England’s netballers received a welcome boost ahead of their forthcoming test series against Malawi with the announcement of a new world ranking system for netball by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA). The new system, which aims to provide a more accurate reflection of the current form of countries competing internationally, ranks England in third place, behind reigning world champions Australia, and Commonwealth champions New Zealand.
Jamaica, despite narrowly beating England into the bronze medal position in a thrilling encounter at the recent World Championships, is ranked fourth behind England, having lost a three match test series to them earlier in 2007. England’s win over New Zealand, their first for 34 years in June 2007, has also been taken into account.
“The new IFNA world ranking system is a much more accurate reflection of form and consistency,” comments Nigel Holl, Director of Netball at England Netball, “and takes account of changes of personnel, coaching and playing standards. Previously, with teams ranked according to their previous World Championships finishing positions, no allowance was made for improvements in form during the playing cycle and test match results between major competitions were technically “friendlies”. We are delighted that the new system will make all international encounters meaningful and welcome the opportunity that it gives us to improve our ranking still further in the next four years. ”
The new system, created for IFNA by David Kendix, who developed and maintains the official team rankings for international one day and test cricket, gives greater weighting to more recent matches, an important consideration when creating the draw for major international competitions.
A total of 22 countries appear in the new rankings table. These teams have all played the required number of eight international matches in the stipulated four year period. Another eight countries could join the rankings this year once further planned matches have been played, and all countries playing netball internationally will now be eligible to achieve a ranking, not just those taking part in the World Championships.
“The great thing about the new rankings is that they make every international match meaningful,” continues Holl, “which ups the competitive pressure on our squads and will encourage them to perform at the highest level every time they take to the court. The first challenge will be for our young squad to retain the Netball Europe Open squad this weekend in Glasgow, ahead of the April test series against Malawi – the first time we have met them over three international matches. “
International Federation president Molly Rhone commented: “This is a major step forwards for our sport. Not only will it make international events and test matches more meaningful, we hope it will stimulate more regular competition between countries, as well as assisting the Federation to understand the stage a country is at in its development, and enable the Federation to be more strategic in supporting countries.”
The Netball Europe Open championships take place in Glasgow from 15-17 February, while England will face Malawi, the new world number five, in a three match test series, to be played in Sheffield, Coventry and London Wembley from 14-18 April 2008. For more information, please visit www.englandnetball.co.uk
Picture shows the England squad which competed at the Netball World Championships in New Zealand in November 2007.