The competition has really hotted up in the UK’s netball superleague this week, with unbeaten records being broken and new contenders emerging. Manchester Thunder and Hertfordshire Mavericks remain in the top two spots in the league. However, both suffered their first defeats of the season, with Mavericks going down to the Manchester side 48-57, before a lacklustre Thunder side failed to reach peak form in a 55-49 loss to a rejuvenated Surrey Storm. Reigning champions Storm had previously suffered a single goal loss to Loughborough Lightning 55-54. Demonstrating just how competitive the league has become this season, Lightning then slipped to their own single goal loss, 46-47, to Team Northumbria. Yorkshire Jets, last season’s semi finallists, remain without a win in the 2016, losing their latest encounter 55-33 to Celtic Dragons in a disappointing game.
Change is also the word of the week for the ANZ Championships, with plans for the competition’s short- and long-term futures being discussed in public. In the short term, new rules will be trialled in the competition’s Pre-Season Shootout tournaments, which will be played simultaneously at the Trusts Arena, Auckland and Sydney Olympic Park from 18-20 March. A three point scoring zone and rolling interchange are among the proposals to be tested during shortened games, consisting of two ten minute halves, to be played on Sunday afternoon in both cities.
Meanwhile, Southern Hemisphere sources are speculating that it looks increasingly likely that this year’s ANZ Championship will be the last of its kind in the current format. New Zealand and Australian teams look set to take part in separate competitions from 2017, with bosses from both sides of the Tasman currently working on a potential new format. The favoured option would see the top sides meet in a separate Champions League-style series at the end of the season. Other ideas include a pre-season competition or a mid-season trans-Tasman “super round”. The changes are deemed necessary after only one New Zealand team, the Waikato Bay of Plenty of Magic, has taken the overall title in eight years of competition. Netball Australia has been lobbying to include up to three more teams in the league, while Netball New Zealand has been fighting to boost the competitiveness of its own franchises in a competition which is seen as becoming increasingly unbalanced.
The Maldives Netball Federation is starting the search for a new netball coach, as well as two umpires, with immediate effect. Working with the Sir Lanka Netball Federation, the Maldives governing body intends to send a team to the 10th Asian Senior Netball Championships, which will be held in Thailand from 30 July to 7 August, and needs to appoint a new coach to assist in team preparation and development. Applications should be forwarded to the Sri Lanka Netball Federation Headquarters, 33 Old Sports Ministry Building, Torrington Square, Colombo 7.
The Tonga Netball Association is holding trials later this month for the country’s teams to take part in the Waverley International Schools Championships in Melbourne, and the Oceania qualifying competition for the World Youth Championships 2017. Further information for players aged 15-20 can be found here: http://on.fb.me/1QLi5IY
Finally this week, the Netball Europe U17 championships will take place this weekend in Gibraltar, with eight teams taking part in two playing sections. For the first time, the competition will be streamed live via Netball Europe’s YouTube channel: watch all the action here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEO-XUL-udZs-HDEFH-AcGg?app=desktop