For the people of New Zealand, rugby is more than just a game. The locals from all corners of the country are obsessed with the sport, and they regularly show support to their favourite teams and players. Knowing all that, it is no wonder that New Zealand produced some incredible rugby players, and this article will tell you all about them.
The Popularity of Rugby in New Zealand
Rugby is the most popular sport in the country, and besides that, it is also deeply integrated into the local culture. The nation is crazy about all rugby-related events, and they always keep an eye on the latest results and stats. What’s more, many sports fans use their passion and knowledge for betting, and nowadays they can easily find exciting online bonuses such as the Pinnacle Bonus for NZ punters. Trying their luck with wagering is another component that makes rugby games even more thrilling for dedicated fans. Even though many people consider rugby ruthless, among New Zealanders it is known as a “gentleman’s sport”, thanks to its strict set of rules that require control, discipline, and mutual respect among players.
The Most Famous Players from the Country
Now it’s time to mention some of the most famous rugby players from New Zealand:
Jonah Lomu was the most famous player in the area, and he was considered the first actual global superstar of the sport. Positioned on the wing, he finished his incredible career with 37 tries and 63 caps. In 2007, Lomu was added to the International Rugby Hall of Fame, and in 2011 he entered the IRB Hall of Fame, as well. At the 1995 World Cup, he was named the top player.
Dan Carter is currently the highest point scorer when it comes to test match rugby, and many experts consider him to be the greatest first five-eighth in the history of the game. In 2005, 2012, and 2015, Carter was named the International Rugby Board Player of the Year. Additionally, he won nine Tri-Nations and Rugby Championships with the All Blacks and three Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders.
Richie McCaw was the national team’s captain in 110 out of its total 148 test matches, and together they won two Rugby World Cups. The Rugby Player of the Year Award was in his hands three times, and he was also the most capped test rugby player ever from 2015 to 2020. In 2021, McCaw was even named World Rugby Player of the Decade, and besides that, he is a winner of the local sportsman of the decade award.
Sonny Bill Williams
Now a heavyweight boxer, Williams used to be a professional rugby player, and he is actually one of only 43 players who had the honour to win the Rugby World Cup two times. He managed to win 12 caps for New Zealand before he continued his career in Toronto and later on in Sydney. In 2004, Williams won the RLIF Award for Rookie of the Year, and in 2013 he was named the International Player of the Year.
Barrett is a versatile rugby union player who is active as a fly-half for Japan Rugby League One (club Toyota Verblitz), and also plays for his country’s national team. He was named the World Rugby Player of the Year both in 2016 and 2017, and he was even a nominee in 2018. In 2013, 2016, and 2019, Barrett won the overall Sportsperson of the Year Award.
Brodie Retallick debuted for New Zealand’s national team in 2012, and he has been a regular starter ever since, with more than 100 test caps scored. When the team won the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he was one of the key contributors to this amazing success. Ever since 2014, he has been the youngest person ever to receive the World Rugby Player of the Year Award.
Rugby has an important position in the history and culture of New Zealand, and local sports enthusiasts adore this discipline more than any other. That is why the above-mentioned athletes are considered superstars in their home country, and the nation is likely to produce even more incredible players in years to come.