Taking another look at a Rugby Origin Series - Green and Gold Rugby

Taking another look at a Rugby Origin Series

Taking another look at a Rugby Origin Series

Hamish McLennan is the most recent addition to the Rugby Australia this week, and as Chairman-elect, he came out last week to float a few ideas for the sport in this country.  Most seem to focus on that troubling middle tier of the sport, but it’s early days, so let’s not judge things yet.

One of the concepts he suggested was a State of Origin series, stating that he had pushed for this back when he was CEO and Managing Director of Network 10, back in 2013-2015.  It’s obviously not the first time the concept has been mooted, usually as we look on longingly at the amount of hype around the league version.  Various journalists and administrators have pushed it at various stages, without it ever really getting anywhere.

Hell, we’ve even done it here at GAGR.  I had forgotten that I had written a piece on the concept back in 2010 while Nick Hartman broke it down a bit more in 2017 

I was going to preface this with an attempt to share the history of the Origin concept, particularly in a league perspective, but I’ve basically covered that off in my previous article.  So let’s get to the nuts and bolts.  If we were to do an Origin series, what were our eligibility be based on?

It’s caused a lot of gnashing of missing teeth among league fans with the likes of QLD born Peter Sterling playing for NSW; NSW born Greg Inglis playing for QLD and PNG captain Adrian Lam playing for QLD.  Things seem to have been tightened up more recently, but more about that soon.

I looked at a few options.

Firstly, an origin team based on place of birth.  But this is a ridiculous premise not least because it rules the likes of Harry Wilson, Jordan Petaia and Taniela Tupou out of the Queensland team.  Putting aside the parochial nature of this, basing any team solely on where a person is born is clearly ludicrous.

Next I looked at where they undertook their high schooling.  Like it or loath it, where a player went to school still seems an important factor in the Australian rugby arena.  But looking further than that, those teenage years are crucial towards a player’s development, whether it happens at school or otherwise, which makes this a feasible consideration.

Finally, as recommended by some on twitter, I looked at where they went post school.  Basically, at the time when they could make their own decision to play, where would that be?  It seems the closest to league’s first senior game of football approach, and I think it can work here.

League, however, have adapted and now look at a number of factors, as the below graphic illustrates.

League Origin Eligibility

In trying to apply this to rugby, we get some simple decisions and then some tough ones.

Born and Bread:

This is the easy stuff.  These are players who were born, went to school and played rugby post school in the same state.  There’s no questions here about where their eligibility sits.  This is the Michael Hoopers, Ned Hanigans, Kurtley Beales,  Tate McDermotts, Angus Scott-Youngs and Alex Mafis of the world.

Michael Hooper 100th game Waratahs v Rebels 2019 (Credit Keith McInnes)

Hooper – bleeds blue

Early migration:

This one is, again, pretty easy.  They may have been born interstate, but they moved pretty early and, in turn, played most their junior footy in a different state usually incorporating school.  So a Tom Robertson who was born in New Zealand but moved to NSW or the aforementioned Harry Wilson who got the heck out of NSW when the getting was good and set up in Queensland.  As before, the eligibility is really pretty clear here dependent, of course, on future moves.

Harry Wilson on the Charge

Wilson – hopefully hates blue

Came for school and left:

Then there is the smaller group of players, born in one state but moved elsewhere for school, normally on a rugby scholarship, but then moved again on graduation.  There are a couple of interesting examples here.  The big unit Trevor Hosea from the Rebels was born in Victoria, moved to Brisbane to go to BBC and then headed stragiht back home.  That’s a fairly clear case of a Melbournian.

How about this one though? Reesjan Pasitoa? He was born in Western Australia, moved to Brisbane to go to Nudgee College for a few years, and was signed straight from school by the Brumbies.  Who does he qualify for? If you go by the rule that its where he first chose to play rugby, then he’s a Canberra lad.

But how does that fit with Luke Jones? Another schoolboy star who signed young.  Born in NSW, schooled in NSW but then signed by the Force and played his first senior footy over in WA.  Does that tie him to WA?  It’s a similar story to James O’Connor.

