Australian News

New Zealand’s All Blacks defeat Australia 27-7 in second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland

Australia’s run of outs at Eden Park has continued, with New Zealand recording a convincing 27-7 victory in the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland.

The Wallabies have not beaten the All Blacks at the venue since 1986 and the visitors backed their chances of snapping the losing streak following their spirited display in last weekend’s pulsating 16-16 draw in Wellington.

But the All Blacks were in a different class for much of the contest at Eden Park, scoring four tries to one to edge closer to retaining the Bledisloe Cup, which they have held since 2003.

After holding a slender 10-7 lead at half-time, the All Blacks scored three tries in the second term and kept the Wallabies scoreless on the way to their 20th straight victory over their trans-Tasman rival at Eden Park.

The All Blacks and Wallabies will meet again in two Tests in Sydney (October 31) and Brisbane (November 7) in what is a revamped Rugby Championship tournament following the withdrawal of South Africa.

Both sides will also play Argentina in the three-nation competition.

The All Blacks, stung by a poor effort in the Bledisloe Cup opener, came into Sunday’s Test in Auckland with more venom.

Veteran hooker Dane Coles bristled with energy and the return of Beauden Barrett from injury injected penetrative pace.

A New Zealand All Blacks players holds an Australian Wallabies opponent around the shoulders.
There was some feeling in the early exchanges between the All Blacks and Wallabies.(AP: Mark Baker)

But the undoubted star was winger Caleb Clarke, who showed Jonah Lomu-like skills and strength as he bulldozed the Wallabies defence time and again to announce himself as a future star in the making.

Clarke, whose father Eroni played for the All Blacks, was so impressive he left the field to a standing ovation with 12 minutes remaining in the match.

The All Blacks did a great job protecting five-eighth Richie Mo’unga after he was ruffled by the Wallabies’ defence in Wellington.

They used skip passes to Jack Goodhue and Barrett also stepped into first receiver role.

After a Mo’unga penalty, it was Goodhue running at first receiver in the 23rd minute that led to the All Blacks’ first try.

Goodhue powered to within a metre of the line and Aaron Smith scooted around from the base of the ruck to score.

Ned Hanigan was a strong addition to the Wallabies’ starting XV and they struck back just on the half-hour mark when the blindside flanker broke through an attempted tackle by Joe Moody.

Moody was left face down on the turf after being knocked out when his head smacked into Hanigan’s hip.

Hanigan burst clear to give the Wallabies vital field position and they capitalised through Marika Koroibete scoring in the left corner.

Four Australian Wallabies players celebrate a try against New Zealand's All Blacks.
The Wallabies had a glimmer of hope when Marika Koroibete (second from right) scored a try.(AP: Mark Baker)

The Wallabies were dealt a blow from the ensuing kick-off when Matt To’omua appeared to strain a hip flexor while making a clearing kick and he was replaced by Jordan Petaia.

Leading by three points at half-time, the All Blacks started the second term with a try-scoring blitz.

Within three minutes of the resumption, Jordie Barrett crossed after Mo’unga and Goodhue combined to create an overlap against a flat-footed Wallabies defence.

The match was effectively over three minutes later when Clarke — with a mix of raw power and savvy footwork — smashed through five would-be tacklers to create the space for number eight Ardie Savea to bust past the remnants of the Wallabies’ broken defence.

With the All Blacks leading 20-7, the Wallabies had appeared to grab one try back when hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa crawled over the line from a rolling maul deep inside opposition territory.

But following the intervention of the TMO, Paenga-Amosa was judged to have promoted the ball illegally across the line and the All Blacks were awarded a penalty.

All Blacks skipper Same Cane scored the fourth and final try in the 53rd minute, with Mo’unga adding the conversion to close out the scoring for the afternoon.


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Australian News

Wallabies make changes for second Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand’s All Blacks

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has backed recalled forward Ned Hanigan to provide “a point of difference” in Sunday’s second Bledisloe Cup Test at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Hanigan has been named at blindside flanker to face the All Blacks as part of a back-row positional change to the Wallabies’ line-up that drew last Sunday’s thrilling Bledisloe Cup opener 16-16 in Wellington.

Harry Wilson, who played at blindside flanker in Wellington, shifts to number eight, with Pete Samu dropping out of the matchday squad for the Eden Park clash.

