- Rugby League State of Origin
. The State of Origin series is one of Australia's and the region's premier sporting events, attracting a huge television audience and usually selling out the stadiums in which the games are played. State of Origin series have a reputation as the toughest, hardest-fought rugby league matches played anywhere in the world.
Players are selected to play for the state in which they played their first senior football, hence the name 'state of origin'. Prior to 1980 players were selected for interstate matches on the basis of where they were playing their club football at the time. In both 1980 and 1981 there were two interstate matches under the old selection rules and one "State of Origin" match. From 1982 onwards a best-of-three match series has been played around the middle of the rugby league season. Since the inception of the series, total victories for each side are extraordinarily even.
The 2008 series was won by Queensland making it three series in a row. New South Wales won Game 1 on 21 May 2008, however Queensland won Game 2 on 11 June 2008, and also Game 3 on 2 July 2008.
Players of the Queensland team are sometimes referred to as
cane toads and the New South Wales players as cockroaches, due to a marketing campaign used in the 1980s where the respective teams were depicted in such a manner.
Interstate Rugby League Prior to 1980
The first calls for a state of origin selection policy in interstate
rugby footballcame before the schism between the union and league codes eventuated in Australia. In 1900 a journalist known as 'The Cynic' wrote in "The Referee" that star rugby player and recent immigrant to Queensland, Stephen Spragg, should be able to play for his home state of New South Wales.ref|ref-originoforigin
Since the beginning of Australian rugby league in 1908, an interstate competition between
Queenslandand New South Waleshas been conducted from time to time. Until 1979 each team drew its players from the clubs based in that state. No consideration was given to the origins of the players themselves.ref|ref-rugreb
The first of these interstate games was played at Sydney's Agricultural Ground on 11 July 1908, before Queensland had even commenced its club competition. New South Wales easily accounted for Queensland in a 43-0 victory. The local media were unimpressed.
:"There can be no doubt the NSW men are improving a good deal... They cannot be blamed for the farce, for it was nothing else. If the Australian team depends on Queenslanders to strengthen it, one is afraid it will be found wanting. They are quite the weakest lot of footballers I have even seen come down from Queensland. The play needs no detailed description as it was simply a practice match for NSW, and certainly did not advantageously advertise the new game.":-
The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 July 1908ref|ref-rugref
Apart from a golden period for Queensland in the 1920s, the interstate series was dominated by New South Wales. From 1922 to 1925 Queensland defeated New South Wales 11 times in 12 matches. At the end of the 1925 season a Kangaroo team was to be picked for touring Great Britain. Instead of announcing an Australian team dominated by Queenslanders, the Australian Rugby League Board of Control informed the media that the
Rugby Football Leaguehad decided that the Kiwis would provide stronger opposition, and that there would be no Australian tour.ref|ref-gallaway The period spanning 1922 to 1929 saw no Australian team play in Great Britain, the only such hiatus outside the two world wars.ref|ref-broncos
The New South Wales dominance of interstate football increased after 1956 when gaming machines were legalised for all registered clubs in New South Wales. This provided New South Wales football clubs with a revenue source unmatched by Queensland clubs. From this time on an increasing number of Queensland players moved to the Sydney competition, becoming ineligible for Queensland state selection.
Paul Hoganfamously told a Queensland Rugby League gathering in 1977 that "every time Queensland produces a good footballer, he finishes up being processed through a New South Wales poker machine."ref|ref-gallaway
Prior to 1956, Qld had won 25% of series played. From 1956-1981 this number dwindled to only 3.8% with only 1 series win, in 1959.
