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SBD Global/December 2, 2016/Events and Attractions

Queensland, New South Wales In Talks To Stage State Of Origin Match In June

Queensland and New South Wales "are negotiating to stage the long-anticipated inaugural rugby union state of origin match" during the June Test window, according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. While Queensland Rugby Union CEO Richard Barker "is an enthusiastic supporter," Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore is taking a "more cautious approach." Hore: "We applaud the initiative and we're certainly open for discussion. But we're mindful of our stakeholders like the (Sydney) Shute Shield clubs. We would (also) need to work with the Australian Rugby Union on this. But an origin game does highlight the fact that the vast majority of professional rugby players in this country come from NSW and Queensland and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to mention that." That is "the driver behind the initiative, that both unions struggle to find meaningful content" during the period. Given that both unions are wanting to stage the match as a quality "hole-filler" in the Test window, there would be, "almost by definition, doubts over the availability of Wallabies players." But the Tests next year are against Scotland, Italy and Fiji -- "and there is little doubt that a full-scale state of origin match would have far more spectator appeal." Hore does not see involvement of the Test stars as a "deal-breaker." He said, "Out of necessity comes innovation. It's a bit like the Big Bash being played while the Australian cricket team almost becomes an international club." ARU CEO Bill Pulver was unavailable for comment but it "is clear the national body has a central role to play in the staging of an origin match." Not only would it be responsible for deciding which players could play, "it might also have to make a call on drawing players from the three other Super franchises to play for the two origin teams." The ARU "also could have a role to play as an arbiter" in terms of disputes over players. Barker said that Australian rugby "cannot have a dead hole in the heart of the Super Rugby season." He said, "The Test window has to be held later and we have to allow momentum to build in the Super Rugby competition" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/2).
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