Brandon Paenga-Amosa replaces Folau Fainga’a at hooker in the other change to the starting XV, while Queensland pair Liam Wright and Jordan Petaia have been selected on the reserves bench.

Hanigan has not played a Test since 2018 but Rennie said the 25-year-old deserved an international recall based on his training performances.

“Ned has been really impressive and has trained superbly in the four weeks that we’ve been together,” Rennie said.

“He’s done a lot of work around the All Blacks and the opposition stuff leading into last weekend’s game.

Hanigan, who can also play lock, offers the Wallabies an extra lineout option against the All Blacks.

“He’s a really good leader and lineout forward and we think all those elements are important this week,” Rennie said of Hanigan, who has played 20 Tests for the Wallabies.

An Australian rugby union international holds onto the ball as he is tackled by two defenders.
Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami was busy in attack and defence on debut.(AP: Brett Phibbs)

Rennie showed faith in outside centre Hunter Paisami, resisting the urge to name Petaia in his starting XV after the 20-year-old recovered from the hip injury that ruled him out of the Wellington Test.

Paisami performed well in his Test debut last Sunday and will again partner Matt To’omua in the centres.

Wright’s inclusion on the reserves bench comes at the expense of Rob Valetini.

The All Blacks have also made changes to their matchday squad, with Beauden Barrett returning from injury to line up at fullback.

Barrett missed the opening Test because of an Achilles tendon injury. He takes the place of Damien McKenzie, who moves to the bench.

Among the other changes, Rieko Ioane has been dumped from the starting XV, with Anton Lienert-Brown named in the centres, and Caleb Clarke replaces injured winger George Bridge.

Lock Sam Whitelock has failed to recover from a head knock, with Tupou Vaa’i coming into the starting line-up.

The Wallabies are chasing their first victory over the All Blacks at Eden Park in 34 years.

A win would boost their chances of reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup, which the All Blacks have held since 2003.

The Wallabies and All Blacks will play another two Tests as part of what is now a three-nation tournament following the withdrawal of South Africa from the Rugby Championship.

Argentina will also contest the Tri-Nations championship alongside the Wallabies and All Blacks.


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Australian News

New Zealand’s All Blacks to avoid Christmas in quarantine after change to Rugby Championship draw

The All Blacks will not spend Christmas in hotel quarantine after Rugby Australia (RA) and SANZAAR revised the Rugby Championship draw and brought forward the final Australia-New Zealand clash.

The Wallabies and All Blacks were due to meet in the last match of the tournament on December 12.

Under current New Zealand regulations, that would have meant the All Blacks would have to complete two weeks in quarantine that would take in Christmas.

There was talk of a potential boycott by New Zealand players if a solution was not found.

The teams will now square off in the Rugby Championship opener, which doubles as the third Bledisloe Cup Test, on October 31 at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.

The match between Argentina and South Africa, part of a double-header on December 12, has been relocated from the Olympic stadium to Newcastle to close out the seven-week tournament.

The remainder of the draw is otherwise unchanged, with the Wallabies and All Blacks meeting for a fourth time as part of a double-header in Brisbane on November 7.

South Africa’s participation remains to be confirmed, with its government still to approve international travel for the world champions.

A Wallabies player pushes past an All Black preparing to pass the ball.
The Wallabies and All Blacks will now meet in the Rugby Championship opener.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said the opening of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand had allowed organisers to make the changes.

He hinted that New Zealand Rugby (NZR) had been forced to foot some of the bill for the rescheduling.

“The opening of the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand from New Zealand and an agreement by the parties on revised commercial outcomes has enabled the joint venture to consider alternative solutions in addressing our two key objectives of commercial viability and player welfare,” Marinos said.

“This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels.”

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson welcomed the decision.

“It is great news that we now have certainty on the draw and we’re really excited about the fantastic rugby to come,” Robinson said.

The Christmas quarantine stoush had kept tensions high between the trans-Tasman neighbours, with NZR claiming it never agreed to a December 12 finish.

NZR was already unhappy that Australia had snatched hosting rights away due to more relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.

It got to the point that RA chairman Hamish McLennan said the relationship between the countries was at its “lowest ebb”.

The teams meet in the opening Bledisloe Cup in Wellington on Sunday, with an Auckland Test a week later.


