Vitality Netball Superleague: Tamsin Greenway talks points allocation and permutationsJune 17, 2021
With one set of regular-season matches to go, Tamsin Greenway discusses Round 19, points allocation and the permutations at the top of the Vitality Netball Superleague table.
Let’s start with the excitement of Round 19 and more importantly, Saracens Mavericks’ win over Team Bath.
It was Mavericks’ second win of the season over Bath and it arrived as a result of a solid performance, but I still don’t think many of us saw it coming. The way in which they took it Bath early on, with a 12-5 first quarter, and then had the ability to get it over the line was impressive.
However, when Mavs stepped back onto court 24 hours later at the Copper Box, they weren’t able to produce the same level of performance against London Pulse and duly lost, therefore ruining their play-off hopes.
Emotional rollercoaster of a weekend which unfortunately sums up our season. The unpredictability of sport is why we all love it so despite the disappointment, I’m truly grateful to step out on court to play the game I love. Thanks @SaracensMavs fans for your support 🔴⚫️
Pulse, well take nothing away from Pulse, they were absolutely outstanding. The Olivia Tchine and Ash Dekker partnership was at another level, and shall we just take a moment to talk about Funmi Fadoju? Is it too early to say that I think she’s going to make England’s Commonwealth Games squad?
The Games will come after another 12 months of development for a player who is already getting better and better, not only with her work in defence but also with her through-court play. Just think where Funmi’s game is going to be in a year’s time, but anyway enough of that for now…
So, we all went on this crazy rollercoaster weekend, with Sirens sitting in fourth after 19 rounds and Wasps having to wait for their re-arranged fixture and hoping that other things happen, to suddenly the top four being decided off the court as Rhinos were allocated the points for their final two matches.
Now, even though the rule was a rule and had been there since the first round, it did feel like a massive anti-climax…
For starters, let’s address the rule in itself, there are two issues in my book and the first, it’s transparency.
Now, we actually did talk about this rule during one of our Monday night programmes earlier in the season, but it was completely by accident if I’m honest. Eboni Usoro-Brown, who was in the studio that night, happened to mention this rule relating to COVID-19 cancellations and points being allocated to the team that had won the previous encounter. I, and the others who weren’t aware of the rule, asked her more about it and to discuss it on air.
The issue for me, is that the clubs knew about it, the players knew about it and if you watched that specific evening of coverage on Sky Sports, then you knew about it. However, if you missed that evening of netball, then you would have had no idea about the ruling.
Netball, and we’ve spoken about it before in this column, still needs to be more transparent with how it interacts with its media and more importantly, with its fan base. If there’s not that transparency then it can cause all kinds of debates, and not necessarily the kind of debates you want.
Not how we wanted or envisaged the story to unfold at all! 🤯
But we’re so GRATEFUL & PROUD to have qualified for finals in our inaugural season.
After iso is done, it will be a very quick build up to finals, but like always, we will give this opportunity EVERYTHING we’ve got! https://t.co/Ivb8Eub8QT
As I said, the rule was given to clubs at the start of the season, so I’ve spoken to a few more people about it to understand more around its genesis.
When the league restarted, there was a real concern about how players and staff involved in Superleague squads could remain COVID-19 free for the whole season, given that so many have other jobs too. A huge amount of credit should be given to the league and the competition to get where it has got to, without having any other matches impacted by COVID-19.
I think that the league and clubs thought that there might be more disruptions throughout the season, so actually having this rule about allocating points, it was designed to be a way of protecting the league and getting to a result this season.
It meant that if you could get one whole set of matches, where every team played the other at least once, then at least you could complete the competition with this rule. So, I think that was more the thought process surrounding its implementation, as opposed to what happens if we make it all the way through the season without disruptions, and then something happens?
Vitality Netball Superleague – Round 20 fixtures
One wider point, is around the calendar of fixtures and why wasn’t there a bye weekend put in place between the end of the regular season and the semi-finals? A week’s buffer, just in case… I’m guessing there must have been scheduling and performance issues around that?
If next season is going to be played in the backdrop of the crazy world that we’re living in now, then I think that this rule and the schedule should be readdressed to consider more what-ifs, and to make sure we don’t have a finish like this again.
One thing I am keen to know now, is what is the ruling if something happens within the finals week or on finals weekend itself? Do Wasps, Strathclyde Sirens and Mavericks need to fight hard in Round 20 for points and goal difference, just in case the fifth-place team is ‘promoted’? I think that it needs to be made clear ahead of finals week starting, because there must be conversations going on about it now and it will impact teams in Round 20.
Speaking of Round 20… fourth place may be decided but we do still have a race for top spot on our hands! With Mavericks beating Bath, and Thunder beating Lightning, it means that Bath, Lightning and Thunder could all still finish in first position.
All three could end the regular season on 51 points and top spot would be decided by goal difference. For that scenario to happen, Lightning would need to beat Bath in Round 20 and Thunder must win against Sirens.
Now, Bath and Lightning both have points to prove after their performances in Round 19 and Sirens will want to show just how far they’ve come since Round One and their first meeting with Thunder.
Lightning and Bath both were exposed last weekend, so their match against each other will be vital for their semi-final preparations. Thunder were ruthless against Lightning and if they replicate that again, then they’ll arrive at the semi-finals in incredible shape, but they will have to bring their ‘A’ game against a classy Sirens side.
I know that there’s been a lot of disappointment around the race for fourth ending this way, but seeing how Thunder, Bath and Lightning all perform, will make Round 20 very interesting indeed. It’ll give us so much more insight into the match ups and give us a real taste of what awaits us come semi-final time.
Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday, with three matches back-to-back streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm.
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