Eastbourne 1963

Champions: Australia (1st title)

Runners Up: New Zealand

Dates: August 2-14, 1963

Venue: The Chelsea College of Physical Education (Outdoors)

Host City/country: Eastbourne, England

Number of Teams: 11

Matches Played: 55

Number of Goals Scored: 4,207

Australia become the first World Champions



In 1960, in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the INF came into being, then known as The International Federation of Women’s Basketball and Netball Associations (IFWBNA). During the formation, it was decided to hold a full Council Meeting (Congress) and a World Netball Tournament every four years. Three years later the inaugural World Netball Tournament took place in Eastbourne, England, and so the tradition began.

11 teams took part in the first World Netball Tournament, which was held outdoors at the Chelsea College of Physical Education. The tournament was contested in a round robin style format, meaning all teams would play ten games each.




Opening Ceremony


Candle-lighting ceremony 

The tradition of the candle lighting ceremony started at the second netball conference in Ceylon in August 1960 and was a huge inspiration for the event organisers of the 1963 World Cup Conference. They held a similar ceremony for players and administrators, where players stood in front of their international peers for the first time and lit a candle while pledging to play in the spirit of fair play.

The players and administrators would stand before a table with a three dimensional map of the world, with candles being lit to illuminate each competing country. As time has gone on, the candle lighting ceremony has become a symbol for international netball, celebrating the worldwide impact of the sport, a light that represents the history and the camaraderie of the netball.



Team New Zealand making their 6 week journey to England via boat

The Voyage 

Three teams underwent a six week voyage on three separate ships to get to England in order to compete at the event. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa trained and exercised on the decks of their boats to keep fit.

Vice captain of the New Zealand team at the time, Dame Louis Muir said; “We had a fitness routine and did our physical exercises before the deckhands washed the deck in the mornings.”

The youngest player at the tournament was Christine Blake, who played for Sri Lanka and was only 17 years-old.

Australia went undefeated, winning ten straight games to become the first ever World Champions. One of their key victories came against runners up New Zealand, where they secured a one goal victory; 37-36. Australia’s winning captain Joyce Brown had the honor of being the first ever winning captain of the Netball World Cup.

Despite not winning the World Cup, New Zealand did have the highest goal scoring average of the tournament at 71.1% per match. They also set a record that still stands today (January 2022) for winning a World Cup game by the largest margin with their 112-4 victory over Northern Ireland.

Final Standings

1st – Australia

2nd – New Zealand

3rd – England

4th – Trinidad & Tobago

5th – Jamaica

6th – South Africa

7th – West Indies

8th – Scotland

9th – Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

10th – Wales

11th – Northern Ireland





Footage from a game between England and Northern Ireland.

Umpire Norah Pate from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during the Northern Ireland vs Wales match

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