The NRL has had enquiries from supporters as to why State of Origin matches are played in Melbourne so we thought it worthwhile explaining the current arrangement...
Firstly, by way of background, this year’s Origin Game 1 will be the second series opener and the sixth Harvey Norman State of Origin match to be staged in Melbourne, continuing a partnership between the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC), the Victorian Major Events Company (VMEC) and the Victorian Government that has also featured Rugby League World Cup matches, a Four Nations match, and Test matches including the one that officially opened AAMI Park in 2010.
There is no set schedule regarding Melbourne hosting State of Origin games. In 2006, NSW had one match in Victoria, in 2009 QLD did and now in 2012 NSW will again.
The Australian Rugby League Commission is assessing the prospect of having Origin return to Melbourne in the future. Such is the stature of Origin that it is important to give rugby league fans in growing markets like Victoria the chance to experience it. Of course this must also be balanced with the needs of our NSW and QLD fans to attend games in their state.
Since 2005, our partnership with the VMEC and the Victorian Government has brought some truly memorable events in Australian sport to Melbourne and they have attracted sell-out crowds. It is worth noting that the second biggest ever crowd to attend an Origin match was in Melbourne in 1994 (87,161). The Victorian Government has also committed to grassroots development, and all of that is helping rugby league establish a small niche in an important market for us, a very competitive market.
This year’s match is already close to being sold out and will be a good indicator of how the game is going in the Melbourne market. Whether Origin games in Melbourne will form part of the annual Origin schedule will be a decision for the ARLC in the coming months.