What if they played sports with teams based on where players were born?
Imagine a Major League Baseball or NFL game where a team made up of Floridians played one made up of Texans. Or New Yorkers played against Californians. Australia hosts just an unusual ongoing sporting competition called the “State of Origin Series,” in which special Rugby League teams are comprised of athletes based on which state they are from, rather than which team they normally play on for money.
In Australia’s State of Origin Series, the game is always played between players from Queensland and players from New South Wales. These two states share a border, but are polar opposites in some ways. Very roughly speaking, Queensland can be compared to Texas, while NSW and Sydney can be compared to California and Los Angeles in spirit.
The rivalry stems from colonial days when on 6th June 1859, Queensland separated from NSW and became a sovereign colony under the auspices of Queen Victoria after whom the colony was named. We had our own navy and militia some of whom fought in the Boer War in South Africa. We have our own State flag and Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms carries the Brolga and the Red Deer. The Queensland Flag carries the Union Jack with the Maltese Cross.
Queenslanders have always been a harder working independent lot which seemingly causes NSW to have fits and tantrums. Queensland, being an agricultural state has always been and is Conservative. It is often crucial in the outcome of Federal elections.
This State animosity is fueled by journalists from NSW who, from times lost in the fog of history, have consistently disparaged Queenslanders as dumb, ignorant farmers with straws in the hats and smoking a corn pipe. This jealously is doubtlessly fed by the fact that at Winton in Outback Queensland the de facto Australian national song “Waltzing Maltilda” was penned and sung by the poet Banjo Paterson around the fireplace of the homestead in Winton, Qld of a young woman he was trying to woo.
Prior to 1980 the Rugby League matches between NSW and Qld were manned by players hired by the local teams in each state. These matches were always won by NSW because their greater population and wealth. Queenslanders were enraged for decades as it was mainly and mostly Queensland players in the NSW team against a B grade Queensland team. Why? The reason: NSW team was dominated with recruits from Queensland. NSW permitted Pokies and other gambling in licensed premises particularly football clubs thus giving access to a wealth of funds to recruit the cream of players particularly from Queensland.
Thus, Queensland were left with B grade players who annually succumbed to the onslaught of the better players, mainly Queenslanders, who were representing NSW.
In 1980 the rules changed. Footballers could only represent the State in which they were born. Thus, NSW lost the cream of the players from Queensland. In the very first of the annual three match series in 1980 NSW lost to Queensland under the captaincy of the late Arthur Beetson. Much blood was spilled releasing, a little, the pent up anger of decades.
Since then Queensland has dominated NSW winning the the three match annual series 11 years out of the past 12 alone.
John McMahon writes from the bush of Queensland.