Sport online editor Nancy Frostick previews all the major women’s sporting championships over the next few months in football, rugby, hockey, cricket, badminton and athletics
Summer 2017 is a landmark one for major championships in a range of women’s sports. From football to athletics, hockey to badminton, Britain’s top female athletes and sports teams are in action across the globe. Following on from record tv viewing figures and larger crowds in women’s football in the last two years, Rio 2016 was an unprecedented success for Team GB’s athletes in a range of sports. Here’s the lowdown on what’s going on in football, rugby, hockey, cricket, athletics and badminton this summer, who to look out for and where you can find coverage.
The UEFA Women’s European Championships will take place from 16th July to 6th August as both England and Scotland head to the Netherlands with the aim of becoming Europe’s best women’s footballing nation.
England reached the final in Finland in 2009 where they lost to eight-time European champions and current holders Germany, who will be favourites again. Although the Lionesses were knocked out in the group stage in 2013, they will want to capitalise on the progress they made at the World Cup in Canada in 2015, where they finished third. In an unorthodox move, Mark Sampson announced his squad almost three months early so they will have plenty of time to prepare before boarding the plane in July. If England can capitalise on their chances in front of goal, there is every possibility they can go one better than in 2009.
Redbrick Sport spoke to England and Manchester City midfielder Izzy Christiansen about the Lionesses’ chances at the tournament – you can read it here.
Scotland play in their first major international tournament and have been drawn in the same group as England, Spain and Portugal. Scotland finished joint-top of their qualification group tied on 21 points with Iceland and will want to challenge on a big stage after just missing out on qualification for the World Cup two years ago. New manager Shelley Kerr will take over from Anna Signeul after the tournament, so an impressive performance before a period of transition will be essential. The two home nations face off in the opening group match on 19th July in what is likely to be an interesting clash as Scotland’s finest such as Kim Little, Jane Ross and Jennifer Beattie go head to head with their English team mates from Arsenal and Manchester City respectively. With England ranked third in Europe behind France and Germany, the Lionesses will certainly be favourites to win the group. All of the matches featuring the home nations will be shown on Channel 4 and covered by BBC Radio 5Live.
The Women’s Rugby World Cup will descend on Ireland from 9th-26th August as the likes of Australia, New Zealand and the USA will try to prevent England from retaining their title.
The holders and 2017 Six Nations Champions England come into the competition in fine form after completing the Grand Slam in that tournament in the spring – their first Six Nations title since 2012. At the last World Cup in France in 2014, England defeated Canada 21-9 in the final to secure their second world title having reached the final as hosts in 2010 where they lost 21-10 to New Zealand. The Black Ferns hold the most World Cups with four to date and will likely prove one of the main challengers along with Ireland and France, who have also put in strong performances in major tournaments in recent years. Before heading to Ireland, England will take part in the 2017 International Women’s Series tour of New Zealand from 2nd-18th June. The Red Roses will play Australia and Canada during the tour before their final fixture against the hosts at the Rotorua International Stadium in a double-header before the men’s British and Irish Lions team takes on the All Blacks.
Wales are another home nation in action and will want to improve on their best performance of a fourth place finish in 1994. The team won the European Rugby 7s tournament in 2006 and most recently placed in fifth at the Six Nations with just one win.
Hosts Ireland very nearly put a stopper on England’s hopes of a Grand Slam at the Six Nations and finished with a record-high fourth place finish at the last World Cup in 2014. They were previously 2015 Six Nations champions and will desperately want to please the home crowds by reaching the final at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
Redbrick Sport spoke to England and Worcester prop Laura Keates about the tournament – you can read it here.
The Netherlands will play host to its second major women’s sporting championship this summer for the EuroHockey Championships from 19th-27th August. Eight nations – the Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, England and Germany – will do battle for the European title. Reigning champions England and eight-time winners the Netherlands will be the favourites, having already played each other in the last two finals of major tournaments.
England won the last competition in a penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands after the score was still tied at 2-2 at full time. Having lost the 2013 competition in a similar fashion, that time to Germany (losing 2-0 on penalties after a final score of 4-4 at the end of normal time), England learnt from their mistakes and avoided heartbreak again by securing the 2015 title. The bulk of the England team were successful with Team GB last summer in Rio, winning gold against familiar opponents the Netherlands in another penalty shoot-out. Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was the hero in that match, saving all four penalties in the shoot-out to win gold for Team GB. The likes of Crista Cullen, Georgie Twigg, Alex Danson, University of Birmingham alumni Sophie Bray and Ellie Watton and current student Lily Owsley were all medallists in Rio and will line up for England alongside some new faces in the England squad following the retirement of key players such as former captain Kate Richardson Walsh. Current UoB students Anna Toman, Erica Sanders and Livy Paige have all been called up to the senior women’s squad in the last year.