Reesjan Pasitoa converts a try

Pasitoa – it’s complicated

Foreign Legion

Australia’s strong migrant roots are evidenced in our rugby teams and most decisions are pretty easy here it would seem.  Despite for his question support for the Blues league team, Taniela Tupou is a Queenslander.  Likewise Henry Speight, despite coming here well after school, is a Canberra lad.  But there are some tough ones. A little more convoluted is Isi Naisirani who was born and schooled in Fiji, but came and played club footy in Brisbane, then went to the Force and then the Rebels. But he’s a QLDer I reckon.

The Smith twins.  Born in South Africa, schooled in South Africa, back to QLD for some schooling, back to South Africa for some schooling and then to Canberra.  I think the schooling ties them to QLD?

The Smith twins

The Smith twins – also complicated


So I’ve made some assumptions which I hope pretty much align to common sense and, like the league, is slightly slanted to Queensland’s advantage.  Let’s say this game is played later this year perhaps as a necessary replacement for cancelled international test footy. As such all players are back from injury and, the COVID-3, Harry Hockings, Izaac Rodda and Isaac Lucas are unavailable for selection.


15 Tom Banks 14 Filipo Daugunu 13 Tevita Kuridrani 12 Hamish Stewart 11 Jordan Petaia 10 James O’Connor 9 Tate McDermott 8 Isi Naisirani 7 Liam Wright 6 Harry Wilson 5 Angus Blythe 4 Rob Simmons 3 Taniela Tupou 2 Alex Mafi 1 James Slipper

16: Andrew Ready 17 JP Smith 18 Ruan Smith 19 Michael Wood 20 Fraser McReigt 21 Ian Prior 22 Bryce Hegarty 23 Jonah Placid

New South Wales:

15 Kurtley Beale 14 Andrew Kellaway 13 Reece Hodge 12 Irae Simone 11 Jack Maddocks 10 Will Harrison 9 Jake Gordon 8 Jack Dempsey 7 Michael Hooper 6 Ned Hanigan 5 Matt Philip 4 Lukhan Salakai-Loto 3 Allan Alaalatoa 2 Folau Fainga’a 1 Scott Sio

16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa 17 Angus Bell 18 Harry Johnson-Holmes 19 Jed Hollway 20 Michael Wells 21 Mitch Short 22 Billy Meakes 23 Tom Wright

What the Waratahs would give to have that tight five now!

So I think that would be a pretty great clash.  I’m not convinced that it would be so much of a higher standard than Super Rugby, although this NSW team is a lot stronger than the current Waratah team while Tom Banks and Isi Naisirani are big “ins” for Queensland.

I wonder what the players think? Is Slipper really chomping at the bit to pull on the maroon jersey again to take on the arch enemy? Likewise, is Salakai-Loto salivating about getting to finally wear the sky blue Tah jersey to rip in to the likes of Tupou and Blythe?

Perhaps I am being controversial here, but I think the (or my) REAL interest for a State of Origin series is a three-way series between ACT, Victoria and Western Australia. The standard of players isn’t as high, but am I wrong in thinking that these players may actually get more of a buzz playing Origin footy and representing their own ‘non-traditional’ states?

In selection there are perhaps a few liberties taken, most significantly with the ACT team. Ikitau, Toomua, Loloesio, Swain, Wagner, Waight are all interstate products (all doing their studies in QLD) who moved to Canberra straight after school.  It is no different to James O’Connor really who went to WA straight from school.

For the sake of depth, it works that these lads represent ACT and there is an argument for either.  In the end it could be up to them as to which team they want to represent.   On the flipside, the WA team was pretty easy as depth has been built through the relocation of some stars interstate and the Force remaining an entity. You could even make a case that Luke Jones would be eligible to play for them, as he was another schoolboys signing.

