Belfast Telegraph

Gold Coast hopes now hinge on new rankings


By Richard Bullick

Northern Ireland's netballers face an anxious weekend waiting for official confirmation of their Commonwealth Games qualification fate.

Elaine Rice's side gave their prospects of reaching Gold Coast 2018 a big boost by winning last week's Quad Series tournament at Lisburn Racquets.

They defeated Barbados 35-33 in a thrilling final, their second win in three days over their Caribbean opponents, who are ranked ninth in the world.

Teams need to be in the top 12 in the World rankings by today's official cut-off date to qualify for next spring's Games in Australia.

However, the International Netball Federation confirmed yesterday that the all-important updated rankings won't now be released until early next week.

With so many matches in the last few weeks, and a sophisticated formula, it is a mathematically complex picture with the outcome considered too close to call.

Barbados secured their place prior to the Quad Series by upsetting neighbouring giants Jamaica in a one-off Test and whitewashing Trinidad 3-0 in a Test series.

It had been anticipated that two wins over Barbados would be sufficient to secure qualification for the girls in green.

However, Uganda's shock victory over a Malawi side ranked sixth in the world, which could see them overhaul Northern Ireland in the standings, has caused consternation.

Uganda also picked up points in an African competition to boost their hopes.

Belfast Telegraph


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