Mate of Origin

Mate of Origin

Infobox sports league
logo=|
pixels=118x200px
sport=Rugby League
Touch Rugby
founded=2002
teams=5
country=AUS
NZL
champion=Mixed Bag

Mate of Origin (M.O.O.) A Touch Rugby-based championship incorporating elements of Rugby League which is fought annually between Australia and New Zealand. During its brief existence the league has become steeped in history, etiquette, talent and passion. It began as lunchtime fixtures between students at Auckland Grammar School.

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Mixed Bag

The original "Mixed Bag" consisted of three players - Michael North, Tristan Lewis and Lucas Stone. When the league turned pro in 2002, the team welcomed three new players - Matthew Elgar, Sanjay Dutt and Robert Anderson. In the subsequent years the team has continued to grow with Sam Boyd joining the ranks in 2005, and Matthew Hunt in 2006.

Players

Captain: Michael North

Michael North is another one of the “Originals” – like his teammate Tristan Lewis, he has participated in every Origin match since the competition was formed. As captain of The Mixed Bag, he has tasted victory time after time, even coming up on the winning side in the infamous “Extras of Origin 2003” where he combined with former opponents James Caughey, Kris Phare, and Tim Gray to help record an amazing 4 versus 5 victory. North is The Mixed Bag’s chief playmaker, and is also their biggest workhorse, getting through a huge defensive workload in every game. A great all-round player, North’s pace, handling, and organizational skills have made him MVP for the Mixed Bag time and time again. However, a horrific foot injury sustained in late 2003 threatened to prematurely end his blossoming career. After undergoing drastic surgery, he has been undergoing a long period of recovery, and as yet no-one knows if he will be able to regain peak performance. Fans and competitors alike hope to see this man back to his best. A member of the Melville Storm.

Vice Captain: Tristan Lewis

This tall, ranging centre is another Origin veteran. Having served as vice-captain of The Mixed Bag since its creation in 2002, Lewis has a lot of Origin experience and has reveled in his team’s long run of success. Probably the fastest in his team, Lewis uses his pace to good effect on both defence and attack, forming a good combination with his teammate and captain Michael North. At 86 kg, he is also the bulkiest in his side, however he has not yet learned to use this bulk to muscle up on and intimidate the opposition. Lewis also has good ball-handling skills and knows his way to the tryline. His love and enthusiasm for the game have earned him respect among other lovers of the game, including those who play against him. A member of the Melville Storm.

Lucas Stone

A loyal member of The Mixed Bag, Stone was unable to participate consistently in Mate of Origin for the 2003-2004 season due to his post graduate studies at Canterbury University. However he returned home in 2005 in order to compete in the Origin and attend rehab for alcohol, drug and porn addiction. Once Stone gets on the field this handsome, nuggety player is able to provide a good deal of attacking spark for his side. With good strength and acceleration, this man is the ideal dummy-half runner. He also adds a lot of enthusiasm to the contest, able to deliver crazy antics or smart-arsed comments to piss off the opposition. Sometimes though these antics can backfire, and he has been known to push the no-look back-flick pass on occasion. Recently announced as a member of the Melville Storm. Nickname: Helen. A member of the Melville Storm.

Matthew Elgar

A long term member for the Mixed Bag, Elgar’s inclusion in the side dates back to the first ever match. Elgar himself has been a valuable member of the Mixed Bag; he is a solid player, complementing well the flamboyance of others in his side. His low error rate and good defense are his most important assets; however he can also be slick on attack, supporting the ball carrier well and making good metres out of dummy half in particular. Elgar is best remembered for his eternal musing "Life is about choices. I didn't choose to be black but I have to live with it."

Sanjay Dutt

This dynamic Fijian-Indian mongrel is another valued member of the Mixed Bag, and incidentally appears on the team logo. Dutt is rumoured to have been a key lieutenant to George Speight during the Fiji coup of 2000. Due to ongoing investigations by the International Criminal Court into his alleged war crimes Dutt fled to New Zealand and resides in Auckland as an illegal immigrant. After being drafted from the ghetto on a scholarship as a result of the race-based “closing the gaps” policy, Dutt has thrived in the Origin environment. As the only regular alternatively-colored player in Mate of Origin though, Dutt has always strived for the recognition and respect of his peers. To a large degree he does this by use of the intimidation factor – his black skin combined with slick hair and multiple piercings can give him the appearance of a fearsome warrior tribesman. Likewise, he also relishes the hard physical contact that invariably occurs in the Origin environment. Aside from this though, Dutt does possess some good footballing ability – he has good pace and agility, and is a very slick finisher. A question mark still hangs over his passing game, although this does not detract too much from his overall value to the team.

