Eastbourne 1963

Programme of the 1963 World Netball Tournament in Eastbourne

Key Statistics

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

Australia team at the 1963 World Netball Cup in Eastbourne

In 1960, in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) World Netball (WN), 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 (now known as the Netball World Cup) 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 at the 1963 World Netball Championships

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 New Zealand team making their six 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 10 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 honour of being the first ever winning captain of the Netball World Cup.

Despite not winning the World Tournament, 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 2024) 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