Australians love sport and nowhere more so than in the country’s biggest city – Sydney – where some of the sporting world’s most talented stars and most passionate fans hail from. From the traditional antipodean favourites of cricket and rugby to Australia’s boom in football and the origins of a new hub for triathlon training in London, Sydney has many sporting stories to tell.
Cricket is big in Sydney. The city is a regular host of Ashes series Tests between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground. The ground, with its capacity upgraded to 48,000, will also host a number of matches in the 2015 Cricket World Cup – which Australia is co-hosting with New Zealand – including England’s group stage tie with Afghanistan and one of the semi-finals.
Away from the national side, cricket is also played in Sydney by the NSW Blues (in the Sheffield Shield competition), the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder (both in the Big Bash Twenty20 competition).
The other sport that most commonly sees Australia clashing with England (and Ireland, Scotland and Wales for that matter) is rugby. And the city will hold a special place in the heart of many an Englishmen, as it was at its Telstra Stadium (now named the ANZ Stadium and originally the 2000 Olympic Stadium) that Jonny Wilkinson and co. beat the host nation to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
At club level Sydney is represented in Rugby Union by the NSW Waratahs, and in Rugby League the city dominates the National Rugby League competition as home to nine of its 16 teams.
Cricket and rugby are widely and historically associated with Australia, but the country has not always been synonymous with soccer – this however appears to be changing. Sydney’s main football teams are Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers, who both play in the A-League – Australia’s top tier professional soccer league.
Such is the growth in Australia’s footballing stature that the country gained the confidence to bid for the 2022 World Cup. Somewhat surprisingly the bid came last in the race of which Qatar was ultimately the victor. The submitted bid included Sydney as venue for a number of matches, including a proposal to host either the opening match or the World Cup Final. Given the city’s track record of delivering world class events with a stunning backdrop it seems a shame that we will have to wait longer to see the planet’s biggest tournament take place there.
Sydneysiders can take some comfort however from the news that the cream of European football is headed their way in 2014. August will see Italy’s Juventus FC arrive in the city on tour to play against an A-League all-stars team.
It is not just on the turf that Sydney provides action. Cycling is another big part of life in the city and at the 2000 Olympics, local man Sean Eadie was among the cycling medallists – as were a certain Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins. Its climate and landscape make Sydney and New South Wales as a whole an excellent location for triathlon activity and the area hosts a number of these throughout the year. In 2012 two amateur triathletes opened Athlete Labin Sydney to provide busy city workers with a convenient place for triathlon cycling training. Having recently opened in London this inter-continental expansion points to the beginning of another successful Sydney sporting story.