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Australian News

New Zealand’s former skipper Amy Satterthwaite returns to T20I stage after maternity leave

As the Australian women’s team took on New Zealand at Allan Border Field on Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of rust being scoured away. Batting, commentary, getting turnstiles to work: it all involved creaking into action after cricket’s usual winter hiatus was expanded by COVID stasis.

But as far as the players went, one in particular had every right to scoff at the six months the others had been out of action since the Twenty20 World Cup earlier this year.

Amy Satterthwaite, the tall and angular left-hander who has so long batted near the top of New Zealand’s order, had been waiting an extra year and more on top of that.


Her previous competitive outing had come in a one-day match against Australia on March 3, 2019. She had spent more than 18 months out of the game due to pregnancy, childbirth, and maternity leave.

Then she had made her way back to elite sport.

It helps that her parenting partner is a New Zealand teammate, fast bowler Lea Tahuhu. At least there would be no difficulty for either at home to explain the motivation to get back to playing.

During the last Australian summer, Tahuhu was still in the Big Bash League while her wife was heavily pregnant, then played in the T20 World Cup while Satterthwaite was in the stands carrying the recent arrival, Grace Marie.

New Zealand and the Melbourne Renegades have each had batting fragility over the last few years. Before her pregnancy Satterthwaite captained both, and was so often the player called upon to rescue games in crisis.

Having to watch from the sidelines with no ability to jump in and fix things must have been a major adjustment.

A New Zealand cricketer and the Australian captain bump fists after a women's T20 international.
For Amy Satterthwaite (left), it wasn’t the perfect return to international cricket, but there was plenty to build on for the White Ferns batter.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

After all that time out, coming back into the fold on Saturday must have involved a lot of different feelings. It also allowed Satterthwaite to add one more to her 99 appearances for New Zealand in T20 cricket.

There was no easing in. When she walked to the middle at two wickets down, New Zealand needed 96 runs from 67 balls, against her country’s biggest rival, after her team’s biggest hitter had got out.

Her second ball was on leg stump, a gift that she could turn away for a single. Her fourth was an off-break, too full, and Satterthwaite swept. One of her favourite shots. Out of the middle, airborne and then bouncing, perfectly splitting the gap between two boundary riders for four.

There wasn’t much else to remark upon: a few miscues, some singles, a free hit that wasn’t cashed in, and eventually a reverse sweep off the glove to the wicketkeeper, out for nine. But there must have been that moment, nailing that boundary, when Satterthwaite was able to know that she can still play.

That’s something to build from. The next few games as well. Cricket across 50 overs has always been Satterthwaite’s game more than the T20 format. In one-dayers she matched the absurd Kumar Sangakkara record of scoring four centuries in a row, and she came within a few hits of adding a fifth.

In the shortest format, New Zealand lack hitting power aside from Sophie Devine, and super-fast scoring has never been Satterthwaite’s offering. She’s more the calm head to help build an innings, providing stability.

At the moment, for her, any and all cricket will do. But the initial motivator for getting back to the team so soon was that New Zealand was supposed to be hosting the 50-over World Cup this coming February. Now that’s postponed to 2022.

That might be a source of annoyance, or it might give Satterthwaite more time to get her game in order. Cricket will be different for her. She may have gone on maternity leave, but it didn’t follow the principle of preserving her job as captain. Devine filled in but is now the permanent replacement.

But as Satterthwaite looked around during that first match back, she would have seen a dozen other players with no fluency, finding the pitch was holding up a bit, the slower balls were gripping, there was nothing to properly hit.

An Australian female T20 cricketer wearing a helmet plays a cut shot to her right against New Zealand in Brisbane.
Ash Gardner’s quickfire 61 off 41 balls got the job done for Australia in game one.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

She would have seen everyone else chipping catches to the infield, or trying to line up sixes and instead lining up airspace, and felt that they were all part of the same experience. Across both teams, only Ash Gardner got her shots going, and she gave Australia the win.


Returning to the game alone would have been one thing, returning in a crowd is quite another. It’s a fair hope to hold: that as other players scuff back their rust and get their games shining again, this player can do the same. The fortnight ahead will be the first indication.

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Local News - Victoria

how New Zealand’s laws failed Matthew Hunt

Over the next eight years, he built a CV perfect for law enforcement. There was a degree in criminology from Auckland University of Technology, work in the local district court organising court dates and jury duty before moving into the prison system.

