Mustn’t be an event of national significance
The NRL has made a hugely controversial call to scrap the singing of Advanced Australia Fair from the upcoming State of Origin series, a year after Indigenous players took a stance against the anthem.
Phil Rothfield, Sports Editor-at-large, News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
October 29, 2020 12:42pm
The NRL has abandoned the national anthem for the game’s biggest showpiece event, the State of Origin series.
It will be the first time in 40 years the anthem will not be played before the kick-off when the series begins in Adelaide on Wednesday night.
The independent commission made the controversial decision at a meeting on Wednesday after consultation with the chairmen of the NSW and QLD organisations.
The explanation given was that the event is not a contest between international countries.
However the NRL has confirmed the anthem will remain for grand finals and Test matches.
“Playing the national anthem will be reserved for Test matches, grand final and ANZAC Day,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.
“State of Origin is about the tribalism of the two states, it’s Australia’s biggest sporting rivalry. When NSW and Queensland run out we want that tension to erupt immediately.
“The game remains committed to our anthem. You need to look no further than last weekend’s grand final.”
The anthem became a huge issue in the NSW camp last year when Blues stars Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Josh Addo-Carr spoke out before the game about their refusal to sing.
The Daily Telegraph understands the NSW Rugby League was against scrapping the anthem but bowed to the wishes of the NRL.
The Daily Telegraph is seeking comment from the NRL.
Should the national anthem be performed at State of Origin?
While Indigenous Blues opted against singing the anthem last year, NSW stars including captain Boyd Cordner, Jake Trbojevic and Damien Cook said they would sing the Australian national anthem “loud and proud”.
NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler had vowed to support any indigenous Blues players who wish to remain silent for Advance Australia Fair in 2020, saying: “Our anthem, it definitely needs work”.
Earlier this year, the ARL Commission scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match on the advice of the game’s indigenous players.