ANZ Championship: A Comprehensive Guide to Netball in NZ

Irene van Dyk

The ANZ Championship was established in 2008 as a joint venture between Netball New Zealand and Netball Australia. It aimed to provide a high level of competition for players and to promote the sport to a wider audience.

Table of Contents

How the ANZ Championship Works

The ANZ Championship is split into two conferences: the Australian Conference and the New Zealand Conference. Each team plays every other team in their conference twice, once at home and once away. They also play each team in the other conference once, alternating between home and away matches each year.

During the regular season, teams earn points for each win or draw. The top four teams at the end of the regular season advance to the finals’ series. The team with the most points is awarded the minor premiership.

In the finals series, the teams compete in a knockout format. The first round of the finals series is the semi-finals, with the top-placed team playing the fourth-placed team and the second-placed team playing the third-placed team. The winners of these matches progress to the grand final, where they compete for the ANZ Championship trophy. If the scores are tied at the end of the grand final, extra time is played to determine the winner.

ANZ Championship History

The ANZ Championship was a professional netball league that brought together two countries that both held a deep-rooted passion for netball. Netball is a fast-paced team sport primarily played by women, characterised by strategic passing, quick footwork, and precise shooting. It involves two teams of seven players competing on a rectangular court to score points by shooting the ball through a raised ring.

Unique features of the game include a specialized ball, designated player positions, and restrictions on where players can move and shoot from. The ANZ Championship also enabled players to gain international exposure and recognition, paving the way for them to become global icons in the sport. Its inception in 2008 marked a new era in the sport, providing a stage for the best netball players to showcase their skills, strategies, and athleticism.

ANZ Championship: A Comprehensive Guide to Netball in NZ​

Impact on Netball

The league had a considerable impact on the development of netball, particularly among teams, fans, and players residing in Australia and New Zealand. It contributed to the growth of the sport by introducing innovative rules, modernising facilities, and enhancing the overall standard of play. The ANZ Championship also provided a pathway for young players to pursue professional careers in netball, inspiring future generations of netballers to take up the sport.

Featured Teams

The tournament featured ten teams. Five teams hailed from down under in Australia and the other half were from New Zealand. These teams included the Melbourne Vixens, New South Wales Swifts, Adelaide Thunderbirds, Queensland Firebirds, Central Pulse, Northern Mystics, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Canterbury Tactix, Southern Steel, and the West Coast Fever. Each team comprised twelve players, with seven starting and five reserves.

The ANZ Championship Tournament

The ANZ Championship was an exceptional tournament that captured the hearts of millions of netball enthusiasts worldwide. The tournament did a spectacular job of showcasing the fast-paced and skilful game of netball. The grand final of the ANZ Championship was the highlight of the tournament. The high-stakes grand final is when the two best teams clash in the hopes that they will be taking home the championship title. The final match of the 2013 season between the Queensland Firebirds and Adelaide Thunderbirds set the record for the highest attendance of any domestic netball match in the world.

The Fans

As is the case with similar sports, it is ultimately the fans who are providing the extra propellent that gives the players and teams the extra push needed to be truly successful. The league had a massive following, with millions of fans worldwide tuning in to watch the matches. The fans were the backbone of the league, providing the teams with unwavering support and making the ANZ Championship a success.

The league had a significant impact on the development of netball, introducing innovative rules, modernising facilities, and enhancing the overall standard of play. The ANZ Championship also provided a pathway for young players to pursue professional careers in netball, inspiring future generations of netballers to take up the sport.

The demise in 2016

The ANZ Championship ended due to financial difficulties, increasing competition from other leagues, logistical challenges, and struggles to secure consistent sponsorship and media coverage. The Championship came to a close in 2016, leaving behind a legacy of world-class netball and inspiring performances.

In response to the ANZ Championship’s closure, two new leagues emerged as replacements – the Suncorp Super Netball in Australia and the ANZ Premiership in New Zealand. These new leagues offered a more localised format, catering to the needs of their respective regions and providing a platform for the best netball players to showcase their skills. With larger audiences and more robust financial backing, these leagues have proven to be successful successors to the ANZ Championship, carrying on its proud legacy of exceptional netball.

Despite its end, the ANZ Championship remains a significant part of netball history and continues to inspire players and leagues around the world.