Next was Paremoremo Prison (housing New Zealand’s most dangerous inmates), where he was appointed case manager at the age of 22. His job was to help prisoners address the cause of their offending – and direct them into courses to reduce the chances of them returning to crime.

Few prospective police would receive this sort of insight into criminals before they were even accepted into the force.

Like so many Australians and New Zealanders, it was time to head to Britain for a taste of Europe, working in bars (a great place to understand human nature), at the Nursing and Midwifery Council and Contiki Tours.

Just about everywhere he worked, they said he was welcome back at any time.

When his mate tore an Achilles tendon in Europe, Matt met him at the train station in London and piggybacked him to his flat, where he gave him his bed.

Matt Hunt and his mother Diane at Auckland Airport in 2015. Diane Hunt is campaigning for a change in New Zealand's laws after his shooting.

Matt Hunt and his mother Diane at Auckland Airport in 2015. Diane Hunt is campaigning for a change in New Zealand’s laws after his shooting.

In 2017, he was finally accepted into the NZ Police Force and, after training, was stationed at the boutique seaside suburb of Orewa on the Hibiscus Coast. It is an area known for its long Pacific beach, large retirement community, bike tracks and relaxed dining. A good place to learn.

In the cynical world of policing, Matt earned a reputation as a quiet achiever. Fit, strong and calm, he was able to deal with erratic offenders without force, once persuading a man to give up his knife and surrender.

His supervisor, Sergeant Dean Taylor, was impressed, reporting: “Matt was a junior member of the team who stood out … calm, methodical and eager to learn. He made good decisions and was a good communicator.

“He was eager to hone his skills so when the time was right, he could commence his detective training.”

Taylor did not make those comments in an internal police report but in front of 1500 people, including NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at Eden Park, the country’s largest sports stadium.

He was speaking at Matt Hunt’s funeral after he was gunned down during what began as a routine traffic stop on a mild winter’s morning in Auckland’s north-western suburb of Massey.

The death raises the question of the protection of NZ police, who do not routinely carry firearms even though they are being confronted by armed offenders at an alarming rate.

In a ridiculous quirk, NZ police are better armed than their Australian counterparts and yet they are banned from having immediate access to the weapons they are authorised to use.

Police cars carry two Glock semi-automatic pistols in a locked box in the cabin and two M4 semi-automatic rifles secured in the boot. (Most Victorian general duties police cannot use long arms.)

NZ police wear stab-proof vests with pockets for bullet-resistant plates when required. The trouble is crooks sometimes won’t wait for police to get themselves set for a gun battle.

Matt’s police car was equipped with the required weapons, which were completely useless in what was a split-second ambush.

It defies logic to give police access to firearms but deny them the chance to defend themselves when it matters. It is about as logical as turning off your hearing aids to save the batteries.

NZ is not some peaceful backwater. It is a nation with crime, social and racial issues the same as anywhere else and proportionately has nearly three times as many guns as Australia.

This is not just about protecting police but protecting everyone. Just a few weeks ago, Melbourne police shot a man in Gladstone Park who was stabbing his mother in the face. He was killed within 30 seconds of police arriving. If they had to return to the car and fiddle with a locked box to get a gun, there would have been two bodies and not one.

In 2019, a right-wing extremist, armed with two semi-automatics, two shotguns and a lever-action rifle, killed 51 people and injured another 49 in Christchurch. (The 29-year-old will be sentenced next month. It is the practice of this column not to name terrorists as it gives these bastards the notoriety they crave.)

After the Christchurch massacre, NZ finally banned semi-automatic weapons – the type outlawed in Australia in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre.

In NZ, there are about 1.5 million guns (police believe that figure is greatly understated because the registration system has collapsed) for a population of about 5 million. In Australia, there are about 3 million guns for a population of about 25 million. In the US, there are 393 million guns for a population of 330 million.

For 10 years, the NZ Police Association has called for operational police to carry guns. For 10 years, they have been ignored. After Matt Hunt’s death, the government said it would not change this policy.

Association president Chris Cahill says the argument against police carrying guns centres on claims criminals will then be more likely to arm themselves: “That horse has well and truly bolted.”

Can anyone seriously argue crooks won’t carry guns because police firearms are in a locked box?

The second argument is that police carrying guns will change their relationship with the public. But according to Cahill, when police carry guns during emergencies “no one seems to notice”.

