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Umpire during Game 1 of the Vitality Netball Legends Series at Loughborough University, Loughborough, England on 20th January 2021

We are delighted to announce the names of the umpires who will officiate the highly anticipated 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL), which commences on 12 February with all games aired across Sky Sports channels.

The final group was selected for the season following virtual observations on VNSL pre-season and international matches to ensure a transparent appointments process.

Name Region/Country
Alison Harrison IUA Wales
Chris Obin South
Farrah Jaura North West
Gary Burgess IUA East
James Thomas ITID South West
Julie Wilks South
Kate Mann ITID East Midlands
Kate Stephenson IUA East Midlands
Louise Cole South West
Louise Travis IUA East
Lucy Turner London and South East
Megan Samuel South
Natalie Gregan North West
Rachael Radford ITID Yorkshire
Rhian Edwards Wales
Sarah Drake Yorkshire
Stuart McErlain Naylor East

Reserves: Julia Harvey (South West), Lizzie Saywell (East Midlands), Katie Sanders (East), Emma Hayter (Yorkshire), Alice Johnson (South).

Returning to the umpire squad for her 14th season, experienced international umpire Louise Travis said: “I am thrilled to be selected to umpire VNSL for the 2021 season and it is something I never take for granted. The privilege of umpiring at the highest level in our sport still gets me as excited today as it did when I stepped onto my first game back in 2008.

“This season, more than any of the previous 13, I cannot wait to get back on court. It is certainly going to be a season like no other, but I know the officials, players, coaches, England Netball staff and of course the fans will make it one of the best – we’ve certainly waited long enough for it!”

Bournemouth based umpire Louise Cole is eager to get back to umpiring the elite game following the cancellation of the league last year in her debut season.

She added: “It’s so exciting to be able to get courtside once again and great that we can get back to enjoying our fantastic sport especially when the Netball Family will be able to see every game for the first time. I’m certainly looking forward to what this season holds for me.”

This year also sees the return of international umpires Alison Harrison and Gary Burgess bringing further experience to the pool.

Welsh international Harrison commented: “I am so excited to be back to all things netball following a maternity break. I feel so privileged to be able to work with such talented umpires, assessors, players, and coaches. I just cannot wait to get back out there with my whistle and umpire top quality netball.”

And 11-time VNSL final umpire Burgess commented on his selection: “2020 was supposed to be the year I took off to re-evaluate where my umpiring career could go next but due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic all of us have realised how much we miss the sport and umpiring when we can’t actually do it. I’m looking forward to getting back on the VNSL court again this year more than ever.”

Fran Connolly, England Netball’s CEO, said: “England Netball are delighted to return the UK’s elite netball competition this weekend and are so grateful to the Officiating family for their tireless support throughout the planning process.

“We’re very proud of the talent of this year’s VNSL officials and look forward to seeing them in action on court. We hope to have more eyes on the game than ever over the next few months and our VNSL officials play such an important role in inspiring the next generation of netball umpires and technical officials.”

England Netball will also be appointing 50 Technical Officials in total to work across the two VNSL venues for the season (at Production Park Studio 001 and Copper Box Arena).

2019 Vitality Netball World Cup Technical Official, Kathy Fairclough, who will be covering the VNSL season, commented: “I was delighted and honoured to be asked to take part in the VNSL 2021. It is great that England Netball are working so hard to enable this competition to go ahead this year.

“It will be very different for all involved – players, umpires, and Technical Officials – not having fans at the matches but I’m sure netball fans across the country will be tuning in and showing their support for their teams and across social media. The support from the fans is always incredible and I’m sure this year will be no exception! It is very exciting, and I can’t wait for the opening fixtures!”

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