Top 5 Popular Sports In New Zealand Till Now

New Zealand performing the Haka.
New Zealand performing the Haka.

 New Zealand is a small nation but has enjoyed success in many sports, notably rugby union (considered the national sport).

Sport in New Zealand largely reflects its British colonial heritage, with some of the most popular sports being rugby union, rugby league, cricket, football (soccer), basketball and netball which are primarily played in Commonwealth countries.

Other popular sports include squash, golf, hockey, tennis, cycling, rowing, and a variety of water sports, particularly sailing and surf sports. Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are also popular as are indoor and outdoor bowls. Skateboarding is enjoyed amongst a small portion of the youth.

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The national sport of New Zealand is Rugby. Their powerful national rugby team called the Black shave won the Rugby World Cup THREE TIMES (1987, 2011, 2015) which is more than any other world team. The All Blacks are normally ranked number one in the world according to the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The main sports in New Zealand are:

1) Rugby:

Rugby is the most popular sportin1countries, with a combined population of more than 4460000. They won their third World Cup in 2015 in England, becoming the first holders to successfully defend their title.

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The All Blacks traditionally perform a haka, a Māori challenge, at the start of international matches. This practice has been mimicked by several other national teams, notably the national rugby league team, and the basketball teams.

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2) Netball:

Netball is actually taken from the earliest forms of basketball that developed during the late 19thcentury. Netball has over 60 teams around the world. Like basketball, the games are on a rectangle shaped court that has a ring on each end; the players have to get the ball into the ring in order to score.

Image result for NEW ZEALAND Netball
The NZ Under 21 team who beat Australia 60-57 in a thrilling final in. NETBALL NZ

The game has a much different pace than basketball because a player can only possess the ball for three seconds before passing. But, at the same time, it may seem slower because players are only allowed to stay in certain areas of the court during play. Games are only an hour long, and the team with the most goals wins the game. Even though the sport has worldwide appeal, it is not as popular as rugby and cricket in New Zealand.

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3) Cricket:

Cricket is considered to be the national sport of summer in New Zealand. There are a number of countries out there that enjoy playing cricket, and they compete in something known as test match cricket (four innings games are played over 5 days). Cricket is a game that involves using a bat and ball and is played with two teams of 11 players. Similar to baseball, players have to hit the ball and attempt to score runs.

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They take turns (switching when 10 batters have gone “out”), and each turn is known as an innings. The difference is, instead of using a baseball diamond, the field is the center of a 22-yard long pitch. You run from the batting area to the other end of the pitch to score a run. It helps to watch practices and games in order to better understand the ins and outs of the sport, especially because the way that innings are calculated can be confusing.

4) Basketball:

Basketball has experienced a gigantic growth in popularity since 2013, being the 3rd most popular sport in terms of secondary school participation after netball and rugby union. New Zealand competes in the NBL, (National Basketball League of Australia) with its own team, the New Zealand Breakers.

BLACKCAPS v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Basin Reserve in Wellington
New Zealand players celebrate after winning the ODI series against Pakistan, in Wellington on January 19, 2018.

New Zealand has not succeeded on the international stage. In 2002, the Tall Blacks (New Zealand’s national team) came 4th place at the 2002 FIBA World Championship. In recent years, the national team has not done as well.

5) Football:

The sport is administered by New Zealand Football, which changed its name from “New Zealand Soccer” in 2007 to move in line with common usage around the world. The use of the term “football” to refer to the sport is increasingly favored by news sources and publications.


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Auckland City FC won the semi-professional OFC Champions League competition in a record eight times; 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015and 2016, and earned the Bronze medal at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup held in Morocco. Nowadays, the Navy Blues are looking into the possibility of joining the A-League as the second New Zealand team after the Wellington Phoenix.

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Football is especially popular among young people. In 2017, football was played by 25,037 secondary school students, making it the fourth-most popular sport behind netball, rugby union, and basketball.

New Zealand hosted the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008 and the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Other sports:

You can find facilities for a lot of sports including shooting and archery, rock climbing, powerboat racing, boxing, Beach volleyball, Athletics (track and field) and Polo.

So this was the list of top 5 most popular sports in New Zealand. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments down below and tell us what sport do you like?

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