Champions Wairarapa College [blue] and Celtic fight for possession in last season’s premier one grand final. Neither team will be in action until the second weekend of grading games. PHOTOS/FILE
Wairarapa netballers are back on court on Saturday for the first day of grading games. However, the premier one sides won’t see any action until the following Saturday.
Teams will play two games of four eight-minute quarters to determine their grading for the championships, which get under way on Saturday, May 21.
The premier one championship will comprise six teams, with five from last year – defending champions Wairarapa College A, Celtic, Harcourts, Carterton, and Greytown to be joined by another team.
That could be a men’s team to provide the premiers more meaningful competition than a reluctant team pushed up from premier two and having large scores posted against them.
Netball Wairarapa general manager Scott Cottier said there was some interest from six or seven men who have played netball previously to form a team.
They’re working on the logistics of how a men’s team could fit into their competitions. That could include games involving the women playing against a men’s team but not for competition points.
The premier one championship will comprise two full rounds with the top four making the semifinals and the final to be played on the week of Saturday, September 3.
Unlike last season, there won’t be promotion or relegation from the premier one grade after the first round.
One major change down the grades will see the establishment of separate secondary school and senior grades below premier four.
Cottier said that having the school teams playing adult teams was far from ideal, and the split into separate grades will alleviate any issues, such as bullying, which has happened.
Playing numbers across the grades were good, Cottier said, saying there’s about the same number of senior teams. Primary school numbers had dropped by about five teams, but he noted there were a lot of boys playing in primary school teams.
Another area of growth is in the umpires ranks, due to the hard work of operations manager Sandy Biel who has 25 umpires ready to take the court, up from the 12 whistlers from 2021.
Saturday’s first round of grading games gets under way at the Trust House Wairarapa Netball Centre on Colombo Rd at 9am, with the final games starting at 2pm.