There are a few sports that are popular in New Zealand and one of them is rugby. Rugby is considered the most popular sport in the country. In 2017, Statista reported that around 1.7 million in New Zealand watched the Rugby Union on TV. This means that over 35% of the country’s population back then tuned in to watch this sport.
Today, rugby continues to be a popular sport. When you take a look at the sportsbooks listed on bettingsites.net.nz, you’ll see that many of them offer odds on rugby. This is because rugby betting is also on the rise in New Zealand.
So, what makes this sport so popular in the country? Why is New Zealand so good at this sport, in the first place? Well, keep on reading because there are questions that we’ll be answering in this article.
Rise of Rugby in New Zealand
The popularity of rugby in this country dates back to the late 1800s, even before the Europeans arrived in New Zealand. This sport was especially popular among the Māori. It’s simply because these people suit the sport so well. They were strong, fast, and agile. It’s no wonder why it’s a sport that they easily enjoy.
Back then, the Māori were playing a ball game called ki-o-rahi, which was similar to Australian football and rugby football. It was in 1870, however, when rugby football was officially introduced in the country by Charles John Monro.
Monro experienced playing the game when he was studying in England, and when he returned to NZ, he then introduced the sport at Nelson College. This is when the rise of rugby started in New Zealand as it didn’t take long before more schools started to play the game. It was in the late 1870s when formal bodies were established in Canterbury and Wellington.
In 1908, the Rugby League finally came to the country, and since then, New Zealand has played a big role in the history of rugby league. New Zealand is the only country aside from England to compete internationally during this time.
Rugby as the National Sport
Eventually, Rugby became New Zealand’s national sport, and it’s why it’s now deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and history.
There are over 150,000 registered rugby players in the countries and they have the access to the best players from the neighboring Pacific Island countries. New Zealand rugby players are in line with countries that have the best players like England, Australia, and Ireland.
This number will likely grow bigger because of the prestige and status that rugby players enjoy. It also makes the country proud to see their rugby players and teams like the All Blacks do so well in international competitions.
Since it’s also the national sport, the country ensures that professional rugby training is world-class. This is why New Zealand was able to produce some of the best rugby players like Jonah Lomu, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Michael Jones, Colin Meads, and Zinzan Brooke.
All Blacks: New Zealand’s Pride
When talking about New Zealand rugby, it’s impossible not to bring up the All Blacks, the country’s national rugby team with an emblem that is Sliver-fern frond.
All Blacks first rugby match took place in 1884 in New South Wales. The team’s first-ever international Test match happened in 1903 when they faced Australia. Later on, they were finally able to host their first home test which was a match against the British Isles side in Wellington.
All Blacks have become popular not only locally but also worldwide. The team has proven multiple times that they can beat the national rugby teams of other significant rugby-playing countries like Australia, and South Africa.
The team has a 77 percent winning record in Tests and they have secured more wins than losses. They were also able to bag the championship at the Rugby World Cup in the years 1987, 2011, and 2015. The team’s top scorer of all time is Dan Carter and the top try scorer of all time is Doug Howlett.
Currently, the team captain of All Blacks is Sam Whitelock and the head coach is Ian Foster. The team’s current ranking in the World Rugby is 3rd. The team was able to reach the top rank from 2009 to 2019 and in 2021.
While the team is world-renowned, they still don’t have an official stadium. Whenever they go on the field in the country, their matches are held in different New Zealand venues like the Taranaki Stadium in New Plymouth, North Island, and the Trafalgar Park in Nelson, South Island.