It is general duties police, not heavily armed specialists, who are at the greatest risk because no one knows when a routine call will flame out of control. “We know that vehicle stops are the most dangerous,” says Cahill.

People who say bobbies on the beat don’t carry guns are living in the past because the streets of London are patrolled by paramilitary police armed with machine guns.

In the 2017 Westminster terror attack that left five people dead and 50 wounded, first responder Constable Keith Palmer — who was unarmed — was stabbed to death when he bravely confronted the offender, who was then shot dead by armed police.

Two weeks before he died, Matt Hunt moved from Orewa general duties to Waitemata Road Policing. While all young cops have to have a stint in road policing, Matt saw it as an opportunity for multiple public interactions, leading to his goal of becoming a detective.

About 10.30am on Friday, June 19, he and his partner tried to pull over a car when the female driver sped off.

They found it crashed a short time later on Reynella Drive in Massey after it had smashed into a parked car. As Matt’s partner stepped from the police car, a man allegedly jumped from the damaged vehicle carrying a long-barrelled weapon, the type banned a year earlier.

He shot the policeman in the leg. As Matt radioed for back-up, the gunman turned towards the police car.

New Zealand Police guard Reynella Drive, Massey, Auckland, after the shooting.

New Zealand Police guard Reynella Drive, Massey, Auckland, after the shooting.Credit:Getty Images

Matt, who had no chance to unlock the gun safe and was not wearing a ballistic vest, jumped from the car, with his semi-automatic rifle out of reach in the boot. It may as well have been left at the station’s armoury.

He was shot multiple times and died in hospital. A 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with murder.

Matt’s mother, Diane, says: “Matthew was an honourable person; he never judged anyone and was immensely proud of being a NZ police officer. He wore the uniform with great pride and was liked by everyone he met.

Matthew Hunt, who died aged just 28 with so much more to give.

Matthew Hunt, who died aged just 28 with so much more to give.

“My son was a decent human being, a modest person, with a great intellect and a huge willingness to learn and grow.

“He had integrity, was meticulous, set high standards, was kind, compassionate and empathetic.”

Diane says NZ’s laws don’t reflect the dangers of law enforcement and wants the government to introduce laws like those in Victoria that include a mandatory life sentence for killing police: “You have done it there, why can’t we do it here?”

So far, she has more than 33,000 signatures on a petition to change the law.

“Guns are prolific here. There have been four incidents in a week where police have been confronted with guns [including shots fired at police during a pursuit and a dirt biker threatening a policewoman with a gun].

“I want to make sure Matthew is remembered. He deserved so much more than 28 years of life. I am so proud of him.”

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Australian News

Manly’s NRL finals hopes take a hit following upset 26-22 loss to New Zealand’s Warriors

Manly’s NRL finals hopes have taken a hit after falling short of completing a late comeback against the Warriors in its 26-22 loss at Brookvale Oval

In a brutal night for the Sea Eagles, they lost both Martin Taupau (concussion) and Addin Fonua-Blake (lower-leg cork) during the match.

The Sea Eagles, who sit one spot outside the top eight behind South Sydney, have now lost five of their past seven matches since Tom Trbojevic was sidelined with a hamstring injury in round six.

Trbojevic is still two weeks away from making his return, while teammate Dylan Walker is facing another five rounds on the sidelines.

In Des Hasler’s 400th match as coach, it all went wrong for the Sea Eagles in a horror 18-minute opening where they conceded three tries and lost Fonua-Blake to injury.

Daly Cherry-Evans was again strong for Manly alongside Moses Suli, but not even the Kangaroos half-back could engineer a winning result after trailing 16-0 early.

The Warriors’ win, meanwhile, marked the first time they have won back-to-back matches since last May and they sit just two wins out of the top eight.

Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita both kicked superbly close to the line, with four of their five tries coming off the pair’s boots.

Patrick Herbert bagged a double, with his first a diving effort to latch onto a Nikorima cross-field kick and score in the same motion.

But the Warriors’ win was not without its dramas.

Prop Jack Hetherington faces a lengthy stint on the sideline for a high shot that left Taupau concussed.

He was sin-binned but lucky not to be sent off, in a moment that threatened to blow the match wide open.

Manly took full advantage of the extra man, when Cade Cust put a charging Haumole Olakau’atu over from close distance with 22 minutes to play.

The margin was then down to four points with 12 minutes to play when Tevita Funa put Jorge Taufua over, after Cherry-Evans opted to run it on the last.


