The land of sheep, Lord of the Rings and Manuka honey, the beautiful country of New Zealand has often been overlooked when it comes to the international world of sport (excluding the All Blacks of course) but this year they are making serious waves across a trio of sports.
In cricket, the World Cup has provided the Black Caps with the opportunity to shine. Although they were not expected to flop, they have exceeded all expectations to reach the final where they will take on hosts England. Kane Williamson’s side have battled against the odds to make it to this stage and staged a remarkable semi-final comeback against India to keep their dreams of glory alive.
A win over England would be the crowning glory for this group of players who, unlike several of the other nations, have no star names in their batting line-up. Even so, the collective unit have been able to fight their way into the biggest game in one-day cricket.
The nation with a population smaller than Scotland could pick up that trophy on English soil, and they are also in with a shout of winning another tournament hosted in England. The Netball World Cup got underway on Friday and the Silver Ferns have already been in action, tipping off their campaign with a dominant 64-45 win over Malawi. Although they will face tougher tests on their way to potentially winning the tournament, it was a good display from a side with a whole lot of promise.
They will have to overcome favourites for the tournament and bitter rivals Australia, as well as Tracey Neville’s England side to secure a historic win but they do have history in the competition. Australia and New Zealand have contested the last five finals and although the Silver Ferns have only won one of those tournaments, they have come within a point of winning two more World Cups. It will be between those three team and Jamaica this summer for the netball crown.
But the big one for the whole of the ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ is the Rugby Union World Cup. It’s the number one sport in the country and the one they have dominated over the past decade. The All Blacks are one of the best sporting sides in history and they are big favourites to win this tournament for the third consecutive year.
If, and it is a big if, they can lift the William Webb Ellis Cup and assert themselves as the best international Rugby Union side of all time, they could complete a historic summer of sport for New Zealand - the best sporting year in their history.