Australia has long been known as a sporting nation. The pride that Australians show for their national teams in all sports is reflected in the country’s towns and cities, and their sporting infrastructure.
But Australia’s neighbours have an equally proud sporting heritage. Indeed, any fan of sport taking a trip to Oceania would be well advised not to overlook New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa.
With the rugby league World Cup on the horizon in 2017, Papua New Guinea is another Oceania nation staking a claim for a place on the global sporting map, and the Pacific nation is expected to host at least one game during the tournament.
The 2017 event is the 15th staging of a rugby league World Cup, and already rugby league betting is heating up as fans back their home nations to lift the coveted trophy.
The venues for the tournament have yet to be confirmed, but now seems like a good time to take a look at some of Oceania’s best sporting venues and landmarks, that any discerning sports fan should include on their itinerary for a visit to the continent.
Sydney Football Stadium
Known as the Allianz Stadium since sponsorship rights were awarded to the German company in 2012, the Sydney Football Stadium is home to the Sydney Roosters of the National Football League – Australia’s top rugby league competition.
The venue was only built in 1988, and has since been used for rugby league, rugby union and also for soccer.
Sitting alongside the famous Sydney Cricket Ground, the Allianz Stadium is a popular stopping point for tourists who want to learn about Australia’s long, prestigious sporting history.
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Photo Credit: Tiger Benji
The spectacular Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is Queensland’s premier sporting venue, boasting a 52,000 all-seater capacity.
The ground is home to the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team, as well as the Queensland Reds rugby union side, and the Brisbane Roar A-League soccer team.
As well as domestic league fixtures, the Suncorp Stadium plays host to the NRL State of Origin matches between Queensland and New South Wales, and also to international Test matches in all three sports.
ANZ National Stadium, Fiji
The ANZ National Stadium in Suva, Fiji, announced its arrival on the map of global stadia when Fiji’s rugby union team defeated the Classic All Blacks 33-14 in June 2013.
The game marked 100 years of rugby union in Fiji, and also celebrated the stadium’s $17.5 million redevelopment that brought the ground up to date for the first time since it opened its doors in 1979.
It can host 4,000 people in its undercover seating area, but when you are watching rugby in Fiji the weather is most likely to be pleasant enough to enjoy the open air embankment, which can hold 15,000 further spectators.
Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Papua New Guinea
While Papua New Guinea might not be thought of as a home of big sporting occasions, the Pacific nation looks set to step up to the plate and play host to at least one game during the rugby World Cup of 2017, and it might well be that the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium is the venue selected for that game.
Named after Sir John Hubert Plunkett Murray, a former judge and Lieutenant Governor of Papua, the stadium was built in 1969 for the South Pacific Games. Redevelopment later expanded the stadium’s capacity from 15,000 to 25,000, and it now boasts facilities fit to welcome the world’s television cameras to an area of Port Moresby that was home to a mangrove forest just 50 years earlier.
Sydney Cricket Ground
Photo Credit: Simon Sees
The Sydney Cricket Ground, commonly known as the SCG, is one of cricket’s most famous venues, and no tour of Australia’s best sports grounds would be complete without it.
The ground has a history of over 200 years as a location for sports and recreation, but hosted its first cricket match in 1854. The SCG has since played host to some of sport’s biggest occasions and most memorable moments, from a visit by the Chicago White Sox and New York Giants baseball teams back in 1914, to Don Bradman’s highest individual innings of 452 for New South Wales against Queensland in 1930.
A museum at the ground now charts the stadium’s full history, right up to modern day events such as Michael Clarke’s highest ever Test score at the ground, when he hit 329 not out in 2012, as Australia defeated India.
Eden Park, New Zealand
Another stadium that stands as testament to Oceania’s long and proud sporting heritage is Eden Park, in Kingsland, on the New Zealand island of Auckland.
The fact that a place called Cabbage Tree Swamp was located just a few yards down the road from the ground’s original site tells you something about the nature of Eden Park’s location. But, since its early days as a sports ground in 1900, it has since developed into a state of the art stadium, with a permanent capacity of 50,000.
Apart from being the home of the mighty All Blacks rugby union team, Eden Park is the only stadium in the world that can lay claim to having hosted two rugby World Cup finals, having done so in 1987 and 2011.