Uganda have discovered their pool stage opponents as they prepare to make their Commonwealth Games netball debut at Gold Coast 2018.
The draw and match schedule for the preliminary rounds was conducted today at Surfers Paradise beach, with the International Netball Federation (INF) overseeing proceedings.
Australia, the gold medallists from Glasgow 2014, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi were placed into pools in a snaking pattern, related to their world ranking from the start of July.
As a result, world number one ranked Australia were joined in Pool A by Jamaica and South Africa, who are fourth and fifth in the standings.
The trio were drawn with Barbados, Fiji and Northern Ireland, who were among the bottom six ranked teams.
Wales, Scotland and Uganada were drawn into Pool B of the competition.
They will join second and third ranked New Zealand and England, as well as Malawi.
“Today’s release of the draw has reaffirmed our belief that the Gold Coast 2018 netball competition will be a firm favourite with fans and broadcasters,” said Louise Martin, Commonwealth Games Federation President.
“The quality and depth of competition is at its highest ever thanks to the tireless work of the International Netball Federation to develop and promote the sport and its athletes.
“I’m delighted to see such diversity of representation from across the Commonwealth and look forward to cheering on the teams in a thrilling tournament in April 2018.”
Uganda will hope to make an impact on the tournament after qualifying for the Games for the first time, following their victory over Malawi at the Africa Netball Cup.
The result raised them to ninth in the world rankings, ensuring them of a place at the Commonwealth Games.
INF President Molly Rhone is hopeful the competition will provide a strong showcase for netball across the world.
“We are confident that the Gold Coast 2018 netball competition is going to be a fantastic showcase for our sport and a thrilling world class event, and now that the draw has taken place, excitement and anticipation is really mounting,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing our amazing athletes take to the court in April, to winning new friends for our sport, and to the success we know this competition will be for netball.”
Each team will play every other country in their pool during the preliminary round matches, which will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 5 to 11.
This will be followed on April 12 by the classification round, which will see the teams who finish below the top two spots in the groups face-off to determine the final standings from fifth to 12th place.
Competition will culminate in the finals matches at the Coomera Indoor Sports Centre on April 14 and 15.
The opening match of the tournament will see Jamaica take on Fiji in Pool A, with England clashing with neighbours Scotland and New Zealand taking on Uganda in Pool B.
The first day of action will conclude with Australia’s match against Northern Ireland, the tournament’s lowest ranked team.
“It’s really exciting to know the nations we will be taking on during the preliminary matches,” said Australia’s Laura Geitz, a Gold Coast 2018 ambassador and Glasgow 2014 gold medallist.
“There is going to be some tough competition during the preliminaries with the likes of Glasgow 2014 bronze medallists Jamaica and South Africa in our pool.
“I know everyone involved in Australian netball is looking forward to the prospect of defending our gold medal on our home court.”
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will take place between April 4 and 15 next year.