You’ve got to hand it to the Queenslanders – they love to take shots at New South Wales.
As though it’s not enough to take the shield every year, now they want to take a whole game as well. QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher is pushing for a State of Origin match to be held in the new stadium at Townsville in 2020, at Sydney’s expense.
Hatcher acknowledged that the new 25,000 seat stadium is small, but suggested that it would still fit more people than would attend in Sydney.
“You’re probably lucky to get 20,000 people to watch (a dead rubber) in New South Wales, but in Queensland, Suncorp and certainly the new stadium in Townsville would be quite appropriate,” said Hatcher.
Hatcher’s loyalty to Queensland is admirable, but his argument is, to put it bluntly, completely false.
For the record, the lowest crowd for an Origin dead rubber in the last decade is nowhere near 20,000. It’s 50,155, set in 2014 – at Suncorp (to be fair, they’re not used to losing).
In fact, to find any State of Origin match with an attendance below even 40,000, you have to go all the way back to Game 1, 2001 – at Lang Park. That match attracted just 38,909 fans, after the Maroons got annihilated by Ryan Girdler in 2000.
And finally, to find an Origin match in either Sydney or Brisbane that attracted below 30,000, we have to go back to the split competition in 1997, when just 28,222 attended Game 1 – in Brisbane.
Perhaps the NSWRL should be pushing for an Origin match at Newcastle. After all, you’d be lucky to get 20,000 at Suncorp.