Richard Hardwick NRC 2019 Force v Rising (Credit Delphy)

Richard Hardwick scores against his Origin team

The teams would be:

 Australian Capital Territory:

15 Mack Hansen 14 Toni Pulu 13 Len Ikitau 12 Matt Toomua 11 Henry Speight 10 Noah Loloesio 9 Joe Powell 8 Tom Cusack 7 Angus Allen 6 Luke Gersekowski 5 Tom Staniforth 4 Darcy Swain 3 Tetera Faulkner 2 Robbie Abel 1 Tom Ross

16 Lachlan Lonergan 17 Harry Lloyd 18 Angus Wagner 19 Nick Frost 20 Michael Oakman-Hunt 21 Ryan Lonergan 22 Denis Waight 23 Lincoln Smith


15 Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano 14 Harry Potter 13 Hunter Paisami 12 Semisi Tupou 11 Marika Koroibete 10 Mack Mason 9 Reece Fuller 8 Rob Leota 7 Peter Samu 6 Rob Valetini 5 Trevor Hosea 4 Ola Tauelangi 3 Fereti Sa’aga 2 Jordan Uelese 1 Pone Fa’amausili

16 Mahe Vailanu 17 Isaac Aedo-Kailea 18 Alex Sa’aga 19 Seru Uru 20 Liam Stone 21 Moses Poreo 22 Moses Tuipulotu 22 Sione Tui

Western Australia:

15 Dane Haylett-Petty 14 Brad Lacey 13 Grayson Makara 12 Nick Jooste 11 Jack Hardy 10 Reesjan Pasitoa 9 Ryan Louwrens 8 Richard Hardwick 7 Carlo Tizzano 6 Brynard Stander 5 Jackson Pugh 4 Ross Haylett-Petty 3 Jermaine Ainsley 2 Anaru Rangi 1 Chris Heiberg

16 Mees Erasmus 17 Tom Sheminant 18 Kieran Longbottom 19 Tevin Ferris 20 Ollie Callan 21 Michael McDonald 22 Ethan Reilly 23 Jordan Luke

Now tell me that wouldn’t be a hard fought three way series! The challenge will always be around depth and injuries to key positions, but I would want to watch that those games without a doubt.  It wouldn’t be higher quality than Super Rugby I wouldn’t have thought, though I’d expect it to be higher than NRC, if only because there would be something to play for. There would be passion for the jersey.

Ok, so I got a bit carried away and picked a QLD A and NSW A team as well.  If the broadcast gods are desperate for more content then perhaps these guys can have their own clash sometime, or even take on ACT, VIC and WA. Anyway, here it goes:

Queensland A

15 Jock Campbell 14 Andy Muirhead 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia 12 Karmichael Hunt 11 Campbell Magnay 10 Carter Gordon 9 James Tuttle 8 Angus Scott-Young 7 Brad Wilkin 6 Angus Cottrell 5 Ben Grant 4 Blake Enever 3 Feao Fotuaika 2 Heath Tessmann 1 Dane Zander

16 Joe Cotton 17 Harry Hoopert 18 Shambeckler Vui 19 Tuiana Tualima 20 Tom Kibble 21 Moses Sorovi 22 Jake Stachan 23 Byron Ralston

New South Wales A

15 Jack McGregor 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase 13 Alex Newsome 12 Lalakai Foketi 11 Tom English 10 Andrew Deegan 9 Theo Strang 8 Lachlan McCaffrey 7 Chris Alcock 6 Will Miller 5 Cadeyrn Neville 4 Pat Tafa 3 Tom Robertson 2 Damien Fitzpatrick 1 Matt Gibbon

16 Andrew Tuala 17 Rory O’Connor 18 Tom Horton 19 Luke Jones 20 Lachlan Swinton 21 Jack Grant 22 Bayley Kuenzle 23 James Ramm

And there we have it.  Some rugby talk for you. I have no doubt the comments will be filled with people pulling apart my assumptions and calling out the inconsistencies around selection criteria.  But stuff it. At least it closely resembles footy talk.

As such – go for your life.  Is the Origin concept worth pursuing? What is the model that would best suit it? And if you really want to go there, which selections did I get wrong and what should they have been?

  • Reds Revival

    Reg, I love the concept and was salivating at the thought of the match up between some of your teams! This would be a truly national comp that would certainly bring out the emotion. One can only dream of this happening, but to his credit, Hamish McLennan did help to get Big Bash up and running. If this is what it takes to get the fans on board across the country, then bring it on!!!

  • formerflanker

    Great work Reg.

  • Ed

    Nope. About as exciting as club rugby.

