Despite living in Victoria for nearly 15 years, I am a Queenslander through and through. I still consider Queensland home and many of my closest friends and family still live in the Sunshine state. So I love this time of year which heralds the start of the intense battle of the states that is State of Origin.
If you’re from other parts of the world outside of Australia, the UK, Pacific Islands and perhaps South Africa, you may not know of the sport that is Rugby League. Don’t mistake this for Rugby Union, which has it’s similarities and is also a game that I love but is quite different (which you can learn more about here).
Like many sports, Rugby League is culturally relevant to specific locations and in the Australian sporting landscape, the stronghold of Rugby League exists predominately in New South Wales and Queensland. Living in Victoria as I do, it took me a long long time to get my head around Australian Rules Football (nothing like UK/European/South American professional soccer) which is colloquially referred to as AFL (which is actually an acronym for Australian Football League in case you’re confused or wondered how I mucked up three letters so badly). Rugby League is easily a secondary and I’d even go as far to say as a tertiary sport of choice in Victoria as far as spectating goes, with AFL and soccer the clear favourites.
So what is the point of the history lesson? Well, I’m trying (unsuccessfully as I have one eye glued to the TV) to paint the picture that Rugby League a sport that I love but is no longer a sport that I’m fully up to date on these days. In my childhood, teens and early twenties, I could have told you who played in which team and a range of stats that accompanied them. I never missed a broadcast of my favourite team and my friends will even tell you how in Marine Studies camp during high school I woke up at 2am to tune in a battery operated radio so that I could listen to Australia play in World Cup! (yes, in Queensland you went to tropical islands on Marine Study camps!!!!!)
When I first moved to Victoria, Rugby League was barely screened on television so I slowly became out of touch with the game. I missed it terribly and nothing more so than State of Origin. Each year, I would try and find a pub to watch the State of Origin matches but they were few and far between. By the time it was replayed on TV hours afterwards, I would have received several text messages and drunken phone calls to tell me who had won (mostly Queensland for the record!). It’s only been in the past 5 or so years that State Of Origin has been shown live on TV which means I can embrace my passionate inner Queenslander once more!
So I’m curling up with my ice-cream (oh, such different days to my old celebratory ways!) on the couch to watch the second half and hopefully the Queenslanders will come home for the win! But if not, never mind! It’s the best of three so the excitement will continue!
And just because I can, here’s my favourite try from 1995. Brett Dallas was my crush from high school. His unconventional good looks (well, in my opinion) adorned my school diary, bedroom walls and the little photo pocket in my wallet. I was that tragic!
Did you get any of the incoherent football background that I just babbled on about? Are you a fan of Rugby League (and watching State of Origin too!)?