As a colony of Britain, sports that were popular in Britain were introduced to New Zealand and have remained the top sports by to this day by participation. In order of popularity, the top sports include rugby union, soccer, cricket, netball, and tennis. A number of water sports, particularly rowing and sailing are popular.
History Origins Different forms of football have existed for centuries. For more on the development of football sports, see football. In Britainfootball games may have been played as early as the time of Roman occupation in the 1st century bce.
During the 14th and 15th centuries ce, Shrove Tuesday football matches became annual traditions in local communitiesand many of these games continued well into the 19th century. These localized versions of folk football a violent sport distinctive for its large teams and lack of rules gradually found favour within the English public independent schools, where they were modified and adapted into one of two forms: Game playing, particularly football, was encouraged at Rugby School by influential headmaster Thomas Arnold —42and many boys educated at this time were instrumental in the expansion of the game.
Rugby football soon became one of the most significant sports in the promotion of English and, later, British imperial manliness. The cult of manliness that resulted centred on the public schools and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where boys were sent to learn how to become young gentlemen.
Graduates of these public schools and of Oxford and Cambridge formed the first football clubs, which led to the institutionalization of rugby.
Once they had left school, many young men wanted to continue playing the game of their youth, and the early annual matches between alumni and current senior students were not enough to satisfy these players.
Football clubs were formed in the midth century, with one of the very first rugby clubs appearing at Blackheath in Rugby enthusiasm also spread rapidly to Ireland and Scotland, with a club founded at the University of Dublin in and the formation by the Old Boys of Edinburgh of the Edinburgh Academicals Rugby Football Club in In the tradition of club matches began in England with Blackheath playing Richmond.
Representatives of several leading football clubs met in to try to devise a common set of rules for football. Ultimately, rugby was left outside the FA.
Despite the initial reluctance to abandon hacking, rugby clubs began to abolish the practice during the late s. Blackheath banned it inand Richmond supported a similar prohibition in Thus, in members of leading rugby clubs met to form the Rugby Football Union RFUwhich became the governing body for the sport.
As a result of its continued adherence to the practice, Rugby School did not join the RFU until The growth of the game Rugby rapidly spread from its elitist origins in England, Scotland, and Ireland to middle- and working-class men in the north of England and in Wales and to the British colonies in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
It also spread to North Americawhere it was transformed into a new style of football. Northern Hemisphere Unlike association football soccerwhich embraced player payments and league play in the s, the RFU staunchly resisted professionalism, cup competitions, and leagues, though international rugby between England and Scotland began immediately.
As soon as the six Scottish clubs heard of the formation of the RFU, they issued a challenge to it for a match to be held in Scotland on March 27, The match was played in front of 4, spectators, with each side scoring a try, though only Scotland could convert the try with a goal see below Play of the game.
Ireland began playing England in and Scotland in Northern England and the split In the north of England, rugby was organized somewhat differently from in the south.
Teams became the focus of civic pride, and league and cup competitions quickly arose in Yorkshire. The game spread throughout Yorkshire to Cumbria and parts of Lancashire, and many working-class men were playing by the mids.
Matters came to a head at an general meeting of the RFU, where the legalization of broken time payments was soundly defeated by southern clubs, which controlled a majority of the votes.
The majority of northern clubs joined the Northern Union, but it failed in efforts to expand its influence farther afield within Britain. Many early players had some experience of the game in the north of England and took their interest with them to Wales.
By the early s rugby had become a vital part of working-class culture in south Wales, which distinguished the game there from its upper-class association in other parts of the British Isles. Wales had high levels of immigration in the late 19th century, and rugby emerged at this time as a focal point of a new modern Welsh nationalism.
Wales won its first title in Unlike England, a more competitive system arose in Wales, with a South Wales Challenge Cup being contested between and and an unofficial league system appearing by the s. As the only team to defeat the powerful New Zealand team on its first tour of the British Isles, inWales cemented its place as a dominant rugby power.
Rugby remained central to modern Welsh identity, particularly in the period between the mids and the early s, when players such as Gareth EdwardsBarry John, Phil Bennett, Gerald Davies, J.
Williams, and others kept Wales at the top of Northern Hemisphere rugby. During the s many coal mines were closed, which led to the deterioration of mining valley communities that had been the cradle of Welsh rugby for a century.
Since that time Wales has struggled to regain its position as a leading rugby nation. France Rugby union football spread more slowly outside the British Empirethough it was played in France as early as There were 20 or more French clubs bymostly in and around Paris.
Soon the game diffused to southwestern cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, and Perpignon, where it became the most popular team sport.
French attitudes toward professionalism were much more relaxed than in the British Isles, which led the Home Nations unions to sever relations with France inthough they were restored in Like rugby union, the league game in France is largely confined to the southern part of the country.In rugby union became the last of the major sports in New Zealand to fully embrace professionalism.
The club role in sending talent to the next level was weakened by increasing professionalism, which brought with it school sports academies, talent identification programmes and scholarship opportunities to overseas universities. Sports where New Zealand dominates or has a powerful presence in the international arena include: rugby, netball, yachting, rowing, and equestrian.
Rugby union is the most popular sport and is an essential part of the nation's identity. New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is the governing body of rugby union in New Zealand. It was founded in as the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), 12 years after the first provincial unions in .
Professional attitudes, as well as new training and coaching methods, gradually filtered back to New Zealand. In rugby union became the last of the major .
Sports events Sports events. Kiwis are sports-mad and love a good rugby test match or golf tournament. As a result, New Zealand hosts an exciting range of sporting events every year. The culture of New Zealand is essentially a Western culture influenced by the unique environment and geographic isolation of the islands, Horseracing was also a popular spectator sport and became part of the "rugby, racing and beer" culture during the s.