Women’s sport weekly wrap – NSW win the Interstate Challenge and Cricket Australia ditch the pregnancy clause

This story was first written for and published by The Roar.

In case you missed it, here are my top five women’s sport stories from the past week.

New South Wales Women win the Interstate Challenge

Forget men’s State of Origin, the Interstate Challenge is where it’s at. With a 22-4 victory on Sunday morning at WIN Stadium, the New South Wales women retained the Nellie Doherty Trophy for the first time in the fixture’s history.

The last three years have seen an end to Queensland’s dominance in women’s rugby league. For the first 16 years, Queensland retained the trophy. This slowly started to turn three years ago when the game resulted in a draw (meaning Queensland retained the trophy) and then with New South Wales’s first victory last year by 6-4.

Over 47,000 people tuned into the live broadcast on Fox Sports and I’m confident that now that rugby league fans have had the opportunity to watch women’s rugby league live, it will set an expectation that all future fixtures will be live and available too.

Special mention to Jessica Sergis who made her debut for New South Wales on Sunday in only her sixth ever game of rugby league. It was certainly a debut to remember with the former rugby union and AFL player scoring three tries. Could she be a smokey to make the Australian Jillaroos Women’s Rugby League World Cup squad?

Samsung steps up to the plate

Suncorp Super Netball might be over, but that doesn’t mean that there is isn’t any netball news.

I want to congratulate Samsung Electronics Australia who this week has announced they will be the official naming rights partner of the national team who will now be named as the Samsung Diamonds.

As well as being the official naming rights partner, Samsung will also be the Innovation Partner of Netball Australia, Suncorp Super Netball, Fast5 Netball World Series and a supporter of grassroots netball through to elite in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

There are a couple of Australian brands that are now becoming synonymous with women in sport. When I think of the Australian Jillaroos, I think of Harvey Norman. When I think of the Matildas, I think of Westfields. When I think of the Women’s Big Bash League, I think of Rebel Sport. When I think of the Australian Wallaroos, I think of Buildcorp.

Simone Smith Australia Jillaroos Rugby League Anzac Test 2017

(Image: NRL)

While it still may not be the ‘in-thing’ to sponsor women’s sport, I think these organisations are onto something and I’m confident it won’t be long before the rest of corporate Australia catches up.

Fox Sports is your go-to broadcaster of women’s sport

Fox Sports continues to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to coverage of women’s sport.

Earlier this year it was announced by Fox that they had entered into a new arrangement to broadcast the WNBL.

Their coverage of the Interstate Challenge between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons was also the first time in this country that rugby league has been televised live.

This week Fox Sports continues its fine form and have announced that they will be broadcasting all three of the Westfield Matilda’s games in the Tournament of Nations.

The Tournament will feature Australia, the United States, Japan and Brazil – all teams which feature in the top 10 women’s football nations in the world.

The Matildas will play their first game tonight against the United States. It continues on Monday morning with a game against Japan and concludes next Friday with a game against Brazil.

These games should give a good indication of where the squad is placed ahead of the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

Will we have our summer of cricket?

Following the conclusion of the Women’s Cricket World Cup in England last Sunday, I wrote an article featuring captain of the Sydney Thunder Women’s Big Bash Team, Alex Blackwell, on how much cricket has changed since she first went to a World Cup back in 205.

Blackwell reflected on a time when players were dragging their kits around in heels and skirts, staying in university accommodation and sharing a room with two other teammate s.

Alex is right. To see a sold-out Lord’s for the final demonstrates how far the game has come.

But with the pay dispute between the Australian Cricketers’ Association and Cricket Australia ongoing, what impediment will this have on the development of the women’s game?

Ellyse Perry Australia Cricket Women's 2017

(AAP Image/International Cricket Council)

While talks may have stalled, it has been revealed this week that the controversial cricket clause which required female players to let Cricket Australia know if they were pregnant at the time of entering into their contract, has been removed.

Players are still required to notify a medical officer if they become pregnant as soon as reasonably practicable, citing safety as their number one priority.

This will be the first time that the female players will be included under the same Memorandum of Understanding as the men and I’m hoping that these discussions also give the female players the opportunity to discuss maternity leave, pay for domestic cricketers and access to high performance training and coaching.

The next looming deadline is the men’s tour of Bangladesh in mid-August – so watch this space. I’m looking to Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association to ensure equity under, what I hope will be a new arrangement.

World Cup 2018 – here come the Opals

With a 81-48 win over North Korea yesterday at the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup, the Australian Opals have qualified for next year’s World Cup. Another 11 countries have already qualified with another five places still to be filled for the tournament in Spain next year.

Later today, the Opals will play South Korea in the semi-final. Australia has already defeated South Korea once, by 24 points on the opening night of the tournament. That night, Alanna Smith scored 15 points and took seven rebounds.

If you’re a basketball fan or a women’s sports fan, tune into Fox Sports for all the action.