Considering that the state of origin actually dates back to 1908, the term “Spirit of Queensland” is just a modern myth.



If you’ve listened to, read or watched any NRL-related media in the last forty years, you’ll no doubt have come across some of the endless chatter about the ‘Spirit of Queensland’.

How it’s stronger, more widespread, and generally better than anything the poor Blues could hope to match.

As a New South Welshman, it can be easy to start believing this mythology invented and reinforced by media personalities, especially as it seems to coincide with the results on the field.

As someone who didn’t see a Blues series win my entire time in high school, I even believed that maybe Queenslanders just “get” rugby league better than we do.

That is, I did until I started wondering why it seemed like we only started our state of origin conversations in 1982.

You will never see highlights videos of pre-1982 interstate games or hear anyone talk about the players involved.

In fact, many people under the age of fifty probably don’t even realize that there were regularly scheduled series between the states before their name was changed to State of Origin, and that there have been for as long as rugby league has existed. in Australia.

New South Wales were so dominant in these games that by the time State of Origin was introduced, they were on a 20-year winning streak.

Eight in a row doesn’t seem so bad compared to that, right?

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Of the sixty-six series contested between 1908 and 1981 (world wars and the Spanish flu interrupted our mutual hatred), New South Wales had outright won 50 of them.

Including these series in the overall match count between New South Wales and Queensland means the Blues have 70 titles to Queensland’s 37.

Those of us who wear blue shirts and have been whipped with this myth of an indomitable Queensland spirit find it very convenient that the records only begin with the 1982 State of Origin, when the ARL co-opted a publicity opportunity invented by the AFL .

At this point, one or two Queenslanders you know who can read might dismiss the objection that the players in these matches had to play for the state in which their club was located.

Since the New South Wales clubs had a lot more money, especially from the 1950s onwards when pokies started pumping money into them, a few born Queenslanders ended up playing for New South Wales.

A fair objection, at face value. Under scrutiny, it becomes much more confusing, like a Queenslander’s birth certificate.

In 1981, the last year before State Of Origin, the New South Wales team had four non-New South Wales-born players in the two games, while Queensland had two non-New South Wales-born players.

Queensland celebrates its 1995 State of Origin win.

Queensland celebrates its 1995 State of Origin win. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Queensland team still had three immortals: Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga and Arthur Beetson. They scored one try in total.

Where was the spirit of Queensland then or the previous 19 years?

This objection also ignores the fact that the use of slot machines to finance New South Wales clubs did not begin until 1956 with a change in the law.

Even removing all series after that date, NSW had won 30 and Queensland only 10 up to that point. Why don’t those records count when the playing field was so even?

By modern standards, four players on a home-state team who weren’t born in your state is pretty few. Last year, Queensland had six players in their team who were not born within their borders, although they now mainly come from New Zealand.

This is not an argument to ban these players from playing State of Origin.

The point is that the rules of the past can only be applied to the past. We either accept the statistics and the achievements that occurred during them, or we discount them all.

You cannot deny New South Wales its (legitimate) winning record in interstate matches, which were played according to the rules of the time, and at the same time allow the Roosters to claim to have won 15 premierships when two of their titles were awarded without a grand final. .

Or that the Broncos claimed six premierships when one of them was the 1997 breakaway super league that featured such notable teams as the Hunter Mariners and the mighty Adelaide Rams.

The mythology built around this “Spirit of Queensland” is new and factually incorrect when looked at in the full context of interstate games.

For a longer period of history, Queenslanders were mercenaries who would happily destroy their own statesmen before a very successful rebrand.

So, proud New South Wales brethren, the next time you hear some brown-clad moron babbling about the ‘Spirit of Queensland’, ask him where he was for the 73 years before the ‘modern’ State of Origin.

Don’t shop in Queensland PR, you can have your eight in a row, we’ll stick with the 20, thanks.

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