New Zealand's national sport is rugby union, with other popular sports including, cricket, netball, lawn bowling, soccer (perhaps surprisingly, the most popular football code in terms of participation in New Zealand) and rugby league. Also popular are golf, tennis, cycling and a variety of water sports, particularly surfing, sailing, white-water kayaking, surf lifesaving skills and rowing. In the latter, New Zealand enjoyed an extraordinary magic 45 minutes when winning four successive gold medals at the 2005 world championships. Snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are also popular. Equestrian sportsmen and sportswomen make their mark in the world, with Mark Todd being chosen international "Horseman of the Century", and many juniors at pony club level. The All Blacks became the Rugby world champions in 2011.
The country is internationally recognised for performing extremely well on a medals-to-population ratio at Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.
Rugby union is closely linked to New Zealand's national identity. The national rugby team, the All Blacks
, has the best winning record of any national team. They hosted and won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 (and New Zealand hosted the 2011 world cup and has won again, so they are at present the world rugby champions). Variations of the phrase "All Black" have been adapted by several other national sporting codes such as the basketball team (the Tall Blacks), the cricket team (Black Caps) and the hockey team (Black Sticks). The soccer team is called the All Whites. New Zealand's national sporting colours are black and white (silver). The silver fern is a national emblem worn by New Zealanders representing their country in sport and also features as the name of New Zealand's highly successful national netball team, the Silver Ferns. The Haka, a traditional Māori challenge, is often performed at sporting events and the All Blacks traditionally perform a Haka before the start of international matches. The All Blacks became the rugby world champions in 2011
Yachting and the America's Cup
New Zealand is one of the leading nations in world yachting, especially open-water long-distance or round-the-world races. Round-the-world yachtsman Sir Peter Blake was a national hero. In inshore yachting, Auckland hosted America's Cup
regattas in 2000 and 2003. In 2000, Team New Zealand successfully defended the trophy they had won in 1995 in San Diego, which made them the only team outside the United States to successfully defend a challenge, but in 2003 they lost to a team headed by Ernesto Bertarelli of Switzerland, whose Alinghi syndicate was skippered by Russell Coutts, the former skipper of Team New Zealand. In 2007 Team New Zealand competed again for the America's Cup in Valencia, Spain. Team New Zealand has lost the last America’s Cup in San Francisco 2013 to Oracle, after a spectacular race described by Jay Leno as “the greatest comeback in sports history”.