New Zealand is a Rugby Nation

“I think an argument can now be made that the knockout stage of the Champions League is a more severe test (than the World Cup finals), with almost all the world’s great players playing for top European clubs.”
– Roy Keane

On Saturday, I congratulated New Zealand on reaching the World Cup finals for the second time in their history. To qualify, New Zealand played Bahrain, New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu.

On Wednesday night, France and Portugal could find themselves out of the World Cup finals. Players such as Ronaldo, Henry, Deco, Carvalho and Benzema will miss out. They will join the likes of Ibrahimovic, Rosicky, Berbatov and Vermaelen in not going to South Africa.

What can North Korea and New Zealand bring to the World Cup? Both are unlikely to win a game. The World Cup is a showcase tournament, where the best footballing countries test their skills to see which nation is the best in the world at soccer. Yet, Portugal – who are much better than both North Korea and New Zealand – may not be there.

Other nations that have qualified, such as Australia, qualified by playing in the wrong continental zone. They played teams in Asia, instead of Oceania. Israel and Khazakhstan play their qualifying matches in the European zone, yet neither country is in Europe! While San Marino and Andorra are not countries.

World Cup qualifiication needs a major overhaul. When the USA played Barbados, they beat them 8-0. Why not have the smaller nations play against each other, then let them join the big guns in a second qualification stage? Qualifying groups should be mixed involving countries from all over the world, with proper seeding. With worldwide travel and players from different nationalities plying their trade in every continent, this seems the most logical step forward.

But then FIFA is not a logical organization. After all, they have Jack Warner as their Vice President.



  1. If a nation gets knocked out before the world cup finals, then they’ve already found out that they’re not the best nation in the world at soccer. Doesn’t matter how you get knocked out, if you get knocked out, you’re not the best.

    The world cup isn’t about a soccer showcase before it is a showcase of the world, or more specifically the globe, as in the global economy. Soccer hasn’t penetrated world markets so far that it’s satisfied it can’t do anymore. Little kiddies in New Zealand who mistakenly think they’ll grow up to be the next Ronaldo have plenty of potential dollars of their parents to spend on English Premier League jerseys, that they can buy year after year whenever the sponsors or colours change, or buy the lastest Fifa console game. As business goes Fifa couldn’t care less about logic, because they’re doing pretty fine in the dollars department. So much that our local game gets $10mil just for making it to the finals. Their rugby counterparts can look foward to a healthy loss for hosting the world cup.

    You can’t have the same group of teams in the final year after year. Just like Miss Universe can’t be from the same country two years in a row.

    The spectacle might not be the same for the purists, but come the end of the tournament? Most spectators will struggle to care less. Certainly not enough to turn their dollars away to something else in four years time.

    BTW – the english teacher in me is appalled at how you completely discarded your thesis in the title. We’re a farming nation first and foremost. Maybe we should just stick to sheep shearing and tree chopping?

    • I hope that New Zealand and North Korea do well in the World Cup. I know that the Kiwis 1982 appearance created an interest in football that wasn’t seized upon. It’s the lesser known footballing nations that bring colour to the World Cup. Without them there wouldn’t be the excitement of a major upset on the cards. Each continent has a different style of play, which from a fans perspective is what the game is all about.

      I look forward to watching the All Whites games this June.

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