The ANZ Championship will take on a new look in 2015 after the TTNL Board approved the introduction of Australian and New Zealand Conferences, a restructured six-team finals series and an innovative Challenge Trophy competition, which will run concurrently with the regular season.
“After seven seasons, the ANZ Championship is undergoing a transformation which will give fans of every team more to cheer about and more opportunities to be inspired by the stars of our league as they battle it out for the additional finals series places,” ANZ Championship General Manager Andy Crook said.
“We are committed to ensuring that the ANZ Championship remains a world-class competition and we feel that these initiatives will significantly contribute to the ongoing growth of the league.”
Australia and New Zealand Conferences
The traditional league ladder will be replaced by standalone Australian and New Zealand Conference standings, with all points accumulated during the season to be calculated within individual Conference ladders.
Despite the move to conferences, the season format will remain the same as in the previous seven seasons with each team playing 13 games. Teams will play eight home and away matches against teams within their Conference and five games against teams in the rival conference either at home or away, alternating each year.
“The introduction of Conferences, the biggest change in the competition’s history since its inception in 2008, will ensure a greater number of games have more impact on the makeup of the Finals Series with every win, loss or draw to influence the Conference standings,” Crook said.
Expanded Finals Series
The restructured Finals Series will see the addition of Conference Finals, including a Conference Elimination Final followed by a Conference Final, before an ANZ Championship Finals Series, consisting of Semi-Finals involving teams from both conferences and the Grand Final.
The top three teams from each Conference will progress to the Australian and New Zealand Conference Finals. The first game will see second and third contest the Conference Elimination Final with the winner to take on first place in the Conference Final to decide the Conference Champion.
The two finalists from each of the Australian and New Zealand Conference Finals will progress to the ANZ Championship Semi-Finals where the two Conference Champions will host the loser of the rival Conference Final for a berth in the ANZ Championship Grand Final.
“The ANZ Championship will feature more games than ever before with the expansion of the Finals Series to feature seven games – three more games than any previous season,” Crook said.
“The introduction of Conferences provides our uniquely trans-Tasman league with the opportunity to restructure the Finals Series and recognise a Conference Champion in Australia and New Zealand before the ANZ Championship Finals Series.”
The final initiative for 2015 will be the introduction of the exciting Challenge Trophy concept which will see the trophy holders defend the silverware every time they play at home.
Once a visiting team defeats the trophy holders at home, the trophy is theirs to defend in every home game during the ANZ Championship regular season until they are beaten.
The inaugural holders of the Challenge Trophy will be determined by a lotto-style ballot system leading up to the 2015 ANZ Championship season.
“We’re thrilled that the new challenge competition will be introduced next season. It supports our ambition of establishing a long and proud tradition in the ANZ Championship for many years to come,” Crook said.
The 2015 ANZ Championship gets underway on Saturday 28 February when the Adelaide Thunderbirds host the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic at Netball SA Stadium.