By Nina Hendy
It’s true, the State of Origin is more than a sporting contest. Often referred to as Australia's greatest sporting rivalry, the State of Origin series is also recognised as the highest level of Rugby League in the world. And all over the country, office workers harness the rivalry that exists between Queensland and New South Wales for a bit of healthy office banter.
Australian sporting fans can be a one-eyed bunch, but none more so than NRL fans. These driven supporters revel in the long-standing rivalry that is State of Origin - Queensland Vs New South Wales. It’s more than rugby league: it’s pride, and history.
Stage and Screen Travel Manager Kristin Panchetti is not only Maroon mad, but also a keen Brisbane Broncos fan, admitting she follows them tirelessly throughout the season. She can reel off a list of team stats to anyone who's listening whether you asked for them or not.
Queensland born and bred, Kristin attends games whenever she can.“I worry about injured players and keep an eye on who's playing each week. Players like Corey Parker, Matt Gillett and Sam Thaiday, are not only key Broncos players, but also QLD State of Origin players."
Stage and Screen staff sometimes head to State of Origin clashes in a group, with blow-by-blow descriptions of how the game played out continuing at the office the next day.
New South Wales based Finance Manager Trent Loveday is a Blues fan through and through, and loves to follow the series. “I love the passion, the pride, the physical battle and that each series is decided by just one single moment of desperation, or for Queensland one bit of luck!”
The rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales has been brewing for decades, with the history of the game stretching back further than many people realise.
New South Wales and Queensland have played representative matches against each other for more than 100 years, with the State of Origin era as we know it beginning in the 1980's. As the game of Rugby League has evolved over the years, so too has the State of Origin. Bringing home the State of Origin series win is the ultimate accolade in Rugby League.
Not only does it give the players bragging rights for the next year, it also gives the States bragging rights, with a famous wager between the New South Wales and Queensland State Governments showing just how deep-seated the rivalry is. Beginning in 1999 and lasting for 14 years, the losing state had to fly the winner's flag on either the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Brisbane's Story Bridge.
Known as the Blues (NSW) and the Maroons (Queensland), fans prove their allegiance not only by waving their flags or donning their jerseys, but also dressing their babies and dogs in Blues and Maroons outfits, and even sporting number plates pledging their unabashed support.
More recently, the NRL has gone one step further, announcing that diehard fans can now prove they were born to support their team by having their club’s colours and mascot emblazoned on their official birth certificate.
With sell out games and TV coverage of the series earning some of the highest ratings of the year, there's no question the rivalry is as strong as it's ever been. NSW has had 47 match wins and 13 series wins, while Queensland leads with 56 match wins and 19 series wins.