Rugby is a sport that New Zealand and its people love; it is tied to their national identity. Though it is the Unofficial sport of NZ, the hype and attention given to provincial, national, and international games is comparable to the they hype Americans give to American Foot Ball ( I have to say it that way, because football is soccer to everyone else in the world). New Zealand’s national team the All Blacks, is currently the best in the world, ranking as the top international team and has the best national team record. A side note; the national team preforms a Haka at the start of every international matches, this was later on also practiced by teams like The National Rugby League (Different from the Rugby Union), and a number of the country’s basketball teams.
There are several Competitions in the world of rugby in New Zealand, but the three main Competitions are the following:
- Heartland Championship – The amateur league of lower provincial teams, but if you think you can keep up with these guys you are kidding yourself. Though called the amateur league, teams are comprised of really well trained players who could reach the professional league one day soon.
- Mire 10 Cup – as successor to the National Provincial Championship, it is the league where the semi-professionals play. Both Heartland and Mire, is played mostly during August to November, the winter spring months.
- Super Rugby – Previously known as Super 6, Super 10, Super 12, and Super 14. It is the international Rugby competition with players from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the recently added teams of Argentina and Japan.
The teams of New Zealand are the following:
- All Blacks – The main national team of New Zealand, Currently the top team in the world.
- Junior All Blacks – Formally known as the New Zealand A, they are the second national team behind the All Blacks. They compete in the Pacific Nations Cup with Australia A, Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga.
- Maori All Blacks – A team created in 1910 which requires their players to be at least 1/16 Maori Decent. They’ve beaten England, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.
- Heartland XV – Is essentially the Heartland All-star Team, as only players who participated in the Heartland Championship are eligible to be drafted.
Other National teams includes: The Black Ferns, Sevens, Under 21s, Under 20s, Under 19s, and The Schoolboys.
New Zealand’s love of rugby has been part of their culture for more than a hundred years, it has allowed them to enjoy the darkest moments like the Great War, and the best moments like the rise of NZ as a great country with the status as the most safest and livable country.