Best of 2016

VICE Sports AUNZ's Best Stories of the Year

A look back on the best VICE Sports stories from Australia and New Zealand in 2016.

by VICE Sports
30 December 2016, 3:12pm

Ben Thomson

In response to our friends at VICE Sports US nominating their favourite stories from the last twelve months, the gang Down Under thought we'd do the same. Australian editor Jed Smith and New Zealand editor Ben Stanley went back through the archives and found a dozen of our best from a year – sporting or otherwise – that few of us will ever forget:

Carrying the Bat: A Tribute to Martin Crowe

Ben Stanley, March 2

"Martin Crowe, the finest batsman in New Zealand cricket history, lived a life full of individuality, poise, and honest eagerness."

Remembering Hemingway's Heavyweight Bromance with a Kiwi Plumber

Ben Stanley, March 31

"It was on the beach in front of the Compleat Angler Hotel on Bimini Island, where the two old cobbers stripped off their shirts, put up their dukes and went at it. It was the summer of 1935 in the Bahamas, and a heavyweight duel like few others in history was about to take place."

Five Years After the Christchurch Earthquake, Lancaster Park is Still Broken and Covered in Weeds

Ben Stanley, May 31

"When 41-year-old former All Black Scott Robertson thinks of Lancaster Park, he thinks about how Norm Berryman once made the whole stadium shake."

Match Fixing In The NRL: Is Anyone Really Surprised?

Jed Smith, June 15

It's hard to think of a professional sport more ripe for the rigging than the NRL. For too long the game has languished in a strange limbo between amateur and professional. Underpaid, incredibly dangerous, and with an average career span of just 43 games (there's 26 games in a season, excluding finals) players routinely find themselves spat out the wrong end of a system they entered when they were 15. What are they left with? No skills, no job prospects, a badly battered body, and little in the pocket.

Watching The West Tigers Play At Leichardt Is The Most 'Sydney' Thing You Can Do

Jed Smith, August 12

"Leichhardt Oval is one of the last surviving bastions of traditional working class rugby league. As the game finds itself increasingly shunted to zero-atmosphere mega-stadiums with a 20% fill-rate, the humble Leichardt Oval with its 20,000 capacity and routine sell-outs is one of the few places you can experience league as it is meant to be experienced."

A Brief History Of The Fijian Rugby Sevens Phenomenon

Jed Smith, August 15

The ball came to Serevi via a one-armed coconut toss that wouldn't have looked out of place in the Suva markets. It wasn't a great pass at the best of times. Let alone in the final of the Hong Kong Sevens with an All Black steaming down on you. But they don't call him "the little magician" for nothing, and what Waisale Serevi did next would astound the rugby world.

Chasing Great, But the Corporate Dollar, Too: The Richie McCaw Story

Ben Stanley, September 1

"When it comes to Richie McCaw, it's becoming hard to separate 'The Humble Country Boy Made Good' from 'The Walking, Talking Corporate Advert' in New Zealand these days."

The Last Punch: How Concussions Forced Kiwi UFC Pioneer James Te Huna From The Octagon

Ben Stanley, September 4

"The punch that ended James Te Huna's mixed martial arts career was not a powerful one, nor was it delivered by an exceptional opponent."

Riding Gonzo With Dustin Barca: The Hawaiian Pro Surfing, Cage Fighting, Anti-GMO Activist

Jed Smith, September 9

Dustin Barca has lived a life of conflict. He's been in one fight or another for as long as he can remember; fights over waves in the heavily localised and often violent arenas of Kauai and Pipeline; fights for respect from his brutal polynesian mentors; and fights for survival in the Mixed Martial Arts arena.

Tai Webster's Nebraskan Basketball Odyssey

Ben Stanley, November 18

"Some guy just came up to me out of nowhere and was like 'Tai, you need a ride?" Webster, the point guard for the Nebraska college basketball team, says. "You are always in the eye, here."

A Portrait Of Desperation And Political Scandal At The Sydney Dish Lickers

Jed Smith, October 16

"It's only once they finish the race and come bounding into the special enclosure grinning and looking for love that it dawns on you that these are just...dogs. Those loveable, affectionate little buggers that love having their ears roughed up. It's then that the figure of 68 000 dead Greyhounds in the last 12 years begins to gnaw at your throat."

Watching The One Eyed Matador At Work: Padilla 'The Bold' At The Pamolona Corrida

Jed Smith, October 16

"They love him here in Pamplona, the spiritual home of the corrida (bullfight). Had loved him even before his miraculous comeback from a horrific 2011 goring in which he was skewered from jaw to eye socket by the bull and dragged by his face across the plaza."