Interstate matches in Australian rules football

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Players contest a mark at the 1933 Australian Football Carnival, at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The teams are Victoria and Tasmania. (Photographer: Sam Hood.)

Australian rules football matches between teams representing Australian colonies/states and territories have been held since 1879. For most of the 20th century, the absence of a national club competition and international matches meant that football games between state representative teams were regarded with great importance. Football historian John Devaney has argued that: "some of the state of origin contests which took place during the 1980s constituted arguably the finest expositions of the game ever seen".[1]


Until 1976, interstate Australian rules football games were played by teams representing the major football leagues or organisations. From 1977 to 1999, players were generally selected under State of Origin selection rules and they were chosen mostly from the Australian Football League (AFL). Since 2000, all matches have been between teams representing the second-tier state or territorial leagues. Players from the AFL no longer take part in interstate matches.

The matches have mostly been held on a stand-alone basis. However, an Australian Football Carnival, a national championship series, held in either one or two cities, took place between 1908 and 1993, usually at three year intervals. Teams which have taken part have included Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and an Australian Amateurs team. Between 1937 and 1988 the player judged the best at each of these carnivals was awarded the Tassie Medal.

Between 1953 and 1988, the selection of All Australian Teams was based on players performance during Australian Football Carnivals, and the team was named after each carnival concluded.

Interstate competition, 1879–1976[edit]


Victoria the birthplace of Australian rules and, with contributing factors such as population and finances, dominated the first hundred years of intercolonial and interstate football. This was the case in the first ever interstate game, held on Tuesday, 1 July 1879 (a public holiday), at East Melbourne Cricket Ground. The final score was Victoria (represented by the VFA) 7.14 to South Australia 0.3. The match was attended by more than 10,000 people.

The third and fourth teams to commence intercolonial competition were New South Wales and Queensland, playing each other in a two-game series in Brisbane in 1884; the result of the series was a one-all draw. Tasmania played its first game, against Victoria, in 1887. New Zealand entered the competition with a victory over NSW in Sydney, in 1889.


Victoria's long-term dominance briefly faltered in the 1890s, when other Colonies recorded their first ever wins over the Victoria: South Australia in Adelaide in 1890 and 1891 and Tasmania in Hobart in 1893 (twice). In 1897, the VFL split from the VFA and the two selected separate representative teams, further weakening Victoria in intercolonial competition, which became interstate competition following Federation of the six British colonies in Australia, in 1901.

Western Australia played its first two interstate games in 1904, including a win over SA in Adelaide.


The VFL's dominance, at least within Victoria, was established by the time an interstate carnival was held for the first time — in Melbourne in 1908 — to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of "Australasian football" (as it was known at the time). The widening gap between the three major footballing States/leagues and the others was shown in the organisation of the competition: Victoria represented by the (VFL), SA and WA constituted "Section A", and Tasmania, NSW, Queensland and NZ were relegated to "Section B". The VFA did not take part and the carnival was New Zealand's last appearance in representative football. The Victorian team went through the competition undefeated.

This impression was reiterated by the 1911 Carnival, in Adelaide, which also set the pattern of a carnival every three years. Victoria only lost one game, against SA. At the Sydney carnival of 1914, Victoria was once again undefeated. Following the onset of World War I interstate matches went into a five-year hiatus.


During this period interstate matches were held every year, and interstate carnivals were held usually every 3 years, with a few exceptions. In most carnivals, the stronger states competed separately from the minor states; and on many occasions the stronger states and minor states carnivals were held in separate locations or years. At the peak of its popularity, the carnival was known symbolically as "the Ashes" of Australian rules football.[2][3] Victoria (VFL) continued its dominance in interstate football by winning 15 of the 17 carnivals held during this time, and usually winning the individual matches held every year.

