Oh How Easy it is to forget History

By Daniel Andruczyk

I bought the other day the Australian Rugby Leagues “A Century of Rugby League” 4-DVD set. I watched it in great anticipation that I would get a great overview of not just Internationals and the NRL but Rugby League in Australia as a whole. I mean it is meant to be a century of the sport in Australia yes? So believe me that when I say I feel completely disappointed and robbed and I think the rest of Australia who really cares about Rugby League as a sport should feel this way too.

A New Title

Sitting through those DVD’s it was abundantly clear that it was more a DVD on the history of the NSWRL. Sure it was the first competition and richest in terms of money, but not necessarily players. Queensland had always produced fantastic players. But at times even when Queensland had to be mentioned, it was at the barest minimum and felt in great pain. The only time when Queensland started to get any mention was when they talked about the Broncos and the NRL and Super League.

But what upset me the most was the fact that Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania and Country Rugby League get no mention what so ever! Now the last I looked these states, play Rugby League, are all part of Australia and fall under the auspices of the ARL. So why do they get ignored?

Victoria is actually the third oldest Rugby League playing State in Australia with the first game played in 1914 when the Lions toured Australia and played News South Wales in Melbourne and drew a crowd of 12,000. By the 1920’s there was an established premiership and a state team doing tours. In South Australia the sport has been played since the 1950’s and in Western Australia since 1948 on a consistent basis. So much so that its considered the strongest state now outside of Queensland and New South Wales, winning 8/12 Affiliated States Championships and with a team in the Jim Beam Cup and SG Ball Cup in 2010. They are one of the favourites to get a new franchise in 2013. The Northern Territory competition started in 1941 and included teams from the Navy, Air Force, Army and also included and all-indigenous team! Why was this not talked about in the DVD? Tasmania, more recently has also started playing within that Century of Australian Rugby League. There was also absolutely no mention of any of the famous and fantastic Country Rugby League competitions like the Challenge Cup and Maher Cup!

Many Rugby League fans in Australia talk about how the sport should expand, yet in reality the sport has been present across the whole country for at least 60 years. Its been the typical insular thinking of the Eastern states, i.e. the NSWRL and QRL that effectively shut out the other states. Teams in the 1950s and 60s used to tour and play the other states on a regular basis.

Representative

There is a disc dedicated to the international game, but once again it seems to take a back seat to the State of Origin. I still am not sure where the line blurred from Internationals being the pinnacle to State of Origin being the pinnacle of the sport. There was some coverage of the Ashes and the New Zealand tours and tests, but very little mention of the French and also matches against the USA, Italians and South Africa in the 1950’s!

Summary

In reality all that this DVD has shown me is that the sport still has a long way to go to break the insular and inward looking of the sport in Australia. Despite the sport being healthy in New South Wales and Queensland it isn’t a national sport on the same scale as AFL yet. A greater effort needs to be made to have games played in other states and get teams there eventually. No I am not saying to just up sticks and dump a team there, but a plan needs to be in place that in 10-15 years time we have teams in all major cities of Australia. This is what we need if be truly want the N in NRL to stand for National. That and the history of the sport needs to be re-remembered and promoted so that all Rugby League fans in Australia know its true rich history.

Daniel Andruczyk’s email: daniel@rugbyleagueinternationalscores.com
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