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Volume 7 No. 149

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Cricket Australia was on Monday suspended by int'l women's employment agency Work180 "as outrage grows over its dismissal of a female employee" who criticized the Tasmanian government’s abortion policies, according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. Angela Williamson, 39, "has gone public with the fact she had to leave the state to have a pregnancy terminated" and was sacked last month by CA after a government staffer "alerted cricket authorities to her critical tweet about access to abortion." Work180 "only admitted the cricket body last month after it passed a number of criteria related to the treatment of female staff." Work180 CEO Gemma Lloyd said, "The story was news to us. Work180 takes these things seriously and we have removed Cricket Australia and their jobs from the website while we investigate." Williamson, who was a manager of public policy and government relations at Cricket Australia, said that she was "devastated" to lose her job. She said, "I feel let down. I believed my advocacy could make a difference on an issue that’s very personal for me. I didn’t think I’d lose my job over it." Williamson on Monday launched a campaign on change.org petitioning the Tasmanian government to "give women access to abortion, which is legal, on the island" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/31).

The Rugby Football Union was warned that its "cost-cutting plan to make community coaches redundant will have a wide-ranging and damaging impact on the grassroots game" and the future of the England team, according to Alex Lowe of the LONDON TIMES. The RFU "is expected to make 66 staff members redundant." In an open letter to the governing body, Stuart Murrow, the president & chair of the Dorset & Wiltshire Rugby Football Union -- which is "under threat from the measures" -- expressed "grave fears" and detailed 27 negative consequences, "including a sharp decline in players progressing to top-flight rugby, an increase in player injuries and a heightened risk of clubs being forced to close." There have reportedly been "rumblings" of a grassroots revolt against the RFU leadership, with one source describing the situation as "a tinder box." Many in the grassroots game "feel disenfranchised from Twickenham" and the letter from the Dorset & Wiltshire RFU "underlined the level of discontent." The letter said, "We feel that this review should also include local representation, because the RFU is controlled by the clubs and not the other way around" (LONDON TIMES, 7/30).

Steve Brown said that professionalizing the women's game is a matter of prioritization and timing.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Rugby Football Union "declared its ambition" to fully professionalize the women's game in England, according to Gavin Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. The governing body was in April "considering a dramatic about-turn to reinstate contracts for women's XVs players" after its decision to axe them after the World Cup last year was "widely denounced." The RFU instead offered professional contracts to the England Women's Sevens side ahead of the recent Rugby World Cup. RFU CEO Steve Brown revealed on Monday that the governing body's intention now is "for professional contracts to be offered to both the England Women's XVs and Sevens sides and a deal could be completed next season, despite the RFU's current financial pressures." He said, "One of the decisions we are making at the moment -- let's be clear, our ambition is to have fully-contracted professional sevens and 15s stand-alone and fully-contracted -- it is just a matter of prioritization and timing" (TELEGRAPH, 7/30).

John Grant said that a small group of people have been trying to undermine him.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Rugby League Int'l Federation Chair John Grant confirmed he will walk away from int'l rugby league in November but not before delivering a parting shot at the "small group of people" he said were "spreading misinformation designed to undermine him" and his quest to modernize the global game. Grant will step down from his role later this year as part of an overhaul of the governance of the RLIF board. He made it clear he had no plans to continue beyond November and "made no attempt to hide his disdain for those who worked behind the scenes to make life difficult in recent days" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/31).

South African cricketer Dale Steyn believes this year’s Australian ball-tampering scandal could be viewed as a "cry for help" because the balance between bat and ball in cricket has become "so skewed in favour of the batsmen." Steyn did not condone the actions of the Cape Town trio but said that the incident "exposed the need for cricket to change to prevent the loss of the art of reverse swing bowling" (REUTERS, 7/30).

National Rugby League CEO Todd Greenberg and Australian Rugby League Commission Chair Peter Beattie are "preparing to be grilled on any number of topics plaguing the game in an uncensored fan forum" in Sydney on Saturday (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/30).

Athletics execs were told to "investigate how widespread the abuse and harassment of competitors is." The IAAF Council approved a position statement on protecting athletes as part of an ongoing athlete welfare campaign. It comes after more than 500 teenage athletes were surveyed at the World U20 Championships in July (BBC 7/30).