Looking back on a wonderful year for British women’s sport

Other Thursday December 7, 2023 By: Harry Howes

We’re edging closer to the end of the year and as 2023 draws to its conclusion, it brings a close to another phenomenal 12 months for British women’s sport.

Following World Cup campaigns in football, cricket and netball, as well as the Six Nations and World Athletics Championships, we’ve taken a look back at this year’s key moments in women’s sport.

Lionesses suffer World Cup final heartbreak

Football finally came home last summer as the Lionesses won the European Championships – and they came so close to repeating their heroics a year later. Sarina Wiegman has revolutionised England since taking charge in 2021 but her side fell at the final hurdle as they lost to Spain in the World Cup final.

England stormed through the group stage at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, winning all three of their games and conceding just once. They needed a penalty shootout to beat Nigeria in the last 16 before they came from behind to knock out Colombia in the quarter-finals.

Goals from Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo saw them beat hosts Australia in the semis. Sadly, the final was a step too far as they narrowly lost 1-0 to Spain in Sydney.

Mary Earps, who won the tournament’s Golden Glove award, offered hope in the final as she saved a penalty from Jenni Hermoso but England weren’t able to find a breakthrough. Despite only finishing as runners-up, the Lionesses once again united the nation.

Their positive World Cup campaign followed up their triumph in the first ever Women’s Finalissima back in April, in which they beat Brazil on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

England suffered further heartbreak this week as they missed out on next year’s Olympics despite a 6-0 thrashing of Scotland. But following an amazing few years for the women’s team, it’s clear the future is incredibly bright.

England dominate in Six Nations win

While the men’s rugby team came close to success in the World Cup, it was also an impressive year for their female counterparts. The Red Roses claimed this year’s Six Nations as they swept all before them, winning all five matches and conceding just seven tries in the process.

Only France ran them close as England edged their final match 38-33. The rest of the nations managed a combined 15 points between them against the champions as England claimed the title for the 18th time.

Saracens star Marlie Packer led the way as she finished top of the scoring charts with 35 points and seven tries. Just behind her was winger Abby Dow, whose six tries contributed to her 30 points.

England are looking in good shape and they’ll fancy their chances at a third World Cup title when they host the competition in 2025.

Close but no cigar in the cricket

It was a busy year for the women’s cricket team as they enjoyed an Ashes series against Australia as well as a T20 World Cup out in South Africa.

Sadly, Australia retained the Ashes as defending champions following a fiercely fought 8-8 series draw. The Aussies claimed the only Test match by 89 runs but it was England that dominated from then on.

Nat Sciver-Brunt was crowned player of the series as she scored 271 runs in England’s 2-1 ODI series, while it was the same result in the T20 matches.

In the World Cup, England reached the semi-finals but their dream of a second world title was cut short as South Africa edged them by just six runs. Despite not reaching the final, England enjoyed a good campaign and their 213/5 against Pakistan was the tournament’s highest-scoring winning margin.

Sciver-Brunt finished with 216 runs, the second highest in the tournament, while she also recorded the most boundaries with 28. Meanwhile, our bowling was also strong as Sophie Ecclestone claimed the most wickets with 11.

England run Australia close in Netball World Cup

The Netball World Cup also took place in South Africa and just like the football, England were narrowly beaten in the final.

They enjoyed a dominant run, winning all three games in the first group stage before going unbeaten again in the second round with five wins. Among those victories was a remarkable 56-55 win over 12-time champions Australia thanks to a 100% shooting record from Helen Housby, who won player of the tournament.

England met five-time winners New Zealand in the semi-finals and a 46-40 win set up a final showdown with Australia. Sadly, they couldn’t repeat their heroics as they ultimately lost 61-45.

As well as Housby’s sharp shooting, Eleanor Cardwell also impressed, finishing the tournament with 231 goals.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson claims gold in World Championships

The Athletics World Championships took place in Budapest back in August and for the second time in a row, Katarina Johnson-Thompson came away with heptathlon gold.

The British record-holder will be looking to continue her strong form as she targets a first Olympic medal in Paris next summer.

Elsewhere, Keely Hodgkinson won 800m silver in Budapest, missing out on gold by less than half a second. She’ll be looking to go one better next year having also claimed silver in Tokyo.

As well as strong individual performances on the track, there were also British bronze medals for the women in both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, as well as a silver in the mixed 4x400m.

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