England Netball and the Vitality Netball Superleague have announce a new fixture for the 2021 netball calendar – a three-match Vitality Netball Legends Series that will see the Vitality Roses take on an international Vitality Netball Superleague ‘All Stars’ side, set to take place next week (January 20, 22, 24).
The event will see the most exciting English talent go head-to-head with a host of international and homegrown players in the Vitality Netball Superleague, including the likes of Malawian and Manchester Thunder player Joyce Mvula, New Zealand international and Severn Stars’ Liana Leota, and Ugandan and Loughborough Lightning shooter Mary Cholhok.
The newly created series will be played across three matches and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Mix, Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube, replacing the originally planned Jamaica series that was postponed due to extended restrictions to travel between the two nations.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the games will be played behind closed doors with strict COVID testing and protocols in place as per Government guidance relating to elite sport, with player and staff safety paramount. Both sides will be tested regularly and form elite sport isolation bubbles in the lead up to the series.
The Vitality Roses squad remains unchanged to the one announced to face Jamaica (shown here) and the teams will still play for the Jean Hornsby Cup, named in celebration of the first Black England netball player and all her achievements on the court.
Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, commented: “After extensive planning and contact with Public Health England, we are delighted to announce these exciting new fixtures which will see elite netball back on our screens. With all players from both sides already being in the UK before the Government restrictions to travel were introduced, it seemed like a great opportunity to create this unique fixture and get our elite players back on court.
“These games are happening because of a tremendous team effort behind the scenes, and thanks to a strong partnership with the Vitality Netball Superleague clubs who have helped us to bring these special fixtures to life. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone, including our fantastic partners, for making this event happen in such challenging times.
“I look forward to seeing the entire group of players from both teams taking to the court to inspire generations of women and girls to play the game – we know how important the sport is to our Netball Family, players and everyone involved in the game, and hope that this series gives fans something really special to look forward to during such a difficult time for the nation.”
Vitality Roses Head Coach, Jess Thirlby, added: “This series will provide vital exposure for both netball and women’s sport as a whole and will enable the Vitality Roses to gain valuable on court time as we look towards the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“We have a real wealth of talent in the Vitality Roses squad and the Vitality Netball Superleague clubs and I am sure netball fans the length and breadth of the country will be excited to see live elite netball and their favourite players for club and country return to the court for what promises to be a brilliant series of netball.
“The players from both sides are excited to be a part of this special series, and we are all looking forward to getting the games underway, giving our fans a glimpse of what is to come for domestic netball in this country.”
Vitality Rose and co-captain for the series, Serena Guthrie said: “A huge thank you to England Netball and the Vitality Netball Superleague clubs for supporting this exciting concept at such short notice. It is a proud moment for English netball to see everyone pulling together and showing a united front for the good of the game. Without the support of the clubs, we wouldn’t have any matches, it’s that simple. This series is bigger than all of us it’s about the fans, the players, the clubs and the whole netball community. We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it all.”
The All Stars squad will be coached by Manchester Thunder’s Karen Greig, with Wasps Netball’s Mel Mansfield and Roses Academy Head Coach Sheonah Forbes acting as Assistant Coaches for the series.
On leading the All Stars team, Karen Greig said: “This series is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the talent in the Vitality Netball Superleague, give some of the international new-comers the chance to make their mark on the domestic game, and enables our players to get vital court time at the highest level.”
The full dates and time of each fixture are as follows:
• 20 January at 6pm
• 22 January at 6pm
• 24 January at 6.30pm
The full All Stars squad will be announced early next week.
Find out more here.