Redbrick Sport spoke to England forward Sophie Bray about the tournament – you can read the interview here.
Two other home nations make up Pool B in the competition with Scotland and Ireland joining England and Germany. Scotland compete in their tenth championships, with their previous best a fifth place finish. Similarly, Ireland’s best finish was in fifth place.
England and Wales will host the Women’s World Cup from 24th June to 23rd July as Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies compete for the top title in world cricket.
After winning the 2013 competition Australia will be the team to beat – they also currently hold the Ashes and won T20 World Cups from 2010-2014. Six-time winners of the One Day International format World Cup and three-time champions of the World Twenty20 format, Australia are the leading force in women’s cricket on the international stage.
England play their first major tournament without long-time captain Charlotte Edwards, with new captain Heather Knight racing to be fit for the start of the tournament following a metatarsal stress fracture in May. In the last competition in 2013, the host nation finished third having won the tournament in 2009. As well as playing on home soil in iconic venues like Lord’s and Somerset’s County Ground in Taunton, this will be the first World Cup the England squad have played since turning professional in 2014 and the launch of the T20 Women’s Super League last summer. The nearest challengers to Australia with a total of three World Cup wins and one World T20 win, England will hope to add another title to their impressive record.
The West Indies will also be a force having won the World Twenty20 under captain and Western Storm player Stafanie Taylor. Taylor was named player of the tournament after scoring the most runs in India on their way to an eight wicket victory over Australia.
Every match of this year’s tournament will be broadcast live for the first time, with ten scheduled to be televised and the rest streamed live online. The opening matches of the round-robin stage will be between New Zealand and India and England and Sri Lanka respectively at 10.30am on 19th June.
The world of athletics returns to London this summer for the IAAF World Championships and the World Para Athletics Championships. From 14th-23rd July, the London Stadium will host the Para Championships as Team GB attempt to replicate the success of the Paralympics in Rio last summer where they won a total of 33 medals across the track and field events. Big names like five-time Olympic gold medallist and seven-time World Champion Hannah Cockroft will compete in multiple events on the track as she aims to defend her titles in the 100m, 400m and 800m T34 races. After gold medals in both athletics and cycling in Rio, Kadeena Cox will look to defend her 2015 World Championship titles in the T37 100m and the T35-38 4x100m relay. One of Cox’s 4x100m teammates in Rio, Sophie Hahn will also be in action as she looks to defend her T38 100m title. In the field events, Hollie Arnold is the reigning World Champion in the F46 Javelin since 2013and also won gold at Rio last summer.
The second half of this summer’s double-event in athletics will take over the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 4th-13th August. In a championship that will see numerous legends retire from the sport, Katarina Johnson-Thompson is already tasked with filling the shoes of Great Britain heptathlon legend Jessica Ennis-Hill. After her disappointing 28th place finish in the last World Championships in Beijing two years ago, the Olympics in Rio proved to be a vast improvement as Johnson-Thompson finished in sixth. Another athlete to burst onto the scene in the last twelve months on the track is Laura Muir, who bounced back after Rio to secure two gold medals at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in the 1500m and the 3000m. Jamaica and the USA will be two other nations to keep an eye out for – whilst Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce won’t be in action as she takes a year off after announcing her pregnancy, track legends like Allyson Felix will be there to defend her various titles. Britain’s only medal in the field events in Rio came from Sophie Hitchon in the hammer throw as she broke the British record on the way to a bronze medal. After a fourth place finish two years ago in Beijing at the World Championships, Hitchon will want to continue improving on home soil.
The badminton world championships come to Glasgow from 21st-27th August for both singles and doubles competitions.
England pair Chris and Gabby Adcock go in search of their first world title after victory at the European Championships. The mixed doubles partners also won the Dubai World Superseries Finals in 2015 and finished runner-up in 2016 and have qualified for the World Championships as the top English pair and seventh best pair.
Former Birmingham Lion and England number one Fontaine Chapman will also be in action in the women’s singles. After a disappointing World Championships in 2015, Chapman will want to perform well in Glasgow.