Newcastle Netball has officially announced its revamped 2020 plans for the Greater Open Championship, following a series of round-table meetings with the eight top-level clubs in the Hunter’s premier competition.
The inner-city netball association will temporarily do away with the planned Greater Bank Series, which was set to begin this year. In its place, the championship, open, and under 23s grades will contest a new combined Greater Club Championship.
“It’s good to be back, finally coming back,” NNA publicity officer Georgia Hernando told the Women’s Chronicle after confirmation Newcastle’s three-tier championship series would return with a slightly different flavour later this month.
“We’re excited. It’s been a lot of hard work and communication between the association and the clubs to get the right information out to everybody. To finally be ready to get back on the court is fantastic, it’s all been quite positive.
“Fingers crossed that everything goes ahead, because I think everyone is very ready to play some netball after such a long wait. We’ve planned for everything as much as we can, and we will respond to each new guideline and update as they come.”
Newcastle Netball has also confirmed the slightly reformatted competition will begin on Saturday, July 25. The Women’s Chronicle expects fixtures for the shortened 10 round season will be released late next week.
The club championship will be decided by total points across all three grades. Points will be awarded per game. At season’s end, the top-scoring club in the cumulative championship will be crowned as the year’s winners.
Each matchday will have three timeslots for Club Championship games: 1.05pm, 2.25pm, and 3.45pm. These are separated slightly to allow all proper COVID-19 cleaning procedures to be run through following each match.
The new-look top-flight competition will also have weekly team lineups confirmed ahead of each match, in accordance with the state-wide one-game per-player per-Saturday policy in effect for all Netball NSW competitions.
Hernando explained the association would be “fairly flexible” with all the matchday rosters for all three grades. “We understand that clubs are going to be figuring out how to manage the new COVID-19 policies, and appreciate that,” she added.
Eight teams were expected to contest the revamped Open Series in 2020. That same lineup — West Leagues, Souths, University (formerly Forsythes), BNC, Nova, Inner Glow, Junction Hotel, Kotara South — will play in the new format competition.
All Newcastle Netball clubs, including the championship rosters, have already been given permission to return to training at the National Park Netball Courts over the next fortnight ahead of the impending July 25 restart date.