Last night Badger and I watched our first game of rugby league on the telly. Or rather I watched the game and Badger gave the players his death stare. It was the second game in a three match series between the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales. They call it Steak & Oranges or Snakes & Orgasms or State of Origin. Something like that anyway. Now I know many of my overseas readers won't know what a game of rugby league looks like since hardly anyone plays it outside of Australia and a couple of northern counties of England, so calling the Rugby League World Cup a global event is almost as daft as calling the Baseball World Series ............... the Baseball World Series. However I will endeavour to educate you all.
A team consists of thirteen players, none of whom are permitted to have a neck. Each team must have at least eight players who's knuckles drag along the ground and a minimum of four must have spent time at least an hour in a Rwandan rain forest being filmed by David Attenborough. The main thing that you need to know about the game of rugby league is that a team progresses by throwing the ball backwards and then running like crazy to make up the ground they've just lost. The team without the ball can stop their opponents by using pretty much any means they like - a short jab to the chin, a swinging arm across the nose, or by simply pulling down their opponents shorts so that they trip over. This last option seems to be the most popular. A score is made when a player accidentally falls over with the ball behind the oppositions goal line. Yes, to sum up, it's a sort of thinking man's gridiron.
This particular game was watched by over eighty-one thousand spectators. That's way more than double the amount of brain cells on the field of play - including the referee. I can't help but wonder if the game would be more attractive if the teams had better nicknames. New South Wales are called the Cockroaches. Is it wise to name your team after what is probably the most loathed creature on earth? This is an insect that even vegans stomp on. Meanwhile the Queenslanders have decided to call their team the Cane Toads. This is even worse. Cane toads (bufo marinus) are seriously ugly, poisonous vermin - at least in Australia. On second thoughts maybe it is quite appropriate to name a team of rugby league players (nullus neckus) cane toads.
An interesting link to past games occured during last night's match. Will Hopoate, the son of rugby league's most famous player made the winning score when he tripped over the corner post while holding the ball. His father John Hopoate rose to fame with his unique finger up the rectum style of tackling and soon became known as "Public Enema Number One."
The teams pre-match training consists of visiting nightclubs, getting totally rat-arsed and then fighting with the security staff before finding a brightly lit shop window to urinate against. The game was invented in Papua New Guinea three hundred years ago, where rival tribes of head hunters played the game using a victims head instead of a ball. The winning team would then eat their vanquished opponents rather than do a lap of honour which has become traditional in the modern game. Apart from that, little has changed. Can't wait for game three.