Rugby State Of Origin: Nudging An Asteroid - Green and Gold Rugby

Rugby State Of Origin: Nudging An Asteroid

Rugby State Of Origin: Nudging An Asteroid

When the idea of a Rugby State of Origin was announced late last year, it received a shrug of the shoulders. At best, it received conditional support.

Whatever the reception, the idea seems to be going full-steam ahead. Ballymore’s been booked, a date set, and meetings planned.

Weird, huh. It’s like a disaster’s incoming, and all we can do is somehow make it less worse. In saying that, let’s see what this State of Origin’s all about, and what we can do about it.


It cuts states out

It doesn’t take much brain power to come up with cons to the idea of a rugby State of Origin.

Here’s Canberra-born Stephen Larkham with one: “I’m still not sure of the format. If you’re born in Queensland or NSW, but what about if you’re born in Canberra or anywhere else? I assume that means you can’t play in that game. Are they saying the only rugby players that are worth watching come out of NSW and Queensland?”

I guess you could go down the tangent of ruling the ACT out given that it’s State of Origin and not Territory of Origin, but what about the other states: where would Dane Haylett-Petty (WA), Adam Coleman (Tas), Christian Leali’ifano (Vic) or James Hilterbrand (SA) go?

You could shove them into an Allied team, but supporting a best-of-the-rest wouldn’t really work, and having a full interstate carnival would be a nightmare.

Photo by Keith McInnes

Dane wouldn’t be happy about being left out. Photo by Keith McInnes

No space in a bloated calendar

But even if a full interstate carnival was viable, there simply isn’t the time and space to add any more games to rugby calendar. This is part of the reason why this State of Origin game is planned to be played on Thursday 29 June – in the middle of the week, in the middle of the international break, and five days after the Wallabies play Italy in Brisbane.

Drew Mitchell himself said this about the Tens: “There’s just not enough time, there’s too much footy ­already as it is.”

No superstars

And that’s another thing. There’s no way the likes of Stephen Moore, Bernard Foley, Samu Kerevi and Michael Hooper – ok actually maybe he could do it – could play in this game.

So here’s another con: the game wouldn’t feature the best players. If the State of Origin were to be played, it’d be fought out between the guys not good enough to play for the Wallabies.

That’s unlike the rugby league State of Origin, where the best Australian players all get to take part.

League-lite, and there’s already a QLD-NSW game anyway

And that’s another con too – should Australian rugby ride in the slipstream of rugby league anymore than it already is?

“No.1, what’s important is that if we do something like that, we’ve got to have a uniqueness about it,” said Michael Cheika to the SMH, “You can’t just go and copy off rugby league and see if that works. It’s got to have something about why it would be a special event as opposed to sticking another game in the calendar and then it’s also about the timing and when it’s on.

If this under-strength, imitation State of Origin game  goes ahead, what would that make games between the Tahs and Reds who already represent those two states anyway?


Despite all these bads, rugby big wigs seem to be enthralled with the idea and are pushing ahead anyway. The Brisbane Tens was still a success despite the unbearable heat, lack of All Blacks (and other superstars) and iffy scheduling and ticketing.

This might be the same for this State of Origin game. How could it work?


Unlike New South Wales, and like every other state in Australia, Queenslanders have an interstate chip on their shoulder. Queenslanders love hatin’, pretending that as soon as you cross the Tweed north – or if you’re further out west, that line in the sand that was drawn far away and long ago by some bloke saying, “that’ll do” – it’s like you’re in some weird country where it’s hot, English is the main language and people drink beer after work.

Depending on the result, a rugby State of Origin would also finally sort out the “Wallatahs” conspiracy theory.

More Australian Domestic Rugby

It would also fill the lack of domestic rugby due to the Whacky Races-inspired Super Rugby conference system. The Reds and the Tahs are only playing each other once this season, a mistake that is hard to exaggerate.

Australian sport is dragged down and forced to look inwards by the rugby league and Aussie rules divide, and unlike other rugby nations, the ARU has a really difficult task in growing domestic interest and participation. So more big-note games like a State of Origin series can only be a good thing.

Everyone seems to like the idea

The idea also has the support of the players, Michael Cheika and the fans, with the Daily Telegraph happily reporting that 83% of readers also back the plans. (Do you like the idea?)

Maybe if this State of Origin game goes ahead as planned, it’d work totally fine and be a solid addition to the rugby calendar. But that’s if it’s so good, that the cons don’t matter. If only Bruce Willis could help us nudge this asteroid.

How it could it be better?

The basic parts of why it would work – State of Origin is an exciting concept, and it would give Australian rugby another derby – are powerful reasons to follow through with the idea.

Simple adjustments could make this idea work better. For example, to drive excitement for the NRC, would an Origin match between NRC players be a better idea?

