Netball Superleague: why 2019 could be a huge year for the sport
Viewing figures have doubled in past 12 months and interest is at all-time high ahead of World Cup this summer
The 2019 Netball Superleague launches this weekend following a stellar year for the England Roses.
The national side won the awards for the team and greatest moment of the year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show after their dramatic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games - and now “the country is gearing up for the start of what promises to be the biggest netball season ever”, says The Daily Telegraph.
This month also sees an international quad series featuring England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – the four best teams in the world. The contest will serve as a warm-up for the Netball World Cup, taking place in Liverpool in July. Some 75,000 tickets have already been sold.
The popularlity of the game has surged in recent years, with more people now playing netball than cricket.
The Superleague season starts with five back-to-back matches featuring all ten teams at the Birmingham Arena on Sunday, with the games shown live on Sky Sports.
The broadcaster has screened netball since 2016, and saw viewing figures double in 2018.
Wasps Netball are being tipped to take the title for a third consecutive year. The Coventry-based side was founded by the Premiership Rugby side of the same name in 2016 and has won the Superleague for the past two seasons.
But they are not the only side with a rugby connection, after Saracens this week bought a 50% stake in the Hertfordshire Mavericks franchise, which has been renamed Saracens Mavericks.
“The rugby union and netball clubs will share resources related to elite player performance, have access to a wider fanbase, commit to community outreach programmes and integrate key business functions,” reports the BBC.
The 2019 season will also feature a team from the capital for the first time, London Pulse, who will play their home games at the Copper Box Arena, where the national side also compete.