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“Which State is yours? Yes, It’s Origin time!”
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“Which State is yours? Yes, It’s Origin time!”

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Jake ElsonAll eyes in Australia are on a fierce competition that strikes the heart of regional loyalties, writes Jake Elson, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Bunbury in Australia, as the nation readies for the final round in a storied rugby series.

This is without a doubt the biggest sporting event on the Australian sporting Calendar. Queensland v New South Wales – the ultimate grudge match.

Although only 31 years of age, State of Origin rugby series has become one of the most watched, most supported events in the nation. Over three games, both states will battle it out to see which is king of the Australian Rugby League. Club teammates’ loyalties are put on the line as our nation’s best put the reputation of their states to the test. It is a gripping tale, one degree short of war. And that is why we love it!

As an Army child, I have spent a portion of my life living over east. Although a geek at primary school, Origin is probably my earliest sporting memory. When I lived in Brisbane at the age of eight, I was immersed in a town that lived and died Rugby League. Come Origin time, it was the talk of the town. I sadly never got to watch the game, as I had to go to bed at the time the game started, only learning the result on the morning news or at school. However, I always found that it was the ultimate war. A war where your loyalties are for life.

Even at its inception in 1980, Origin was a bitter and fiercely contested duel. For many decades, it was essentially the Queensland Rugby League vs. the NSWRL. As the Sydney-oriented league became more economically powerful, many of Queensland’s best had no choice but to pull on the sky blue jersey of their southerly neighbours – a mortifying sight for any self-respecting Queenslander! Yet the introduction of Origin instantly changed this. The likes of Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis and co. pulled on the fabled Maroon sweater and were free to play for the state they loved.

Their passion instantly showed. Retaliating to a Greg Oliphant swing in the first ever Origin, Beetson laid into the New South Welsh hooker (the number 9), starting a fight which the commentator declared ‘the hottest fight we’ve seen here at Lang Park!’[1] The stage was set for eternity. In the years, such confrontations became folklore. When Wally Lewis, the king of Lang Park as he is fondly referred to by his fellow Queenslanders, was sin binned for dissent in 1988 [2], the Queensland fans bombarded the pitch with beer cans, many of them full, leading to the game being postponed for 20 minutes. Remember Gordon Tallies getting sent off after calling Referee Bill Harrigan a cheat in 2000? [3] And who can forget the 1991 confrontation between Lewis, NSW player Mark Geyer and referee David Manson at the Sydney Football Stadium?[4]

The passion reaches both states’ learned elites. The Wednesday session of the Federal Parliament’s Question Time often features many politicians wearing ties in their respected state colours – a geographical loyalty that transcends notorious partisanship. Last year, the member for Herbert (QLD) was suspended from Parliament for an hour for abusing a point of order to declare his support for the Maroons!

The media also get involved. Well, perhaps involved is an understatement. More like fan the flames of the fervent rivalry. It has become common practice for the Queensland’s Courier Mail and the New South Welsh Daily Telegraph to take pot shots at each other’s team, ranging from the team’s sense of fair play, perceived constant whingeing when the referee doesn’t give them the call, down to low blows of past drug allegations. One of my favourites is the Daily Telegraph taking aim at Alfie Langer, a Queenslander plying his trade in England, who was called up for the Maroons in controversial circumstances. After scoring a decisive try, the Telegraph wrote ‘you broke our hearts; now please go back to England!’[5]

This year’s Origin is probably the bitterest contest in years. It’s highly anticipated, after New South Wales broke Queensland’s record eight-year winning streak in 2014. Game one, played at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, was a narrow affair that could have gone either way.  A Cameron Smith field goal secured Queensland first blood with an 11-10 Victory. Game Two at the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, played in front of a record crowd of 91,513, New South Wales ran away 26-18 victors. However, the antics of David Klemmer of the Blues, further fanned by the parochial media in both states, have made the game three, to be played at Lang Park in Brisbane, a must watch. For some it may be another match, but for most, it is the latest instalment of a brutal and bitter war.

To finish off, my Mum was born in Ipswich, Queensland, so……… Go Queensland!

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0WqIwvhMMc [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NottgZJhUk [3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZgL6KVlbtM [4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlaVeK9lbWE [5] http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2012/05/23/1226363/093547-allan-langer.jpg

Photo: http://mrg.bz/sMMuvY

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About me:

I am a history buff, but also am into soccer. I referee soccer, and would like to go FIFA one day.  I’m currently studying politics and international relations at Edith Cowan University. My aim is to become a police officer in Western Australia, and I would like to be Prime Minister one day.

I am a Conservative and a Monarchist, and believe in the role of the Commonwealth as a tool for good.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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