2019 was a massive sporting year for New Zealand. Three world cups. Two finals. One winner. Agony and ecstasy. Heroics and heartbreak. Super overs.
While the Blackcaps had some brilliant wins and memorable performances over the past year, there have been some painful results to swallow. Where else to begin with than the utter heartbreak that was the Cricket World Cup final? A denied LBW shout off Trent Boult’s very first delivery to Jason Roy which was destined for the stumps seemed an omen of what was to come. With England needing nine from three balls, an outfield throw from Martin Guptill ricocheted off Ben Stokes’ bat, running away to the boundary for a freakish six runs. Never in your life will you ever again see that happen in a game with such high stakes.
Even a gut-wrenching super over couldn’t separate the two sides and when Jonny Bairstow knocked poor Guppy’s stumps over, England celebrated the draw as if they’d just won the World Cup. Oh, wait. England were crowned champions based on a ruling that the side who had hit more boundaries would win. So, despite having scored the same amount of runs and lost less wickets, the Blackcaps became the first side in cricketing history to not lose the final, yet still not lift the World Cup. Typical.
Unfortunately, New Zealand have also had a horror start to 2020. It began with a dismal 0-3 test series drubbing in Australia. The Blackcaps melted under the harsh Aussie sun, losing all three tests by more than 240 runs. The Kiwis went on to lose five T20’s in a row to India, including two super over defeats.
They managed to somewhat vindicate themselves with an ODI series win against the visitors and further opportunities for redemption lie in two tests against India and the Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia in March.
The White Ferns will compete in their T20 World Cup over February and March, while the men’s T20 World Cup will take place in October.
2019 saw the Silver Ferns effectuate possibly the most remarkable comeback in their history. After their dreadful 60-55 bronze medal defeat to Jamaica in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Silver Ferns were completely written off. Enter Noeline Taurua, juggling her coaching role with the Sunshine Coast Lightning. Taurua had just 10 months to perform the impossible and she timed it to perfection. After a comprehensive World Cup semi-final performance against England (47-45), the Silver Ferns downed the Aussie Diamonds 52-51 in the final to claim their first title in 16 years.
The Silver Ferns have started 2020 strongly, already claiming the Vitality Netball Nations Cup. They also have another shot at winning the elusive Constellation Cup from Australia, who have won 9 of the 10 previous tournaments between the two sides.
The 2019 ANZ Premiership saw the Central Pulse finally crowned champions after a third final appearance in three years. After topping the table with 15 wins and just two losses, they beat the Northern Stars 52-48 in the final.
With the growing provincial strength in New Zealand netball, another competitive ANZ Premiership is also on the cards later this year.
The All Blacks had it all to lose in 2019, with two world cups and three consecutive Rugby Championship titles under their belts. There were worrying signs early on; a heavy defeat to the Wallabies and the loss of the Rugby Championship to the Springboks showed the gap between the All Blacks and the rest of the world was closing. New Zealand possibly peaked early, with an emphatic 46-14 quarterfinal win over Ireland, but they had no answer to England’s tactical masterpiece one week later. They were completely outclassed by Eddie Jones and the England outfit, who put Kiwi fans into a state of agony with their 19-7 upset win over the All Blacks.
A 40-17 thumping of Wales secured an underwhelming bronze medal for New Zealand. Meanwhile, the Springboks went on to win their third world cup title, beating England 32-12 in the final.
2019 has set up a series of exciting challenges for the All Blacks in 2020. The Investec Rugby Championship brings the first opportunity to challenge the Springboks, while a mouth-watering grudge-match with England at Twickenham on November 7 exudes an undertone of revenge.
Unfortunately, Super Rugby looks to offer little more than it has in recent times. The only real question mark hangs over the impact of star first-five Beauden Barrett on the Blues, who haven’t made the Super Rugby finals since 2011.