The Slams: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after beating Australia’s Nick Kyrgios to win the Wimbledon men’s final. Photo / AP
No pressure, lads, but there’s a space on NZRugby’s mantelpiece where the Webb Ellis Cup should be. Right next to where that other, oddly nondescript but no less important Rugby World Cup has been sitting for a couple of weeks now.
For Kiwi sports fans, le grand fromage of 2023 is undoubtedly the Rugby World Cup across France from September 8 to October 28 (well, we’re hoping the All Blacks will be playing that day). But it’s not just rugby Kiwi fans will be wanting to travel the world for next year – there’s a jam-packed calendar of events to plan a holiday around.
Another of our popular sports, netball, holds the 16th edition of its world championships in Cape Town from July 28-August 6, with Australia’s Diamonds ranked top and our Silver Ferns just behind them.
Twelve of the previous 15 deciders have been played between – oh, you guessed – so there’s every chance there’ll be another transtasman match-up this time. Our tip, based on absolutely no expertise whatsoever: watch out for Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls, ranked 3.
It’s hard to tell when one cricket season ends and another starts, because the same small group of players turns out in a whole bunch of different competitions over 51 weeks of the year from Yorkshire to Bangalore to Kingston and Hobart.
Should be somewhat more straightforward in February, when the ICC’s World T20 (women) and One-Day World Cup (men) are played, the women in South Africa and the men in India.
Ranked 3 in the women’s game behind Australia and England, and 2 in the men’s, behind England and ahead of India, Pakistan and Australia, we’re in with a shout at both tournaments. And there’s a certain feeling about injustice hovering around the male squad after that umpiring and scoring bollocks at Lord’s in 2019.
It’s taken far too long to get to the major global sporting event of 2023, especially since it’s happening in Aotearoa and Australia, but we’ve been working through Kiwis’ idiosyncratic interests.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup – that’s football, the planet’s #1 sport, and the #1 women’s sport, in case you hadn’t noticed – will be played Down Under from July 20-August 20. And most of these women are full-time professional athletes, many earning the same pay cheques as the bigger male names.
Fair to say this will be one of the most significant events we’ve hosted, with a genuine – not data-massaged – global audience in the billions.
For the first time it involves 32 nations, same as the men’s tournament in Qatar at the moment. Favourites are, as ever, the Americans who play under the catchy nickname of “USWNT” – equality with the male USMNT. Four-time World Cup-winners, four-time Olympic gold winners, their competition is likely to come from Sweden, Germany and Canada, no matter what the Australian Matildas tell you. Players to watch: Megan Rapinoe, a US version of Ruby Tui but in soccer boots; Trinity Rodman, whose dad used to play ball games too.
The mainstays of the world’s pro sporting circuses return, though some familiar faces may not. The ASB Classic returns to Auckland from January 2 to 14, with 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu, world No 7 Coco Gauff, and top-10 ranked players Cameron Norrie and Casper Ruud among the names confirmed so far. Then, the Australian Open maintains its traditional role as the opening event of the tennis Grand Slams, in Melbourne from January 16 to 29; sadly, without Serena Williams or Roger Federer. It will have Novak Djokovic but that doesn’t seem a fair exchange. The other slams are the French Open (Paris, May 28 to June 11), Wimbledon (July 3 to16) and US Open (New York, August 28 to September 10).
Golf’s theme song continues to be LIV will tear us apart (apologies, Joy Division), with the Saudi-funded circus battling for the wallet, if not the heart or soul, of the game.
Depending on who’s signed with whom, and whether a truce can be reached, the majors will be the Masters (Augusta, April 6 to 9), the US PGA (Oak Hill, New York, May 18-21), the US Open debuting at LA Country Club (June 15 to 18) and the British Open (Royal Liverpool, July 10 to 23). The Ryder Cup takes a Roman holiday (September 29 to October 1).
Formula 1 continues its quest for global motorsport domination – who’d have guessed that American youths would prefer it to the Indianapolis 500 and Nascar? That’s Netflix for you.
Kicking off in Bahrain (March 5) and concluding in Abu Dhabi (November 26), the season features a record-breaking 24 races, with China and Qatar returning and Las Vegas arriving with a Saturday night race.
There will be the usual roundabout of driver changes (farewell Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo), baffling changes to rules no one understood in the first place, and much fossil fuel burned. Kiwi fans will enjoy the big weekend in Melbourne (March 30 to April 2).
It’s about time they renamed the Tour de France as the Tour de l’Union europeenne as it seems to cover more of the bloc each year. The 110th edition of the men’s race (July 1 to 23) traces a 3400km route from Spain’s Basque country to the German border, bypassing much of… er, France. The fledgling women’s tour expands to a week-long event starting on July 23 in Clermont-Ferrand and zigzagging south to the Med.
Three world championships – sailing (The Hague, August 10 to 20), athletics (Budapest, August 19 to 27) and rowing (Belgrade, September 3 to 10) – hold more than usual interest, and not just because the black singlet with the silver fern has been prominent at each over the years. It’s only a year to the 2024 Paris Olympics, so more than a few hopes and dreams ride on performances here.
Also: Extreme Sports Winter X Games (Aspen, January 27 to 29), Superbowl (Glendale, Arizona, February 12), World Snooker Championship (Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, April 15 to May 1), Gay Games (Hong Kong, November 3 to 11), Melbourne Cup (Flemington, November 7).