Taking State Of Origin On The Road Just Makes Sense

It is a series in which every single game rates as highly on TV as the Grand Final. I would argue that State Of Origin is the most identifiable product that the game has Australia wide.

Recent speculation suggest that any television station that wants to broadcast the three game State Of Origin series will have to part with $25 million dollars per year.

With all of this in mind, wouldn’t you think that Rugby League big push to becomes a game it can market on a national basis in every single major media market in Australia would be pretty well served by using State Of Origin Rugby League as its Trojan Horse?

An agreement to play one of State Of Origin games in Melbourne expires after this season. This is a deal that was struck a few years ago that has served Rugby League very well. It provided grass roots Rugby League in Victoria with a financial boost, it game the Melbourne Storm a higher profile, it saw Origin games and Test matches played in Melbourne….and the best thing of all, people turned up in Melbourne and supported Rugby Leagues big events!

Now, you will find dinosaurs who will say “Why are wel letting them take our State Of Origin games? They aren’t part of the series. They don’t even like Rugby League down there. Actually, lets just get rid of the Storm”.

These people are idiots.

People said the same thing about the New Zealand Warriors for years. Why are they even in our competition?

Sky Television in New Zealand pay $10 million dollars a year to broadcast NRL games. Keep in mind that that figure is more than double the current grant the NRL gives clubs out of the current television deal. The presence of the Warriors in the NRL means that the NRL is relevant to New Zealand. Because of that, people there watch the game in big numbers and that generates money for the game through the broadcasting deal.

Its a similar situation in Melbourne with the Storm. There mere presence in the competition adds millions of dollars to the games broadcasting rights, even though Channel 9 rarely shows games on Free To Air Television. The game, and every single club, also generates more in advertising because Rugby League has a presence in the second largest city in Australia.

When you look at it from a big picture perspective, why would Rugby League turn its back on the second biggest market in Australia?

If a State Of Origin game can rate big on TV in Melbourne, and people turn up in big numbers to attend games, why would Rugby League turn its back on that?

In a rare moment in Winter, in the middle of the week, nothing else in on except Rugby League in Melbourne. People go to work and talk about attending the State Of Origin game that night. They buy tickets, they choose sides. They work out the players they like and the players they don’t. Some learn more about the rules. We get 55,000 who sit in a stadium on a Wednesday night to watch a game of Rugby League between NSW and Queensland.

Am I missing the part where that is extraordinary? Am I missing the part where we are making potential fans for life? Am I missing the part where we have an entire cities undivided attention for two hours to be able to say “Just give this game a go”? Am I missing the part where people who in the part would not have looked twice at the game, might just get drawn in by the hype?

If 55,000 people in Melbourne go through their first Rugby League experience, and just 5% of them start to even think about attending a Melbourne Storm game, that is amazing. Why would the game turns its back on that?

When the NRL decides to expand the competition into Perth, is there a better way to get people investing their time, effort and attention into the game than allowing them to host a State Of Origin game?

The State Of Origin series has become one of the biggest events in Australia every year. No other football code in this country can capture the entire nations attention for more than one game….but State Of Origin manages to two it three times a year. Hell, even the Socceroo’s can only get our attention once every four years!

It has become so successful that cities lobby the games governing body and give financial incentives to host games at their stadiums. Melbourne actually pays Rugby League money out of its own pocket to host games!

They aren’t the only ones willing to do that either. Already there is talk that New Zealand is willing to do the same for the right to host a match at Eden Park.

So can someone tell me what the down side is of allowing one State Of Origin game every year to be hosted in a city that is paying us money to break into a new market and just boost attendance and television ratings higher than they have ever been before?

Playing State Of Origin on the road just makes sense. When people stop thinking about their own back yard, and they start looking at the bigger picture, it seems obvious that Rugby League should continue to use State Of Origin football as a way to break new markets and chip away at area’s which 10 years ago wouldn’t have thought twice about the game at all.

As for the dinosaurs that think the game shouldn’t be played outside of Sydney and Brisbane…..if it was up to people like them, Rugby League would never have left Huddersfield.

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