opponent when Ostapenko appeared to throw her racquet at a ball boy.  She claimed it was accidental but Broady was not convinced, and told both Ostapenko and the umpire as much.   Broady thought her opponent should have been disqualified and was clearly upset by the incident.  However, she showed her steel to win the third set and take the match, although the arguments continued at the end of match handshake at the net.  After a good two rounds, Broady was beaten in the third by American Sloane Stephens, 7-6 6-3.

More good news on the media coverage front – this time in rugby union.  Sky has announced that it will show the final of the English Women’s Premiership live.  The line-ups for the play-off semi-finals have been decided already with Richmond facing Worcester and Saracens taking on Lichfield.

The final kicks off at 5.30pm on Sunday 17 January.

More brownie points for Sky, but begs the question, what the heck is everyone else doing???

And finally, darts – yes, darts!  Not often I get to mention it and not often you get to see women’s darts covered anywhere, but the BDO championships at Frimley Green have reached the semi-final stage and the BBC are going a great job in covering the women’s event.

The semi-final line-up is:

Deta Hedman (Eng) v Ann-Louise Peters (Den)
Trina Gulliver (Eng) v Aileen De Graaf (Ned)

Long-time number one Gulliver beat current champion Lisa Ashton in the quarter-finals and is looking for her 10th title.  Peters hit the highest ever women’s checkout of 160 in her quarter-final win over Zoe Jones.  The semi-finals will be from 5.30pm on 8 January with the final at the weekend.  What else can I say, but quote the best darts commentator ever, Sid Waddell,

“There’s only one word for that – magic darts.”



The Women’s Sports Column

5-11 December

This week sees stories from rugby union, tennis, swimming, judo, hockey and cricket.

There was a first for Varsity rugby this week. The annual women’s Oxford v Cambridge match took place at Twickenham for the first time, in its 29th year.

Cambridge Women’s RUFC President and tight head prop, Katie Holmes said,

‘This decision puts us on a par with the men’s match and, more importantly, forges stronger links between the two sections at both Clubs. This is a hugely historic step for the game of rugby at Oxford and Cambridge.’

It kicked off before the men’s match, but in the end it was not much of a contest with Cambridge running out 52-0 winners, with Alice Middleton and Anna Wilson amongst the scorers with three tries each.

A 23-year old rugby player has died this week after suffering a head injury druing a game. Lily Partridge had previously suffered “a couple” of concussions, said her club, Exonian Ladies. She had, however, taken the required month off before returning to the game, and had been cleared to play by doctors. Lily collapsed on the pitch on Sunday 6 December and life support was switched off on Monday. The RFU is investigating.

Johanna Konta has ended her excellent 2015 as British Number One. She takes over from Heather Watson, who has had an up and down year with periods of injury and loss of form. Konta made a real breakthrough this year when she got to the last 16 of the US Open as a qualifier. After her defeat to Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon she went on a streak of winning 20 out of 21 matches, which has taken her to 48 in the world.

Also in tennis, Laura Robson has decided against taking up her protected ranking entry into the Australian Open in January. Since being out for 17 months with a wrist injury she has only participated in eight tournaments and has slipped to 555 in the world. She can only use her protected ranking to enter one more Grand Slam and it is thought she may use it instead for the French Open at the end of May.

Jazz Carlin bagged two golds at the European Short Course Championships in Israel this week. Her first victory was in the 800m freestyle and the second an amazing win over Katinka Hosszu from Hungary in the 400m freestyle. The winning margin was just 0.03 seconds.

Olympic judo silver medallist Gemma Gibbons achieved another one of her goals this week when she became the first British woman to win a medal at the Tokyo Grand Slam. She won a bronze in the     -78kg contest, beating Japanese fighter Ruika Sato by a waza-ari in the last minute of the bout.

Great Britain’s women have gone out at the quarter-final stage of the World Hockey League Finals in Argentina. They lost 2-1 to New Zealand in a tight game. New Zealand had most of the pressure, but it wasn’t until the second quarter that they took the lead through Anita Punt.

GB must have thought they had earned a penalty shoot-out when Helen Richardson-Walsh equalised with a penalty stroke with only six minutes to go.

However, it was not to be when with just 68 seconds on the clock Olivia Merry put the ball past goalkeeper Maddie Hinch to take the game. Hinch seemed to gesture that she lost the ball in the sun.

The team has still had an impressive year. They have now secured their place at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and, of course, won gold at the European Championships in London in August.

In cricket, the draw for the groups and the of the World Twenty20 2016 has finally been made.

  • Group A – Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland
  • Group B – England, West Indies, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

The final will be at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in a double-header with the men’s on 3 April. There has been a big hike in prize money for the women going up 122% to $400,000 (£264,000). There is still a way to go to match the men’s prize money though, which stands at $5.6m (£3.7m). The women’s tournament begins on 15 March 2016.

And finally, Clare Connor, once quite outspoken, but since becoming Head of Women’s Cricket at the ECB has retreated back into the establishment, got her groove back this week when she tweeted:


Shocking sexist claptrap

rugby ballGlasgow Herald publish the worst sporting sexism I’ve seen in a while

Shade Munro, former Coach of Glasgow Warriors (Scottish CLUB side) has left the club to take over as coach of the Scotland women’s NATIONAL side.  Fantastic for him, you may think.  A real step up to move from club to country.

Well, not according to David Kelso in the Glasgow Herald and the former players he has interviewed.

Apparently, “The move has been met with criticism and sympathy for Munro”.

Former Glasgow and Scotland player, Cammy Mather, is quoted as saying

“This is a massive slap in the face for Shade…To put him in charge of the women’s team would be an enormous demotion.”

Another ex-Glasgow forward, Muff Scobbie also weighs in with

“To offer him a job coaching women is such a waste of talent.”

It was with some trepidation that I read on to the comments section at the bottom of this article, only to be pleasantly surprised that the majority of the comments, mainly from men, took issue with the tone of the piece with one summing it up nicely,

“Well, what do you expect from David Kelso? Ignorant and proud of it from his previous mysognistic rants. Perhaps if someone interviewed Shade Munro we might get some truth.”

Exactly right.  Presumably Munro had to apply for the job?  He was “offered” it, so he could have turned it down if he’d considered it to be beneath him?  I’d certainly be interested to get the view from Munro himself.

Meanwhile Scottish women’s rugby has to suffer the indignity of being the butt of this shocking piece of sexist claptrap.  I thought the days of the women’s game, any game, being judged as a distant second class were slowly dying out, but not if this article is anything to go by.