No matter what the sport, every time one of our national teams takes the field, the whole nation focuses as we test our prowess and ingenuity against much larger rival countries. In summer, cricket and tennis matches attract enthusiastic audiences, and when the America's Cup, the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games are staged, discussion turns to how well our small country will fare against such odds. Each success is hailed as a triumph of David and Goliath proportions, each defeat dissected to analyze its cause. When winter approaches, though, the game that steels the locals' hearts is Rugby. In winter, the roles are reversed, and New Zealand becomes the Goliath.
With almost 150,000 registered rugby players in New Zealand, you could say that this game is a national obsession. Every winter, in households around the country, Saturday mornings pivot around local school and club games. Enthusiastic supporters pace the sidelines at every game, yelling themselves hoarse, leaving no doubt about their allegiances in the minds of their neighbors or the referee! And when the All Blacks take the field against the Springboks or the Wallabies it looks that the whole country waits with bated breath. Sellout crowds join the exodus to watch their heroes live, and every bar fills to overflowing as fans gather to enjoy the spectacle on the large screen. It's no wonder then, that next year's Rugby World Cup is awaited with such anticipation.
As avenues around the country prepare for Spring 2011, excitation levels rise with every All Blacks appearance. As defending champions, the Springboks have thrown down the gauntlet, and time will tell whether the All Blacks can meet the challenge.
Twenty four countries will play for the world cup from the 9th of September 2011 until the 23rd of October 2011. Go to http://hotspotznewzealand.com/new-zealand-rugby.html for more detailed information.