Netball World Cup 2023
Location: Cape Town, South Africa Dates: July 28 to August 6
Coverage: Live on BBC TV and BBC iPlayer, listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sounds, and follow the text commentary of selected matches on Sport Newes Center website and app.
As the clock ran out on England’s premiere Netball World Cup final, the dejection on the faces of the Roses was clear.
Their trailblazing week concluded in disappointment, with their aspirations of claiming their first global title dashed by a 61-45 loss to habitual winners Australia.
In the aftermath, the team gathered to reflect on their journey and achievements.
The Roses demonstrated substantial progress, first triumphing over Australia in the group stage and then eliminating reigning champions New Zealand in the semi-finals.
Yet, the final match against the now 12-time champions Australia seemed too daunting for England, who seemed overwhelmed by the event, while Australia showcased their usual flair.
England’s failure to secure a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, following their historic victory, left them disheartened. However, some of that regret has been laid to rest over the course of the eight-day tournament in South Africa.
The earned silver medal is a testament to their improvement – but what lies ahead for England?
Final Report: England falls to Australia in World Cup final
Jamaica surpasses New Zealand for World Cup bronze
‘Next time, we are claiming the gold’
This is only the second instance in England’s history that they have advanced beyond third place at the World Cup, having previously won silver in 1975 when the tournament was structured as a round-robin event.
The Roses depart South Africa having bested the world’s top two teams at a World Cup for the first time, carving a path that no previous Roses team has ever taken.
Head coach Jess Thirlby has navigated several key retirements in the years leading up to the World Cup, including those of Serena Kersten, Eboni Usoro-Brown, and Jo Harten.
Joining the retiree list is Geva Mentor, who ends her international career after participating in her sixth World Cup, and it seems improbable that 39-year-old Jade Clarke will return in the Roses uniform.
Upon the final whistle, Mentor was seen embracing rising star Funmi Fadoju, symbolising the dawn of a new era for England.
Thirlby and her team will absorb this experience and use it as a stepping stone. As stated by Imogen Allison post-match: “If this is our first time in a final, next time we’re taking home the gold.”
“We wanted to motivate and exhibit pride and passion,” Thirlby shared with Sky Sports.
“The unique takeaway is that there are young people who have only ever known a Roses team in a World Cup final.
“I hope the generations who are inspired to don the red dress will help us reach more finals in the future.”
England ‘Heartbroken’ Must Allow Loss to ‘Settle In’
England will reflect on the errors they committed against Australia, with Thirlby expressing her disappointment at how her team let the game slip from their grasp.
“Obviously, we are heartbroken with a loss of such margin, but that’s the disparity between seasoned finalists and a team in their inaugural final,” she noted.
“We truly appreciate that silver medal, and over time, I’m sure its significance will settle in.”
Thirlby’s decisions regarding substitutions in the final, particularly her delay in bringing on Chelsea Pitman, who had previously made a difference against Australia, will likely face scrutiny, especially given the fact that Australia had virtually locked in their victory by the time Pitman was called upon.
In the end, England was overwhelmed by the significance of the event and a vastly more seasoned opponent.
“Reaching this point was an enormous task – but that shouldn’t be mistaken for complacency,” Thirlby warned.
“We weren’t quite shrewd enough. We gave it our all, but I felt we were more tentative than we usually are.”
Now, England must ensure that their endeavours in Cape Town don’t go to waste.
The Roses’ 2018 Commonwealth victory led to an increase in the sport’s participation rates in the UK, as well as a surge in spectators at both international and domestic matches.
For the moment, England can take pride in their proven ability to compete with the world’s best. Yet, they hope their wait for another shot at glory won’t be too prolonged.
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