The competitive format of the ANZ Championship

The ANZ Championship utilised a round-robin format, wherein each team played against one another twice – once at home and once away.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the top four teams earned their place in the playoffs, a thrilling stage in the competition consisting of two semi-finals and a grand final. The semi-finals saw the teams ranked first and fourth, as well as second and third, competing against each other in a showdown of their skills and determination. The victors of these fiercely contested matches earned their place in the grand final, a climactic encounter held at a neutral venue.

In the unlikely event that the score was tied at the end of regular time in a playoff match, extra time was awarded to decide the winner. If the match was still a tie after extra time, a “golden goal” rule would come into effect. The golden goal rule breaks the tie by giving the match win to the first team to score in the next two-minute period.

Forging a Legacy in Trans-Tasman Netball

The ANZ Championship stands as a cornerstone in the history of netball, etching its mark as a groundbreaking tournament that brought together teams from Australia and New Zealand. Launched in 2008, this elite competition showcased the highest level of netball, captivating audiences and revolutionising the way the sport was played. Comprising five teams from each nation, the league’s format fostered fierce rivalries and intense competition, showcasing the finest athletes from both sides of the Tasman Sea. Over its almost 10-year lifespan, the ANZ Championship grew to become a focal point of netball culture, fostering talent, innovation, and excitement that transcended national borders.

ANZ Championship’s Societal and Cultural Impact

The ANZ Championship’s influence extended beyond the court, resonating in the cultural and societal fabric of both Australia and New Zealand. It not only elevated the visibility of the sport but also inspired a new generation of players and fans. By pitting the best against the best, the league showcased that gendered norms were shifting, offering women an unparalleled platform to display their athletic prowess. The fierce rivalry between the Australian and New Zealand teams nurtured a sense of camaraderie among fans, uniting people across borders through their shared passion for netball.

Rising Stars and Emerging Talents

One of the ANZ Championship’s most enduring legacies is its role as a breeding ground for emerging talents and rising stars. The league provided a platform for young players to showcase their skills alongside established veterans, thus accelerating their development. Notably, athletes like Laura Langman, Sharni Layton, and Maria Tutaia blossomed on this stage, later becoming prominent figures on the international netball scene.

Tactics, Strategies, and Team Dynamics

The ANZ Championship was a crucible of innovation in netball tactics and strategies. Coaches and players were compelled to explore new approaches to gain an edge in the highly competitive environment. The fast-paced gameplay demanded quicker decision-making, refined teamwork, and dynamic positional play. The league’s emphasis on adaptability paved the way for a more versatile style of netball, which later influenced international competitions.

Celebrating ANZ Championship’s Enthusiastic Supporters

The fervour and passion exhibited by fans during the ANZ Championship matches were nothing short of electrifying. The league’s ardent supporters created an atmosphere that encapsulated the spirit of competition and unity. From colourful banners to coordinated chants, these fans transformed arenas into cauldrons of energy, showcasing the deep emotional connection they had with the league and their respective teams.

The Demise of ANZ Championship: Factors Behind the Evolution

Despite its monumental success, the ANZ Championship eventually reached a crossroads. In 2016, the league disbanded due to logistical and financial challenges, leading to the formation of separate leagues in Australia and New Zealand. The decision marked the end of an era, sparking debates about the impact of the split. Some argued that the ANZ Championship’s dissolution disrupted the trans-Tasman rivalry, while others believed that the new structure would enable each country to focus on its domestic competition and player development.

Teams in the ANZ Championship

The ten teams in the ANZ Championship are split into two groups, the Australian teams and the New Zealand teams. Here’s a bit of background information about each country’s love for netball.

Netball in Australia

Netball is one of Australia’s most popular sports, with over 1.2 million registered players across the country. The Australian Diamonds, the national netball team, is one of the most successful teams in the world, having won multiple World Championships and Commonwealth Games gold medals.

Here are the five teams from Australia that participate in the ANZ Championship.

  • Adelaide Thunderbirds
  • Melbourne Vixens
  • New South Wales Swifts
  • Queensland Firebirds
  • West Coast Fever

Netball in New Zealand

Netball is the most popular women’s sport in New Zealand, with over 120,000 registered players. The Silver Ferns, New Zealand’s national netball team, are one of the most successful teams in the world, having won multiple World Championships and Commonwealth Games gold medals.

The following are Kiwi teams that play in the ANZ Championship.