    Who would coach NSW and QLD? It could not be the Reds and the Tahs coaches.

    • RugbyReg

      why couldn’t it be?

      But perhaps to get some passion back we get John Connolly for the Reds and Michael Cheika for the Tahs

      • Ed

        I am NSW born and bred but live in Canberra. I have no interest in a union SOG. I acknowledge I am in the minority.
        Hey, I prefer Super Rugby but accept most of my fellow Aussies want to watch an inferior domestic competition to our sides testing themselves against overseas opponents.

        Knuckles and Cheika would provide some passion, that is for sure.

        • RugbyReg

          my question, sorry, was why couldn’t the Reds and Tahs coaches coach the Origin teams?

        • Ed

          My apologies – thanks for the article Reg.

          Coaches – potential bias. Look at the Wallabies/Wallatahs under Cheika, or at least the perception of it.

        • Hoss

          So you’re somewhat controversially saying that Ned Hannigan and Dean Mumm weren’t better 6’s than Scott Fardy ?? That’s incendiary, almost blasphemy.

        • Ed

          Outrageous I know.
          How about the return of the Wildfires in the Shut Shield, Hoss? That would take the best players away from the local premier division.

        • Hoss

          Big fan of it, with one proviso, that the Wildfires get a good 3-4 years to be competitive. Last time round we were cannon-fodder and got kicked out prematurely.

          As a concept I am all for it. Gives local talent a reason to work a bit harder, get fitter and something to strive for which in turn drags the entire local comps in Newcastle & The Hunter up. Also stops the player drain to Sydney somewhat. Nothing but positives for mine – with the proviso above, it needs appropriate time to incubate

        • Ed

          Agree Hoss, the Wildfires (and the Emus) need those 3-4 years in the comp. The question is whether they will be cut before then – it is a possibility unfortunately.

        • Nutta

          Sydney/Shute never forgave nor forgot the Vikings for coming to town and kicking the Bejezus out of everyone and then losing the GF! That was the last time Gordon won a GF if I remember correctly. About 1997-ish.

          Let the Coasties come. Give them a minimum 3yrs to find their feet and judge them on the 4th year. They should certainly have a few Tarts fringers designated to play for them to (condition of contract) instead of just making Sydney Uni 2nd grade.

        • Nutta
        • Hoss

          It just never gets old. Could spend my days rewatching these gents.

        • Yowie

          If Old Mate is being stoned for saying “Jehovah” in a private conversation with his wife over supper, has:
          (a) some eavesdropping local dobbed him in; or
          (b) has his wife snitched so the old fellow gets bumped-off?

        • Hoss

          Behind every good man

        • Yowie

          Better to let a Tahs coach figure out coaching the Tahs before complicating his job?

        • Hoss

          That hurts.

        • Who?

          I’m not sure they’d be keen on that… It’d almost be like giving away team secrets. Word is that Peyton Manning’s favourite pastime on NFL Pro Bowl weekends was to go and get all the defensive linesmen absolutely blind and then try to pick secrets about their defensive systems from them. If you were contracted to the Reds but were a Tah by SOO rules, would the Tahs coach be keen to give you all the IP required to play the SOO Game, knowing that you likely use much of the same structure and likely calls for the rest of the season?
          Maybe coaches and players wouldn’t be too sensitive about it, but I’d be worried that my lineout strategies and the like would become too openly known…
          I guess it comes down to what’s considered more important. If the professional game – the game where all players have equal access to earning money, where player movement isn’t restricted, where coaches have full control over picking the players that suit their style regardless of their origin – remains the pinnacle, then coaches won’t want to undermine their chances of winning there by sharing more of their IP. If SOO is considered the pinnacle, does that further undermine the value of having provincial teams (Super teams, who trace their origins to these state rep teams) as our professional clubs..?
          It’s something that’s somewhat mirrored by the NRC. Because we have Qld Country – the NRC team – who are semi professional and have their own coaching staff. Then we have the Qld Country Heelers, who have a different coach and mostly different players (all amateur). It’s similar with the NSW Country Eagles and the Cockatoos. But because the country rep teams aren’t as well known as the NRC teams, and the NRC teams aren’t as well known as the Super teams, and because the NRC Teams have different mascots, it’s an issue that hasn’t been fully confronted.

