Great rivals clash in RWC15 final

Five reasons why the rivalry between the Aussies and Kiwis runs so deep:


One of the most infamous moments in sporting history took place in 1981 when Australia cricket captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother Trevor to bowl the last ball of a one-day match underarm when New Zealand needed a six to tie the scores. It sparked uproar with Australia booed off the field and the New Zealand batsmen walking off in disgust. The incident still wrankles among New Zealanders. Underarm bowling was not illegal at the time but was seen as contrary to the spirit of the game and subsequently banned.


The Bledisloe Cup is the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby union dominance, resulting in often brutal encounters for the trophy players on both sides regard as second only to the World Cup. The competition, named after then New Zealand governor Lord Bledisloe, began in 1931. Australia had an unprecedented run of success in the late 1990s/early 2000s but the All Blacks have won every edition since 2002. All that will be forgotten if the Wallabies win on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).


Five-time World Cup champions Australia have long been the dominant cricketing force with New Zealand’s “Black Caps” never quite matching the exploits of their neighbours in the Baggy Green. That looked like it could change earlier this year when the Kiwis won a World Cup semi-final on their seventh attempt to set up a tantalising final. But the Aussies romped to victory in a one-sided decider, leaving New Zealand empty-handed and dejected. Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin rubbed salt in the wound by delivering a string of gloating “send-offs” to dismissed Kiwi batsmen from behind the stumps.


While rugby union is far more popular in New Zealand, rugby league has the edge in Australia. The Kangaroos enjoyed the better of their clashes in the 13-man game until recently, when the Kiwis gained the ascendancy. In Australia, many see the annual Anzac Test as usurping the Bledisloe Cup as the premier trans-Tasman rivalry, with television ratings seeming to back this up, although All Blacks fans would disagree. The Kiwis’ victory over their arch-rival in this year’s Anzac showdown catapulted them to No.1 in the world ahead of Australia, with England a distant third.


If any two teams dominate the sport of netball, it is Australia and New Zealand. Such is their rivalry that no nation other than the Silver Ferns and the Diamonds have been to the final of the World Cup since South Africa in 1995. Their contests are often brutal and sometimes bloody, the scorelines invariably close. Adding to the tensions, Australia’s then-coach Norma Plummer in 2003 described the New Zealanders as “a bunch of scrubbers”. They have faced each other in 10 World Cup finals with the Aussies winning eight, including this year in Sydney.

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