Year in review: The best of sport for 2020

While 2020 was obviously ravaged by the pandemic, there were some bright spots among the darkness, as sporting leagues across the planet were forced to adjust and adapt in unprecedented ways.

A handful of the Newshub sport staff have put forth their highlights for a year we'll never forget.

Warriors relocate to Australia

Ollie Ritchie, Newshub rugby reporter

The sacrifices the Kiwi side made to ensure the NRL season could go ahead were incredible. 

I couldn't imagine having to leave my family for months on end, in the middle of a global pandemic with so much uncertainty surrounding the situation. 

They didn't make the playoffs but that really didn't matter. The manner in which they carried themselves, without a single complaint is truly to be admired.

They were the best possible representation of New Zealand sport this year.

I'm sure they would've even spent Christmas in quarantine if they had to.

Argentina beating the All Blacks

Michael O'Keeffe, Newshub sports reporter

This result was everything I love about sport. One team overcoming the odds to register an unlikely victory. 

COVID-19 hit Argentina hard. Over a dozen players and staff contracted the virus. Lockdown meant they couldn’t play any rugby. They were forced to train initially by themselves in their homes. Then without balls or any contact. Then as a team in Uruguay. Then back into quarantine in Australia where they could train but eat by themselves. 

Then, after minimal and disrupted preparation, they came up against an All Blacks side that was battle hardened and had been playing rugby for months and completely outplayed them, outmuscled them, outpassioned them to recorded their first win over the sport's heavyweights in their history.

It was a beautiful moment. The emotion on the faces of the players after the final whistle and by the squad about ten minutes before it.

It was a glimmer of hope for a country doing it tough back home and a result/performance that will be remembered forever. 

The Warriors won the heart's of the rugby league world with the sacrifices they made to ensure the NRL was able to resume.
The Warriors won the heart's of the rugby league world with the sacrifices they made to ensure the NRL was able to resume. Photo credit: Photosport

The UFC says "follow us" 

Brad Lewis, Newshub online sports producer

The COVID-19 global pandemic shut down sport with almost immediate effect. 

The NBA, NHL, MLB, NRL and all the other acronyms you can think of halted, as sport took a backseat while the world tried to combat coronavirus. 

But that wasn't good enough for Dana White. The often controversial UFC president wasn't willing to sit back and wait for the world to correct itself. 

Instead the UFC was back up and running within two months of shutting down. An arena in Jacksonville, Florida was the location as the UFC provided fans (at home) the first live sporting respite since global lockdown were enforced. 

Not yet satisfied, White then turned the UFC Performance Centre into a makeshift headquarters and - with a little help from some friends in Abu Dhabi - created 'Fight Island', holding weekly events throughout the remainder of the year,

Other sports quickly figured out that if you provided the right health and safety procedures, player/athlete bubbles and empty stadiums/arenas, the show could still go on - thanks in part to the gumption of the UFC boss.

Peter V’landys keeps NRL alive through COVID-19 

Grant Chapman, Newshub sport online editor

Who will ever forget that afternoon when the Warriors were getting whipped by Newcastle Knights and halfway through the match, PM Jacinda Ardern announced the borders were closing?

From that point on, the sporting world collapsed like a house of cards, as event after event was postponed or cancelled indefinitely.

Even the Olympics eventually - finally - succumbed to the pandemic spreading across the globe, but this act of God (or the other guy) couldn’t stop V’landys from plotting the return of the NRL season.

With the Warriors doing their bit to maintain a full-ish match schedule, Aussie ‘rugba league’ was the light at the end of the tunnel for sports fans (and media), providing other codes an example and incentive to get their acts together.

The NBA's 'bubble' was a roaring success.
The NBA's 'bubble' was a roaring success. Photo credit: Getty

The NBA 'bubble'

Stephen Foote, Newshub online sports producer

The sporting world was dealt its first genuine pandemic reality check, when the NBA sent fans in Oklahoma City home, after Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus hours before their game against the Thunder.

But while the rest of the sport landscape became plagued with cancellations, the NBA was determined not to allow their season to go to waste.

Instead, it embarked on a bold plan known affectionately known as the 'bubble', a hugely ambitious undertaking involving housing teams and playing games at a Disney World complex that included a golf course, restaurants, even a lake for fishing.

While the concept left plenty shaking their heads in doubt, it ultimately proved an unmitigated success - keeping players and staff COVID-free and producing some iconic playoffs moments, culminating in LeBron's Lakers ending the Heat's fairytale run to the finals to clinch the title.

It was testament to the NBA's ingenuity and commitment to player welfare that have become its trademarks, while encouraging its players to use the unique platform to turn up the volume on their protests for social justice.

Best league in the world.

The emergence of Kyle Jamieson

William Hewett, Newshub online sports producer

The Blackcaps have been on a hot run of form in 2020, and one newcomer has been front and centre of that.

Coming into the year, New Zealand were lacking a genuine wicket-taking fourth pace bowler. 

Cometh the hour, cometh the (towering) man. Kyle Jamieson has taken international cricket by storm, going from strength to strength.  

The tall, lanky fast bowler made an immediate statement upon his introduction to test cricket against India and West Indies at home. Through just four test matches at the time of writing, he has some phenomenal numbers to his name, taking 20 wickets at an average of 14.55, and 164 runs at 54.66 batting No.8.

His form was so good that Jamieson was named alongside his captain and Tim Southee in Wisden's test team of the year.

If 2020 was good, let's hope 2021 is even better. Maybe Jamieson can bowl us to a test championship.