The atmosphere was thick with anticipation for an event worthy of a packed stadium. One of the world’s greatest sporting rivalries was set to take place on the hallowed sands of Macquarie Island. Excitement for the annual midwinter tug–o-war between Australia and New Zealand had been building over the preceding months. The Kiwis had plenty to be confident about having won the event for two years running. They had also recruited very well with two dubious inclusions including Billy, a former top tug-o-war competitor from Wales. The Kiwis had been training hard on the hills of Macca and entered the event as the hottest of favourites.
A composed Aussie team gathered to face off against the might of New Zealand (NZ). Our plan was simple; fight for every inch and never give in. Round one was a brutal contest of pure will from both teams. After what seemed an eternity the Aussies shocked all in attendance with a victory that rocked the New Zealander’s belief. Some soul searching was done before round two and it had appeared order had been restored when the Kiwis won the bout with a textbook display in the art of the tug-o-war.
It was down to the decider, with fatigue setting in, whoever wanted it most was going to take home the prize. Aussie spirit kicked in and the team proved to be an immovable object. The only question was whether the NZ team or the rope would give way first. Fortunately it proved to be the former and so all on the island erupted in scenes of jubilation and disbelief, humbled to have witnessed the greatest upset since the Wallabies beat the All Blacks in the 2003 World Cup semi-final.
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)