African countries have maintained their Top Ten positions in the latest world netball rankings, while the top two teams are finding the chasing pack snapping at their heels.
The latest rankings issued by the International Netball Federation include the recent Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast.
South Africa finished fifth in the Commonwealth Games netball tournament, and retained their fifth place ranking.
Malawi caused a major upset when they beat New Zealand in the round robin phase of the tournament and this memorable victory helped them to strengthen their sixth place ranking, while Uganda, who are improving with every appearance, remained in seventh position.
England’s historic win over Australia in the Commonwealth Games final means they are closing in on second ranked New Zealand, while Jamaica, the bronze medallists at the Games, are closing in on third ranked England.
Australia and New Zealand retained their positions at number one and two, but it is clear that the chasing pack is beginning to narrow the gap between the top two teams and the rest.
Netball South Africa (NSA) chief executive Blanche de la Guerre said it was heartening that African countries had retained their positions among the top countries.
“Our goal is for the SPAR Proteas to break into the top four,” she said. “To achieve that, we have to manage our international programme very carefully. We need to continue to play sides that are ranked above us, and not play as many against lower-ranked teams.
“The Quad Series, where we play against the three top ranked countries, Australia, New Zealand and England, has proved very important. Not only are the SPAR Proteas exposed to some of the best netball players in the world, but we earn more ratings points by playing these teams.
“We believe that the day we break into the top four is not that far off,” said De la Guerre.
Photo 1 caption: Tough competition have hardened the SPAR Proteas (Pictured from left to right) Bongi Msomi (Captain), Precious Mthembu, Ine-Marie Venter, Phumza Maweni, Lenize Potgieter, Danelle Lochner, Zanele Vimbela, Maryka Holtzhausen, Karla Pretorius (Vice Captain), Izette Grisel, Erin Burger and Shadine van der Merwe. The national netball side have consolidated their world no. 5 ranking, the International Netball Federation’s latest rankings reveal. Photo: Supplied