Irene van Dyk

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Irene van Dyk
Personal information
Full name Irene van Dyk (née Viljoen)
Born (1972-06-21) 21 June 1972 (age 42)
Vereeniging, Gauteng, South Africa
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Occupation Primary school teacher
Spouse Christie van Dyk
Children Bianca van Dyk
Netball career
Playing position(s): GS, GA
Years Club team(s) Apps
2000–02 Capital Shakers
2003–2013 Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic
2014–Present Central Pulse
(Correct as of 6 March 2014)
Years National team(s) Caps
1994–99  South Africa 72
2000–14  New Zealand 217
(Correct as of 5 June 2014)

Irene van Dyk MNZM (née Viljoen; born 21 June 1972) is a South African-born New Zealand netball player. A goal-shoot, she is one of the world's best-known netballers and the most capped international player of all time.[1] She was the 2003 New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year, and a nominee again in 2005.[2]

Debuting in 1994, she represented South Africa 72 times and captained the team. In 2000 she moved to Wellington, New Zealand and was quickly picked for the national team, the Silver Ferns. This caused some minor controversy, as the only rule in netball at the time for players switching between nations was a ban on playing for more than one nation in a calendar year. She became a New Zealand citizen in 2005, and eventually represented New Zealand for 14 years before retiring in June 2014.

Though retired from international netball, van Dyk still plays for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championship.[3] For most of her domestic career (2003-2013) she represented the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic.

Personal life[edit]

Irene van Dyk is a teacher, having worked in both primary and intermediate schools.[4] She has one daughter named Bianca with her husband, Christie.[5] A Christian, she supported the "Lifeathon" fund-raising event for Christian music radio network Life FM.

Netball technique[edit]

A 2003 biography about her is called Changing Colours by Russell Gray. She shoots 300 goals a day just for fun. Her husband Christie analyses her play.[6][7]

As a player Irene van Dyk is renowned for her peerless and consistent shooting volume and accuracy boasting shooting percentages that have rarely been seen in netball before.[8] Her commanding height (said to be 190 cm but suspected to be a few cm taller) combines well with her natural athleticism and strong hands enabling her to dominate her opponents.

Perhaps the most striking weapon in her arsenal is the extremely wide split of her legs on receiving the ball. She uses this in order to manoeuvre herself closer to the goalpost thus increasing her chances of making the shot or rebounding upon a missed shot.

South African career[edit]

She made her debut for the South African national side in 1994 and went on to captain the side and represent them a total of 72 times. She was part of the silver medal winning South African team who beat New Zealand preliminary rounds of the 1995 Netball World Championships and went on to lose to Australia in the final.

NZ career[edit]

External images
Irene van Dyk

Since moving to NZ Irene's game has grown dramatically with notable improvements in her ball handling/security, movement and space awareness. She is also much stronger physically than she used to be and this has only added to the nightmare image she often presents to opposing players and fans alike

2002 Commonwealth Games[edit]

Van Dyk received a silver medal as part of the New Zealand team that lost in the final against Australia at the 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester, England after double overtime.

2003 Netball World Championships[edit]

In 2003, Irene Van Dyk led the Silver Ferns to victory at the Netball World Championships in Kingston, Jamaica beating Australia in the final 49-47. Van Dyk netted 41 goals from 43 attempts at 95%. The Silver Ferns had not won a major event since 1987 Netball World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.


On 5 July 2004 she came on at the start of the 3rd quarter of the third test match in a series against Australia and scored 24/24 to turn the match around. And then she went to Australia in November 2004 where the Silver Ferns were defeated 2-1 by a determined Australian team. Features of that series were the apparently poor quality of the umpiring, the loss of Australian Captain and Goal Keeper Liz Ellis from part of the 1st Test and all of the 2nd Test after being injured during a clash with van Dyk, and the noticeable increase of calls going against van Dyk penalising her for stepping and contacting other players.


In the winter of 2005 a one off Test was played in Sydney where the Silver Ferns would gain revenge over their old rivals from Australia. Irene van Dyk would once again be a dominant factor in the win and would cement her position as the world's greatest goal shooter especially against Australia's own formidable shooting weapon — Catherine Cox whose own form fell away after being worn down by New Zealand's Goal Keeper Vilimaina Davu. Once again the standard of the umpiring was questioned this time mainly by the Australian team and coach. Final score—50-43. Both teams then went on to prepare for their next clash scheduled for October in Auckland New Zealand.

