State of Origin. Six hours of the most intense, thrilling rugby league (or any sport) you’ll ever witness. Each year two teams face off in a series of three games (spaced three weeks apart from one another) for state pride and bragging rights until the next year’s series.
I’ve already written about my love of sports and how I came to adore State of Origin four years ago (so what are you waiting for — if you missed it last month, check it out!). And if you love Origin, it’s because you are a passionate supporter of your team (which, by the way, should be the Queensland Maroons)!
It’s been fun to surprise people with my dedication to Aussie sports — especially Origin, where only folks with ties to Queensland or New South Wales care about the outcome. But BOY do they care!
Game 3 could have been anti-climatic this year since the Maroons had already won the first two matches and thus the series. However, they had not swept the series by winning all three games since 1995. With game 3 being held in Sydney, the pressure was on for the New South Wales Blues to pull out a victory on home turf while the Maroons wanted to seal the series with a whitewash.
Fellow fans sitting in the Queensland Supporter Bay — we received a free t-shirt and wig with the purchase of our ticket for games 1 and 3.
While my boys started off with the lead, the Blues soon mounted a comeback, scoring a couple of tries to nearly even things up! When Lockyer successfully kicked a 1-point drop kick in the first half, I had a feeling that one point could be the winning point by game’s end.
Darren Lockyer (aka Lockey), team captain and one of my three favorite players
For my fellow Americans, instead of a touchdown, players score tries, and they are worth 4 points instead of 6. Instead of the point-after-touchdown kick or 2-point conversion option, a player kicks the ball through the uprights to score a 2-point goal after the try — making a typical score 6 points instead of the 7 in American football (aka Gridiron to the Aussies). The drop-kick that Lockyer nailed is rare — at least from the games I’ve watched.
With the game nearly tied at 13-12 in favor of Queensland, the second half was an absolute nail-biting heart attack. The Blues put another try on the board, but that was soon answered by the Maroons. The Blues pressed on, nearly scoring another 4 or 5 tries in a row, but each time the Maroons stopped them within a metre or less of the line. And by game’s end, the Maroons had put another try on the board to end the game at 23-18. Lockey’s one point didn’t make the game, but it was a brilliant move. Go hard or go home!
After the game, I hopped on the free train from Olympic Park back to Central Station. Being in NSW, I figured I would be surrounded by Blues fans with the blues. The gentleman next to me congratulated me on the victory, and his hearing my “thank you” launched us into a discussion about sports and how an American woman came to love the Maroons. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of people wanting to have that conversation.
I finally arrived at the hostel at nearly 11pm, and one of the staff was waiting for me to return so we could celebrate the victory together When I stayed there six weeks ago to attend game 1, I was just as surprised to learn he was a Maroons fan as he was to learn that I was one too. “I just can’t get over it,” he laughed. “Half of the men here would marry you on that alone — you’re a woman who loves and understand sports and you’re not even from here.”
We popped over to the pub next door, and after eying our options, I knew I wanted to order Tooheys New, a NSW brew. I don’t recall seeing the Queensland beer XXXX (“four x”), but I’ve heard it’s rubbish.
“Is it completely sacrilegious to order a Tooheys New,” I asked my friend.
“No…and I think it even rubs it in just a little,” he said with a smile.
Here’s hoping the boys can take the series again next year! Doesn’t hurt that games 1 and 3 will be played in Brisbane instead of Sydney. I hear there’s nothing like Origin at Suncorp Stadium.