Neil Kerley and Graham Cornes are of significance in the rivalry between Victoria and South Australia, who played for and coached the South Australia team during this period.[4] Neil Kerley when coaching the South Australian team would inject a hatred for Victoria, telling his players all Victorian umpires cheated, all Victorians would cheat if they got the chance.[5] Graham Cornes who was coached by Kerley for South Australia, has stated his hatred for Victoria came from Neil Kerley.[6] Cornes would go on to coach South Australia, with great successes and was a promoter of the South Australian team.[7] Cornes has stated that the success that South Australia had against Victoria during his coaching reign was all to do with the culture in South Australia of wanting to prove they're better than Victoria.[8]

The 1963 game between Victoria and South Australia at the MCG was also of significance in the rivalry between the two states. Before the game Jack Dyer was asked what he would do if he was coaching Victoria, and said, "I'd give them a Pep Talk and go to the races".[9] Neil Kerley who was playing, was in an interview before the game when this was mentioned. After it was said the interviewer said to Kerley "what do you think of that young Kerley", in which he responded "everyone is entitled to their opinion".[10] Kerley angered by this, as a result told teammates before the game "something is going to happen at the first Bounce" and then put down a Victorian player with a "Hip and Shoulder".[11] Kerley also injured another Victorian in the last quarter which saw him leave the field.[12] It was a drought breaking win for South Australia in Victoria.[13] When the South Australians returned to Adelaide they were greeted with a heroic welcome, with nearly 8,000 people attending in poor weather, with the crowd hurling streamers and letting off fire crackers, with hundreds surging onto the Tarmac.[14]

A notable encounter in the rivalry between Victoria and South Australia was in a game in Adelaide in 1963, when South Australian Brian Sawley, slammed Victorian John Peck to the ground in a tackle and then kicked Peck while on the ground. Which led to Peck knocking out Sawley with a Punch and remaining unconscious for at least a minute.[15]

State of Origin competition and results 1977–1999[edit]

Map of Australia with each state shaded in that state's main jumper colour

By the 1970s, VFL clubs were signing up an increasing number of the best players from other states and Victoria dominated state games. West Australians, led by the marketing manager of the Subiaco Football Club, Leon Larkin, began to campaign for players to be selected according to state-of-origin rules. The West Australian Football League (WAFL) negotiated with the VFL for two years before agreement was reached on the format.

In the first such game, at Subiaco Oval in Perth, on 8 October 1977, Western Australia defeated Victoria, 23.13 (151) to 8.9 (57), a huge reversal of the results in most previous games. In the words of football historian John Devaney:

"A Western Australian team composed entirely of home-based players had, on 25 June, taken on a Victorian team containing many of the same players who would return to Perth three and a half months later for the state of origin clash. The respective scores of the two matches offered a persuasive argument, if such were needed, of the extent to which the VFL had denuded the WAFL of its elite talent:
  • On 25 June 1977 Victoria 23.16 (154) defeated Western Australia 13.13 (91) – a margin of 63 points
  • On 8 October 1977 Western Australia 23.13 (151) defeated Victoria 8.9 (57) – a margin of 94 points, representing an overall turn around of 157 points
Western Australia's previous biggest winning margin against a Victorian state team had been a mere 38 points in 1948. Almost overnight, an inferiority complex was dismantled: Victoria, it seemed, was not intrinsically superior, only wealthier."[16]

Games involving each of the other states soon followed. Western Australia and South Australia began to win more games against Victoria.

The State of Origin eligibility rules varied from game to game, and matches during the 1980s were sometimes played under partial, rather than full, State of Origin rules. This was in large part so that neutral leagues were not disrupted by a stand-alone game between two other states; e.g. VFL clubs would not lose access to interstate origin players on the weekend of a game between South Australia and Western Australia. For example, in the stand-alone 1982 match between South Australia and Victoria, a quota of up to six VFL players of South Australian origin, and no more than one from any VFL club, could play for South Australia; but otherwise, all SANFL and VFL players were eligible to play for South Australia and Victoria respectively – indeed Victoria fielded five VFL players of Western Australian origin in that match, including their captain, Mike Fitzpatrick.[17][18] Jason Dunstall and Terry Daniher, who were born in and recruited from Queensland and New South Wales respectively, both played several partial-origin matches for Victoria; and in a partial-origin match against Victoria in 1990, New South Wales was allowed to be represented by players of New South Welsh origin and any player who had played for the Sydney Swans.[19]

A full interstate carnival under state-of-origin selection was held with success in October 1979 in Perth. A second carnival was held the following October in Adelaide, but were a financial disaster for the organisers, with only 28,245 people attending the four games. Following this series, the VFL decided to not participate in any future carnivals which put the future of the carnival concept in doubt.[20]

However, during the 1990s, following the emergence of a national club competition, the Australian Football League, state of origin games declined in importance. Due from clubs putting pressure on players to withdraw from games due to risk of injury there were an increasing number of withdrawals by AFL players.