      • John Tynan

        Imagine the testosterone levels in the dressing sheds with a dream team of Cheika as Coach and Tommy Raudonikis as Motivator!

      • idiot savant

        Yeah! We will need a dressing room door and coach box window sponsor

      • Yowie

        Team “kick for territory” versus team “run everything from everywhere” under those two coaches.

  • Who?

    I really don’t want to see us trying to add yet another layer to all this. The calendar’s full. So what does it replace? Does it replace Super Rugby, where the teams largely have the same names, but where players are professional and have freedom of movement? Does it sit between Super level (even if Super were to die) and Tests? Because I can’t see the quality of play being of the same standard, unless they’re given the same time to prepare and gel. But doing that – going to regional rep footy, with sufficient time to reach a standard of team play to match Super Rugby – massively impedes non-representative professional Rugby, and, by bottlenecking talent (primarily from NSW and Qld), you’re reducing the talent pool.
    It only fits as a part of the pattern of shrinking to greatness… And, personally, I wouldn’t bother watching it. The whole parochialism thing doesn’t remotely work for me. I’m one of the many (given 49% of all Aussies are either migrants or the children of migrants) who was born overseas, grew up in one state (NSW), and now live in another (Qld).
    It seems crazy to me that we’re still banging on about copying League’s competition structures (a national, professional competition, and Origin) when the greatest issue is all around governance, where we’ve retained our traditional structures rather than borrowing League’s more professional structures.
    No question, there’s issues around Super Rugby. It probably needs re-branding, and at a minimum it needs restructuring. Many would argue it needs axing; the question for me is how to replace it, because Club doesn’t work in that role (it can’t immediately step up to the required quality to remain competitive internationally and to continue paying players), and killing local professional Rugby would, in my estimation, ultimately see the game die.
    That’s not to say, Reg, that your structure’s not well considered. If we were to go that way (as part of an overhaul that I’m not confident would save the game in this country), they could do far worse than follow your structures. So the odds are they won’t go that way, because we seem to have an unmatched capacity for self-harm… :-(

    • RugbyReg

      My thinking really was that this was an option for this year with international travel unlikely. Perhaps future years depending on it goes this year.

    • idiot savant

      We need it because of revenue. RA’s income could drop by as much as 40 million in the 2020 fin year. 3 state of origin games drawing 50,000 crowds at 50 bucks each would earn 7.5 million with broadcast rights rights on top of that. NRC (while I love it) doesn’t have tribal following, earns nothing and costs plenty. Super Rugby costs at least 30 million and earns less than that. With Covid wiping outmost test rugby for this year, the game is in a revenue crisis. Thats why we need it.

      • Who?

        Sourcing revenue for one year doesn’t make it viable long term. If it’s a one year deal, it’s arguably much more viable, given the dearth of Rugby with lockdowns and no international travel. But medium to long term, I don’t see how it fits with the structure of the game. Because it’s not the highest level (that’s Test matches), unlike League.
        Even if they try internationals, League doesn’t get past 33 weeks per year with only 6 Tests. We do 12-15 Tests. Super Rugby’s our professional level currently (so it is arguably equivalent to NRL club, because it’s where players make the majority of their income), NRC’s semi-pro (and I think it’s great, but also admit that it may be a casualty here. It doesn’t cost anything at present, given it’s effectively fully funded by Fox, but I agree revenues are likely to completely disappear), club’s not professional and isn’t sustainable as a professional game. Given the time required for a five state origin series, the lack of quality that occurs when you’re quickly throwing players together, the lack of opportunity for players from NSW and Qld, the lack of depth of quality in players for Victoria… It’s just not worth it as a year on year prospect. Because it’s not close to the best way to prepare our players for the Bledisloe.

        • idiot savant

          Suck it and see. If it fails then dont hold it agin. If it works then do. If you have any better ideas for fixing the 40 million deficit please share them with Hamish.

        • Who?

