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How racism has made NSW Rugby League the greatest losers of all time !

Rebecca McIntosh

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Adam Goode’s story has put racism and sport right into the national conversation, but there is another story of racism in football that has made the NSW State of Origin team the biggest losers of all time!

Now you may not know this but I am a huge League fan, I know it’s totally Bogan but I love that there is no pretense around these enormous beefy blokes chasing that ball. It’s the working class mans game, where if you can count to 6 you can play, even the scums are a sham but it’s the unapologetic machoness with the odd bit of biffo I admit I find entertaining.

There is nothing I like watching more than the big State of O, all made sweeter by QLD’s continual trouncing of NSW. QLD 52 NSW 6 things don’t get more convincing than that! QLD has won the last 9 out of 10 State of Origins.

Now this is where things get interesting, Indigenous players have made up 1/3 of the team since 1980 (Proportion of Aboriginal people of the Australian population is 3%) Meanwhile NSW has had a handful of indigenous players. Are the NSW selectors racist and has this left NSW as the perennial loser?

The state of Origin is Australia’s greatest sporting rivalry it’s state against state, mate against mate, but is there something else clearly going on here that goes deep into heart of sport, culture, race and politics in this country. Adam Goode’s battles with racism on the field has been a major topic of national discussion but racism in sport seems to be tolerated in this countries most public cultural events - football.

Queensland has a long line of Aboriginal heroes going back to Arthur Beetson, it is believed Greg Inglis, who was born in NSW chose to play for Queensland because of the belief that indigenous players are less likely to be picked for NSW. On the eve of 2010 second Origin match NSW center Timana Tahu walked out of the Blues camp in protest at racist comments assistant coach Andrew Johns made about Inglis calling him a “Black C”. Queensland coach Mal Meninga responded by saying  ''We pick sides basically on who is playing the best - and we talk about the Maroon jersey - as opposed to colours of skin.''

On the other hand there have been indigenous NSW players like Nathan Blacklock who was an Australian representative, but never got to wear the Blue Jersey. He eventually changed codes to Rugby as he felt League was a lost cause because of the racial discrimination.

Even some NSWs fans are now backing the Maroons because of their stella Indigenous athletes. Brad Cooke, a Bidjigal man from La Perouse, is the first ball-by-ball Aboriginal rugby league commentator for the ABC "The stats and the numbers really don't lie," Cooke says. "I absolutely see a very large number of Kooris from NSW cheer for Queensland, purely because of the non-selection of our players over time and some of those off-field incidents that have happened over the years. Blackfellas put two and two together."

But the truth is not only in the score at the end of match it’s in the play on the field. You can see the real sense of team spirit and comradery in the QLD side, they play as one, often called clinical by commentators, but I think they are all truly connected to each other. Where NSW play as a pack of individuals, just blindly plundering forward with no synergy between each other, then when things start to fall apart and the score starts to stack up against them they resort to thuggery and violence to try and even that score.

I think QLD Rugby League is not perfect but it’s a great example of how if you empower a marginalised group with skills, leadership, opportunity and positive role models they will come out true superstars!!


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