The top 10 moments of 2016

Getty Images

Sunday, December 18, 2016    Getty Images

Hurricanes win maiden title
The Hurricanes break a 20-year drought to claim their first Investec Super Rugby title with a 20-3 win over the Lions in the final.
All Blacks break world record
Just a few months after being named the Laureus Team of the Year at the World Sports Awards, the All Blacks added another accolade by breaking the tier one record for most consecutive Test victories. The All Blacks reached the record of 18-straight Test victories with a 37-10 win over Australia at Eden Park in October.
Black Ferns go unbeaten
The Black Ferns started their international season on a high with a 67-3 victory over the Wallaroos at Eden Park and didn’t falter as they marched to five straight Test wins in the season. A 2-0 series win over Australia was followed by victories over England, Canada and Ireland on their Northern Tour.
Silver lining
History was made in Rio as the Black Ferns Sevens scooped a silver medal as rugby sevens was competed for the first time at the Olympics. The Sarah Goss-led side lost to Australia 24-17 in a hard fought final and were joined on the podium by bronze medallists Canada.
Gatland seals the Championship
It was expected that Wellington and Otago would fight it out for the Mitre 10 Cup Championship crown but North Harbour had other ideas. After stunning Wellington in the semifinal, North Harbour repeated the dose against Otago. In a tense final at Forsyth Barr Stadium, North Harbour first five-eighth Bryn Gatland landed a clutch drop goal with time up on the clock to send North Harbour into the Premiership.
Moment of respect
In a moment that resonated around the world, the Maori All Blacks paid a very special tribute to the late Anthony Foley ahead of their match against Munster in Limerick. 

Wonderful Wanganui 
Wanganui backed up their tag as the powerhouse of the Heartland Championship with a fifth Meads Cup title in 2016. After romping through the regular season with an average of almost 50 points per game, Wanganui found things tougher in the final as they battled to overcome Buller 20-18 in a nail biting finale.

Counties Manukau lift Farah Palmer Cup
History was against Counties Manukau when they squared off with Auckland in the 2016 Farah Palmer Cup final. Auckland were gunning for their ninth straight title and their sixteenth since the Women’s Provincial Championship (now Farah Palmer Cup) began in 1999. Counties Manukau took no notice of history though as they ran in six tries to beat Auckland 41-22 and claim their first Farah Palmer Cup title. 

The All Blacks Sevens set the Sevens World Series alight in early 2016 with consecutive tournament wins. The first came in the home tournament in Wellington where New Zealand stormed back from 21-7 down in the final to beat South Africa 24-21. The next week in Sydney, Rieko Ioane crossed for a hat-trick as the All Blacks Sevens beat Australia 27-24 in a pulsating final.

Rippa Rugby Championship
The next generation of rugby stars were on show as over 200 children from across New Zealand took part in the 2016 Air New Zealand Rippa Rugby Championship in Wellington. After two days of action-packed Rippa Rugby, Waikato emerged victorious with Auckland picking up silver and Bay of Plenty bronze.