It’s time to go…

By Daniel Andruczyk

Queensland have won an unprecedented 5 straight Origin series, but what does this mean for the whole concept? Yes, yes, I know that I have been calling for Origin to be abolished in its current form for a while now. But this post is one with a twist on this theme. How you may ask, well its simple the age old rugby league attitude to teams that keep winning series upon series upon series. With QLD having won five series in a row now and looks like it may get 6 and 7 even will the age old Rugby League attitude kick in towards State of Origin?

If you ask ‘Rugby League fans’ in Australia why they don’t support of follow International Rugby League the way they used to, the answer always comes back “Oh Internationals are just not competitive, Australia always wins everything”. Well we have seen in the last 5 years or so that that is no necessarily the case, New Zealand having won a Nations and the World Cup, yet still the International Game does not get the respect it deserves.

The Ashes

The Ashes brings up some great images of battles in the past. The great British teams of the Early 70’s, the Invincibles in the early 80’s and the tight tussles of the 90’s. Anyone that remembers these will remember packed stadiums of 60 and 70 thousand… the glory days. But somewhere, something went wrong, yes sure Great Britain lost many of the last series, but they were close series , most being 2-1 and many where the Lions won the first match. The last 5 years only the last one did Australia win 3-0, the rest like in the State of Origin were 2-1.

YEAR HOME TEAM SCORE AWAY TEAM
1982 Great Britain 0-3 Australia
1984 Australia 3-0 Great Britain
1986 Great Britain 0-3 Australia
1988 Australia 2-1 Great Britain
1990 Great Britain 1-2 Australia
1992 Australia 2-1 Great Britain
1994 Great Britain 1-2 Australia
2001 Great Britain 1-2 Australia
2003 Great Britain 0-3 Australia

What’s more interesting that over the 85 years that the Ashes have been played they are unbelievably close. Of the 39 Series played Australia has won 20 (51.3%) and Great Britain 19 (48.7%), pretty close, just as close as what State of Origin is. I dare say that if we had some more tours since 2003 we may have seen Great Britain win a series or two, who knows. So with things this close why were the Ashes and Internationals frowned upon?

Five in a Row

Last year Origin history was made by Queensland when they won an unprecedented 4 Origin Series in a row, and this year they continued to make that history by winning a fifth straight series (this is not taking 1980 an 1981 into account).

2005 New South Wales 3-0 Queensland
2006 New South Wales 1-2 Queensland
2007 New South Wales 1-2 Queensland
2008 New South Wales 1-2 Queensland
2009 New South Wales 1-2 Queensland
2010 New South Wales 0-2 (so far) Queensland

The problem as I see it is that it looks like this dominance will not be abating anytime soon. So is Queensland and State of Origin in danger of becoming like the “Kangaroos and the Ashes”? Will we see crowds getting diminishing in State of Origin because of it getting boring due to Queensland’s dominance? It will be interesting to see if the same attitudes of international rugby league will be applied here.

But I bet they won’t, I don’t understand, when did the state rivalry become bigger than the battles with the poms and Kiwis? These have always been the big rivals and I used to come out in droves to watch these teams, even the French used to pull crowds in excess of 30,000. But if not, if we are not going to be sick of Queensland winning all the time why is it that we don’t care so much about beating our traditional overseas rivals?

Back to Internationals?

But lets assume that we do “get bored” and get rid of Origin then what do we replace it with? Well how about getting a Trans Pacific Quad-series going? Australia, New Zealand Papua New Guinea and Fiji/Tonga/Samoa/Cook Islands and another tri series with the countries that aren’t in the quad series? We can then swap these around on a year to year basis. How about getting all the players that can represent countries involved, let get all these matches televised and promoted the way SoO has been, lets build up the game such that we get to see on the highest stage players the absolute best players and there is no reason we can’t bring in local players from the domestic competition in those countries either.

