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State of Origin: The biggest rivalry in Aussie history

State of Origin: The biggest rivalry in Aussie history

Broncos players coming through© Bowie Sin Flickr
Often referred to as Australia's greatest sporting rivalry, the State of Origin sees two state representative sides - the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons - go head-to-head in a best-of-three series.

State of Origin is also regularly described as the pinnacle of rugby league, even when compared to international competitions, due to the fierceness of the fans and passion of the players.

But how did the series start and why is the rivalry so strong? Here's everything you need to know about the State of Origin.

Brief history of the State of Origin
Despite the fact New South Wales and Queensland have played representative matches against each other for more than 100 years, the State of Origin era as we know it today began in the 1980s.

Following the interest generated by experiment matches in 1980 and 1981, the potential financial rewards were enough for authorities from both states to play a best-of-three series the following year.

From 1982 to 2008, the results between New South Wales and Queensland were incredibly even - both teams recorded 12 victories, while two series were drawn. But since then, Queensland has won every series except 2014 and 2018.

How the rivalry has developed
Bringing home the State of Origin series is widely considered the greatest accolade in rugby league. This intense rivalry has produced some of Australia's most memorable sporting moments too, such as beer cans being thrown onto Lang Park in 1988 and 'fight night' at the MCG in 1995.

Winning the series doesn't just mean bragging rights between fans and players either; it's sometimes a little bit more serious than that.

In 1999, the New South Wales and Queensland State governments decided to place a bet on the State of Origin series. In a tradition that lasted 14 years, the losing state had to fly the winner's flag on either the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Brisbane's Story Bridge.

The NRL has even said that diehard fans wanting to prove they were born to support their team can have their club's colours and mascot emblazoned on their official birth certificate.

Watching and experiencing the series
The State of Origin series attracts some of the highest TV ratings of the year, proving that the rivalry is as strong as it's ever been. But for those who have experienced the action live, nothing comes close to securing a ticket and cheering on your team from the stands of a packed out stadium.

In recent years, the series has gained popularity outside of New South Wales and Queensland thanks in large part to games being played away from Sydney and Brisbane – 2019's Game 2 took place at Perth's Optus Stadium in front of nearly 60,000 people.

The largest ever recorded State of Origin crowd came in 2015 when just shy of 90,000 flocked to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, testing even the limits of the famously abundant accommodation in Melbourne as fans rushed to see the action.

Attendances such as this show the enduring appeal of this great rivalry - and why it's only set to grow further in years to come.

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