          The whole ‘if it works then do’ is where it doesn’t work. Because it’s got to be integrated into the rest of the calendar.
          The issue with ideas is that they’ve got to fit into the rest of the calendar, and there’s no certainty as to what they should be going forward. Reg pointed out in the comments on his last article that the Super deal’s been confirmed for next year for the other nations. What’s Hamish got happening there? They’ve made commitments, which implies that the RA Board has on some level made a commitment.
          Beyond that… I think the whole structure’s got to be re-imagined, if we’re keen to do more than just continue.

        • idiot savant

          If it works then it will demand a place in the calendar. It is after all a fans game. They are the customers.

          Re next year – I think its too early to tell what will happen. If RA does go ahead with super rugby, I’ll bet London to a brick they will have to borrow money. SR will cost more than they get broadcast rights for. I expect a huge nip and tuck to all expense items on the RA budget. But running the ruler over everything wont deliver a surplus. Player payments will be next site of conflict. They are in excess of what the market can support. This is why Piccone is getting his players out. And I doubt they will be the last.

        • Who?

          It’s impossible to tell if it works without it being in the context of the full calendar. And the full calendar doesn’t exist this year.
          Further, whilst it’s about the fans (and I’ve absolutely no interest in the concept, but understand I’m not your average Rugby fan – I don’t watch for the physicality, I watch for the skill and the tactical intrigue – not your average fan), it’s got to serve the greater purpose of increasing excellence in our players to provide the best possible Wallabies. And promoting a game that creates a bottleneck doesn’t fit that ethos.
          I don’t disagree that the financials as they stand are unsustainable. Even though the genius Clyne supposedly fixed all that by axing the Force. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to keep up our end of the Super Rugby bargain without a major restructure, due to the costs.
          Perhaps a solution for Super Rugby would be to play the conferences play home and away (intra-country), then move from there into a cup/plate/bowl arrangement with the other teams, based in hubs? The top team from each section and the second team from two others would make it to the top Cup division, where they’d play round robin, with the top two teams then playing the final. The same would happen in the Plate division – the remaining second ranked team (which missed the Cup), the three third ranked teams, and the top ranked fourth ranked team (by points). And the rest go to the Bowl.
          Home and away would take 10 weeks (I think? 4 opponents and a bye in each round).
          The hub concept would reduce travel costs, but maintain the quantity of international games for teams who wouldn’t otherwise be playing finals. It’d run over five weekends, playing double headers at a singular ground each week (one team has the bye each week). You could host each division in a country (Aus/NZ/SA), which I recognise would cost some viewership, but not too much. The hosting for each level (Cup/Plate/Bowl) could rotate, so you’d get a different level each year, but you’d hope that all three competitions would be of an equal level of competition. You’d then have a final for each division, which could be hosted by the leading team in each division.
          I’m willing to accept there’s a lot there that may not work, but I’m confident that, if nothing else, it would continue to meet a few KPI’s:
          – It provides local Rugby content
          – It provides all professional level players an opportunity to play outside the country
          – It provides a consistent level of competition for televised games – you don’t end up with the Crusaders smashing the Wolves. You have Crusaders facing Blues, Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes. So hopefully, especially after the intra-conference games, you end up with decently close match ups.
          Effectively, it’s a lot like the club championship some have proposed with NRC and NPC teams. Except doing that whilst retaining stronger clubs and a smaller scale (because it’s not as many teams). It’d mean each year there’s a clear champion for each conference, and there’s value in winning that. It means that you’re not advantaged by being in a weak conference (as many claimed teams were by playing in Australia).

        • Andrew Luscombe

          See if Twiggy is has still got 50 million for getting the Force back in.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          I think that the “lack of quality” from quickly throwing players together is the most attractive aspect to this. Nothing like seeing players adapting to each other as the game goes on. I reckon, don’t even have a coach, or any training at all.

        • Who?

          Lack of quality and prep time can also see physical risk. How do you pack a scrum with a front row that may not have played with each other that year, or even ever..? Further, you don’t end up with better rugby, just more missed passes, so more set piece, more messiness… It would make the game less marketable, and seemingly the primary reason for this is to gather publicity.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          It’ll open up the game because defences won’t be as organised – like a barbarians game.