However we know that State of Origin will not diminish, but I make a call to all Rugby League fans to also start supporting International Rugby League on all its stages. Rugby league is not just the NRL or ESL or SoO, its about every single country their competition and internationals, the future of the sport is there, everyone need to work together, build the strong foundations internationally and the sport will survive for ever.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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19 Responses to “It’s time to go…”

  1. dragons4eva says:

    Wow Druzik nice post. You always seem to put an Interesting point on matters. I think many fans are blinded by the fact of SOO being bigger than Internationals through propaganda. Reason i say that is because the NRL and media hype SOO higher than International RL. They don’t look a the statistics or ‘bigger’ picture and the general attitude is that SOO is more ‘competitive’ than Internationals. But thing is in the last 5 years the Kiwis and Poms have proven a Renaissance of form against the Australians. Hopefully what you say does come true one day (whenever that is) and Internationals ARE bigger than SOO.

    • druzik says:

      Thanks,

      That is the point of my blogs… to look at things from a different perspective and outside the box. I have been fortunate enough to experience what real struggle New World Nations have in RL and what they would like to see and so try try to get this point across…

      Here is another though to have a think about.

      IS the quality of Rugby League in SoO actually any better than the NRL or even dare I say it NSW/QLD Cup? The amount of mistakes and penalties etc… that you see I think its not. But the hype and the “passion” is what sells SoO. One to think about.

    • druzik says:

      But thing is in the last 5 years the Kiwis and Poms have proven a Renaissance of form against the Australians. Hopefully what you say does come true one day (whenever that is) and Internationals ARE bigger than SOO.

      .. and we have seen also the emergence of some handy teams like PNG, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Ireland and Wales … If they could get their full compliment of players under proper eligibility rules… In the last 10 years we could have easily seen these 6 nations compete with the traditional 4 powers, so we could have had a very “international” competition(s) already since 2000 if we weren’t so blinkered.

      • dragons4eva says:

        “IS the quality of Rugby League in SoO actually any better than the NRL or even dare I say it NSW/QLD Cup? The amount of mistakes and penalties etc… that you see I think its not. But the hype and the “passion” is what sells SoO. One to think about”.

        Passion definitely passion. There’s more hype, preparation and promotion for SOO then there is for Internationals. Seriously i look at it like this NSW team=Club QLD=Australia. That’s basically the difference of quality between them atm. I rekon maybe a full strength Kiwi squad could be the NSW squad atm.

        Also as you mentioned before about that Pacific tournament it IS basically the same concept as State of Origin. “Mate vs Mate” players ARE going to verse their ‘mate’ in some sort of tournament anyways but on a larger scale. Hayne, Petro C., K. Hunt(if he was still playing), Folau etc could represent their ‘heritage’ nation and still take on their Aussie counterparts.

        Also some kiwi and International players could make Origin such as Burgess, Ellis, Marshall, Blair, Vatuveii etc.

        So really you gotta ask yourself “Is SOO really the Pinnacle of RL?”.

  2. Dan says:

    I disagree with the premise of this argument, which is that State of Origin will decrease in popularity because of the perceived future, and indefinite dominance, of the Blues.

    I think that, firstly, it is easy to sit here after watching a comprehensive defeat and not be able to imagine that the vanquished will ever rise from the ashes. After Origin III in 2000, in which Queensland was humiliated in the worst possible way (who could forget the post-try “celebrations” of the Blues?) the media was full of speculation that Origin was dead, Queensland wouldn’t win a series within the next decade etc. History shows that Origin remained very much alive.

    (As an aside, after Paul Keating won the infamous “unwinnable” election in 1993, the press was similarly full of talk that the Coalition would be unelectable into the new millenium. Again, similar prediction in a similar circumstance, but horribly wrong.)

    The second reason that Origin should stay is that it is vital to the financial security of the QRL (and, presumably, whatever part of the Independent Commission that eventually becomes responsible for Queensland). Without Origin, the QRL has few significant streams of revenue.

    I think the fallacy is that the international game and the interstate competition can’t both prosper. Although we want a healthy international scene, we should shouldn’t forget how far the game has come in a short period of time.

    In 1999 I was one of the 12,000 or so people who sat in a nearly empty Lang Park watching the Lions get annihilated by Australia. The early years of this decade were lean times indeed for the international game.

    Who would’ve thought that by 2010, we would have the European Cup, the other competitions organisation the RLEF (or indeed, even have a RLEF), the Pacific Cup etc etc?

