Bluffer's Guide to State of Origin

Footy. You hate it.  The only thing that makes less sense to you than a bunch of blokes bashing into each other in different-coloured jumpers is the idea of standing around and watching it.

Sadly, the six weeks of State of Origin sees this footy-fuelled frenzy hit its peak for the year. Here are a couple of tips to get you through the three matches that finish up in July.

Who plays?

New South Wales (The Blues) take on Queensland (The Maroons) in this annual event. It’s a best-of-three arrangement, with each game alternating between the Olympic Stadium (Sydney) and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Why does it exist?

Nominally, the series is a chance to see which players should be selected for the national side.  Since then, the series has grown to become the most watched Rugby League games in the world.

Which team is best?

The answer to this is largely based on where you live. If New South Wales beat Queensland by 200 points, their opponents and fans still wouldn’t consider The Blues to be ‘better’.  

Queensland has won the last eight series in a row – a fact considered ‘lucky’ by New South Wales’ fans. In fact, no one has ever Tweeted ‘New South Wales are State of Origin Champions

Key words

There are stacks of slang terms for different aspects of the game that you might hear yelled within your vicinity – mostly during game-time. Here are a couple of the most common.


The derogatory name for a New South Wales player (who are more formally known as The Blues). Named after the flying brutes that populate the Sydney basin.


Now much more broadly found than simply north of the Tweed, their endless march to destroy Australia is similar to the Queensland teams relentless demolition for the last eight years.

Falcon. The occasion when a ball hits a player in the face.  This must hurt, but remains the source of much amusement to rugby league fans. The term is derived from Jeff Fenech’s brother, Mario, who played rugby league.

Of Maltese decent, he was nicknamed ‘The Maltese Falcon’, and suffered the indignity of failing to catch a pass that then hit him in the face during a match in 1988. His nickname has been associated ever since.

Stink. A fight. Origin is known for brawling, but over the years has become less and les prominent. Two years ago, New South Wales captain, Paul Gallen, threw a highly effective punch that attracted much more attention than it would have a decade ago.

Queenslander! A battle cry for the northern team (the one wearing maroon). It doesn’t appear to have any other meaning other than a statement of origin.

Sin bin. No, not a panelvan, but the colloquial term for having to spend some time off-field following an indiscretion. “Put him in the sin bin!” is typically heard when the referee has to step in to resolve an on-field dispute.