      • Hoss

        What about an ‘ANZAP’s’ touring side to head north to take on the BIL’s and / or vice versa ? you wanna relaunch the game and pad the pockets of the Southern Hemisphere sides there’s a gem right there. Big TV coin, 50/50 on gate takings and the Rugby equivalent of Rumble in the Jungle held over three tests.

        No Hamish, stop it, you’re welcome, my gift to you as the new bloke – for now anyway…….

        • Keith Butler

          Took the Mayoress to see a NH vSH game at the hallowed turf of a Twickenham back in 2005. Needless to say the soft Northerners got their collective bottoms spanked. It was a great day out though and the M dined out on it for some time after.

        • Hoss

          Good morning and welcome to Thursday on the mainland KB, approx equal to Sunday 1986 on the Apple Isle by my understanding of GMT.

          Would have been some spectacle at Twickers and I honestly don’t even recall it at all. Reckon the environment is right at present for long dismissed ideas to garnish another look. What have we got to lose!!

        • Keith Butler

          Surely you mean 1896. Just saw a horse and cart trot along our road!

        • Yowie

          If you hear two loud bangs then much faster horse trotting, there has just been an Amish drive-by shooting!

        • Keith Butler

          I am convinced you are Hoss’s secret love child. Him and Raelene?

        • Yowie

          I’ll leave it to Hoss to account for or deny his horizontal activities (and with whom) in the early 80s.

        • Greg

          gosh….. 140 and still going strong!

    • One option that would fit the calendar in future, but not necessarily put the bums on seats in the same way, would be to play in the “off” weekends in TRC. Obviously you wouldn’t be able to select the players in the Wallabies squad if you do that, but you’d be able to select the other SR stars in a normal year which would (hopefully) still have a draw, and also have the benefit of keeping them in match fitness before the NH tour and in the selectors’ eyes as fringe players for the tour.

      It’s probably not as attractive as a “pure” state of origin match with the Wallabies stars present too but it might work to keep interest up in those fallow weekends.

      • Reds Revival

        I like this idea EP. It really does show some left field thinking on your part.

        I have always missed a local team to support in the bye week of the TRC. This concept could fit in really well.

  • JJ

    Hi Reg, You have put a lot of work, thought and research into that article. Congratulations. Interesting topic.

    Firstly, disclosure. I am one of those immigrants (35 years ago) and as you know I live in WA. So neither RL or their Origin series interest me. But I acknowledge that it is big in the two RL states Qld and NSW.
    My understanding is that the Origin concept started because the many rich NSW RL clubs were poaching all the good players from QLD.

    AFL tried to copy the concept, but their game is big in more than 2 states. So AFL Origin interest never took off with the players or the fans and AFL dropped it.

    I think a Rugby Union Origin series would go the same way quickly as well. As per your own lists, there are a lot of good rugby players in Australia (and their fans) that do not come from NSW and QLD.

    Origin worked for RL because they only really have 2 states in only 1 country where their game is big and dont have meaningful Test RL series and a World Cup above Origin. But this would not the case in Union.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      State of Origin originated in Aussie Rules in the late 1970s, and Rugby League copied it. The crowd record for any state of origin match is still Victoria Vs South Australia in 1989. As the VFL expanded, changed into the AFL, and took over the sport, they decided they didn’t want state games to have any importance, and largely discontinued them. The concept could work fine for Aussie Rules. It just doesn’t happen because the sport is dominated by a league that runs things for the benefit of the league.

    • Brumby Runner

      The RL SOO of was created because of one man – the King, Wally Lewis. All top Qld players prior to WL all traveled south to play in the Sydney comp. Along came Wally, who looked like one of the best players ever when running around in Brisbane but Sydney/NSW fans (probably just the Press to be honest) reckoned he was scared of coming down to Sydney. An argument then heated up about how Qld could play the pants off NSW if they had all their best players available to support Wally.

      Certainly, Artie Beetson (met him once and put him in great pain with a handshake – just a couple of days after he had laid Kevin Ryan out with a right cross), and Les Boyd then put the mongrel into the game when it was held which saw it rise to be the pinnacle of League.

  • Ads

    I like the concept and would enjoy watching it.

