New Zealand scores touchdown with American football

Last year the All Blacks played rugby in Chicago, now it is the grid iron stars' turn to ply their trade on New Zealand soil.

New Zealand has scored another coup in hosting world sporting events, with American football confirmed to make its debut in the country in 2016. 

A competition called the Southern Bowl will be played at two of New Zealand’s most iconic sports stadiums - Eden Park in Auckland and Westpac Stadium in Wellington – next March, kicking off a sporting and entertainment showdown never seen in New Zealand history. 

New Zealand is a proud sporting nation, best known for rugby and in recent years has successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup and currently the FIFA Under-20 Football World Cup. 

But few Kiwis have had the opportunity to see American Football first hand and the 2016 spectacle gives New Zealand the chance to host two specially selected teams of professional players from North America.

The teams will play across two weekends at Auckland’s Eden Park on 5 March and Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 12 March. Both sporting grounds will be transformed into American Football fields and organisers say they expect more than 80,000 spectators to attend the games.

Heard but not seen

The Southern Bowl has been three years in the making for New Zealand-based company Douglas Webber Events, with Managing Director, Craig Douglas, coining it ‘the sport and entertainment event of 2016’. 

“American Football is a sport we have all heard about, but few New Zealanders have had the opportunity to see it live. Now, for the first time in the history of this passionate sporting nation, all the fun and action engrained in American Football culture will come alive here.” 

Douglas says Southern Bowl will be a genuine, authentic showcase of true American football featuring all the customary half time entertainment that makes it the number one sport in the United States. 

Player selection

The player selection process kicks off on 11 July 2015, with try-outs held across the United States, facilitated by sports agency Giesler Sports World-Wide. 

In August, over 100 players, coaching and support staff will be finalised and announced as the teams travelling to New Zealand to battle it out on the field, with the winning team taking home the inaugural Southern Bowl Cup.

“We have had overwhelming interest from some of the most promising football players in the States, many keen to travel to New Zealand to showcase the sport,” says Jarin Giesler. “This is our opportunity to showcase American Football culture to New Zealand and is a once in a lifetime event with top notch players and coaches – everything will be first class.”