The Conception of State of Origin football
By the 1970s the prestige of interstate matches had been seriously downgraded. Matches were played mid-week, so as not to interfere with the Sydney club competition, and the small crowds in New South Wales were hosted at suburban grounds. Interstate football reached its nadir in 1977 when the
New South Wales Rugby Football League(NSWRFL) declined to host the Queensland team, and both interstate games were played in Queensland.ref|ref-gallaway
The solution was to come from the rival code of
Australian rules football, in which there was a situation similar to the Sydney drain of Queensland representatives; there was an increasing drift of talented players to the Victorian Football League (VFL), depleting other state leagues and representative teams. In 1977, at the instigation of Perth sports marketing professional, Leon Larkin, Western Australia(WA) played Victoria in an Australian rules "State of Origin" game at Subiaco Oval, Perth. QRL chairman Ron McAullifeattended, at the invitation of VFL president Dr Allen Aylett. Larkin invited a Queensland business contact, Barry Maranta(the future co-founder of the Brisbane Broncos).ref|ref-originwebsite Also in attendance were Brisbane "Courier-Mail" reporter Hugh Lunn, and Maranata's business partner Wayne Reid. They watched WA stage a historic reversal and triumph over Victoria, in front of 40,000 fans.
Lunn, Maranta and Reid played a part in persuading McAuliffe that the concept could be used in rugby league.ref|ref-crikey Lunn told McAullife that "you can take the Queenslander out of Queensland, Ron, but you can't take the Queensland out of the Queenslander."ref|ref-gallaway McAuliffe was initially sceptical. "What if we recall our boys from Sydney to play, and we are beaten. Where would we go from there?" Reid spoke to NSWRFL president
Kevin Humphreysand suggested that a one-off state of origin match could be used as a Test Match selection trial. ref|ref-gallaway
New South Wales clubs were reticent in their support of the concept and set two conditions:
* If the third game was to decide the series it was not to act as a selection trial, and
* that the expatriate Queenslanders would be under the supervision of a representative of the NSWRFL whose duty it would be to protect the interests of both the NSWRFL and the clubs to which they were contracted. (From 1980 this role was filled by Bob Abbot, a
Three Sydney clubs remained opposed to the plan:
St. George Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohsand Eastern Suburbs Roosters. As these clubs were refusing to release players, Humphreys threatened to make the game an official Australian Rugby Leaguetrial, which would make release mandatory. The clubs backed down. ref|ref-mcgregor
After Queensland lost the first two interstate matches (35-3 and 17-7, the second game in front of only 1,638 Sydneysiders) it was announced that a 'state of origin' match would take place on 8 July at
Lang Parkin Brisbane. The New South Walesmedia gave both the event, and Queensland's chance of winning it, little credence, calling the game a "three day wonder". Australia's 1978 captain Bob Fultoncalled the match "the non-event of the century". Ron MacAullife however, was now committed to the concept and vigorously promoted the match. Thousands of tickets were sold before the game had been officially sanctioned. Although interstate matches in Brisbane had still been well attended (24,653 had attended the opening match of the 1979 series), few expected the sell-out crowd of 33,210 Queensland rugby league fans, delighted to see their heroes in the likes of Arthur Beetson representing their home state for the first time ever. Queensland convincingly beat New South Wales 20-10.ref|ref-firstorigin
1981-1986: The Early Years
In 1981 the first two interstate matches were again played under the old selection rules. As New South Wales won the first two matches in the series, state of origin selection rules were used once more in the third match. Although New South Wales ran out to an early 15-0 lead in the game, Queensland rallied to win 22-15. The interest generated by this second state of origin match was enough to convince the authorities to play all three games under state of origin rules the following year.ref|ref-originhistory
From 1982 to 1984 the New South Wales media dismissed the seriousness of the Queensland threat. Queensland however, under the leadership of immortal captain
Wally Lewis, was inspired by this, and in each of these years won the series 2-1.
