The history of the State of Origin

Any self respecting sports fan knows about one of the greatest sports rivalries in the history of any sport. Forget the cricketing rivalries between Australia and England or India and Pakistan. The soccer or football rivalries of Europe and South America are nothing compared to the rivalry between two of rugby’s greatest teams; the Blues and the Maroons.The two states that fight out in this epic battle are the states of New South Wales(NSW) or the Blues and the state of Queensland(QLD) or the Maroons.

A fine showcase of sportsmanship, talent and intense passion, the State of Origin series is widely considered to be one of the premiere events to take place in the world of rugby. Dividing players, organizers and fans alike, this sporting event attracts the best talent in the rugby world.The selection procedure aims at making players represent the state in which they played their first game in the senior rugby league. The name of the series comes from this procedure. The selection procedure was not always this way. It all started at the turn of the century when one reported questioned why Stephen Spragg – one of rugby’s all time greats, could not play for his home state of NSW.

Initially, during the early 1900′s, players for the league rugby were chosen from the clubs in the state and not from the states in which the players themselves originated. All that changed in 1982, when the new rule came into effect, basically compelling players to play for state in where they made their senior rugby league debut.

Many of rugby’s greatest players have made appearances in the series. Many have even played more than a few matches and have contributed to their team’s win.

A large number of records have been created and surpassed in this State of Origin series, all the while making it even more competitive and intense as the years roll by.

One of the players to have represented the Maroons is Darren Lockyer. This great player currently holds the record for most number of games played in the State of the Origin series, as well as in the national Australian team and his home club, the Brisbane Broncos. In 2008 he was included in the list of Australia’s Greatest Players. A statue of Darren was commissioned in 2011 and is installed outside Lang Park alongside fellow Maroon player Wally Lewis aka The King.

Wally Lewis is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in rugby’s history and he represented the state of Queensland in 31 State of Origin games. This is slightly under the record of 36 games held by Darren Lockyer. He played for Queensland from 1980 -1991, eleven long years. In 1999, he was inducted in the widely respected list of The Immortals and in 2008 his name appeared in the list of Greatest Players. Wally has won 8 man of the match awards and this is a record in itself.

There have been greats who have represented the Blues too. One of them is a player who is considered the greatest dummy half or acting half of the modern era, Danny Buderus. He has captained New South Wales for a record number of games, 15 to be exact. Brad Fittler, another great player of the Blues, holds the record for being its most capped player.

These past few years have seen the Maroons emerge to be the better of the two teams, having won 49 of its games compared to 43 games that NSW have won. QLD also leads in the number of series won with the numbers standing at 17 series wins for the Maroons and 12 for the Blues.

This amazing run has been intermittently punctuated with a streak of losses. The level of coaching given to the Maroons as well as the number of international players in its side has contributed immensely to its spectacular run post 2006. The year 2009 was a significant year for the QLD players as they took home the State of Origin shield for the fourth year in a row. The sheer experience of the Maroons was no match for the relatively new members in the NSW squad and they were obliterated.

The Maroons now hold the record for most number of series won consecutively with a jaw dropping tally of 7 series wins, starting in 2006 and ending in 2012. The 2013 series is yet to be played and QLD would be keen to keep the shield for the eight time.