Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cheeky Aussies

New Zealand and Australia have a strong sibling rivalry, particularly in sport. However, Aussies take little notice of us until we either beat them or do better than them on the world stage. And when New Zealand does better than Australia on something that the Aussies care about, they often try to appropriate the NZ achievement.

Case in point: The FIFA World Cup. New Zealand drew in its match with Slovakia, one-all. It was a proud achievement for the New Zealand All Whites—their first-ever goal in world cup soccer (and this is the first year that New Zealand has qualified for the World Cup since 1982).

The Australian Socceroos, by comparison, lost their first match to Germany, 4-0. So, New Zealand did better than the Aussies. Put another way, the New Zealand team did what the Australians could not: New Zealand scored a goal.

In response, the Sydney Morning Herald proclaimed the result as “Australasia 1 – Slovakia 1”. This was headlined on the front page of their print edition, and on their website (screenshot above). Um no, “Australasia” had nothing to do with this one.

We’re kind of used to this behaviour from the other side of the Tasman: Not so many years ago, an Australian book tried to claim our national hero, the late Sir Edmund Hillary, as an “Australasian” mountaineer. We, however, are far too polite to do that in reverse—though I suppose it could be that there are so few Aussies worthy of appropriating.

The truth is, no one—including me—takes any of this seriously, but we do love having an excuse to take the piss. You can be sure the next chance they get, Aussies will do that, too.

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