    The real issue with State of Origin is that the selection rules hamper the eligibility of star to players to represent the country of their choice. I think that players should be allowed to turn out in Origin (to represent where they first played in Australia) and a * permanent* other nation (whether that be New Zealand, Tonga or whatever).

    • druzik says:

      I disagree with the premise of this argument, which is that State of Origin will decrease in popularity because of the perceived future, and indefinite dominance, of the Blues.

      I think that, firstly, it is easy to sit here after watching a comprehensive defeat and not be able to imagine that the vanquished will ever rise from the ashes. After Origin III in 2000, in which Queensland was humiliated in the worst possible way (who could forget the post-try “celebrations” of the Blues?) the media was full of speculation that Origin was dead, Queensland wouldn’t win a series within the next decade etc. History shows that Origin remained very much alive.

      I think you missed the point of the post… I was trying to show the weird mentality that Rugby League fans, especially in Australia, have towards the international game, well game in General. They apply different sets of logic depending on what they want… In essence I am mereley asking will the International mentality be applied to Origin by fans getting “bored”… obviously the answer is no, so why then do they apply the same mentality to the international scene? Why have we taken away the chance for teams like GB/England etc to reclaim the Ashes… for all we know since 2003 they might have actually won a series of two? Look what we did with the world cup! It took 8 years to have another one, in all that time we lost so much great momentum we have from 1995. This has got nothing to do with the result on Wednesday night… I have been asking and debating this issue for years now.

      The second reason that Origin should stay is that it is vital to the financial security of the QRL (and, presumably, whatever part of the Independent Commission that eventually becomes responsible for Queensland). Without Origin, the QRL has few significant streams of revenue.

      Isn’t that a bit worrying that QLD RL is so dependent on only one competition then? Why aren’t they doing more to secure more games? Recently Fiji u18’s had a tour of Australia where they played Newcastle and 2 Sydney teams… why haven’t the QLD chools done this… you never ever see international teams in QLD, they seem to all go to NSW, Canberra, WA Victoria or SA… yes… GB and France in the last few years sent junior teams to all these places, hell France even played school boy tests in Darwin! To me I think QLD despite having great players and Origin are behind the 8-ball when it comes to real promotion of the sport in this country… and that is saying something.

      I think the fallacy is that the international game and the interstate competition can’t both prosper. Although we want a healthy international scene, we should shouldn’t forget how far the game has come in a short period of time.

      I never said that both cannot prosper, all I am saying, and have been for years, is that the NRL/ESL/SoO they way they are geared are doing more harm than good to the sport in general internationally. Where we should have passion for playing internationals and how other nations are doing we have large sections of the media actively trying to dismiss it and kill it off. Even before the 2008 WC we had “Rugby League Jurnos” coming out and rubbishing the tournament… no wonder some games got small crowds!

      In 1999 I was one of the 12,000 or so people who sat in a nearly empty Lang Park watching the Lions get annihilated by Australia. The early years of this decade were lean times indeed for the international game.

      Who would’ve thought that by 2010, we would have the European Cup, the other competitions organisation the RLEF (or indeed, even have a RLEF), the Pacific Cup etc etc?

      History Lesson. International Rugby League 101: The European Cup has been played since 1935, It was the first true multi national International competition in Rugby League. The Pacific Cup has been played on a Semi-regular basis since 1974, the real exciting developments have been in the lower tier European tournaments, Middle East and the Atlantic Cup…. again this just shows how poorly we have been promoting the sport and its international side that all these tournaments have been forgotten about.

      The real issue with State of Origin is that the selection rules hamper the eligibility of star to players to represent the country of their choice. I think that players should be allowed to turn out in Origin (to represent where they first played in Australia) and a * permanent* other nation (whether that be New Zealand, Tonga or whatever).

      This is a big issue, I agree. What you suggest is one way to go, but it then gets rid of the whole notion of SoO being linked to the Kangaroo as a trial, which was its original concept really, If we allow others in then we may as well go back to the pre-1980 days of NSW residents v QLD residents…. hell this might be worth doing since we could have Victoria field a team then! A three way State Cup, that could potentially help boost the game in Victoria no?

