Isle of Man Netball’s Manx Rams took part in the 2023 Europe Netball Open Challenge at the Cardiff City House of Sport in Wales over five days of fierce competition.

In total there were eight participating countries in the challenge: France, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Israel, Malta, Republic of Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Wales Development (invitational).

For the first time the tournament was divided into two dvisions, with the Manx team in League One.

After a set of very competitive games across the first four days for all teams, the fifth and final day of the Europe Netball Open Challenge saw four games, including gold and bronze medal matches across the two divisions.

The final results were:

League One

United Arab Emirates 63

v Republic of Ireland 54

Isle of Man 52 v Malta 31

League Two

Gibraltar 53 v France 20

Israel 45 v Switzerland 36

The Manx Rams had taken a squad of 14 to Cardiff that included a mixture of experience and youth, with two players receiving their first caps: MacKenzie Pizzey and Niamh Skillicorn.

Having been narrowly defeated by UAE in the tournament to the gold medal game, the Isle of Man team was determined to secure third place against Malta.

As such, they had an exceptional first half that put them in a strong position to then rotate the players during the second half and win the match 52-31.

Claire Battye, head coach of the Manx Rams, commented: ‘This tournament provided another fantastic opportunity for our Manx Rams to compete on the international stage and we have used a mixture of experience and youth across the five days.

‘The match against the Wales Development squad was a fantastic opportunity for those not always in our starting seven to gain experience.

‘We’re proud to come away with third place having faced very tough opposition. We are already looking forward to our next event and seek further opportunities for our squads.’

Isle of Man Netball president Pip Cross added: ‘Isle of Man Netball continues to grow and we can see that the international team have come a long way over the last four years.

‘We are immensely thankful for the support we get from Santander International. To help achieve our goals we need to compete more regularly and to be able to do this we need additional sponsors and partners to support our growth and allow the team to get further competition and exposure prior to any of their international ranking games.’

l Isle of Man Netball would like to thank all event organisers, volunteers, sponsors, players, umpires and spectators for a superb tournament.