Friends will become enemies, punches will be thrown and blood will be shed. Australian Rugby League‘s State of Origin returns for its 30th year, giving hardcore fans three more matches to drink, yell and show support for their state and its homegrown players.
During the Aussie sporting tradition, Rugby League players ditch the team colors they usually play with throughout the season to play for the state where they were born, their state of origin. But only two of five Australian states, Queensland and New South Wales, are included in the competition as these are the states where most players in the league hail from and the sport is most popular in there.
(In case any Americans are confused, it be like all the NFL players that are originally from California and Texas, returning to those states and playing each other for three games. Teammates against teammates. Enemies on the same side.)
Only the best of Rugby League players are included in this event and its an honor to be on the two teams. The two states play the best of three matches and the fans go crazy for every second of it. While it would make sense for fans to follow suit and also support their state of origins, some instead support the state they currently live in or have resided in for the longest.
Queensland wears maroon and gold uniforms and are called the Maroons. They flaunt XXXX beer as it’s brewed in the state and is the drink of choice for almost everyone in the state. Queensland has more of a rough and tough reputation. So it makes sense that the team has gone undefeated in this competition since 2006. They continue to be the top pick this year with players like Sam Thaiday and Darren Lockyer.
New South Wales flaunts baby blue and are known as, you guessed it, the Blues. Home to Sydney, NSW likes to flaunt big business and big money. They prefer Tooheys as their drink of choice. While NSW is definitely the underdog again this year, prospects like Jarryd Hayne help give the state a much better chance.
The matches are a huge deal in Australia. People come out in colored curly, afro wigs. They sport their team’s colors to work on match days. Newscasters visit local schools where the children are doing the same and fans of the losing team will have to hear about it for a good month.
Since the sport is so brutal, and trust me, it’s brutal, the three matches are spread out over three months. The first match took place May 26, resulting in another Queensland win. The score (24-28) made it look as though this was a close match, but a friend of mine from Queensland says that’s only cause the Maroons didn’t press as hard in this first match. I take his opinion with a grain of salt, but it would make sense considering the teams play two more times on Wednesday, June 16 and Wednesday, July 7.
The first match took place at ANZ Stadium, which is in Sydney, NSW, making the loss burn a little bit more. But the Blues have a chance to sting back at Sucorp Stadium in Brisbane, QLD next match or be disgraced on their home turf again as the two teams return to ANZ for match three.
Back to the blood. Last year the two teams brawled after Steve Price of QLD and Brett White of NSW traded punches. I know it’s never right to support conflict, but these fights are so much fun to watch as is the sport in general. Due to salary caps, these guys play more for love of sport rather than money, because they definitely could be paid much more playing abroad. But they stay here and they play their hearts out. So when they step on another player or start screaming to the ref about a play, it’s intriguing.
While they were extremely rough during the first game this year, it was nothing out of the ordinary.
There’s certain things about a country or culture that are important to be apart of. Sight-seeing and reading about places can only show visitors so much. People can actually feel apart of a culture by taking part in traditions and hanging out with the locals. State of Origin gives people that opportunity. It’s easy to get into it and hard to stop watching.
So chose your team wisely and sport the colors. Some people may give you flack, but it’s all in good fun.