England are the defending Commonwealth Games champions ©Getty Images

The first six netball teams to have qualified for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have been confirmed, and represent four continents.

England, the host nation, and the five other top-ranked teams in the World Netball rankings as of July 28 secured the first half of the Birmingham 2022 berths.

Australia, world champions New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi all occupy top-six spots in the world rankings and therefore have had their places at the Commonwealth Games confirmed.

The six eligible countries ranked seventh to 12th on January 31 2022 will be invited to join them.

World Netball and the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) extended the qualification process to allow teams more time to play matches and earn valuable ranking points, given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on international fixtures.

"Congratulations to the top six teams in the World Netball World Rankings on securing their place at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games," World Netball President Liz Nicholl said.

"World Netball will continue to work closely with the CGF and the CGAs [Commonwealth Games Associations] on the announcement of the remaining six teams. 

"I look forward to seeing all 12 teams compete on this world stage in Birmingham next year and watching the athletes embrace this opportunity to compete at this important multi-sport event. 

"The Commonwealth Games provides an amazing platform for our athletes to inspire a whole new generation of netballers, as they have done in every Games since 1998."

Australia have reached every Commonwealth Games netball final ©Getty Images
Australia have reached every Commonwealth Games netball final ©Getty Images

Uganda, Scotland, Wales, Trinidad and Tobago, Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe would be the remaining six teams to qualify as thigs stand.

England will be the defending champions on a home court at Birmingham 2022, having won a maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal at Gold Coast 2018.

They beat hosts Australia in the final, while Jamaica overcame New Zealand to win the bronze medal.

"Netball was one of the highlights of Gold Coast 2018," added CGF President Dame Louise Martin.

"That unforgettable final between Australia and England will always be remembered as one of the iconic moments in Commonwealth Games history. 

"There is no doubt that we can expect more excitement and entertainment at Birmingham 2022, in front of passionate fans, and we look forward to working closely with World Netball to confirm the six remaining spots for this prestigious event."