Diamonds’ dream draw in 2023 Netball World Cup
AUSTRALIA came away a huge winner from the 2023 Netball World Cup draw overnight – at least from the initial group stage – by drawing two teams who have only attended one previous World Cup. The world number one Diamonds could not have asked for a better draw first-up, with only one group opponent – Fiji – being a regular at the event.
The Diamonds received eighth seeded Tonga as expected in the group, with the Tala earning the spot after going through the 2023 Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifiers undefeated. That result saw them bolt up from 19th to eighth, knocking Wales out of the crucial seeded spot. What that meant was the fact that Tonga would only receive one other top eight nation in its group, maximising the Tala’s chances of advancing to the next stage.
Pool A also drew Zimbabwe and Fiji, with only the latter having played at more than one previous Netball World Cup. After missing out on making the top twelve last World Cup, Fiji would be in with a chance to join fellow Oceanic nation Tonga in the next stage, just needing to finish in the top three out of four to book its place in Preliminaries Stage Two.
>> For a detailed explanation on the format of the Netball World Cup, scroll down
In the other groups, Pool B looms as a potential danger group, with Malawi, Scotland and Barbados joining England in that pool. Though the Roses will be heavily backed to finish top, the battle between Malawi and Scotland will be fascinating to see who can remain in contention for a top eight spot.
Pool C is equally intriguing. Though it houses the second lowest ranked team at the event in Sri Lanka, Jamaica and South Africa will be battling for top spot, while Wales is forever a dark horse, and has improved in recent years. If the Proteas can bring their A-Game they will be keen to upset the Commonwealth Games Silver Medallists.
Pool D has world number two New Zealand as the clear standouts, with Uganda and Trinidad & Tobago fighting it out for second. Singapore ranked at 34th in the world is 18 spots lower than Fiji as the true underdog of the tournament. Though not expected to win a match, the Asian nation rarely gets the chance to face a team like the Silver Ferns and will gain great experience from the clash.
Though all 16 nations are given a fighting chance, realistically only two – Australia and New Zealand – have claimed a Netball World Cup in the past 40 years. Aside from Trinidad & Tobago’s golden era of 1979, the remaining 16 World Cups have gone to the Constellation Cup opponents. Australia has 11 trophies and New Zealand five, with the pair making up 28 of the 32 World Cup Final spots.
The last nation to make a World Cup final that was not either Australia or New Zealand was South Africa in 1995. However times have changed in recent years with England winning the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and Jamaica defeating Australia at the more recent Games at Birmingham before going down in the final. Both the Sunshine Girls and Roses are always a threat to the top two, with the four predictably expected to meet in the semi-finals.
NETBALL WORLD CUP FORMAT
PRELIMINARY GROUP STAGE
The 16 qualifying nations are sorted into four groups of four, with the eighth seeds evenly spread out so that the top seed meets the eighth seed, second faces the seventh, third locks horns with the sixth and fourth goes head-to-head with the fifth. After playing three round robin games, the top three teams in each group qualify for the Preliminary Group Stage II.
PRELIMINARY GROUP STAGE II
The four lowest rank nations in each group advance to Group E. This group is the one that will decide the World Cup placings 13th to 16th. For an example, if the World Cup went to expectations with world rankings, this is how it would look:
|4th in Group A (eg. Fiji)|
|4th in Group B (eg. Barbados)|
|4th in Group C (eg. Sri Lanka)|
|4th in Group D (eg. Singapore)|
For the remaining 12 teams, they are split into two groups of six to determine who makes the semi-finals. What is known is the fact that the top three teams from Group A and the top three teams from Group B will form Group F, while the top two three teams from each of Group C and Group D make up Group G.
|GROUP F||GROUP G|
|1st in Group A (eg. Australia)||1st in Group C (eg. Jamaica)|
|1st in Group B (eg. England)||1st in Group D (eg. New Zealand)|
|2nd in Group A (eg. Tonga)||2nd in Group C (eg. South Africa)|
|2nd in Group B (eg. Malawi)||2nd in Group D (eg. Uganda)|
|3rd in Group A (eg. Zimbabwe)||3rd in Group C (eg. Wales)|
|3rd in Group B (eg. Scotland)||3rd in Group D (eg. Trinidad & Tobago)|
From here it is rather more conventional. The previous matches each nation within a group counts towards the Group F and Group G standings. Therefore they only face the three teams from the opposite groups.
The two finishing nations qualify for the knockout semi-finals, with the third and fourth placed nations in each group going to the 5th to 8th knockout spots. The nations finishing fifth and sixth will face the respective fifth and sixth nation to determine the spots ninth through 12th.
Using the above group example and world rankings, Wales would play Scotland for ninth and 10th, Zimbabwe would face Trinidad & Tobago for 11th and 12th. Meanwhile Tonga, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda go to the 5th to 8th spots, with the third placed team in each group playing the respective fourth placed team, then the winners from those matches determine fifth and sixth.
The whips get really cracking at the semi-final stage with the top team from each group playing the respective second placed team from the other group in the semis. From there, the two winners advance to the final, and the two losers play off in the Bronze Medal Match.