  • Northern Mystics
  • Northern Stars
  • Central Pulse
  • Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
  • Mainland Tactix

ANZ Championship Season

The ANZ Championship season usually runs from March to July, with games held on weekends, so it contributes a chunk to netball in NZ. Fans can watch the matches live at various venues across New Zealand and Australia, or on television. The league also has a strong online presence, with live-streaming and social media coverage allowing fans to stay updated with the latest news, scores, and highlights.

Famous players over the years

The ANZ Championship was a breeding ground for top netball talent, with several players who honed their skills in the tournament going on to become stars of the sport. The ANZ Championship featured many world-class netball players over the years, both from Australia and New Zealand, as well as other countries. Some of the most famous ANZ players include:

Irene van Dyk

A New Zealand shooter who is widely regarded as one of the greatest netball players of all time. Van Dyk played for Central Pulse and Southern Steel in the ANZ Championship and was known for her accuracy and consistency on the court.

Sharelle McMahon

An Australian shooter who played for the Melbourne Vixens in the ANZ Championship.

Laura Geitz

An Australian defender who played for the Queensland Firebirds in the ANZ Championship. Geitz was a formidable presence on the court and helped the Firebirds win three ANZ Championship titles.

Maria Tutaia

A New Zealand shooter who played for the Northern Mystics in the ANZ Championship. Tutaia was known for her long-range shooting and was a key player for the New Zealand national team.

Catherine Cox

An Australian shooter who played for the West Coast Fever in the ANZ Championship.

Southern Steel​

How to Follow the ANZ Championship in New Zealand

If you’re a netball fan in New Zealand, there are many ways to keep up with ANZ. The league has a strong presence on television, with games broadcast live on Sky Sport. You can also catch up on the latest highlights and news through various sports channels, such as Stuff Sport and Newshub Sport.

For those who prefer to watch the games live, tickets are available for matches held at various venues across the country. The ANZ website provides information on upcoming games, venues, and ticket prices.

If you’re unable to attend the games or watch them on television, you can still stay up to date with the latest news, scores, and highlights through the website and social media.


Tournament Future Editions

Following the ANZ Championship’s disbandment, Australia and New Zealand opted to pursue their netball ambitions through separate leagues. The Australian Super Netball and the New Zealand ANZ Premiership emerged as the successors to the trans-Tasman rivalry, offering a new chapter in netball history. These leagues retained the intense competition while fostering local talent development.

ANZ Championship’s Influence on Player Development

The ANZ Championship’s impact on player development remained enduring. The fierce competition experienced in the league served as a proving ground for players aspiring to represent their respective national teams. The experience gained from facing world-class opponents translated into improved skills, game intelligence, and adaptability, which played a pivotal role in elevating players’ international careers.

Iconic Moments and Memorable Matches

The ANZ Championship was replete with iconic moments and matches that have left an indelible mark on netball history. From last-minute buzzer-beaters to underdog triumphs, these instances embodied the heart and soul of the league. The rivalry between teams like the Queensland Firebirds and the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic yielded some of the most exhilarating showdowns, showcasing the very best of the league’s competitive nature.

Honouring Lesser-Known Stars of the ANZ Championship

While star players often took the spotlight, the league was also a stage for unsung heroes whose contributions were no less significant. The dedication and commitment of these players, who might not have received the same level of recognition as their more famous counterparts, were essential to the league’s success. Their stories remind us that the ANZ Championship was a collective effort that relied on the efforts of every player, irrespective of their fame.

Connections and Collaborations

The ANZ Championship also fostered connections and collaborations that extended beyond the court. Through community engagement programs, partnerships with local businesses, and support from governing bodies, the league contributed positively to the broader society. The players’ involvement in social initiatives and youth development programs exemplified the league’s commitment to giving back to the community.


The ANZ Championship was a groundbreaking tournament that united teams from Australia and New Zealand, elevating netball’s visibility and showcasing women’s athleticism on a grand stage. Its fierce competition and innovative gameplay marked a shift in the sport’s landscape, leaving an enduring legacy.

The league’s competitive environment compelled coaches and players to innovate in tactics and strategies, leading to faster decision-making, versatile positional play, and dynamic teamwork. These developments influenced netball at large and shaped the way the game is played internationally.

The ANZ Championship challenged traditional gender norms by providing women with a powerful platform to demonstrate their sporting prowess. It fostered a sense of unity among fans across borders and inspired a new generation of players and supporters.