This weekend sees the start of the Vitality Netball Nations Cup, a new international competition between four of the top five ranked teams in the world.
Between the 19-26th January, the Vitality Roses, Jamaica Sunshine Girls, New Zealand Silver Ferns and the South Africa SPAR Proteas will all meet for the first time since the Vitality Netball World Cup.
The tournament has a round-robin format, with every team playing against each other, before a finals day. It is the first time England Netball has hosted a series in three different cities, with four days of competition spread over venues in Nottingham, Birmingham and London.
Following the amazing success of the Vitality Roses in recent years, England Netball have recorded their fastest-selling ticket sales ever for this event, with over 21,000 spectators set to travel to the sold out Nottingham and London venues.
Limited tickets still remain for the second day of the series in Birmingham on Wednesday 22nd January, where the Vitality Roses will face South Africa.
The competition opener takes place at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on the 19th January. This will be the first time the Vitality Roses will meet the Silver Ferns after their heartbreaking 47-45 defeat in the Vitality Netball World Cup semi-final. The match is expected to be exciting and competitive, with both teams wanting to take the top spot.
Jamaica and South Africa will also face each other in another exciting rematch from the Vitality Netball World Cup. Back in July, South Africa narrowly beat Jamaica 55-52 in the preliminary stages en route to the semi-finals.
On the 22nd January, the tournament moves to Birmingham where Jamaica face New Zealand and England face South Africa. Jamaica will be hoping for a repeat of the last time they met New Zealand during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where the Sunshine Girls came out on top, winning the bronze medal ahead of the Silver Ferns.
Fans will be excited to see the return of South Africa against England, which featured heavily last year during the Vitality Netball World Cup. South Africa will be attempting to avenge their bronze medal match defeat and a narrow 2-1 test series loss on home soil against the Vitality Roses in December 2019. The SPAR Proteas won the last outing between the two teams by six goals, meaning this game will be especially thrilling as both teams have things to prove.
The competition concludes in London on the 25th and 26th January. The final group matches take place on the 25th, where New Zealand face South Africa and England meet Jamaica. New Zealand haven’t faced South Africa since the Vitality Netball International Series in January 2019, where New Zealand grasped a narrow victory after extended extra time.
England and Jamaica last met during the Vitality Netball World Cup preliminary stages, where the Vitality Roses emerged victorious. These matches are expected to be especially competitive, as the four teams compete for vital points leading into the final day of competition. The last day of competition will see the top two teams competing for the trophy and a bronze medal final for the remaining sides.
Head Coach of the Vitality Roses, Jess Thirlby, has said, “It’s going to be an incredibly exciting series with it being the first time the Roses have played on home soil since the Vitality Netball World Cup.
“Netball fever is spreading, and it is wonderful to see the netball family and those with a newfound interest in the sport getting behind the Vitality Roses. I hope it continues, and I can’t wait to see our fans out in force in 2020.”
The Vitality Roses will be in action on the following dates:
|Sunday 19 January 2020||England v New Zealand
South Africa v Jamaica
|Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham|
|Wednesday 22 January 2020||England v South Africa
Jamaica v New Zealand
|Saturday 25 January 2020||England v Jamaica
New Zealand v South Africa
|Copper Box Arena, London|
|Sunday 26 January 2020||1st v 2nd place match
3rd v 4th place match
|Copper Box Arena, London|
You can also follow all of the action live via the England Netball Twitter account and on Sky Sports, who will also be streaming an event on their official YouTube channel.
By Bethan Clargo.