Robert Anderson

Another long-serving member of the Mixed Bag, Anderson has experienced much growth (in girth) and devolution in the Origin environment. Originally viewed as a liability, Robert has trained hard and become a consistent and reliable frugal jew within the team. At the 2005 aftermatch function he was awarded the prestigious "Most derided player".

Sam Boyd

Sam Boyd joined the team in 2005 and has shown himself to be a player with a deep well of talent. His ball handling and field positioning skills are excellent, and when coupled with Michael North leads to spectacular plays. Controversy followed his initial entry to the league, since he was only revealed to the playerbase on the very morning of the 2005 game. With weeks of preparation thrown out of kilter Phare Factor were livid, and were forced to ring-in a late-entry player by the name of Jonny Hicks. While theseissues are still debated, no one can deny the abilities of this player.

Matthew Hunt

The most recent signatory of Mixed Bag, Hunt made his debut in 2006. He was instrumental in stopping several Phare Factor tries and revealed acrobatic prowess in the process. Although he is still finding his position within the team he has demonstrated an enthusiasm which has endeared him to other players. On initial examination Hunt has shown to have a low error rate and an a willingness to improve his playstyle. Future games should reveal his depth.

Phare Factor

"Phare Factor" gains its name from captain Kris Phare. Kris Phare is the singular representative from Australia and makes an annual pilgrimage to New Zealand for the game. While overseas Phare delegates team-training to his Vice-Captain James Caughey in the hope his players will get more talented. One of Caughey's motivation techniques was to buy the team a matching blue-and-white uniform to achieve greater team unity. It didn't work. Popular rivalries within the team include Caughey and his "lippy" compadre Andrew Wade. On many occasions James has clashed with Kris. James has also had grief with the game itself. In particular his attempt to instigate tackling and scrumms which was met with resounding dismisal. Other examples include Caughey vs Jonny Liu. Caughey took exception to Liu's relaxed attitude and resolved to exclude him from future matches. Liu has not played since 2003.

Players

Captain: Kris Phare

The eponymous captain of the team known as the “Phare Factor”, Kris Phare has represented his team in every Origin match to date. He is widely regarded as Origin’s best player, having a good footballing brain and a wealth of sporting experience. His combination of pace and strength gives him the ability to penetrate any defence, and when you add that to his great handling and silky playmaking skills it is easy to see why he calls himself Trent Barrett. His only regret, however, is that he has never captained his side to even a single Origin win (excluding Extras of Origin 2003 of course). After being lured across the Tasman by a lucrative contract with the Queensland Reds, Phare is gradually becoming less and less available for Origin selection. Negotiations are currently underway with the NZRL and the NZRFU to get an attractive package on the table. However with strong family ties in Brisbane, not to mention a job and girlfriend, the chances of seeing Phare regularly taking the field again are looking slim. His long-awaited return has been further hampered since Phare suffered a Inguinal Hernia ('popped his nut out') in June, 2006. The injury occurred during one of Phares' monthly weights training sessions in his ongoing battle with obeisity. Recently announced as a member of the Melville Storm.

Vice Captain: James Caughey

A long-serving member of the Phare Factor, Caughey has also appeared in every Origin fixture. Like his captain Kris Phare (who he serves under as Vice-Captain) he has never tasted victory in a Mate of Origin match. Furthermore, he had to endure a horror start to his Origin career, when a number of crucial errors and high-profile mistakes led him to acquire a “choker” tag. These events were for the most part due to excessive aggression and his hostile rivalry with Mixed Bag captain Michael North. Since then, Caughey has made an effort to clean up his game and exert a more controlled form of aggression (albeit still a high level). This proved successful, and he turned up to midyear Mate of Origin 2003 a new player; featuring better vision, ball-handling and self-control. Physically, he is tall but slim, and gives away a bit in terms of muss to the likes of Phare, Lewis, Stone, Le Grice and Jonny Liu. Caughey bears and uncanny resemblance, both physically and behaviourally, to his alter ego Johnny "Drama" Chase. On the whole however, he is a keenly aggressive player, forged from long years of watching the likes of “The Raging Bull” and Kevin Campion on television. This enthusiasm despite his debatably solid skills means he represents a good asset to the Phare Factor. Recently announced as a member of the Melville Storm.