In 1985, under the leadership of captain
Steve Mortimer, New South Wales won the deciding match in front of 29,068 spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground, claiming the series for the first time. The following year the Blues were able to go one better and complete the first state of origin whitewash, taking the series 3-0.ref|ref-originhistory
1987: American Controversy
After Queensland had won the 1987 series 2-1, a fourth game was played at
Long Beach, Californiato showcase rugby leagueto the American public.ref|la-game
In "Origin: Rugby League's Greatest Contest 1980-2002" (2003) Jack Gallaway tells the story:
:There was one additional Origin contest played in 1987.. The Queenslanders had climbed the mountain and at no point did they take the project seriously in any competitive sense. The State of Origin trophy was safely stowed in the
Queensland Rugby Leagueboard room at Lang Park, and for the Maroons the visit to the United States was their end-of-season outing, the game an exhibition... Such was the Blues' disappointment at the loss of the State of Origin series that they would go to any length to restore some vestige of their lost pride. The New South Wales Rugby Leaguehierarchy told their men to prepare for the contest as though it was a deciding test match.ref|ref-gallaway The match was played at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach, California in front of 12,349 fans. The Blues won the game 30-18.
In 1987 the
Australian Rugby League(ARL), New South Wales Rugby Leagueand Queensland Rugby Leagueagreed that the match would count towards the players' individual statistics, but that the match would not count towards the states' overall records. On 15 July 2003 the Australian Rugby Leagueannounced that the fourth 1987 game was to be classified as an official match, and that a win in the state of origin match on 16 July 2003 would take New South Wales into the overall lead.
ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said: "There had been some debate over whether the Origin fixture . . . in 1987 was counted as an official match but a search of ARL records has confirmed the status conferred on that clash by the game's governing body at the time. In announcing the match in Big League in April 1987,
Ken Arthurson, the ARL's chief executive in 1987, was quoted as saying 'It's an exciting experiment but the match isn't and won't be billed as an exhibition match'." However, he later contradicted himself, saying: "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind it was an exhibition game and should not count towards official match scores."
1990s: The Super League War
After the controversy of the match played in the United States, the Queensland halves pairing of
Allan Langer& Wally Lewislead the Maroons to their most dominant period where in the last years of the '80s, won both the 1988 & 1989 series 3-0. It wasn't until the Blues formed a formidable halves combination of their own in Ricky Stuartand Benny Eliaswho brought New South Wales back from defeat with two wins in the opening games of the 1990 series. It was evident that as the rivalary between the two states grew, the Origin matches had become much more physical forward orientated game than the open running play seen in earlier series.ref|ref-originhistory
As the great Queensland players from the late '80s began to retire from Rugby League, the Maroons struggled with a team of fresh faces and considerable in-experience. The 1992, 1993 & 1994 series all went to NSW as the experience of Blues players such as
Laurie Daley, Ben Eliasand Ricky Stuartgave the Blues the edge when the games were on the line. It wasn't until the upheavel of the Super League warin 1995 that the Maroons were able to get back a series win.
A main cause for concern for Queensland was the fact that the
Brisbane Broncos, its players and many other Queenslanders were not aligned with the ARLprohibiting any players signed with the Super Leagueto play for the Maroons. Despite this the Queenslanders won the 1995 series 3-0 in a shocking white-wash. The 1996 series saw the off-field contract dramas put the side as all players were allowed, regardless of contract, state of origin selection. Having the majority of the Queenslanders back didn't help the Maroons though as the Blues 1996 white-wash with a 3-0 series win of their own.
The 1997 saw arguably two origin series. Under the Super League banner there was a Tri-Origin series as a New Zealand side was added to the competition although the
Australian Rugby Leaguestuck to its traditional format.
1998 saw the end of all the political bickering within rugby league as the Superleague & ARL formed the current
National Rugby League. The series proved to be enthraling as both sides won a game each away from home, setting up a decider at the Sydney Football Stadium where 39,000 fans witnessed the visiting Queenslanders take the series 2-1.
The end of the '90s era saw a dramatic series that was arguably a main reason for the implementation of the golden-point extra time rule, when the 1999 series was locked up 1-1 and Game 3 ended in a draw, Queensland were awarded the series. It was the rules that as previous holders of the Origin Shield, a draw was enough for them to retain the interstate honours.
