England Netball are pleased to confirm that the recently formed England men’s side (England Thorns) will play their inaugural international fixture against the Australian men’s side in autumn 2022.
Joining the Vitality Roses as they travel down under for a three match test series in late October, against the Australian Diamonds, the Thorns will take to court for one of the fixtures in a curtain raiser on 30 October.
The Thorns were formed in March 2022 after selections in which over 70 of the top men’s netballers battled it out for a spot in the first England men’s side. Since their inception, the Thorns have played a vital part in Team England Netball’s preparation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, joining them in their pre games training camp for a series of matches.
Now taking the next step in their journey, the Thorns and the Roses will join forces for the first time in the autumn tour to Australia. Having never travelled to the southern hemisphere before the opportunity pushes the EMMNA (England Men’s and Mixed Netball Association) programme to new heights.
Ryan Allan (Founder of EMMNA) shared his delight in securing the opportunity;
"What an incredible opportunity for the England Thorns to showcase men’s netball internationally. I am extremely proud that England will be represented at such a historic event."
Also showcasing their talents on the world stage, the Australian side will not only face the England Thorns but also the New Zealand men’s side when the Diamonds travel to Auckland for the Constellation Cup.
The ability to see the top three men’s netball nations compete over one time period is vital in understanding where the sport can go. “This is an amazing opportunity for us in our first year. It will give us a great barometer for where we stand as a men’s squad.” James Thomson-Boston, an England Thorns Player commented.
England Netball partnered with EMMNA with the hope and aim of widening the netball audience in England and to ensure accessibility of the sport to all genders, ages and abilities.
CEO Fran Connolly noted the importance in such a huge step for the men’s game;
“It’s fantastic that the Thorns team will join our Vitality Roses out in Australia in October. It’s great to see the men’s game continue to grow on the world stage. This is only proof of the huge strides being taken by EMMNA and the Thorns in such a short period of time it is simply another key milestone in their journey and one to be hugely celebrated. “
The announcement of the curtain raiser fixtures also came with confirmation of the venues and dates in which the Vitality Roses will take on Australian Diamonds, in their first tour to Australia since the start of the pandemic. The Roses will undertake three matches against the Diamonds with the Thorns joining them for the match on 30 October.
Full Vitality Roses schedule is as follows:
Wednesday 26 October – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Newcastle, Australia
Sunday 30 October – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Australia
(Including England Thorns vs Australia Men’s curtain raiser match)
Thursday 3 November – Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, Australia