State of Origin II was a wonderfully gripping affair, with NSW prevailing over Queensland 26-18. Here again to dissect the whole experience is TPA’s core editorial group: Dave Edwards, Sam Perry, Ben Shine and Al McClintock.
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Sam Perry: Origin reactions?
Alasdair McClintock: I am outraged, although a decider will be fun.
SP: I like Melbourne games because it’s rugby league’s 28th pitch to the rest of Australia for relevance. Like a kid at a dinner party, both TV and the administration get to show us their best toys. Channel 9 went with the pre-game player-based narrative in a bid to connect new fans with new heroes.
We learnt, for example, that John Dugan’s home town is 75% Anglo-Saxon. That Cameron Smith is the best player, even though he looks like a banker.
AM: Really, they mentioned that about Dugan? How strange.
SP: Yeah they were juxtaposing his hometown whiteness with Smith’s hometown diversity. Weird. Logan has “250 different cultures.” They were Ray Warren’s exact words.
We also learned that referees had clearly been briefed to abandon all Origin protocol and actually blow penalties at the ruck, presumably to quicken up the game to make it more attractive. We also learned that they’d been briefed to ensure NSW win, presumably to hook Victorians into Game 3.
James Tamou cut his hair and subsequently played better. There’s no doubt his hair – and game – had more spike.
Dave Edwards: I learned that Phil Gould is completely, frighteningly senile. He should have been out of the game years ago but he can’t go home because he hates his wife.
AM: Yeah, his pre-game comments that Gallen is “too old” seem only too true of himself.
DE: I also learned that Greg Inglis looks unbelievable when running freely.
SP: Yes I was startled by Inglis’ uprightness.
DE: Fucking upright eh. The purest runners are those who strive for ultimate verticality.
SP: Agreed. The antithesis of the typically hunched running style of most league players, reminiscent of Street Fighter’s Blanka.
DE: I also learned that whatever the current state of rugby league – or my gradually increasingly apathy towards the code – a good game of Origin will still shake me to my very core and remind me why rugby league is great, and indeed relevant.
Ben Shine: I’m interested in the impact on Melbourne. Was rugby league a good house guest? Did they put the toilet seat down when they were finished? Melbourne was clearly a good host – putting on a great spread of pyrotechnics. Did league reciprocate by bringing a bottle of wine or Cadbury Roses on arrival?
SP: That’s a wonderful question. My view here in Melbourne is that a beautiful symbiosis occurred.
AM: I doubt it. Rugby league responded by heckling during the minute silence for Ron Clarke and (I presume) top-decking their toilet.
SP: Our northern friends brought their lowbrow sensibilities in the form of brash colours, heavy drinking, minute’s silence abuse and referee corruption, which in turn allowed Melbournians to stake the vast moral high ground that they crave. Both parties get what they want.
DE: Melbourne was curious. The people flocked in their thousands to the Colosseum, eager to watch these slaves fight to their death. It was a beautiful, thrilling display of Origin football, and the elites were suitably impressed.
BS: Like a Mandingo fight, the rich elites were thrilled with the spilled blood and gore.
SP: Yes, the consensus in the office today was that they liked “the rugby.”
DE: No matter how many millions the NRL pours into growing awareness in Melbourne, you can be assured that elitist AFL loving snobs will continue to facetiously refer to the game as rugby. And therein lies the key problem.
SP: Good try by Woods though.