      The issue is that many of the players would not want to turn out for that state in particular, I know of some players who’d rather play for QLD but played their first RL in NSW… so if they are forced to take the field for NSW how do we guarantee there is passion for that Jersey and we don’t just get a repeat of Wednesday night?

      Another situation, what if both QLD and NSW end up having all players that are from overseas? How do we choose the Kangaroos, does SoO then become meaningless in the whole context of getting the Aussie players blooded in rep footy for the international stage… Some fundamental issues there that need to be addressed.

  3. Dan says:

    To save a lot of copying and pasting, I will just number the points I am replying to. 🙂

    1. I actually completely agree about the mentality of Australian league fans to internationals. It is just downright weird how anything more than a six point difference in a league Test is derided in the media as evidence of league’s poor international state. This test is not applied to any other sport.

    2. It’s very worrying for the QRL, but I also think that such is the nature of now being consigned to being a “second tier” organisation. The big media bucks are not going to come. This is the same for the NSWRL. They are both reliant on money from the ARL, and accordingly from representative football. As for why they don’t host more representative teams, I really don’t know. Queensland Residents did some touring in the 1990s, and were playing WA for a few years, but other than that I simply don’t know.

    3. Re: world cup. Agreed.

    4.Re: European Cup. I know that it has a long period, but it was also moribund from the mid 1990s for about a decade. Furthermore, the lower tier competitions, and range of nations involved, are something we’ve never had before.

    5. Have to think about the last point some more. 🙂

    • druzik says:

      Lol I will do the same then, number 🙂

      1. Agree… its a bizzare mentality and I have never been able to figure out where it cam from… its always been a head scratcher for me.
      2. Yeah we have got into a strange situation with the state administration. Where as in some other countries, e.g, Ireland and south africa you have the state agencies come under the national body but still have their local domestic comps and then those winners come together to play off for the national title, then provincial games then national games, in Australia we seemed to to 2 things completely opposite. A. We contracted the sport in the 1950/60s from being semi-national (we had decent WA, SA and Vic comps) to just a two state game and B. then effectively killed those off with the advent of the current NRL competition which in reality is very NSW-centric. Despite the large numbers of players NSW teams (i am counting Raiders in here too) still make up 11/16 teams in the NRL – that is roughly 70% in essence the NRL is still the old NSWRL comp.

      Now this may not necessarily be a bad thing… its where the heraland is but I certainly do think that if we will survive as a sport in this country we need to expand… but that expansion also involves in helping the relevant state comps along themselves as well. You are right in that the touring sides happened, Actually in the 80’s the QLD side (origin side I am sure it was) toured the UK and france several times. We certainly need to get the AS teams (Affiliates states) get more exposure… I mean when do you hear about the AAS tourns in the media… you dont but they do much great work in the spread of the sport around the pacific.

      3. Agree

      4. Yes, that is what is exciting about all these nations… something like the recent Malta v Norway match should have at least some media scrutiny as a Parramatta NYC player (Bonnano) repped Malta and scored. I just wonder how much scrutiny the Euro Cup will get and the Atlantic cup will get while the 4 nations are on?

      • Dan says:

        Re: media coverage of Euro Cup / Atlantic Cup? I can answer that question straight away. If there is a single player who has so much as seen a repeat of Crocodile Dundee playing the entire enterprise will be written off as proof positive that all international league consists of ex-Australian players representing countries in which the game has never been played. Cue Peter Fitzsimmons.

        As to player selections in State of Origin, I think that interstate games have moved on from being a selection trial for the Australian team. Setting aside anything to do with Origin per se, the very fact that Australia Tests either a month or so before the Origin series, or about five months later attests to the fact that a player’s performance for Queensland or New South Wales has little bearing on the probability of getting a green and gold jersey.

        The issue with International eligibility v Origin eligibility arises due to population mobility, particularly from the Pacific Islands. A lot of players, who are otherwise eligible to play for another nation, have grown up and want to play Origin because it is a spectacle. It doesn’t change the fact that they are also equally eligible for Origin. The effect of this is that the pool of players who are eligible for other nations is not as big as it should be. And the larger that pool, the more competitive the international game becomes.

        As for blooding players for the Roos, I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing players who will represent other nations will also have the experience of Origin intensity to inform their future international performances. If anything, this will also increase international competitiveness, because they will know what they are in for.

