1 Nov 2006

Anna Mayes action x3 (GOOD)smallWhile Gareth Jenkins’ Welsh 15 prepares to take on the might of the All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 25th of November, Welsh Netball’s Celtic Dragons outfit will face its own battle at the Welsh Institute of Sport as they enter headlong into their opening fixture of the 2006/2007 Netball Superleague competition.

And the Welsh contingent’s on-court skills and off-court successes will be on show to its largest audience to date as a total of 17 league matches are set to be broadcast on the Sky Sports channels in a landmark deal struck between the global media giant and England Netball.

Chief Executive of Welsh Netball, Sue Holvey sees the deal as an important step forward for the sport:

"Regular week-in week-out netball on a main sports channel will take the sport directly into the homes of netball enthusiasts which they have all craved for a very long time but it will also expose a mass audience of non netball players to our fast and exciting game and profile our star players.

"Netball is a great spectator sport. It is viewed regularly all over the world and now is the time for the UK to see the speed, agility and athleticism of our players.

"I hope that Welsh audiences will come along and support the home matches as well as watch them on TV."

The tournament – which is spread over seven months of gruelling competition - promises to deliver top-class competitive action. And with Commonwealth Games squad players from both Wales and England playing in the eight franchise teams, spectators are guaranteed dynamic and exciting play.

The Celtic Dragons face an opening tie at home to Northern Thunder (North West England) on Saturday 25th of November – a contest which will also mark the coaching debut of the squad’s new Head Honcho, Jessica Garland.

Although better known for her tenure in the England netball team, Garland herself is no stranger to Wales with a Newport born father.

Her long list of netballing credentials has seen her placed in high esteem among her new squad of players. With performances at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, the World Youth Championships and no less than seven European campaigns under her belt, Garland’s CV speaks for itself.

She also played an integral part in Team Bath’s winning Superleague campaign in 2005/2006. And so it seems that the Dragons’ title aspirations are in good hands.

Garland has pulled together a squad of 16 players armed with a heady mix of youth and experience and the Celtic outfit will be out to justify their standing in the league and put themselves in a strong position to contest for the crown.