The Evolution Of The Netball Superleague

The Vitality Superleague, English netball’s highest level of competition, has seen some of its biggest audiences to date over the past year.

This is in part the result of an enforced central venue allowing for every single game to be broadcast live, giving fans all over the world a chance to see English netball events.

Netball is a sport that has seen a gradual evolution from the grassroots to the elite and began to see high-level domestic competition in England at the end of the 20th Century with the debut of the Super Cup.

The Super Cup, the first elite domestic level competition was initially suggested in 1996 as a way to help improve the international game but took until 2001 to see its inaugural season and its first six teams.

The initial idea was to divide the senior and development international squads into six teams, which became the founding members of the Super Cup:

  • Birmingham Blaze
  • London Hurricanes (Later the Brunel Hurricanes and finally Surrey Storm)
  • Petchey London Tornadoes
  • Northern Thunder (Later Manchester Thunder)
  • Northern Flames (Later Team Northumbria)
  • Team Bath Force (Later Team Bath)

Along with this, each team could draft up to three international players.

The Super Cup in this form survived until 2005 when it was replaced with the more commercially minded Netball Superleague that we know today. Four of the teams changed their names and were part of this new league setup.

In total there have been over 17 different clubs and six different formats, which have adapted and changed to fit the different numbers of teams in the league.

With every match in the league shown this year due to the central locations, Netball is likely to change again at its highest level in 2022.