        Three way interstate cup? Not sure it will work. The ’97 Super League experience was interesting, but the intensity of the experience is diluted by an extra team. And speaking of ’97, who’s to say that there won’t be the odd dodgy decision to ensure that Qld and NSW end up in the final of such a competition? 😉

      • druzik says:

        1. Unfortunatley what you state there is probably very correct and a sad refelction of where the game is not only in Australia but internationally.

        2. Yes, you are correct, I am not sure when this happened though, when did Origin become the biggest thing? You see players making debuts for Australia before Origin these days.

        3. Again the eligibility needs to be enforces, I think one of the reason Origin has become so big is that the eligibility rules are so relaxed and so its a positive feedback effects once you started the trickle it just amplified.

        4. Well as we have discussed things before, this can go either one of two ways: a. scale back the eligibility to make Origin a Kangaroo selection trial but have a rep season mid-year and give everyone else internationals in that time, or b. open Origin up as you say but get rid of the international eligibility rules, but this may in the end have to bring in extra teams… which leads me to…

        5. This is the other reason why origin is a detriment to the sport expanding, in the end if we want the sport to be truly national we need to have NRL teams in the other states and Origin will have to expand itself to include other states… otherwise it will always be seen as a two state game, who in WA really does give a stuff about Origin and NSW and QLD teams and players, they will only get behind it if there is a WA team with WA players… origin at the moment does more harm than good on the national stage AFAIC.

  4. Jon says:

    Not sure if you’ve got it down Dan, but Catalonia are playing Czech Republic on 10th July.

  5. druzik says:

    The switch to summer rugby didn’t do the damage.

    Its been State of Origin, the Super League War and the RLIF’s inability to take advantage of a fantastic World Cup in 1995 that did it.

    I don’t think there are many fans left that remember tour in Oz?? And dont forget that Union has tours and they haven’t really expanded much, where as Soccer with no tours is spread out all over the world.

  6. druzik says:

    half the problem was that the quality of rugby league was attrocious in winter in England. So you sweriously think that having tours in the middle of a domestic season makes sense? No way. No one else plays it like that. The summer move was good.

    Tours also restrict heavily which countries can play and develop. Its hard for teams like Samoa and PNG who are poor to do tours. Its better for them to play tournaments, where they get a better exposure to international teams and then can get better sponsorship deals and subsidies from the RLIF.

    The old tours only benefited the English, Aussies, Kiwis and French… every other nation struggled to come up to any level, since 2003 when tours stopped, the Home nations have started to become better, the Pacific Nations with more regular games have come up. We now have Regular internationls happening between the Kiwis and Tonga/Samoa, Australia and PNG. England are playing France and Wales on a annual basis now, and the European and Pacific Cups have given 10 more teams exposure to top level internationals with the incentive for the winners that they will get to play the top 3 teams. Its a big thing!

    Though the schedule could be much better than what it is now, the basic idea is sound, tournaments with an incentive to play a top level tournament against the best teams. In time it should improve, one hopes after 2013 world cup we will have a more sensible and stable international schedule.

  7. druzik says:

    What are you talking about? Rugby Union had been touring Australia since 1888 and vice versa. The way Rugby league came to New Zealand and Australia was with the All blacks touring the UK seeing the news sport and thinking this was pretty good to play.

    Clubs have been switching back and forth between the two codes since their start. You did have Rugby League clubs go back to Union and you had union clunbs switch to rugby league in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Australia. Union actually had almost died out by the 1920 in Australia, so how you came up with RL almost dying is beyond me.

    Tours certainly did help the sport, but the strength of Rugby league has always been in the clubs, not national sides. To say that GB single handedly saved the sport in Australia is a bit of a stretch there.

    In the past when travel was more difficult, then tours were more sensible, teams could only afford to travel once every few years, so tour made sense. These days its much different. Tournaments are the future, if we want to grow the sport then we need tournaments that give all teams a chance to compete at the highest levels. Tours do not allow this.

    In reality the way Rugby league used to be with only 4 nations, GB, France, Australia and New Zealand, allowed sensible tours to happen with nations being able to travel and hit two birds with the one stone… these days its not so and even Rugby union is starting to struggle with meaningful tours.

