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The Warriors’ tale: How sport unites a nation – Breaking the silence of New Zealand crowds


Sport isn’t just about what happens on the field; it’s about the way it weaves into the fabric of our lives.

The infectious energy that spreads through a stadium as we all sing and cheer together isn’t just about the game – it’s about being part of something bigger. It’s a symphony of support, a reminder that we’re in this together, cheering for our team, celebrating their triumphs and battling through their defeats.

As the NRL season draws to a close for the Warriors, it’s time to reflect on what has undeniably been a cracking year for the men from Mt Smart.


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The Warriors were trounced by the Brisbane Broncos 42-12 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night but let’s not dwell on the what-could-have-beens. We should celebrate the triumphs, the spirit, and the sheer joy the Warriors have brought to our lives this season. They showcased grit, passion, and a whole lot of Kiwi pride, and that is a victory in itself.

One thing that’s been more refreshing than a blustery southerly is the transformation of New Zealand sports fans. We’ve traded our sheepish shyness for a chorus of enthusiasm that can rival any boisterous crowd overseas. Believe it or not, we’ve found our voice, and it’s not just a polite golf clap. We’ve become a rambunctious bunch, roaring out “Up the Wahs” and the team chant with an exuberance that makes the Wellington wind seem feeble.

Traditionally, New Zealand sports crowds have been as quiet as a mouse. It seems many people think a Mexican wave is a daring adventure. However, times have hopefully changed, and the Warriors have been the catalyst for this newfound fervour. The fans at Penrose showed what it means to turn a stadium into a roaring cauldron of passion.

The catch cry “Up the Wahs” has become our national anthem of support, transcending stadium walls. It’s a beacon of unity that showcases how sport can bind a nation, even one as politically divided as New Zealand at the moment.


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Though our Warriors may not have clinched the NRL title this time, they’ll be back stronger and hungrier next season. The fire is burning, the chants are echoing, and sports fans are ready to paint the town “Wah” again.

Here’s to more noise, more chants, and more victories. Let’s hope our sports grounds everywhere reverberate with the spirit of the Warriors and who knows, maybe one day we’ll give the likes of European football crowds a run for their money in the decibel department.

Up the Wahs and onward to 2024.

Luke Kirkness is an Online Sports Editor for the NZ Herald. He previously covered consumer affairs for the Herald and was an assistant news director in the Bay of Plenty. He won Student Journalist of the Year in 2019.

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