Andrew Wade

Andrew Wade is another long-serving member of the Phare Factor, and a good servant to the team. The tall lankster made his debut for the Phare Factor after being lured from the rival Peter Buckthought touch-rugby league. Prior to that he had also received offers from the Gaz Hollins Gridiron Premiership, so Mate of Origin is fortunate to have secured his services. Although he keeps a low profile on the field, Wade possesses some good talent, and has come to be known as the man with the best short kicking game on the park at any given time. This was highlighted in midyear Origin II 2003, where he scored a magnificent yet controversial try in injury time to lock up the game and break Phare Factor’s losing streak. Known as the “nice guy” of Mate of Origin, he is a fair player with a low aggression factor, though at times he has been known to make the occasional harsh comment. Unfortunately these generally seem to be directed at his own vice-captain. On the whole though, Waz is a core member of the Phare Factor, and will be looking to continue his good rep record for years to come. Recently announced as a member of the Melville Storm, thou this is subject to change depending on his enthusiasm.

Andrew LeGrice

The latest major signing in the Mate of Origin competition (circa 2003), Le Grice has been a sought-after player by the Phare Factor for some time. Set to make his debut in 2003, injury and absence have frustrated his representative ambitions. Because of this, Le Grice is something of an unknown quantity in Mate of Origin football – we can only speculate on his abilities until we see him in action. Physically, this man is a strong unit, with lots of muss and a body shaped by years of hard rowing training. However, this rowing has also contributed to his injury-prone nature; he has been plagued by a dodgy knee and lower back problems. But with his physical abilities and fair knowledge of the game, Le Grice promises to be a good asset to the Phare Factor, as long as he is not on the sidelines. Luckily, his vice-captain James Caughey has also been attempting to initiate him into the world of Mate of Origin, regaling him with heroic and epic tales of past matches. It is hoped that like most, Le Grice will be instilled with the ethos of Mate of Origin, and hence enjoy fully fledged “mate” status.

Jonny Liu

A player known for his speed and agility; Jonny was personally signed by team talent scout James Caughey (whom also recognised and tapped the potential of Andrew LeGrice). Although weak on defence Jonny demonstrated his ability as a nimble forward; exhibiting particular skill in his favoured position on the wing. Unfortunately his career proved short-lived. Liu was forced into early retirement following a confrontation with his mentor James Caughey. The Origin community has awaits such a time when he may triumphantly return.

Jonny Hicks

Jonny Hicks debuted in the league as a last-minute wildcard to balance teams for the 2005 Season (see also: Sam Boyd). Hicks quickly demonstrated the depth of his abilities rivalling the best in the league.

Melville Storm

The Melville Storm is a representative team consisting of the best players from the original two teams. Its official colours are black and white. In 2006 the team challenged the Gribblehurst Giants to a match on the Storm's homeground. At half-time the Storm was up 4-1, and appeared to be dominating with superior endurance. Unfortunately the match was cut short by a bitter groundsman who acted outside his jurisdiction. It is still hoped the game can be finished.

Trans-Tasman player exchange

In late 2006 representatives from the Brisbane based touch-rugby legends The Purple Cobras toured New Zealand to compete in Mate of Origin. The unique code of Origin proved challenging for the visiting Skippy’s; however the Cobras were eventually able to overcome their mental limitations and vigorous competition ensued.

Sam

An aggressive yet skilled player Sam quickly gained respect after a Zidane style attack resulted in two broken toes for rival player Lucas Stone during a particularly physical Extras of Origin match.

Daveo

Hailed by some as the spiritual return of Jonny Liu Daveo proved himself as a nimble and athletic player more than living up to the Liu legend. Known widely to be a fan of the tight lycra shirt, he lays claim to having created a mid-air pass combined with a side-step.

Dave

A Solid all-rounder, Dave has a kicking game to rival Andrew Wade.

Differences to Touch Rugby

M.O.O. is a more brawly version of Touch Rugby. While tackling is still accomplished by touching the opponent, the ref will allow hard contact. Examples of this include barging, shoulder-charging and body-slamming. Further adding to the game's punishing physicality, the halves are 40 minutes rather than the standard 20. In 2006 the rules were amended so that dummy-Halves cannot score owing to 'cheap' tries on the goal-line.

2006 Season

The first game of 2006 has been concluded with victory going to Mixed Bag 9-7. The game was widely considered to be the most enjoyable in years owing to the fierce competition between MIxed Bag and Phare Factor and the presence of a professional referee (Michael Tobin), who introduced some much needed impartiality to the match.

Controversy

The 2006 season, though successful for the team, was marred by an ongoing debate over the entry of a female member. The Board of Governors became involved after negative media coverage reflected badly on the school, which generally presents a progressive image. However the dispute was unresolved, with the Board - and the team - deadlocked over the issue. This will almost certainly present difficulties in the 2007 season, as the female in question (whose identity will not be revealed unless and until she gains entry to the team) continues to press for equal rights.

A former player also leveled allegations that the team was "homophobic" with "an intensely macho culture". However, these criticisms have not accorded much weight, given that the player complaining is a self-acknowledged heterosexual, while there are at least three openly gay players or substitutes in the team.

ee also

*Rugby


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