  8. druzik says:

    I was talking about the British and Irish Lions, and in the old days Aussie rules pretty much played using the Rugby Rules..

    The tours still happened weather they were officially sanctioned or not, it does not take the fact away that they they were there.

    Its still a far stretch saying that the tour saved the sport since in the 1909 RU tour when the Wallabies came back most of them defected en mass to League and crowds were picking up. All that tour did was speed up the popularity of Rugby League and make it the dominant rugby code. It did not “save it” as such. Teams were not looking so switch back to Union or anything. Why would they give up professionalism to go back to being amateur?

    As I said all that tour did was speed the popularity up. Rather than it happening over a 5 year period, it happened over several months. Union with the lack of crowds and funds embraced amateurism even more.

    I agree with you that we can only say the sport is growing with the number of countries that take it up. I have not denied this and I have worked with many countries over the years on helping to promote them. The strength of the NRL and ESL clubs is hampering the international growth to an extent but the State of Origin is the real killer.

    Tours will not help either. All they will do is put the money and power even more into three or four nations and everyone else will suffer. Tours are an old archaic system that does not promote growth of the sport internationally, there is no point in having them anymore. Tournaments are the way forward.

  9. druzik says:

    I dont need to name any names. The tour are there, official or not, doesn’t make a difference. The Lions were touring in Union well before 1910.

    Name calling will not get you anywhere and screaming wont either as your capital letter signify as well. If you are not aware, this is my blog so it is my opinion that I am putting out there. Till better evidence is given to change my opinions then I will stick by my opinion.

    And if you want to talk about getting things wrong, go and have a good look at the Union Lions sides and when they won. Against Australia alone they had tour wins in 1899, 1904, 1950, 1959, 1966, 1989. Against the All Blacks you are right there they only won in 1971. South Africa, Argentina as well, they have had numerous series wins against them… or will you be selective as well and not count those tours?

    So rather than the name calling and screaming, go get your facts right. At the moment you seem to be just trolling for some sort of reaction.

  10. druzik says:

    Nor quite, the Wallabies in 1909 were called professionals by the Brits and the IRB imposed further smaller allowances on Union players. After the tour the Wallabies players decided to switch over to League and Rugby Union was forced to go even more amateur with crowds plummeting. League was not dying at that stage, with Dally Messenger playing league crowds were massive. Australia was already playing tests against the Kiwis so to say that the GB tour saved the sport is a far stretch. I have spoken with historians and they certainly don’t mention this at all. All that the GB tour did was speed up the process of league becoming the dominant sport on the East coast.

    I say tours are dead, not because the RL administrators don’t want them, but because tours provide a distict class system of haves and have nots. Tours will only be between 3 or 4 countries and exclude all other countries. This is not the way forward if you want to expand the sport. Why would anyone want to take up the sport when there is no chance of being promoted up the ranks, which is what happens.

    Look at Union and Cricket tours. The growth of those sports died. They had to come up with gimicky games like RU7s and 20-20 to try and get the crowds back in. Take a look at a sport like soccer that is tournament based, where there is a defined international season and regional tournaments can be played, where all nations have a shot at playing. Thats is the incentive, to have a chance at playing the best, not to sit on the side lines watching 3 or 4 nations that tour.

    I have fond memories of tours, hell I remember the invincibles 1986 tour still. I loved the old tours, but that does not mean that in the modern sporting environments that is the way forward. I have spent the best part of the last 5 years living in Europe and seeing how other sports do things and what is successful, talking and working with most European Rugby League nations and I know what they prefer, and that its not oturs. That’s why Europe does not have tours but a series of tournaments each year as that is much easier for nations to play and sponsors look more favourably upon tournaments rather than tours.

  11. druzik says:

    Lol

    You have an obsession with Union….

    Just becvause they had under the table payments does not mean you can just discount their world cups… you like to be very selective about what you say… you need to get your fact right before you scream your little rants.

    and once again you seem to be the one that selective to manipulate the facts to try and prove some obscure point… that I think you have no idea what it is anyomre.

    Certainly I have lost what your issue is. If you don’t like what I write then don’t read it. Very simple.

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