With one of the biggest international games just around the corner, between the British and Irish Lions and the New Zealand All Blacks this weekend in Auckland, there has been an increase of interest in travel half way round the world recently to support our rugby union team.
This then got me thinking about some of the must-see sporting competitions on the calendar for countries around the world, and although not all are a reason unto themselves to visit a country, they can certainly be highlight on any itinerary!
With tournaments taking place multiple times each week and all year round, the national sport of Thailand is a popular evening event for visitors to the country.
The oldest boxing stadium and the major facility in Bangkok, Rajadamnern Stadium, holds bouts every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, but people visiting Phuket are not left wanting for options of where to see the sport.
Japan is not just about sushi, samurai, and neon signs… sumo wrestling is a fantastic way for visitors to experience some culture and tradition of this unique country.
With six tournaments each year lasting 15 days; with Tokyo holding three tournaments (January, May, and September), and Osaka (March), Nagoya (July), and Fukuoka (November) all holding one each, travellers to Japan have the opportunity to see this cultural spectacle every second month.
Made the national sport by Mao Zedong, there is no other nation that can lay claim to the record of China in table tennis. Winning 23 out of 24 gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996, this is the best place to experience a match in the world.
The International Table Tennis Federation hold the China Open in a range of host cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu, and is considered one of the most prestigious competitions in the sport.
A version of professional wrestling similar to their northern neighbours, lucha libre literally means freestyle wrestling. Characterised by fast manoeuvres and high-flying acrobatics, possibly the most recognisable trait of Mexico’s wrestlers are their colourful masks.
The best place to view a match is in the capital, Mexico City, at Arena Mexico, although matches are held throughout the country, although not very authentic in tourist cities such as Cancun.
Few Commonwealth countries have taken an English sport and made it such a national pastime as India has with cricket. Embracing all three forms of test, one-day, and the newer T20 format, visitors can expect to see the sport played everywhere, from children in the streets to major international competitions.
The IPLT20 (Indian Premier League T20) is played throughout the country in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Kolkata, the season runs during the months of April and May.
Australian Rules Football, more commonly known as AFL, is the major sporting competition in the Great Southern Land with the official season starting in March, culminating in the grand final at the start of October.
Expect cities like Perth and Adelaide to be caught up in the excitement on the weekends, but for the true experience, head to Australia’s sporting capital Melbourne for a game full of rivalry and atmosphere!
Known the world over for their rugby prowess, the New Zealand All Blacks are a force to be reckoned with and a menacing sight in their home country. With major stadiums in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington, there are few experiences in the sporting world as famous as seeing the All Blacks perform the Haka before their match!
With many events on the sporting calendar, The USA comes truly alive during the National Football League (NFL) season. Running from early September, teams battle out within their divisions in mega stadiums across the country, before Superbowl fever sweeps the country in the first week of February.
Known simply as hockey to Canadians, the furious pace, undeniable skill, and occasional brawl draw big crowds to stadiums all over Canada.
Although a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993, some of the most recognised team names have etched their place in history; the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks to name a few!
There is a good reason it’s called “The World Game”, with football recognised as the major sport in most of the world. Whether it’s the European leagues, the African Cup, the Asian League, or the fanatics in South America, the sport draws people from the world over.
The most decorated nation, Brazil, hosted the last World Cup in 2014 with the final held in Rio de Janeiro. the 2018 World cup will be hosted by Russia, with the 2022 competition hosted in the Middle East for the first time in Doha, Qatar.