It is interesting to compare the popularity of the different football codes between the Australian states – historically SA, VIC and WA are AFL states, NSW and QLD rugby states.
AFL appears to be recently making headway into the northern states, and starting with the kids is the way to go. One thing I believe that makes Aussie Rules a popular sport with kids, and gives it an advantage, is the ability to have a social kick to kick. In comparison, throwing a rugby ball to each other does not have the same excitement.
The highly physical nature of the rugby codes also does not lead themselves to schoolyard play. With the issues of liability and the concern about injuries, we may see a gradual change to AFL. Soccer may beat them all, but that is another story.
For the first time in the history of the Australian Rugby League, no Sydney based team made it to the NRL Grand Final. It is not a good time for the traditional supporters of the national football codes, as AFL has had a similar situation for the last three years.
It is not that surprising it hasn’t happened before for the NRL, as for a long time there were no interstate teams, and then for a while only one. Not only is there no NSW team in the final, traditional rival city Melbourne is the favourite to win.
Only ten years ago no one would have ever dreamed that a rugby league team from Victoria would even be playing in the competition, let alone winning it.
Unfortunately for me and other Melbourne supporters, the game was won narrowly by the Brisbane Broncos. As with most grand finals, it was a hard-fought game. Some would say that Melbourne should have won as there were a couple of refereeing decisions that could / should have gone the Storm’s way which would have reversed the result.
But it is often that way, and I don’t want to be a sore loser. The winner on the scoreboard at the end will always be remembered long after the controversy of an unpaid try has gone away.
Nearing the business end of the season, the Melbourne Storm are well clear on the Australian Rugby League (ARL) ladder, which must be disappointing to many people from the states north of here (NSW & QLD) where the game is most popular.
I was at the Storm’s game against the Warriors last night. It was the first game I had seen live in Melbourne, and it was a different experience than the Aussie Rules games I have been watching lately.
This game had an international flavour as the opposition were from NZ, something that never happens in Aussie Rules. There was also a great atmosphere, with dancing girls, fireworks and music. Combined with a vocal crowd and a smaller field it seemed like we were right in amongst the action.
Although the Storm team was beaten, it was a very entertaining evening, and I think that any Victorians who find it hard to see what all the fuss is about with Rugby League should go along and watch a game live.
The Rugby League State of Origin came to Melbourne last night. It was the decider of the annual three-match series. 1997 was the only other time one of these matches have been played outside of Queensland or NSW.
In neutral Victoria, there were enough fans to fill out the Telstra Dome with a capacity crowd of nearly 55,000 people. It would be interesting to know how many people were locals and how many came from interstate. Judging from the confused commuters on the tram on the way to the ground I would say that many people came from up north.
There was passion in the crowd – something that has been missing from my recent visits to the Telstra Dome for Rugby Union and AFL games. There seemed to be more Queenslanders but maybe it is because of the Victorians in the crowd side against their traditional rivals of NSW (like myself!).
It was the Queensland supporters who were the happy ones after the Maroons came back in the last ten minutes to win 16-14, an exciting finish to the game.
In the AFL stronghold of Victoria, there has been a recent assault by Rugby League and Soccer to win over support, but I think the AFL can rest easy as a 100-year-old tradition of sport is hard to break, and in this sporting mad state there is enough room for more than one sport.
The Wallabies (Australian Rugby Union team) came to Melbourne last night, easily winning the game 43-18 and taking out the Cook Cup.
There was a crowd of over 40,000 at the Telstra Dome, which is great for a non-Rugby state, though it was probably mostly made up of interstate ex-pats and English tourists.
Although I am not the greatest Rugby fan, I enjoy watching any Australian team and make an effort to understand the game. Out to dinner recently, I was reminded of the lack of understanding that many Victorians have of the game when I had to explain the differences between Union and League.
The final State of Origin Rugby League game is being played in Melbourne in a couple of weeks, and again I don’t think that many locals have an appreciation of the significance of this series decider, much to the frustration of many northerners who would lap up a chance to be here.
I suppose I’ll just have to do my bit and educate the Mexicans about the differences between the rugby codes.