BY CURTIS WOODWARD
It is a leviathan of Australian sport. An annual clash between New South Wales and bitter foes Queensland. They tell stories as old as man. Good versus evil, revenge, hate. It is conflict.
State of Origin is a colossus. A heaving, fire-breathing, phoenix.
Australian sport’s greatest rivalry gets bigger and better every year.
It was the most watched event on television last year with Game I pulling in 3.44 million people. Game II and Game III also finished in the top 10.
Just recently, a Financial Review report suggested Origin 2019 could be worth $100 million to the NRL.
Last year almost 90,000 showed up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch a game of rugby league between NSW and QLD – not bad. The Victorian Government forked out millions of dollars for it. They got it back and then some with thousands of interstate travelers pumping money into the local economy.
Over 220,000 fans watched the 2018 series live.
The Western Australian and South Australian Governments have followed suit and thrown millions of dollars at the NRL to bring Origin to them.
Victoria will have it back in 2021 and 2025.
In a matter of weeks, a sold out Optus Stadium in Perth will host it’s first ever State of Origin. Adelaide Oval will do the same in 12 months time. In the future we’ll see Origin in Auckland, Hong Kong, London and the USA. It’s just a matter of time.
Yet your writer has noticed an interesting trend recently.
Despite all that State of Origin does to promote our game to potential new fans, clubland diehards and internationalists want to kill off the interstate rivalry. They argue that the series takes away from the club competition. Crowds suffer. The quality of footy dips. Interest wanes. Internationalists can’t fathom how a two-state contest holds higher precedent in Australia than the Kangaroos.
Some valid points but the juice is worth the squeeze.
Kill State of Origin? Fools.
Australian sport is a crowded place. Many organisations are desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Rugby union and A-League audiences are almost nonexistent.
Rugby league has an unbreakable brand in State of Origin and some want it axed?
Thank god these people aren’t running our game.
The tiny minority sandbagging NSW vs QLD may have grown tiresome of the concept but they are barely a krill’s leg in all the world’s oceans.
They fail to see the big picture.
All forms of rugby league grow stronger on the back of State of Origin.
The more money Origin makes, the more fans it brings in, the better off our clubs and the international game.
Rugby league’s biggest rival, AFL, just took a game to Shanghai.
They failed in New Zealand, India and now it appears they’ve done their arses in China too.
We’re also seeing more coverage of international rugby league which is fantastic. We’ve never had more content to take in. In any given minute, you can get the latest on rugby league in Greece, Ghana, Serbia or Jamaica.
But it works the other way too.
Nobody should underestimate the pulling power of Origin.
If we can take in rugby league from the other side of the world, imagine what State of Origin can do for someone watching for the first time in Belfast or Chicago? In Calgary or Tokyo?
We should be thankful the krill don’t run our sport.