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Australian News

Australia, New Zealand’s winning bid to host 2023 Women’s World Cup sends fans wild

Aussie and Kiwi football fans are celebrating after Australia and New Zealand won their joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The winning bid was announced in the early hours of Friday morning, following a tight vote among FIFA delegates.

“We did it! We are hosting the 2023 FIFAWWC!” Australia’s Matildas exclaimed on Twitter.

New Zealand’s Football Ferns also rejoiced at the news, tweeting: “Still awake and very, very excited in Auckland”.

The trans-Tasman bid was up against Colombia, which was reportedly argued by UEFA, the powerful ruling body of European football, as the better place to help drive change for women’s football.

MORE: What you need to know about the tournament

But Australia and New Zealand received the highest score in FIFA’s technical evaluation – earning 4.1 out of five in the report compared to Colombia’s 2.8.

The joint bid was also considered more commercially lucrative – a compelling factor for FIFA.

“The opportunity to play in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup is something every footballer dreams of and I am looking forward to seeing those dreams come true,” Matildas captain Samantha Kerr said.

“Playing for the Matildas in Australia will be the highlight of my career and an opportunity to inspire girls, both in Australia and New Zealand, and all over the world to play football.

“We have seen great progress in the women’s game and Australia-New Zealand will take the game to a whole new level.”

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, who shared an emotional photo of herself on Twitter with tears in her eyes, also said it was a “truly special” moment.

“To lead the Football Ferns in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand will be truly special and inspire a new generation of Football Ferns,” she said.

Bleary-eyed fans who stayed up to watch the announcement described the win as “overwhelming”.

“Not often I’m awake and in tears at 2am, but this did it and these are happy tears,” one woman wrote on Twitter.

“In disbelief over how far we’ve come. From having to beg to be allowed to play a ‘boy’s sport’ to getting the 2023 FIFAWWC. This means everything and it’s almost overwhelming.”

“Unbelievable places, full of amazing people! This one will be epic. Congratulations … let the dreaming commence,” another wrote.

The Sydney Opera House and Auckland’s Sky Tower were lit up on Thursday to celebrate the joint bid.

It will be the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.

– With wires

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Australian News

What you need to know about Australia-New Zealand’s women’s FIFA 2023 World Cup bid

In the early hours of the morning on Friday, Australia and New Zealand will find out if they have been successful in their joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Is the bid likely to be successful? Who are the competing bids? What will happen if Australia-New Zealand gets the nod?

We seek to answer all your questions below.

Why is Australia’s bid special?

There’s a lot to like about Australia-New Zealand 2023 — not least because it means a senior FIFA tournament will be played on our doorstep for the first time.

The bid is unique in that it will be the first time an effort split over two Confederations (Asia and Oceania) will have successfully tendered to host a major FIFA tournament.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the bid has “historic” this week, highlighting the cross-confederation aspect.

Caitlin Foord and Abby Erceg run side by side with a ball at their feet
Australia and New Zealand are both pulling in the same direction when it comes to hosting the World Cup.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

She also mentioned how the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) has never hosted a FIFA tournament at the senior level, which would provide a huge boost to football in the region.

Australia has twice hosted FIFA’s U20 men’s tournament and NZ has hosted the U17s men’s world championships.

Who else is in the race?

Originally, there were four bidders.

Now, after Brazil dropped out due to a lack of government support and Japan dropped out just three days before the announcement was due, there are just two.

Previous to this, Australia topped FIFA’s recent technical report audit, scoring 4.1 out of 5, just pipping Japan, which scored 3.9.

Colombia’s bid scored 2.8, but their team have since argued they were victims of “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” about the domestic security situation and sub-standard health facilities in the country.

Alanna Kennedyholds her arms up and yells in celebration
The Matildas had good support in France. At home it would be off the scale.(Reuters: Jean-Paul Pelissier)

Does that mean we’re favourites?

The head of Australia’s bid team, Jane Fernandez, told the ABC that coming out on top in the technical report was a big deal.

“It buoys our confidence, it means we that we know that we are on the right track,” Ms Fernandez said.

“It means that the technical evaluation team that came here in February, what they saw here was really pleasing to them.”

However, getting a good rating from the technical committee does not necessarily translate into votes.