    I think (apart from this/other pandemic years) it would be good in the world cup years when we don’t have the inbound tests, but want to have some higher level games for players. That might also help keep it “special” if it wasn’t played all the time.

  • Hoss

    Just a technicality RR, but under current ‘restrictions’ how could our players get:

    a. The required meaningless tattoos applied ?
    b. A dossier of Domestic violence orders against them ?
    c. Enough groupies to ‘Tik-Tok’ too (I will have to speak to Mrs Hoss, i believe she is doing it wrong if that’s what its called now)
    d An appropriate ‘cultural gathering’ to tear up the lands the2 gents are so deeply connected to on motorbike and shoot rifles at inanimate objects ?

    Sorry to be a contrarian, but if your gonna do a SOO, lets do it right at least and maintain the great traditions of the game.

    • Greg

      Good to hear from you. I am missing you considered analysis of the rugby as well as you musings regarding birthday celebrations.

      • Hoss

        Morning Gregor I hope you and yours are well.

        I am still here lurking in the electronic shadows of the bloggersphere and to be frank, thriving. No human contact, no sex, never leave the house, do nothing and still get paid – this was my life pre-COVID, so the new world order has been a doddle and I am bemused by all the fuss, if anything I find current events / restrictions a significant enhancement for my life.

    • Keith Butler

      Nice one Hoss. Let’s keep our beloved game where it should be in QLD and NSW. Fuck the rest they can be water boys.

      • Yowie

        WA response to this in 3….2….1….

        • Keith Butler

          In the true tradition of Hossmanship this was decidedly tongue firmly planted in cheek but I dare say you are correct. Us Taswegians can be the water boys although I prefer our beers and whines.

  • idiot savant

    im on board Reg.

  • Yowie

    In terms of the Pacific:-

    (a) Queensland should be able to select anyone born in (or with any connection to) any Pacific island north of the Qld-NSW border in terms of latitude. Fiji, Samoa, Tonga etc. This over-rules any closer connection that a talented big/fast unit might have to NSW.

    (b) NSW doesn’t get to pick any New Zealanders because that is a separate Super Rugby country.

    • Damo

      NSW can whip the talent scouts across to Lord Howe Island. Should be a rich vein there.

  • Wonky Donkey

    I quite like the idea of a state of origin (west aussie). What are the issues of letting the players choose? Surely they would already self align to a desired side.

  • Sequel

    Good one Reg.

    How about a hybrid of sorts, still based on state of origin but combine the states. NSW-ACT-NT-TAS v Qld-Vic-WA, or some other more sensible combo.

    Perhaps get better buy in from all states?

    Would be a best of the best rep team type of scenario – almost a Wallabies selection trial type of feel.

    • Yowie

      “…almost a Wallabies selection trial type of feel.”

      Nah It would confuse the Wallabies selectors to not be able to pick out the Waratahs by jumper colour.

  • ATrain

    Great article Reg. Very thorough. Certainly many ways of setting it up but I don’t think you have gone quite far enough in advantages to Queensland. ;p

    Personally I was never a fan of using the NSW Waratahs and Qld Reds as “club” names for Super Rugby. While it did, admittedly, start as a Provincial tournament, at one stage they seemed to drop all the locals from their names (at least in SA and perhaps NZ) but we kept ours – hard to get tribalism without it but I would rather use Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and keep the states as truly representative.

    I would like to see the true “representative” value restored and to have an annual NSW vs Qld (and other states where possible) as part of a single weekend as a Wallaby trial. It is probably unnecessary for selection purposes (though with OS players it would be good to get a look at them) but it should be a big thing to represent your state. For me, when Jason Little crossed to NSW things changed and it became something different.

  • RF

    Sorry to be contrarian but I think we are massively overplaying the appeal or marketability of a rugby SoG and we are setting ourselves up for failure.

    Firstly, we have 2 games between NSW and QLD in rugby each year (aside from that year they thought it would be a good idea to skip the game in Sydney in Super Rugby).

    Secondly, it would inevitably be compared to the vastly superior series in Rugby League.

  • Rugby Truth

    Just an exercise on how to improve the horror-tahs – take players from other franchises.


The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

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