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Top 5 international sporting events

Published March 25th, 2013

“Sports, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports!”

 

Homer Simpson was right – there are few things in life more important than sport. And because we know how enjoyable it is to watch the pros in action, we’ve come up with a list of 5 international sporting events you shouldn’t miss.

 

The French Open - Paris

Ah, the French. Nothing says you’re in France like a bit of Gallic indifference. Where the Australian Open has commercialism, Wimbledon has tradition and the US Open has all the brash boldness of New York City, the French Open exists as a Grand Slam tennis tournament because, well, it always has. Since 1891, the world’s top tennis players have been slugging it out on the distinctive red clay courts of Roland Garros and in 1968, the French Open made history as the first Grand Slam to invite professional players.

 

Everything about the tournament is unique; from crowds of staggeringly dressed Parisians in their chic haute couture to quintessentially French fare in the snack stands and the tinderbox atmosphere of the smallest centre court in the majors. And in era of unprecedented power, the slow clay courts ensure tactics actually play a role – even if the French Open tends to be dominated by a certain Spanish slugger.

 

 

The Ashes – England

We’ve been bickering with the English ever since the days our forebears were transported for nicking a slice of bread, and nothing spells ill-tempered rivalry like hitting your foes with a cricket ball. Sadly that’s a skill our English counterparts have rather mastered of late and England has won the last two Ashes series – including the 2010-11 series played on Australian soil.

 

That spell of poor form has prompted howls of indignant outrage from Australia’s cricket-loving patriots. But not even the fact our cricket team would currently struggle to fight its way out of a wet paper bag will stop hordes of enthusiastic Aussies from descending upon England’s genteel cricket grounds this July and August, as they get set to enjoy long days of drinking, debauchery and the odd spell of actually watching some cricket.

 

The US Masters – Augusta

Golf is a sport enjoyed by boring old fuddy-duddies and those looking to spoil a good walk, right? Wrong. A game of steady nerves, supreme skill and more than a hint of chance, golf remains an eternally popular spectator sport worldwide. And there’s no better tournament to watch live than the granddaddy of them all, the US Masters played annually in Augusta, Georgia.

 

The first major tournament of the season and the only one to be played at the same course every year, the Masters has a long and storied history dating back to the 1930s. All the greats have won it – Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Woods – but these days it’s a new generation eyeing off the famous green jacket, including Australia’s very own Adam Scott.

 

 

The J. League – Japan

The Japanese have a reputation for inventing things. When they can’t invent, they simply copy and it’s proved a recipe for success when it comes to Japan’s increasingly popular football league. Known as the J. League and largely modelled on the successful leagues of Europe, it kicked off to scenes of wild fanfare in 1993 and 20 years later it’s still going strong.
 

What separates the J. League from rival leagues across the globe is the fanatical dedication of Japanese fans. From the dozens of dedicated fan clubs dotting the terraces to the uniform chanting and singing of thousands of fans in unison, Japanese football grounds are awash with colour from March to December each year.

 
Hurling – All-Ireland

For some reason, hurling hasn’t really taken off outside the two Irish states. Perhaps it’s because the sport resembles a strange hybrid of hockey and rugby, where burly accountants and holidaying postmen smash each other in the face with large wooden sticks. Yes, you read that correctly – hurling is still an amateur sport, meaning that bank teller who served you in Cork could secretly be an All-Ireland star.
 

This ancient sport is reputed to be over 3,000-years-old and remains wildly popular throughout the entire island. Administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, the All-Ireland Senior Hurling final attracts a capacity crowd to the 82,000-capacity Croke Park in Dublin every year, for what is one of the must-see sporting spectacles anywhere in the world.

 

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.