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A guide to NRL State of Origin

/ 01 May 2018
The lowdown on National Rugby League's famous State of Origin competition for perplexed AFL fans

Dusty, Danger, the Bont and Max… for fans of the Australian Football League it would be a dream line-up, but the reality is that it's not likely to happen.

Further north, though, the National Rugby League embraces representative teams, with State of Origin pitting the very best players from New South Wales and Queensland against each other.

As Melbourne gets set to host game one of the Holden State of Origin on 6 June, Melburnians and visitors can get in on the hype with this AFL fans guide to the biggest rivalry in Australia.

What’s it all about?

State of Origin is an annual representative series of Rugby League matches in which Queensland, the Maroons, battle it out against New South Wales, the Blues.

Held annually, the three-match series pits the very best footballers (they call it football too!) from both states against each other to determine bragging rights for the year ahead.

In recent times, Queensland have led the way with victory after victory, but that wasn’t always the case with New South Wales dominating early instalments of the cross-border show down.

Who are the players?

The players come from the National Rugby League, competing for the state in which they played their first senior rugby league game.

To describe most of them as human wrecking balls would not be a stretch. They are modern-day gladiators, famed by millions of fans.

Rugby league charges are fast, strong and impressive to watch.

There are ‘the halves’, the smaller starters that do most of the ball handling, ‘the props’, the bigger guys that keep the halves away from the next tackle, and ‘the wingers’ and ‘the full backs’ who are the stars of the show and steer the ship.

Victoria’s own Melbourne Storm charges are set to feature, with Billy Slater and Will Chambers almost certain starters for Queensland.

What are the rules?

The first thing to know is that Rugby League is not Rugby Union, and for clarity they are known colloquially to those outside Victoria as ‘League’ and ‘Rugby’ respectively.

The rules of ‘League’ are relatively simple.

Each match is split into two halves, at 40 minutes each.

Once underway after a whistle from the umpire, teams move the ball up the field by running forward, but always passing backward. To score, a team must move past the opposing team’s goal line to score a try (valued at four points).

Teams can also score points by kicking goals. Field goals, where the ball is kicked over the bar and between the post at any time, deliver one point and after each try, the scoring team gains a free kick to convert their try and gain an extra two points.

How to watch the game?

Everyone can watch it at home, but where is the fun in that?

Melburnians are renowned for embracing a major event, so why not join almost 100,000 of them for Game 1 of the Holden State of Origin on Wednesday 6 June.

The largest ever recorded State of Origin crowd was in 2015 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with locals and visitors now set the challenge of topping that number to further highlight the Victorian capital as a global mecca for major events.

This content can be shared and edited for the purpose of promoting Victoria as a visitor destination. Not for use in paid advertising. Please credit Visit Victoria.


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