Non-State of Origin games are marked with a *


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Victoria 17.19 (121) South Australia 10.7 (67) MCG 26,063 29 May 1999 2:00 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
The Allies 14.11 (95) Victoria 22.16 (148) The Gabba 13,977 10 July 1998 7:00 PM Seven
South Australia 22.11 (143) Western Australia 16.11 (107) Football Park 18,204 11 July 1998 4:00 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
South Australia 12.13 (85) Victoria 13.15 (93) Football Park 40,595 21 June 1997 8:00 PM Seven
Western Australia 16.12 (108) The Allies 18.8 (116) Subiaco Oval 16,795 20 June 1997 6:00 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
South Australia 20.6 (126) Western Australia 13.13 (91) Football Park 16,722 2 June 1996 2:30 PM Seven
Victoria 20.17 (137) The Allies 11.18 (84) MCG 35,612 1 June 1996 2:10 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Victoria 18.12 (120) South Australia 8.9 (57) MCG 64,186 17 June 1995 2:00 PM Seven
Western Australia 8.13 (61) The Allies 13.14 (92) Subiaco Oval 15,722 18 June 1995 12:00 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
South Australia 11.9 (75) Victoria 10.13 (73) Football Park 44,598 3 May 1994 8:00 PM Seven


Round Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Section One – Semi Final Victoria 19.16 (130) New South Wales/ACT 8.17 (65) MCG 22,409 1 June 1993 7:00 PM Seven
Section One – Semi Final South Australia 19.13 (127) Western Australia 14.7 (91) Football Park 21,487 2 June 1993 8:00 PM Seven
Section Two – Final Tasmania 10.13 (73) Queensland/NT 16.14 (110) Bellerive Oval 9,660 6 June 1993 12:00 PM Seven
Section One – Final Victoria 14.13 (97) South Australia 16.13 (109) MCG 31,792 5 June 1993 2:30 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
New South Wales 22.9 (141) Queensland 6.12 (48) SCG 7,223 12 May 1992 7:00 PM Seven
Victoria 23.19 (157) Western Australia 13.12 (90) MCG 32,152 26 May 1992 7:00 PM Seven
South Australia 19.19 (133) Victoria 18.12 (120) Football Park 33,984 7 July 1992 12:00 PM Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Tasmania 14.20 (104) Victoria 2nd XVIII 17.14 (116) North Hobart Oval 16,000 28 May 1991 12:00 PM Seven
South Australia 11.4 (70) Victoria 12.14 (86) Football Park 37,277 28 May 1991 8:00 PM Seven
Queensland 23.14 (152) Victoria 2nd XVIII 15.8 (108) Gabba 8,519 16 July 1991 12:00 PM Seven
Western Australia 19.13 (127) Victoria 7.9 (51) WACA 24,397 16 July 1991 12:00 PM Seven
Western Australia 17.20 (122) South Australia 11.12 (78) Subiaco Oval Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
New South Wales 13.8 (86) Victoria 10.16 (76) SCG 13,482 22 May 1990 8:30 PM Seven
Tasmania 20.14 (134) Victoria 14.17 (101) North Hobart Oval 18,649 24 June 1990 12:00 PM Seven
Western Australia 8.12 (60) Victoria 14.13 (97) WACA 21,897 26 June 1990 6:30 PM Seven
South Australia 17.19 (122) Western Australia 14.16 (100) Football Park Seven


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Western Australia 10.12 (72) Victoria 19.12 (126) WACA 20,993 16 May 1989 12:00 PM Seven
Victoria 22.17 (149) South Australia 9.9 (63) MCG 91,960 1 July 1989 2:10 PM Seven
Tasmania 15.7 (107) Victoria 2nd XVIII 25.13 (163) North Hobart Oval 12,342 2 July 1989 12:00 PM Seven