Under State of Origin rules players are selected for the state in which they first played senior (or registered) rugby league.ref|ref-crikey2 Players must also be eligible to represent Australia at international level. This has proved controversial as players, such as
Karmichael Hunt, who are eligible for more than one country have chosen to be available for Australia in order to play State of Origin.ref|ref-hunt Because State of Origin football is so highly esteemed, players eligible to represent Australia as well as another country often choose Australia, not only to play for the national side, but also to play State of Origin (as was the case with Tonie Carrolland Karmichael Hunt).
# In 1995 and 1997 Super League players were made ineligible for the ARL state of origin selection. This included most of Queensland's usual team, who now played for the Super League affiliated
Brisbane Broncos. The ARL hence decided to relax the rules in those years, allowing Queensland to select Adrian Lamwho had previously played for Papua New Guinea.
# During the 2000 World Cup a number of Australian players were granted dispensations to appear for other nations under the grandfather rule. The players affected were David Barnhill (NSW),
Kevin Campion(Qld), Tonie Carroll(Qld), Graham Mackay (NSW), Willie Mason(NSW), Luke Ricketson(NSW), Kris Tassell (Qld), Lote Tuqiri(Qld) and Adrian Vowles(Qld), ref|ref-nswplayers ref|ref-rlwc2000
tate of Origin results
:"For full results and statistics, see
Rugby league State of Origin results and statistics"
Year by year
The table below shows the results of the one-off games of 1980/1981, and the subsequent series in accordance with statistics used by the Australian Rugby Leagueref|ref-rec1, New South Wales Rugby Leagueref|ref-rec2 and Queensland Rugby Leagueref|ref-rec3. The colour of the year denotes the team that has won or retained the shield, except 1980 and 1981 - NSW had already won the Shield in both series (2 wins to nil), under non-Origin rules. In years with a drawn series (1999, 2002) the shield has been retained by the team that won the previous year however is classified as a 'Drawn Series'.
In 1997 a
Super League Tri-serieswas played between New South Wales, New Zealand and Queensland. The teams were selected using origin rules, and New South Wales and Queensland met twice. These matches do not count towards the official state of origin record.
* New South Wales defeated Queensland 38-10 (
Aussie Stadium11 April 1997)
* Queensland defeated New Zealand 26-12 (
Ericsson Stadium9 May 1997)
* New South Wales defeated New Zealand 20-15 (
Canberra Stadium14 May 1997)
* New South Wales defeated Queensland 23-22 (ANZ Stadium 19 May 1997)
# The canonicity of the fourth match in 1987 is disputed. In 1987 it was agreed by both states that this match would be an exhibition match, and was described as such by media in both states. Media and governing bodies based in New South Wales (
Australian Rugby League, New South Wales Rugby League, Nine Network) now include this match in the overall tally. Media and governing bodies in Queensland ( Queensland Rugby League, The Courier-Mail) include the match in individual player tallies, but not in the overall tally.ref|ref-mikecolman For example, The Courier-Mail noted after game 3 in 2005 that "It took NSW 25 years to draw level with Queensland in overall Origin clashes..." when other statistics from New South Wales show the tally to be 37-36.ref|ref-rec6 [http://www.rl1908.com RL1908] lists the match as a "Non-series match" ref|ref-rec4 and [http://www.rleague.com/ The World of Rugby League] lists the match as an "Exhibition Game" ref|ref-rec5.