In recent years Irene has played national league netball for the Waikato Magic and in 2005 spearheaded them to their first National Bank Cup title. Incidentally their win broke the six year stranglehold the Southern Sting had held over the competition.

In October 2005 Irene would once again rise to the occasion and help in presenting Australia with a debilitating loss. In a match notable for the loss of Australian Captain Liz Ellis for three quarters of the match, New Zealand were simply too good for Australia with their speed, ball handling, uncompromising defence and shooting accuracy.

Partnered with impressive Goal Attack - Jodi Te Huna, Irene's composure, class and athleticism came to the fore and Australia appeared to have no response to this and the overall effort of New Zealand which was at once scintillating and merciless. Final score—61-36. New Zealand would go on to record an undefeated year for 2005 including a successful end of year tour to the Caribbean where they would trounce Barbados and Jamaica and blood several newer players.

2006 Commonwealth Games[edit]

New Zealand faced Australia, the defending champions, in the finals of 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne. In that Final, Van Dyk once again performed with skill and determination in what was an enthralling battle against Australian Goal Keeper and home town girl Bianca Chatfield who gave a sterling, if ultimately unsuccessful performance, against the World's most recognisable netball player. (Liz Ellis wasn't available due to injury.) New Zealand went on to win the final 60–55, avenging their defeat in the 2002 Commonwealth Games final and claim a famous victory over the rivals. Van Dyk played an important role with her 90% plus shooting percentage steering New Zealand home. When she moved back from South Africa she had a daughter named Bianca, she was born in 1997 and has followed her mother in netball.


On September the 23rd 2009, Irene played in her 100th test for New Zealand, a 52-36 win over Australia although New Zealand lost the series 3-2 overall.


In 2010, van Dyk was chosen to lead the New Zealand team in the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.[9] The 2010 Games also saw Irene van Dyk become the most capped player in Silver Ferns history, surpassing the previous number of 110 attained by Lesley Rumball.[10] In June 2012 Irene celebrated her 40th birthday on National TV and announced she has no plans to retire.

2014 - International retirement[edit]

Van Dyk transferred to Central Pulse following the resignation of coach Noeline Taurua from her previous team, Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic. She averaged 27 goals per game - lower than previous seasons.[3] [11]

On 5 June 2014, van Dyk announced her retirement from international netball, saying "I have really high expectations of myself and my match statistics over the past few months in the ANZ Championship are simply not good enough to justify taking my game to the international level". Her 20-year international career made her the most capped player of all time (217 - 72 for South Africa and 145 for New Zealand). Her international career finished with a 90% shooting record.[11] For the Silver Ferns she shot 4796 goals from 5288 attempts at 91%.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ash, Julie (28 October 2005). "Netball: Van Dyk prepares to rewrite record books". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 31 January 2007.  Note: Some sources claim Mary Waya as the world's most capped netballer, but many of her caps (for Malawi) were not against full international sides.
  2. ^ "2003 Finalists and Winners". Retrieved 1 February 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Van Dyk back to boost Pulse's chances". Fairfax NZ News. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014. "for the first time since the Shakers' 2002 season, van Dyk will play in Wellington in home colours" 
  4. ^ Napier, Liam (17 June 2012). "Irene van Dyk won't quit despite hitting 40". Fairfax Media (Sunday Star-Times/ Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Botting, Caroline (January 14, 2011). "Irene Van Dyk: beating depression, debt and despair". Yahoo. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ The New Zealand Herald |url= missing title (help). 
  8. ^ "Silver Ferns end Australia's netball dominance". ABC News Online. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 1 February 2007. "Irene van Dyk, the former South African who is acknowledged as the world's premier shooter" 
  9. ^ NZPA; Newstalk ZB (4 October 2010). "Van Dyk leads NZ into Games". TVNZ. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  10. ^ NZPA (6 October 2010). "Van Dyk centre of attention as Ferns cook up win". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Johannsen, Dana (5 June 2014). "Netball: Irene van Dyk retires from Silver Ferns". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Goodnight, Irene, our brilliant star" NZ Herald

External links[edit]