1988 Adelaide Bicentennial State of Origin Carnival

Round Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Section Two – Preliminary Stage Northern Territory 19.20 (134) Tasmania 10.8 (68) Football Park 2 March 1988
Section Two – Preliminary Stage Australian Amateurs 14.12 (96) ACT 12.11 (83) Football Park 2 March 1988
Section One – Semi Final Victoria 20.13 (133) Western Australia 10.13 (73) Football Park 5,195 2 March 1988
Section Two – Preliminary Stage VFA 17.10 (112) Queensland 4.11 (35) Football Park 3 March 1988
Section Two – Preliminary Stage Northern Territory 11.19 (85) Australian Amateurs 8.9 (57) Football Park 3 March 1988
Section One – Semi Final South Australia 12.8 (80) New South Wales 8.11 (59) Football Park 5,755 3 March 1988
Section Two – Semi Final VFA 18.20 (128) ACT 9.16 (70) Norwood Oval 4 March 1988
Section Two – Wooden Spoon Play Off Tasmania 11.16 (82) Queensland 10.10 (70) Norwood Oval 4 March 1988
Section Two – Final Northern Territory 17.10 (112) VFL 9.13 (63) Football Park 5 March 1988
Section One – 3rd Place Play Off New South Wales 10.8 (68) Western Australia 9.12 (66) Football Park 5 March 1988
Section One – Final South Australia 15.12 (102) Victoria 6.6 (42) Football Park 19,387 5 March 1988
Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
*South Australia 17.17 (119) Western Australia 11.13 (79) Football Park 18,339 24 May 1988 [21]
Western Australia 15.9 (99) Victoria 21.23 (149) Subiaco Oval 23,006 5 July 1988 [22]
Western Australia 18.14 (122) South Australia 17.13 (115) BC Place Stadium


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 12.13 (85) Victoria 11.15 (81) Football Park 41,605 27 May 1987
Western Australia 13.14 (92) Victoria 16.20 (116) Subiaco Oval 22,000 22 July 1987
*Western Australia 9.9 (63) South Australia 18.16 (124) WACA Ground


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 18.17 (125) Victoria 17.13 (115) Football Park 43,143 13 May 1986
Western Australia 21.11 (137) Victoria 20.14 (134) Subiaco Oval 39,863 8 July 1986
*Western Australia 18.19 (127) South Australia 12.16. (88) Football Park


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 11.10 (76)* Victoria 20.13 (133) Football Park 44,287 14 May 1985
*Western Australia 16.15 (111) South Australia 30.18 (198) Subiaco Oval 15 June 1985
Western Australia 9.11 (65) Victoria 19.16 (130) Subiaco Oval 38,000 16 July 1985

The match between South Australia and Victoria was awarded to South Australia on protest, as a result of Victoria playing with four interchange players instead of the permitted three.[23]


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 16.8 (104) Victoria 16.12 (108) Football Park 52,719 15 May 1984
Western Australia 21.16 (142) Victoria 21.12 (138) Subiaco Oval 42,500 17 July 1984
*South Australia 14.13 (97) Western Australia 14.14 (98) Football Park 26,649


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 26.16 (172) Victoria 17.14 (116) Football Park 42,521 16 May 1983
Western Australia 16.22 (118) Victoria 16.19 (115) Subiaco Oval 44,213 12 July 1983
*Western Australia 24.14 (134) South Australia 16.14 (110) Subiaco Oval June 4, 1983


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 18.19 (127) Victoria 21.13 (139) Football Park 40,399 17 May 1982
Western Australia 15.11 (101) Victoria 19.10 (124) Subiaco Oval 29,182 13 July 1982
South Australia 29.23 (197) Western Australia 12.9 (81) Football Park 27,283
Western Australia 21.18 (144) South Australia 8.5 (53) Subiaco Oval


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Western Australia 16.23 (119) Victoria 13.12 (90) Subiaco Oval 26,000 27 May 1981
Tasmania 16.12 (108) Victoria 31.20 (206) North Hobart Oval 6,349 4 July 1981
Queensland 12.18 (90) Victoria 32.29 (221) Gabba 9,000 12 July 1981


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Victoria 18.15 (123) Western Australia 15.12 (102) VFL Park 31,467 5 July 1980
Queensland 16.10 (106) Victoria 2nd XVIII 28.18 (186) Gabba 16,000 6 July 1980
ACT 13.17 (95) Victoria 3rd XVIII 11.16 (82) Manuka Oval 10,600 6 July 1980
Western Australia 21.30 (156) South Australia 10.9 (69) Subiaco Oval

