Australian Diamonds History

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Few people would have realised what was to come when the first Australian team, selected following the 1934 National Carnival in Brisbane and led by captain Ethel McCarthy, defeated Victoria in a game marking the city of Melbourne’s centenary in 1934.

It wouldn’t be until four years later that the Australian team would play international netball, then known as women’s basketball, for the first time against New Zealand, in Melbourne on 20 August 1938.

1938 First Australian Team_webWithout knowing, those in attendance at the All Australian Carnival, later known as the National Netball Championships, witnessed the origin of what would become one of the most recognisable sports brands in Australia – The Australian Netball Diamonds.

Australia winning the maiden international, defeating New Zealand 40-11, setting the tone for the future of Australian netball.

A year later, an Australian team was selected to tour New Zealand, although with the outbreak of war the tour was abandoned and it was not until 1948 that a tour took place.

Australia by this time was playing a seven-a-side game but New Zealand (until 1956) played nine-a-side, although the seven-a-side game was played on this tour.

Despite a decade between the first international Test and the maiden Tour of New Zealand, Australia continued its winning start to international netball by claiming victories in all three Test matches in Dunedin (27-26), New Plymouth (44-13) and Auckland (44-22).

A new chapter in Australian netball history was written in 1956 when Australian embarked by ship on its maiden voyage to England, the birthplace of netball.

1963 Australian Netball Team (WNC)On route to the England, Australia contested its first international Test match against an opponent other than New Zealand when the ship stopped off in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Australia defeating Ceylon 22-12 at St. Bridget’s Convent in Colombo on 11 February 1956 before returning for another match on their return following the Tour of England.

Despite having to adapt to different rules, Australia won 54 of 57 games, including Tests against Scotland (25-7) and England (14-11) at Wembley Stadium before a crowd of more than 5,000.

25 years after Australia’s first international netball match between against New Zealand, Australia won the 1st World Tournament at Chelsea College PE, Eastbourne, England.

Coached by Lorna McConchie and captained by Pat Doherty (nee McCarthy), Australia went through undefeated with ten consecutive victories, including a thrilling 37-36 victory over New Zealand.

Without international netball between the first and second world championships, the defending champions relinquished the crown in 1967 after being defeated on the final day of the tournament 40-34 by New Zealand – only Australia’s second loss to their Tasman rivals in seven Tests.

Australia’s exposure to international netball was limited to the quadrennial World Tournaments until 1978 when the national team departed for its second Tour of England, 22 years after being the first overseas team to tour the United Kingdom.

In 1984, Australia continued its early dominance over New Zealand when the first 21/U national team, the Young Australians, won all three matches on the tour.

1991 World Netball Championships 8_Michael SzabathOver the next five years, legends of Australian Netball were inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame with former captain Margaret Caldow OAM BEM the first in 1985.

Iconic names such as Jean Cowan MBE, Anne Sargeant, Joyce Brown and Deidre Hyland would follow.

The sport has continued flourish internationally since netball was added to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, after being a demonstration sport at the 1990 Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

Nearly 80 years after the birth of Australian international netball, the team was finally given a name on September 8 2008 when Netball Australia unveiled the Australian Netball Diamonds.

With only 170 green and gold representatives, winning 11 of 13 World Championships and three Commonwealth Games gold medals, the Diamonds continue to strive for excellence both on and off the court.

Netball World Cup Results – Australia

1963, Eastbourne, England – Gold

1967, Perth, Australia – Silver

1971, Kingston, Jamaica – Gold

1975, Auckland, New Zealand – Gold

1979, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago – Gold (joint winners with New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago)

1983, Singapore City, Singapore – Gold

1987, Glasgow, Scotland – Silver

1991, Sydney, Australia – Gold

1995, Birmingham, England – Gold

1999, Christchurch, New Zealand – Gold

2003, Kingston, Jamaica – Silver

2007, Auckland, New Zealand – Gold

2011, Singapore City, Singapore – Gold

2015, Sydney, Australia – Gold


Commonwealth Games Results – Australia

1998, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Gold

2002, Manchester, England – Gold

2006, Melbourne, Australia – Silver

2010, New Delhi, India – Silver

2014, Glasgow, Scotland – Gold

2018, Gold Coast, Australia – Silver