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Ask any east coast Aussie about State of Origin and not only will they probably be able to tell you all about it, but also every little detail about their favourite moments from the competition. This is because State of Origin isn't just a few games of rugby league, it's considered Australia's greatest sporting rivalry.
So in preparation for your next State of Origin escapade, here is everything you need to know about the games, where to see them and where to find quality hotel accommodation near a match.
What is State of Origin?
Regular television viewing numbers: Over 4 million across the nation.
Attendance numbers totaling over 80,000 (just over 90,000 being the record).
A passion so intense that it sparks rivalries even outside of Australia, with fans clashing over their love of the game in countries such as Papua New Guinea.
Just what exactly is the immensely popular State of Origin competition?
In a nutshell, it is an event represented by both Queensland and New South Wales. It is a best-of-three-style tournament, with the third match being the decider. The prize? The coveted State of Origin shield, which depicts rugby legends Wally Lewis and Brett Kenny staring each other down.
Players are drafted from where they first registered to play professional rugby league, hence the 'origin' in the title. This means that it pits some of the states' heroes against one another under the banner of their home for the first time ever!
It first began in the 1980s, though was met with some criticism. Indeed, it appeared that many clubs weren't willing to offer up their players to the other state, which led to a lot of resistance. However, one journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald summed up the feeling most people had after the first match (which drew in a crowd of 28,000 spectators):
"I was strongly against such a match, but last night's gripping clash showed that such a fixture would be a welcome addition to the League program," wrote Alan Clarkson back in 1980.
Witnessing it for yourself
Hoping to catch a few games of your own? Matches are held in two locations: Brisbane and Sydney, with exact competition dates usually being announced at the end of the previous year. Thankfully, organisers of the event have already planned the stadiums for 2016 and 2017, meaning fans can prepare to book their central Sydney hotel if they wish to visit the NSW capital.
In Sydney specifically, you can catch a game or two for yourself by visiting the ANZ Stadium in Olympic Park, which is just up the Parramatta River from the CBD. It has a capacity to hold up to 80,000 cheering fans, 75,000 of which will be under cover (so book your tickets early in case of rain!).
An affordable Sydney hotel for rugby fans
Once your tickets for State of Origin are booked, you still need an affordable hotel near ANZ Stadium. This spacious, comfortable room will act as the staging post for you to rest up between matches, or gear up before them. Ideally, you would want it to be close by public transport such as Circular Quay ferries, train stations and bus routes so you can easily access Olympic Park, and it wouldn't hurt to have a great view.
To hit these points and more, we recommend booking a serviced apartment with The Macleay Hotel. We are located in Potts Point, which is surrounded by all the transport options you could dream of, plus the popular nightlife hub of Kings Cross. Not only that, our rooms come with their own kitchens, so you can make sure everyone's belly is full before roaring the stadium down as your favourite players battle it out on the field.