As was suggest on the Green &  Gold Rugby Show (starts at 43:15), this Origin idea could also be replaced with more Australian Barbarians or Australia ‘A’ games. Again, you could fill the side with NRC players.

Or maybe, like with Australia ‘A’, a State of Origin game could be scheduled during the northern hemisphere’s off-season, and players like Liam Gill could be invited back down to play. (And then when the overseas players are here, we can guilt trip ‘em real good into returning!)

More talk can only be good

RUPA President Dean Mumm, the Nickelback of the Australian rugby scene, said this:

“When it comes to the people who come in and pay for seats, you have to be engaged and connected with them as much as possible. We have to be innovative about that. When you look at the status of where rugby sits, and the competition within the Australian sporting landscape, it’s all very competitive…I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad idea, when it comes to creating that engagement with fans. We can do those things much, much better.”

Amen to that. What are your thoughts?

  • Alex Galvin

    The concept is a good idea but I would make a few suggestions,

    Give all players who played their first game of rugby outside of NSW or QLD (Im pretty sure thats how it is determined in league?) an opportunity to nominate a state they wish to represent, if they so choose to. That way there are no ACT, WA etc players left out which will boost the calibre of players eligible for selection.

    Schedule the game before the June tests and use it as a probables v possibles game for the Wobblies. There is talk in NZ of doing a North Island, South Island game which would serve the same purpose

    • idiot savant

      Now this is the first suggestion to make real sense. There is a lot to play for in a real game for for Wallaby selection.

    • Lee Grant

      Haa – North Island v South Island is what they did in NZ in my young days = a long time ago, as trials for the All Blacks..

      People in the South Island used to call it the mainland because it was bigger in area, but the North Island had (and has) more people and usually won those games.

      I don’t know that we need this game as a selection tool in Aus when we have Super Rugby – the selectors get enough content already.

      The SOO was a magnificent idea in RL because when it started all the Queenslanders were going to Sydney to earn coin – and it was some years before the Brisbane Broncos were formed and entered the NRL.

      If you think they have a chip on their shoulder now, it was like a log in the early 1980s.

      Anyway – we don’t have that situation in rugby union that they had in league in those days. I can’t see a reason for a SOO union game – one that would grab me.

      But Queenslanders are more passionate – maybe it’s something they would like.

    • USARugger

      Players who started their rugby in other states could be put up for a short-form draft between the two sides, could provide a little pre-match entertainment and a brief buildup for the event – even if the concept is foreign to rugby.

  • Rugby Mad

    1. The concept without the best players would be flawed.
    2. Just make it North VS South of the Qld Border. A north vs south Origin is not a take off State of Origin.
    3. Just do it already. The punters want it and bloody hell the Sport needs it.
    4. We have to stop worrying about blokes being injured the ARU would get the benefit of this. Players are keen for it. If they get paid for it they’ll enjoy it more!
    5. Just do it already.

  • Pedro

    Here’s an idea, why not have a super rugby all-star game. Call it something less American but the same idea.

    The twist is it should be Tahs and Reds vs Brums/Force/Rebs. That would create some column inches and be a good counter to any comparison with league’s s.of o.

    (great article by the way)

  • paul

    Just adding more and more content is simply not the answer.
    Until you address the root of the reason of why the game is struggling then this is just another example of moving the deck chairs.

  • dane

    If Bernie thinks the ACT issue is a concern, he should take a look towards mungo origin. The Blues have been selecting Canberran’s for years.

  • Fatflanker

    This is just a terrible idea. Honestly…are people at ARU actually being paid to come up with lame proposals like this? It will do nothing to promote the game that the Reds vs Waratahs fixtures do not already achieve and just risks hurting players at a time when player depth has never been more important. Sad.

  • Dress it up any way you like, this proposal is a real turkey. League is basically only played in two states, its not an Australian game or even close to it. So NSW vs QLD made sense to them. For Rugby that’s no longer the case and as Melbourne, Canberra and Perth develop it will become even less so.

    Add in the anything goes qualifying rules (Folau was born and grew up in NSW but played as a QLD’er) and the whole thing becomes super-messy. I predict it will become even less important than the Brisbane 10’s.

  • Rebels3

    The general consensus on this website is that the idea is garbage. Time to start a GAGR petition? Haha

  • Andrew Luscombe

    When hosted in Qld, it could be Qld vs the rest of Australia. When hosted in NSW it could be NSW vs the rest of Australia. State alligence based on whichever state a player has lived most in up to point of selection.

    It could be a slightly interesting addition to the calendar, but I think there could be more valuable things done with the time. I doubt it would ever be anything like the league version.


Hopes to play David Pocock in the inevitable biopic. Lifelong fan of whoever Jarrad Hayne is currently playing for.

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