# cite book | author=Fagan, Sean
title=The Rugby Rebellion
# [http://rl1908.com/Origin/States.htm "NSW v Queensland: 1908 - 1980"] by Sean Fagan, "RL1908", retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://rl1908.com/Origin/1980.htm "The First State of Origin"] by Sean Fagan, "RL1908", retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://rl1908.com/Origin/history.htm "State of Origin History 1981-2004"] by Sean Fagan, "RL1908", retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://rl1908.com/Origin/emergence.htm "The Origin of State of Origin"] by Sean Fagan, "RL1908", retrieved November 15, 2005
# cite book | author=Gallaway, Jack
title=The Brisbane Broncos: The Team To Beat
publisher=University of Queensland Press
# cite book | author=Gallaway, Jack
title=Origin: Rugby League's Greatest Contest 1980-2002
publisher=University of Queensland Press
# cite book | author=McGregor, Adrian
title=Wally Lewis: Forever the King
publisher=University of Queensland Press
# [http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/04/12-1005-2172.html "Overseas Players and State of Origin"] by Jeff Wall, "Crikey" April 12, 2005, retrieved November 18, 2005
# [http://www.crikey.com.au/articles/2005/05/23-1810-4151.html "The Origins of State of Origin"] by Jeff Wall, "Crikey" May 23, 2005, retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://www.nrl.com/news.cfm?ID=10766 "We Still Want Hunt"] National Rugby League, March 21, 2005, retrieved November 18, 2005
# [http://www.stateoforigin.com.au/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=1459 "How it all began"] stateoforigin.com.au, no date, retrieved May 8, 2007
General records and statistics
#Fagan, Sean (2005) [http://rl1908.com/Origin/results-origin.htm "State of Origin Results 1980-2005"] "RL1908", retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://www.australianrugbyleague.com.au/index.cgi?sID=2&intArticleID=27&det=1 "History: State of Origin Results 1980-2003"] by the Australian Rugby League, retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://www.nrl.com/history/reprecords.cfm?Type=5&Param=2 "State of Origin Matches 2004-1980"] by the National Rugby League, retrieved November 18, 2005
# [http://www.nswrl.com.au/index.cgi?sID=3 "History"] by the New South Wales Rugby League, retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://www.qrl.com.au/state_of_origin/records.php "State of Origin Records"] by the Queensland Rugby League, retrieved November 15, 2005
# [http://stats.rleague.com/rl/soo/soo_idx.html "State of Origin Statistics"] by World of Rugby League, retrieved November 15, 2005
# ARL article suggesting that the 2002 drawn series was a series win to Qld because they retained the title [http://www.australianrugbyleague.com.au/index.cgi?det=1&intArticleID=357&sID=21]
# Official State of Origin website [http://www.stateoforigin.com.au/soogame/originteamhistory.aspx "History and results"] , retrieved November 15, 2006
ources disputing the 1987 Los Angeles match
#Colman, Mike (July 7, 2005) [http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:lE7EhpCZY4gJ:www.couriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,15848194%25255E952,00.html+%22Rampant+Blues%22+courier+mail&hl=en&client=firefox-a "Rampant Blues Level Age Old Score"] "The Courier-Mail"
#Colman, Mike (November 26, 2005) "Assigning History by asterisks" "The Courier-Mail" (page 61)
#Dick, Barry (July 16, 2003) "Origin Battle Rages On and Off the Field" "The Courier-Mail" (page 1)
# [http://www.nswrl.com.au/index.cgi?sID=4 "Past Origin Players"] by the New South Wales Rugby League, retrieved November 18, 2005
# [http://www.playtheball.com/rlwc00/country/default.asp "Rugby League World Cup 2000 Country-by-Country"] retrieved November 18, 2005
# [http://www.stateoforigin.com.au/soogame/originteamhistory.aspx "Playes for each State of Origin game/series listed clearly"] retrieved November 15, 2006
National Rugby League
State of Origin
Rugby league in Australia
* [http://www.stateoforigin.com.au stateoforigin.com.au]
* [http://aus.rleague.com/origin/history.php "World of Rugby League's" state of origin section.]
* [http://www.nrl.com/RepGames/StateofOrigin/tabid/182/Default.aspx The National Rugby League's state of origin section]
* [http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/league_of_legends/treasures_of_the_game/slideshow_1_4.html Winfield State of Origin Shield at nma.gov.au]
* [http://cockroachvscanetoad.centrebet.com/jpplay Queensland vs. NSW web game]
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