ANZ Championship announces 2011 season dates

ANZ ChampionshipAs the ANZ Championship prepares for its biggest ever home and away crowd in Melbourne this weekend, General Manager Anthony Everard confirmed today that next year’s competition will be brought forward to allow players sufficient preparation time for the 2011 World Netball Championships.

Traditionally held from April to July, the 2011 ANZ Championship season will commence on 13 February, with the Grand Final to be played on either the 22nd or 23rd of May.  The World Netball Championships will be held in Singapore in July.

Everard said that after examining a number of options, the league was satisfied that the proposed 2011 schedule offers the best possible outcome for both the competition and players, in what will be a busy year for international netball.

“There is no doubt that 2011’s netball calendar has posed some interesting challenges”, he said.  “However, it’s also a very exciting year for the sport, with the World Netball Championships representing the pinnacle of elite netball competition.

“One of our main priorities was to ensure that all players would be available for the full 2011 season, including the regular season and the Finals Series, as well as offering the athletes sufficient preparation time for Singapore in July.

“After three successful seasons to date, it was important to ensure that the integrity of the ANZ Championship competition was maintained, and not deliver a ‘watered-down’ version in 2011”, he said.  “We’re confident that we have developed a schedule which delivers on all of these objectives”.

While the full roster of 69 “home and away” games will be maintained, the 2011 season will feature three “double rounds”, which will see seven or eight games played rather than the traditional four or five. This will condense the season to 15 weeks rather than the previous 17 weeks.

Other features of the 2011 season include:
·         The removal of the “bye” rounds
·         Maintaining the existing format of all Australian and New Zealand teams playing the other teams from within their countries both home and away, and each team from the other side of the Tasman either home or away
·         Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday matches
·         The trialing of Thursday night matches during the double rounds

In three years, the ANZ Championship has rapidly evolved in to the world’s premier netball league.  Featuring five New Zealand and five Australian teams, the competition also includes a number of outstanding international players, including Jamaican stars Romelda Aiken and Carla Borrego, and the England’s Sonia Mkoloma and Geva Mentor.

The complete draw for the 2011 ANZ Championship will be announced in September.

2010 ANZ Championship – don’t miss a minute of the hottest game in town! You can catch every minute of the ANZ Championship action on Network Ten (TEN and ONE) in Australia and SKY Sport in New Zealand.

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