1980 Adelaide State of Origin Carnival

Round Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Semi Final 1 South Australia 22.18 (150) Tasmania 8.13 (61) Football Park 10,666 11 October 1980
Semi Final 2 Victoria 14.20 (104) Western Australia 9.15 (69) Football Park 10,666 (double-header) 11 October 1980
3rd Place Final Western Australia 17.23 (125) Tasmania 12.18 (90) Football Park 17,579 13 October 1980
Grand Final Victoria 15.12 (102) South Australia 12.13 (85) Football Park 17,579 (double-header) 13 October 1980


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
South Australia 6.13 (49) Victoria 15.20 (110) Football Park 32,054 21 May 1979
Tasmania 8.14 (62) Victoria 26.21 (177) North Hobart Oval 12,197 18 June 1979

1979 Perth State of Origin Carnival

Round Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Section 1 Qualification Play Off Tasmania 17.20 (122) Queensland 13.12 (90) Perth Oval 4 October 1979
Section 1 Semi Final 1 Western Australia 23.33 (171) Tasmania 9.10 (64) Subiaco Oval 6 October 1979
Section 1 Semi Final 2 Victoria 25.30 (180) South Australia 20.15 (135) Subiaco Oval 15,186 6 October 1979
Section 2 Final Queensland 23.13 (151) ACT 18.12 (120) Leederville Oval 7 October 1979
Section 1 3rd Place Playoff South Australia 22.20 (152) Tasmania 17.11 (113) Subiaco Oval 8 October 1979
Section 1 Final Western Australia 17.21 (123) Victoria 16.12 (108) Subiaco Oval 30,876 8 October 1979


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
Tasmania 18.6 (114) Victoria 2nd XVIII 25.11 (161) North Hobart Oval 16,776 10 June 1978 [24]
Victoria 25.13 (163) Western Australia 8.15 (63) VFL Park 45,192 10 June 1978 [25]
ACT 12.11 (83) Victoria 3rd XVIII 21.21 (147) Manuka Oval 10,300 11 June 1978
Western Australia 14.17 (101) Victoria 17.13 (115) Subiaco Oval 30,195 7 October 1978


Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date
* Western Australia 13.12 (90) Victoria 23.16 (154) Subiaco Oval 44,891 25 June 1977
Western Australia 23.13 (151) Victoria 8.9 (57) Subiaco Oval 25,467 8 October 1977


Victoria vs South Australia[edit]

The rivalry between Victoria and South Australia was considered the strongest in interstate football.[26] Although there is a bitter rivalry on both sides, the make up of the rivalry is slightly different:[27] for Victoria, being the most successful state in interstate football, it meant that protecting that reputation was of prominent importance;[28] for South Australia, the rivalry stemmed from dislike, and the feeling that Victorians did not give the state the respect it deserved.[28] Graham Cornes, who was heavily involved in South Australian state football, described the football culture in Victoria as insular having a lack of regard for football outside their state, which drove that feeling.[29]

Many footballers described beating Victoria as one of the top achievements in South Australian football. Neil Kerley ranked beating Victoria above his club premierships.[30] Victorian footballers have commented on the passion and hatred directed towards them in interstate games played in Adelaide. Garry Lyon described the fans as "hostile and maniacal", and "by the time the games came around they were whipped into a frenzy".[31] Paul Roos commented about the first state game he played in South Australia that "when walking up the entrance and onto Football Park was an experience in itself. I quickly realised how much hatred existed towards Victorians and their football."[32]

Victoria vs Western Australia[edit]

There is an intense rivalry between Victoria and Western Australia.[33] Western Australia's rivalry likewise stemmed from the feeling in Western Australia that Victoria never gave their state the credit it deserved, despite some of the best players of all time coming from the state.[34] Some games widely regarded as some of the best in the history of Australian football were played between Victoria and Western Australia in the 1980s.[35] Shane Parker a former Western Australia player, said of the rivalry "When I was a kid, the State of Origin games were the greatest ever. It was a really big thing to see the WA side play, particularly against Victoria".[36]

Western Australia vs South Australia[edit]

There was also an intense rivalry between Western Australia and South Australia,[37] with fans at games between the states always vociferous and parochial.[38]


