The Australian Netball League has undergone a major overhaul ahead of the 2016 season and will introduce double headers with ANZ Championship matches as part of a new alignment with the world’s best netball league.
The eight-week ANL season has been moved to run in conjunction with the 2016 ANZ Championship and is scheduled to begin on the weekend of 30 April-1 May in Brisbane and Melbourne.
In a major boost to the profile of the competition, six matches during the season will be played as part of double headers with ANZ Championship games.
Two double headers will be played in Melbourne and Adelaide each, with the remaining games to be hosted at major regional centres Newcastle (New South Wales) and the Gold Coast (Queensland).
Reigning ANL champions Victorian Fury will host Canberra Darters in the first ANZ Championship double header following the Melbourne Vixens’ clash with New Zealand side the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at Hisense Arena on Sunday, 1 May.
For the first time since the inaugural ANL season in 2008, Sydney will host the finals weekend on 25-26 June at Netball NSW’s new multi-million dollar facility Netball Central at Sydney Olympic Park.
Entering its ninth season, Netball Australia is committed to ensuring the ANL remains a vital national pathway for athletes, coaches and umpires well into the future.
Netball Australia’s Head of High Performance Andrew Collins said aligning the ANL with the world’s best netball competition would allow for greater movement of athletes between teams.
“The Australian Netball League is a very important competition for the development and progression of our best talent,” Collins said.
“We want to raise the profile of the competition and also allow ANZ Championship contracted athletes to come back and compete on a regular basis during the season.
“We want to continue to challenge our athletes, raise the standard of the ANL and ensure that it continues to be a greater feeder competition to the ANZ Championship. We are confident that the changes implemented for 2016 will do that.”
Collins said the 2016 season would consist of six teams with Tassie Spirit and Territory Storm taking a 12-month break from the competition with a view to returning for 2017.
Both teams have played every season of the ANL since its inception in 2008.
“The 2016 ANL season will be very competitive,” Collins said.
“We are optimistic that the work we are doing in partnership with Netball Tasmania and Netball NT to develop some of their best young talent will see them returning to the ANL with competitive teams in 2017.”
Click here to view the 2016 ANL draw.