When it comes to sports involving egg-shaped balls, New Zealanders tend to prefer rugby, be it in the form of league (like the State of Origin series
) or union. However, American football, often called Gridiron outside of the states and Canada, is not without fans Down Under - and they are in for a treat next year.
The sport is set to visit New Zealand
in March 2016, reports Tourism New Zealand
, with a two-match competition christened the ‘Southern Bowl’ to be played in a couple of iconic Kiwi stadiums. Eden Park in Auckland
and Westpac Stadium (better known as the Cake Tin) in Wellington
will host the games across two Saturdays a week apart, giving New Zealanders the opportunity to experience live a sport which all have heard of but not many have ever witnessed in person.
Douglas Webber Events is the company behind the Southern Bowl, an event which has been three years in the making. Managing Director Craig Douglas calls it the sport and entertainment event of 2016, commenting, “For the first time in the history of this passionate sporting nation, all the fun and action ingrained in American Football culture will come alive here.” The company plans to showcase said culture to its full advantage, with the customary half-time entertainment.
Although New Zealand won’t see the biggest stars of the NFL world, with the composite teams consisting primarily of out-of-contract professional players, the exhibition series will put on display American football matches of a quality as-yet unprecedented in the country.
Interest in the sport in both New Zealand and Australia
is running especially high right now, after NRL player Jarryd Hayne announced his dream of playing in the NFL, and was subsequently signed to the San Francisco 49ers. Douglas expects a sell-out crowd in both stadiums, which will be transformed into American football fields for the occasion.
Join the bandwagon
A car rental is a great way to follow any sporting tour
, and in New Zealand it is always the best method of transport. Getting from Auckland, the international gateway to the country, to Wellington, the capital city in the bottom of the North Island, is a breeze with your own ride. A week between games also allows plenty of time for a leisurely exploration of the many delights which lie between: Beaches in Tauranga
, cultural attractions and thermal activity in Rotorua
, the lovely and large Lake Taupo
, the stunning mountains of the Central Plateau, the vineyards of Hawke’s Bay
and miles of farmland, rolling hills, mountains and native greenery.
The Auckland match will take place at Eden Park on the 5th March, with the Wellington one the following weekend on the 12th, at Westpac Stadium. Tickets will be available through Ticketek, and there is currently a waitlist where keen fans can register.
Selections for players will begin in July across the United States, so keep an eye out for updates on the Southern Bowl website. Sports agency Giesler Sports World-Wide is on the hunt for over 100 players, coaching and support staff to offer the best face of the sport to the New Zealand and Australia market.