AFL football

The biggest sporting events in Australia

For a country of under 30 million people, there are an incredible number of world-class sporting events each year in Australia. From the AFL Grand Final to the Boxing Day Test, this is your guide to the biggest sporting events in the country.

1. AFL Grand Final

For many around Australia, and particularly those living in Melbourne, Grand Final Day is one of the biggest of the year – you only need to look at the fact that the Friday before it was recently made a public holiday for confirmation of its importance. The culmination of one of the most well-attended sports in the world and the most popular sport in the country, Grand Final Day sees around 100,000 passionate fans pack into the MCG, and many millions more tune into their TVs. Far from being just a sporting event, the day also begins with plenty of pre-game entertainment, and once the game finishes, the streets of Melbourne fill up like on virtually no other day of the year.

2. The Boxing Day Test

There are a handful of sporting events on the calendar which rival the Grand Final for anticipation, and the Boxing Day Test is one of them – most notably the first day of it. This historic event is yet another for which close to 100,000 pack into the biggest stadium in Australia, but unlike on AFL Grand Final Day, this time they are treated to an entire day’s worth of elite sporting action. Around Australia, cricket is the sport of choice for most during the summer, and in what seems like every second backyard around the country you can bet there’s a crowd out the back, with the barbecue grilling and the TV set to Channel Seven.

3. Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

For the few sports fans who aren’t tuning into the Boxing Day Test the day after Christmas, the Sydney to Hobart is probably the reason why. One of the biggest boat races on the planet, the roughly 630 nautical mile journey is contested by some of the most talented sailing teams in the world. Some of the fastest boats in history have made a name for themselves at this event, with Wild Oats XI of particular note having won it on an incredible nine occasions. A look back at the 76-year history of the event highlights the extraordinary advances in boat construction over that time – the winner in 1945, Rani, took over six and a half days to complete the journey. The record now sits at just over 33 hours.

4. NRL Grand Final

While the AFL is the most popular football code around the country, for residents of New South Wales and Queensland it’s a distant second to rugby league. The NRL is the dominant winter sport from our nation’s biggest city and northwards on the east coast, and the Grand Final is a suitably monumental occasion at the conclusion of each season. Every year since 1999 it has been held at Stadium Australia in Sydney’s west, and on the first occasion it was held there, a tick under 108,000 screaming fans made their way through the turnstiles. The capacity of the stadium decreased fairly soon after, but nonetheless at least 79,000 have made it through the gates for the big game every single year with the exception of 2020, when the Storm beat the Panthers in a Grand Final match-up which Betway is offering odds of $3 to be repeated this year. 

5. The Big Bash League Final

It’s incredible to think that only a couple of decades ago, T20 cricket wasn’t yet a part of our lives. And it wasn’t until 2011 that the Big Bash League began, much to the chagrin of many traditionalists who bemoaned the increasingly ‘quickfire entertainment’ approach that the game was taking. But while Test cricket remains the format of choice for many diehard fans, most doubters of the Big Bash concept are now eating their words, with the world’s biggest domestic T20 league behind the IPL drawing significant viewership throughout the course of the summer. It culminates with the BBL Final, which last season saw an average of 1.4 million viewers tune in to see the Sixers beat the Scorchers.

The multitude of quality sporting events that take place throughout the year in Australia belies the relative size of the country. Encompassing footy, cricket, rugby and more, these events capture the imagination of millions around the nation and often the world, and demonstrate why Australia can lay claim to being the most sportsmad country on the planet.

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