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New domestic tournament structure confirmed

Netball New Zealand will implement two new tournaments next year following consultation with the netball community as part of the High Performance review.

From 2020 a New Zealand Open Championship and National U18 Championship are set to replace the current U19 and U17 national tournaments traditionally played in July.

The new U18 age group event will remain in the second week of the July school holidays while the Open is likely to be contested early to mid-September outside the school holidays.

The netball competition structure was considered during the second phase of the High Performance review, building on recommendations from the 2015 competitions review which identified a gap in opportunities for athletes who develop later in their playing careers.

The changes are intended to broaden the base of athletes able to participate at a national event, while maintaining high performance resources targeted at ANZ Premiership and Beko Netball League.

The purpose for the New Zealand Open Championship is to cater for netballers who want to represent their Centres at a national level. The one-week tournament will also work well for those unable to commit to the Beko Netball League which is played over a three-month period.

The review indicated that lifting an age group event to Under 18 would ensure the majority of school aged athletes would be eligible for this competition, keeping opportunities for players, coaches and officials as accessible as possible.

The New Zealand Secondary Schools Champs will remain in place, involving the country’s top 16 schools drawn from the three regional events held during winter tournament week.

Entries for the new National U18 and New Zealand Open Championship will be made up of teams representing Centres.