Netball Scoop: Cape Town Wrap – pre NWC 2023

Netball Scoop: Cape Town Wrap – pre NWC 2023

By |2023-07-28T00:06:24+10:00July 27th, 2023|Categories: World Cup 2023|Tags: |0 Comments


As 16 nations convene for the 2023 Netball World Cup, it’s a busy time for teams, officials, media and an army of volunteers.

While it’s a busy time settling into hotels, picking up accreditation, checking out facilities, training and working through a myriad of house-keeping duties, there’s still time for everyone to soak up the excitement and atmosphere that comes with this pinnacle event. From colourful artwork to concerts, blockaded roads to dance-offs, there’s plenty happening on the streets of Cape Town.


Delegates attended the World Netball Congress on the 26th and 27th of July, with Liz Nicholl elected as President, and Stacey Francis-Bayman appointed as the Athlete Director.

One of the key pieces of business was approving the introduction of new rules from the 1st January, 2024, focusing on game management and athlete safety. Further details will follow, but significant changes include:

  • substitutions can be made at any time, without needing to call time for injuries,
  • changes to the short pass rule,
  • changes to the definition of when a goal is scored within the final moments of a game,
  • consequences for play outside the rules includes cautions being removed, umpires giving pro-active advice, before progressing to a warning, suspension or removal from the game,
  • specific consideration will be given to any contact around the head, neck, and tunnelling which prevents safe landing space.
  • sanctions can be advanced for up to one third of the court.

Further information can be found here.


Ash Brazill catches up with her former Fever coach, Norma Plummer. Image: Netball Australia


The official candle-lighting ceremony, held on Wednesday night, was a vibrant showcase of African culture. A 60 year old tradition instigated at the first world tournament, all captains light a candle and pledge to “play in the spirit of sportsmanship during the tournament”. A 17th candle was lit by a representative of the officials, promising to adjudicate matches in the same vein.

One of the highlights was the unprecedented level of connection between athletes, a by-product of international imports allowed across the three major competitions. Athletes were quick to embrace each other, despite becoming fierce rivals tomorrow.


While the introduction of imports has done much to level the playing field between nations, the value added by high-performance coaches, who assist a programme, also shouldn’t be underestimated. Coaches such as Briony Akle (Tonga), Rob Wright (Jamaica), Cathy Fellows (Fiji), Yvette McCausland-Durie (Fiji), Reigna Bloxham (Wales), Sue Hawkins (Trinidad & Tobago), Norma Plummer and Nic Cusack (both South Africa), are just some of the coaches upskilling other teams.


Firebirds all – Ruby Bakewell-Doran and Donnell Wallam with Tonga’s Hulita Veve. Many of the Tonga Tala belts are historical family artefacts. Image: Netball Australia


There’s been further updates on the Reserve Athlete policy, which allows a team to substitute up to three players in the case of a tournament ending illness, injury or personal emergency. Nations can submit their request to the official independent doctor, who will provide a final ruling. However, once the final team of 12 is named 90 minutes before a match, no further changes can be made until afterwards, other than to replace a starting seven player if injured during the warmup. However, the player must be replaced from one of the named 12 athletes.

Teams will be required to use a measure of integrity, so as not to exploit any loopholes that might possibly exist in such a new policy.

Some teams haven’t the depth or funds to bring an additional three athletes with them, and will have to adapt should their team incur any injuries.

There will also be a fine line for any athletes who develop a niggling injury, and the coaches and medical staff who have to make a tactical decision around them. Does the team sit them out for a match or two, hoping they are fit towards the business end of the competition, or substitute them immediately to bed a replacement into the team?


World Netball head injury protocols will be in place throughout the tournament. If there are any concerns that an athlete has received a knock or fall that could result in concussion, they will be removed from the court for a Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT), which can take up 7 to 10 minutes. If it is found that an athlete is experiencing a positive SCAT, they will stand down from play for 12 days, effectively ruling them out of the rest of the tournament.


Security has also been under the spotlight, following reports that two of the Caribbean nations have experienced some issues with theft. All teams have been given a security briefing, and asked to respect advice such as not walking alone after dark. Each team also has the support of two undercover security officers, while many teams have also employed their own security consultant. There’s also a strong police presence at the athlete’s hotels.


Diamonds on the way to the NWC Candle Lighting ceremony. Image: Netball Australia


Each team has had a vastly different preparation, based on a range of factors including funding, player availability and domestic competition end dates. Many have also made fleeting visits to Cape Town for competition matches and familiarisation, while the Quad Series of six months ago was an ideal preparation for the local organising committee itself.

With Suncorp Super Netball finishing just two and a half weeks ago, Australia have had to be very strategic with their time. As selected team members fell out of the regular season or finals, they gathered in one or both of two mini-camps, held in Queensland and New South Wales. The first camp predominantly worked on shooting combinations, while the second added in the mid-court connection.

Two days after the grand final, all players convened in Melbourne, together with some Victorian and Australian Men’s players. Initial sessions focused on building connections, setting the tone for the team, what they wanted to achieve, and dress presentation. Athletes such as Paige Hadley and Sarah Klau, who took part in a heavy finals series, were placed on managed loads initially.

Once the Diamonds arrived in South Africa, they went into preparation mode in Stellenbosch, before making the move to Cape Town, and performance mode.

Like every other athlete and coach, they are itching to get started.


The Diamonds coaching and support staff team. Image: Netball Australia


Selfie time. Image: Netball Australia




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