Sport is a crucial part of the social fabric in Australia, and if you’re a fan of the spectator atmosphere, you certainly won’t be bored in New South Wales (NSW).
Nowadays, the internet comfortably allow sports fans to watch their favorite games virtually anywhere in the world, but there’s something truly magic about soaking in the atmosphere of an actual event. Physically being there, in the middle of the action, yelling and cheering among fellow Aussies.
The NSW sporting calendar is packed with electrifying events every year, with events like the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, State of Origin Rugby, and championship trials in athletics, tennis and cycling.
While there are many action packed games you can catch throughout the State, here’s a taste of some of the most premiere sports events in NSW you won’t want to miss.
The Best Sporting Events in New South Wales You Won’t Want to Miss
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
When: December 26
One of the biggest boating events of the year in NSW is the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. An annual ocean race that takes off from Sydney Harbor and races down Australia’s east coast towards Tasmania, this is one of the most exciting annual events in the country.
The race kicks off on Boxing Day, the post-Christmas Australian holiday on 26 December. Also known as the Bluewater Classic, this race features specialized sailing yachts, also called maxi yachts, typically over 70 feet long.
The sprint between Sydney and Hobart takes the better part of two days. The fastest completion on record clocking in at 1 day, 9 hours, and 15 minutes by LDV Comanche in 2017.
More than half a million people descend upon Sydney Harbour to watch the race launch with millions more catching it on TV. The vast spectator interest makes sense–the Bluewater Classic is one of the most publicized and difficult races of its kind.
State of Origin Series
3 Games During June / July
This is an annual rugby best-of-three showdown like no other. It’s billed as Australia’s greatest sporting rivalry, where the New South Wales Blues take on the Queensland Maroons every year.
Australians are incredibly passionate about rugby, and the victor gets a year’s worth of rugby bragging rights as the best in Eastern Australia. Three games are scheduled over June and July, and both States goes absolutely rugby mad; if NSW wins you’ll know about it; impromptu street parties break out all over the place.
Typically, one game will be held in Queensland, one in NSW, and one in Western Australia. If you’re in NSW during one of the out of State games, head to your closest sports bar or pub, as the atmosphere here will be just as electric as if you were at the actual game.
Each side’s players are assigned to the team of the state where they first appeared in senior league competition, thus the ‘state of origin’ moniker. The matches are always sold-out while millions of rugby fans around the world tune into TV broadcasts–the series is even televised in 91 countries!
This year’s State of Origin is hotly anticipated as NSW could buck a long-running trend. Queensland has dominated NSW in recent series, winning all but two since 2006, but the Blues enter as the 2019 State of Origin favorite.
Image: MasterMind5991 (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Australian Athletic Championships
End March – Early April
While the location of the Australian Athletic Championships moves from city to city, Sydney often plays host to the nation’s premier track and field series. This year is no exception and the 2019 competition returned to Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre.
Over 3,500 track and field athletes of all ages compete in Junior and Open aged championships for both able-bodied and para-athletes. Featured sports at the championships include various track events ranging from 100 to 5000 meters, long jump, pole vault, shot put, discus, and javelin.
The Australian Athletic Championships are overseen by Athletics Australia and serve as the primary qualifier for the World Championships and Olympic Games.
Sydney International Professional Tennis
Dating back to the inaugural year of 1885, the Sydney International tournament is one of the world’s oldest pro tennis events. It’s held annually each January at the NSW Tennis Centre in Homebush, and serves as a lead up to the grand slam Australian Open series.
The tournament hosts top-ranked international pros competing over seven days in both singles and doubles for men and women. Last year’s prize pool totalled more than $1.2 million, making the Sydney International quite lucrative for finishers in the money.
The next Sydney International takes place 6-12 January 2020.
MS Sydney to the Gong
We’ve focused exclusively on sports events for elite athletes so far, but the MS Sydney to the Gong bicycle race is open to all cycle enthusiasts. In fact, the capped field of 10,000 participants typically sells out well in advance.
This annual cycling extravaganza features 98 km and 58 km rides between Sydney and Wollongong to raise money for the fight against multiple sclerosis. Now in its 38th year, the MS Sydney to the Gong has raised well over $2 million en route to becoming one of NSW’s favorite charity events.
Special recognition is given to cyclists who have completed the event 10 or more times, a testament to the loyal core of participants who turn out every year.
The 2019 MS Sydney to the Gong takes place on 3 November.
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