A planned international test series between the Vitality Roses and the Australian Diamonds is unable to go ahead due to the evolving COVID-19 restrictions in Australia, and the implications of Government regulations relating to travel and quarantine.
The Vitality Roses, who are currently in New Zealand following their series victory against the Silver Ferns, were due to travel on to Australia to compete in a further three fixtures in October.
However, despite huge efforts behind the scenes by Netball Australia and England Netball to navigate the evolving COVID-19 restrictions in Australia and make the series possible, the Vitality Roses will instead return home from New Zealand in the coming days.
Fixtures and venues were still to be confirmed as both parties continued to address and try to overcome the logistical challenges that come with organising international competition during these times.
Since departing from England for the New Zealand leg of the tour, border restrictions have changed in Australia with an extended length of quarantine introduced, significantly limited opportunities to train and prepare for international competition, and stricter conditions now in place that compromise player welfare.
David Parsons, Performance Director at England Netball, said: “The athletes, performance team and everyone at England Netball are extremely disappointed that this series is not able to go ahead. Everyone had been so excited about the opportunity to take on the Diamonds and demonstrate the progress that we’ve been making as a team.
“We want to thank Netball Australia for their tremendous partnership in trying to make the tour possible but, despite tireless efforts from both parties, the ongoing challenges we faced due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 regulations across the country, and the impact that the travel restrictions currently in place between Australia and New Zealand had on quarantine and team preparation, means that sadly it isn’t possible to continue on to Australia as planned.
“Navigating elite sport and international competition is challenging during these times and it has been a significant achievement to travel to New Zealand and complete the series against the Silver Ferns. To get to this stage of the tour and not be able to complete the Australian leg is very saddening, but I am very proud of Jess Thirlby, the Vitality Roses, and the team behind the team, for their patience, resilience and understanding during this time.
“I want to also acknowledge our disappointment in not being able to unite our Roses players in New Zealand with our Roses players in Australia who have been waiting to join the team on our arrival into the country. We will now look ahead to reuniting those players back home and preparing as one playing group for the series against Jamaica on home soil in November and December as we continue our journey to Birmingham 2022
“I would also like to thank the fans for their support during our time in New Zealand and hope they are excited about the matches we have played against the Silver Ferns and the historic series victory we achieved.”