Daily Digest: England fly-half misses Six Nations opener after Covid breach

Zoe Harrison

In today's news: Zoe Harrison replaced in Six Nations squad due to Covid-19 protocol breach, FIFA World Cup announces Australia New Zealand as 2023 hosts and ITV on the brink of securing a broadcast package for England football fixtures.

Zoe Harrison drops out of Six Nations

The fly-half has withdrawn from England's match-day 23 after failing to follow coronavirus protocol. All Red Roses players are required to file daily health and safety reports, but Harrison failed to do so on three occasions.

In order to stress the importance of sticking to Covid-19 regulations, the 22-year-old has been temporarily dropped from the team. Wasps fly-half Meg Jones will replace Harrison until her return ahead of the clash against Italy.

Head coach Simon Middleton commented on the situation and described it as a "slight misdemeanour" that will snub Harrison of her spot on the bench.

"It wasn't malicious, it's just forgetfulness on Zoe's behalf," Middleton continued. "It is disappointing for Zoe because she's been playing outstandingly well and she's really starting to flourish now but she understands, she put her hand up to it.

"As of Monday morning she will be back in camp with us and looking forward to Italy."

Australia and New Zealand to host FIFA World Cup

The 2023 FIFA World Cup will take place across Australia and New Zealand, the official body has confirmed. 

The tournament will get underway in New Zealand as Auckland's Eden Park is set to host the opening match. Sydney will close the competition when the final is played out on the stage of the Stadium Australia. There will be a total of nine host cities, with Australia and New Zealand hosting one semi-final each.

FIFA have also announced that 2023 will be the first year the World Cup will consist of 32 teams, expanding from their usual 24-team set up.

"The appointment of the nine host cities represents a major milestone for the next FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, as well as for players and football fans across Australia, New Zealand and around the world," FIFA president Gianni Infantino commented.

ITV close in on major broadcast deal

The broadcasting giants are close to securing the rights to England Women's international friendly and qualification fixtures.

This comes shortly after the BBC and Sky Sports agreed terms with the Women's Super League to exclusively show top flight domestic fixtures on a three-year deal.

If successful in their bid, ITV will broadcast international coverage as of next season. With England playing host to the 2022 Euros, the demand for live access to women's football is growing and channels like ITV will establish themselves as leading broadcasters once rights to matches are secured.

Seven members of Team GB athletics named

The first seven members of Team GB's athletics squad ahead of Tokyo 2020 have been confirmed. Recent marathon trial winner Steph Davis joins Jess Piasecki and Steph Twell in the selection.

Davis won the trials in Kew Gardens last month and booked her spot at the Olympics this summer. Two-time Olympian Twell will be hoping for success this year after failing to grab herself a medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing, despite reaching the final in the 1500m.

Mermaids discusses new RFU transgender policy

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has released new policies surrounding transgender athletes within the game. A statement declared that new guidelines would mean transgender women will face height and weight safety checks if they are more than 90kg or 170cm tall.

Mermaids – a charity that supports transgender, non-binary and gender diverse children – has responded to the statement. 

"It’s also good to see a policy to support trans male players. However, we’re concerned by a height and weight aspect for trans women," it read. "On the week we launched Mermaids Sport: #ActiveAboutInclusion, we’re disappointed that the current policy will effectively mean many trans players, particularly trans women, will be blocked from taking part in Rugby Union games.

"Forcing players to comply with height and weight restrictions just because they’re trans, when cisgender players face no such restrictions, is discriminatory. We thank the RFU for its attempt to make rugby more inclusive for trans players, but unfortunately, they must TRY harder."

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