Sepp Blatter announces Qatar as host for the 2022 World Cup
Remember when Qatar was successful? Us too.(REUTERS: Christian Hartmann)

What does fall in Australia-New Zealand’s favour is that FIFA rated it as the most commercially sound of all the bids.

How do they decide?

FIFA’s congress will meet in Zurich on Thursday and vote to decide who will earn hosting rights, with FIFA saying it will make an announcement from 2:00am AEST on Friday morning.

Thirty-five of the 37 congress members will vote, publicly, on who they think should earn the rights.

Why only 35? Colombia and New Zealand both have seats on FIFA’s Congress (unlike Australia), so are not eligible to vote, for obvious reasons.

If we win, where will the games be played?

The bid proposes 13 stadiums in 12 cities across Australia and New Zealand, telling FIFA it would prefer a minimum of 10 to be used — five in each country.

FIFA has the final say, but noted that all the proposed stadiums performed strongly against the required criteria.

Selfie with Samantha Kerr
Matildas fans will have a golden opportunity to see a World Cup on home soil.(Australian Story: Jennifer Feller)

Eden Park in Auckland is down to host the opening game, with Stadium Australia in Sydney pencilled in for the final.

The planned redevelopment of Sydney Olympic stadium into a 70,000-seat, rectangular facility was recently put on ice, but FIFA demands the World Cup final is played in a venue with a minimum capacity of 55,000 — and Homebush is the only place that fulfils that criteria, redeveloped or not.

Stadium City Capacity
Stadium Australia Sydney 70,000*
Eden Park Auckland 48,276
Hindmarsh stadium Adelaide 18,435
Lang Park Brisbane 52,263
Christchurch stadium Christchurch 22,556
Dunedin stadium Dunedin 28,744
Waikato stadium Hamilton 25,111
York Park Launceston 22,065
AAMI Park Melbourne 30,052
Newcastle stadium Newcastle 25,945
Perth Oval Perth 22,225
Sydney Football Stadium Sydney 42,512
Wellington Regional Stadium Wellington 39,000

*Redeveloped capacity. Current capacity is 82,500.

The bid team is banking on welcoming 1.5 million fans through the gates across those venues for an average of 24,000 spectators per game, making it the most well-supported women’s World Cup in history.

Will our time zone hurt us?

Not according to FIFA’s evaluation report.

In relation to TV potential, FIFA said although “a relative fall in audiences could be experienced in Europe” its analysis of the time zones meant the games “would be expected to appeal quite strongly to the Asian markets”.

When will the tournament take place?

The dates FIFA has nominated for the tournament to take place are between July 10 to August 10, 2023.

This, being the southern hemisphere winter, would make playing conditions perfect across the two host countries.

Sam Kerr celebrates a goal by giving a high five to a teammate as she runs away from the camera
Playing conditions will be perfect during the Australia-New Zealand winter.(AP: Laurent Cipriani)

There is no clash with either the A-League or W-League, but the grass-roots state-based competitions will be running at the same time in both countries — considered a bonus for the bid team to drive engagement.

When it comes to potential clashes, the elephants in the room are the NRL and AFL competitions in Australia, and provincial rugby union competition in New Zealand.

However, the bid team state they have “secured the support and commitment of other sports to collaborate on the delivery of the tournament” — which was not the case for the ill-fated 2022 bid.

How many teams will there be?

The 2023 Women’s World Cup will feature 32 teams, up from the 24 that competed in France in 2019.

US women's soccer team celebrate winning 2019 world cup
The reigning champions, the USA, will likely be one of 32 teams at the World Cup.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

There will be eight groups of four teams in the initial stages, split evenly between Australia and New Zealand.

Qualification will start next year — contingent on an easing of the global coronavirus pandemic.

As with the men’s tournament, the hosts would qualify automatically. In the instance of a joint bid, both teams would get the nod.

The breakdown of how many teams will be able to qualify from each confederation will be determined in due course.

Australia bid for the 2022 World Cup — how did that work out?

Not great, if we’re being honest.

Australia received just one vote during a secret ballot back in 2010, and was knocked out in the first round.

The bid was backed by a $46 million of Federal Government funds, but never had a real chance of being successful, according to then FIFA president Sepp Blatter (now serving a six-year ban from FIFA activities).

Qatar, somewhat controversially, was chosen instead.

The controversy around that bidding process had major impacts on the footballing political landscape, with FBI raids on FIFA’s offices and a slew of arrests.

