Long Journeys, Revisited

Firstly, here’s the original text, published in August this year:

Where’s the furthest teams have to travel to play each other in a sporting competition?

-Me and my relatives

The Western Bulldogs have to make the long trip from Melbourne to Perth this weekend, as they play the West Coast Eagles. The trip across the country is fairly hefty, so this got me wondering: what’s the furthest distance a team would have to go to play a game of sport?

Well, a quick check at this address tells me that the distance between Melbourne and Perth is 2,725km. That’s a fair bit, but it could be a lot longer.

Looking at the National Football League teams, it’s easy to see that the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins are the farthest teams away. But is that longer than Melbourne to Perth?

Indeed it is, by about 1,600km. The distance from Seattle to Miami is 4,390km.

Another one that springs to my mind (probably because I follow the league it mentions) is Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix in the A-League. And, in fact, that does outdo Seattle-Miami, setting the record at 5,261km and bringing it back to Australia.

I figure that we should at this point make a point that we are only talking about guaranteed fixtures, i.e. fixtures outlined at the beginning of a season. So, for example, if SL Benfica played Dynamo Moscow in the UEFA Champions League, not only would it be less than the distance between Seattle and Miami (I know, I can’t believe it either), it wouldn’t count. There is no guarantee that SL Benfica will play Dynamo Moscow, but barring unforseen circumstances, there will be Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix.

Speaking of Russia, you’d think that, given it’s the longest country in the world, its soccer competition would have some involvement in this record. Alas, there are no teams in the Asian side of the country, so that rules it out.

It seems like there’s nothing that could beat Perth-Wellington, but there is.

Super Rugby.

However, this is where it diverges from the original post.

My original post said that there were fifteen teams in the competition, with the furthest distance being between the Stormers, from Cape Town, South Africa, and the Highlanders, from Dunedin, New Zealand. For the record, it’s 10,711km.

However, there’s been a change since then.

They’ve added three new teams for the 2016 competition: the Southern Kings, in South Africa, and a team from each of Argentina and Japan.

So, when the Brisbane Reds play the unnamed Argentinian team, it’s a journey of 12,358km. That journey is slightly outdone by the 12,592km between Perth and Buenos Aires.

Going over to Japan, when the Stormers play the Sunwolves, they need to travel 14,739km.

But, the record that blows this out of the water is Argentinian Team v Sunwolves, with an insane distance of 18,355km.

However, this record won’t be set until April 23, 2016. Highlanders v Crusaders holds the record until April 8, when the Stormers play the Sunwolves.

And now, for an alternative question to this.

What is the furthest distance between two sports teams who have played a match against each other?

The competition that this is in is fairly obvious: the FIFA Club World Cup.

And you would intuitively have two contenders for the record: an OFC team versus a northern UEFA team, or a southern CONMEBOL team versus an eastern AFC team.

Well, the OFC-UEFA clash won’t quite make it. I measured for Dunedin to Reykjavík, and that came out at nearly 18,000km, which is a lot, but not enough. So that leaves CONMEBOL-AFC.

In the 2007 FIFA CWC, Boca Juniors was representing CONMEBOL, while Urawa Red Diamonds were the AFC team. Were they to play each other, it would be a 18,366km distance. It looks like Argentina v Sunwolves holds the record.

But…

While Northern Europe isn’t far enough away from New Zealand for the record, Western Europe is.

Auckland is 19,202km away from Barcelona, and teams from both have qualified for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. Were they to meet, and it would have to be in the final, that would set the record.

And it would probably stay that way for a long time.

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