This time, things should be different given the vote will be public.

When will we find out the result?

Set your alarms for 2:00am AEST for the news out of Switzerland.

Win or lose, we’ll bring you all the reaction right here.

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Australian News

Japan withdraws from 2023 Women’s World Cup bid, strengthening Australia and New Zealand’s co-host chances

Australia and New Zealand are one step closer to co-hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup after Japan officially pulled out of the race.

The Japan Football Association announced on Monday night it would follow Brazil in pulling out of the running for the tournament, leaving just Colombia and the joint Australia-New Zealand bid as the remaining candidates.

More to come.

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New Zealand’s opposition leader Simon Bridges dumped after crash in popularity | World news

The leader of New Zealand’s opposition has been removed by his party in a desperate bid to install a figurehead who can match Jacinda Ardern’s star power in the upcoming September general election.

National party MP Todd Muller won a secret party room vote against Simon Bridges, a former criminal prosecutor who recent polls have found to be deeply unpopular with the general public. The vote took less than an hour. Nikki Kaye was chosen as his deputy.

Speaking at a press conference Muller described himself as a man from “heartland New Zealand” and said the nation needed a national government with the “experience and management skills to get our country through the worst crisis since the end of the second world war.”

Muller said he wasn’t interested in playing oppositional politics but he would hold them to account. While he applauded their management of the Covid-19 crisis as “impressive” and praised Ardern as an “excellent communicator”, he said Labour did not have the skills to lead New Zealand out of an economic downturn, and said the party only had two or three talented MPs in cabinet.

“First and foremost I am about what’s best for you and your family, not what’s wrong with the government,” Muller said.

“My focus as leader is our country’s economic recovery and the strengthening of every community throughout New Zealand.”

“What drives me is the community, the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend, the dad who runs the food stall at the local school fair, the mum who coaches a local touch rugby team.”

Muller’s deputy Kaye described him as “the most decent person I know” and said he had an extraordinary ability to unite conservatives and liberals within the party.

In the week before the ballot, Bridges rated at just 5% and below, with his party on 30.6%. Meanwhile, Ardern’s popularity has soared to record highs, making her the most popular New Zealand prime minister in a century.

Bridges said his leadership had been “a heck of a ride”. He posted a goodbye message to Kiwis on Twitter, and said he was looking forward to being a “better husband and father” to his family, saying the leadership had taken a toll on them.

“It’s been a blast, I’ve got absolutely no regrets … I am not perfect but its been a privilege”.”

Simon Bridges

More time for the most important job I have. Thank you New Zealand.

May 22, 2020

Before the vote on Friday, Muller laid out the premise for his challenge in an email to the 55 National MPs, saying: “Labour has failed to deliver on every measure it has set for itself in government. This will not change and the consequences of it being reelected at this time will be catastrophic for two generations.”

“Our communities and our economy are at stake. It is essential National wins this election. I share the view of a majority of colleagues that this is not possible under the current leadership.”

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Bridges has been criticised for his lack of empathy and tone-deaf responses, appearing to pick fights with the government when the public felt he should have been showing solidarity and support at a time of national emergency.

In the balance are the election-year fortunes of a party that dominated parliament for nine years until 2017, but has struggled to mount a challenger who can match the popularity of Ardern.

Ardern’s party polled at 56.5% in Monday’s Newshub Reid research poll, which meant that Labour could govern alone after September’s election in a country where coalition governments are normal. The prime minister had shot to 59.5% in the preferred leader stakes, making her the most popular prime minister in a century.

Muller comes from a business background, with roles at the dairy giant Fonterra and at Zespri, the kiwifruit growers’ cooperative. He hails from a dyed-in-the-wool National party-supporting family and served as an executive assistant to Jim Bolger while he was prime minister in the 1990s.

The Bay of Plenty MP, who lives in the North Island city of Tauranga with his wife and three children, may suffer from having a low profile nationally, opponents of the challenge said.

Kaye is much better known in mainstream New Zealand, partly from her early political battles with Ardern. In 2011 and 2014, the pair went head-to-head for the same electorate seat of Central Auckland, which Kaye won and retains (Ardern now holds a different electorate seat).

The pair captured headlines for their youth – they were both born in 1980 – and popularity. Kaye went on to become an education minister in the previous National government and was treated successfully for breast cancer in 2016.

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