At its peak, interstate matches were among the most important events on the annual football calendar in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The crowds drawn to interstate matches in those states regularly dwarfed home-and-away crowds, and at times throughout history would match or exceed grand final attendances. In Perth, interstate matches at the 1921 carnival, during the 1929 season, and at the 1937 carnival successively set records as Western Australia's highest ever sports crowd; the crowd of 40,000 drawn to that 1937 match was more than 10,000 higher than any previous Western Australian crowd[39] and almost double the record club grand final crowd at that time. Likewise in Tasmania, carnival fixtures in 1924,[40] 1947[41] and 1966 each set new Tasmanian state football attendance records,[42] and the 1966 carnival crowd of 23,764 remains the third-highest football attendance in Tasmania's history. State of Origin matches in the 1980s in South Australia and Western Australia regularly drew crowds between 30,000 and 50,000, on par with grand finals in those states during that era; and interstate matches in Tasmania consistently drew crowds which either exceeded or were second only to the Tasmanian league's grand final attendances.[43]

Interstate football was less popular in Victoria than it was in the other states. A match in Victoria in 1989 against South Australia set the national interstate football record crowd of 91,960, with 10,000 people turned away at the gate.[43] Other large crowds at interstate games in Victoria were between 60,000 and 70,000,[44] on par with some large home-and-away games but lower than a typical finals attendance. At its lowest, interstate games in Victoria during the 1930s could sometimes fail to draw 10,000 spectators – less than the average home-and-away crowd – at a time when state record crowds were drawn to the matches elsewhere.[45] Eventually, due to these lower levels of public interest, less interstate football came to be played in Victoria: between 1981 and 1988, when State of Origin football was at its peak, the Victorian team did not play a single match at home.[43] The primary reason for the difference in popularity between Victoria and the other states was the Victorian team's historical dominance in interstate football. Particularly during the pre-State of Origin era, the Victorian team was always expected to win and regularly won easily; therefore, Victorian spectators were disinclined to attend matches because there was little pride on offer for victory and a high chance of a one-sided contest.[46][47] The record crowd of 91,960 in Melbourne in 1989 came after South Australia had beaten Victoria three years in a row, demonstrating that Victorian fans were willing to embrace interstate football when the rivalry and contests were closely fought.[43] Additionally, differences in supporter culture between the states meant that club football and club parochialism had much greater importance in Victoria than in the other states.[48]

Amongst the competing states, the rivalry with Victoria was the strongest. Victoria's long-term dominance of interstate football created a culture of disdain towards it and, as a result, the most popular games always involved Victoria and beating Victoria was considered the pinnacle of interstate football in South Australia and Western Australia.[49] South Australia's rivalry towards Victoria was characterised during the 1980s with the slogan "Kick a Vic".[50]

Players from all states, including Victoria, viewed selection and participation in interstate football with great importance. Ted Whitten, who was widely noted for his involvement in and passion for the Victorian team described how "the players would walk on broken glass to wear the Victorian jumper".[51] Graham Cornes, well known for his involvement in the South Australian team, always spoke equally proudly of the experience of representing his state.[49] John Platten, a highly decorated player, described a drought breaking victory playing for South Australia, over Victoria, as one of his proudest football moments.[52] Comments from other players included:

  • Matthew Lloyd (Victoria) – "immense pride – you feel like you walk a bit taller when you pull on the Big V".[53]
  • Stephen O'Reilly (Western Australia) — "State of Origin football is the pinnacle for AFL players".[54]
  • Andrew McKay (South Australia) — "I never dreamt of playing VFL/AFL as a child, but I always dreamt of playing for my state".[55]
  • Graham Cornes (South Australia) — "pulling the South Australian jumper on is like a dream come true".[56]
  • Tony Lockett (Victoria), who commented after he won the E. J. Whitten Medal — "this will probably go down as one of the happiest days of my life, and I'll treasure it forever".[57]

Australian National Football Carnival[edit]

For most of the 20th century there was a national football carnival usually held every three to five years. Some of the carnivals the format consisted of qualification matches at the start of the tournament, with the winners playing off in a final. In some other carnivals the format was a round-robin format, with a points system in which the team with most points at the end of the tournament was declared the winner.

State teams[edit]

Logo State Nickname Debut Season National Championships Awards
SoO - VIC.png Victoria The Big V 1879 17 E. J. Whitten Medal
SoO - SA2.png South Australia Croweaters 1879 5 Fos Williams Medal
Western Australia Sandgropers 1904 6 Simpson Medal
Graham Moss Medal
Tasmania Devils 1887 Lefroy Medal
New South Wales Blues 1884
SoO - QLD.png Queensland Maroons/ Scorpions 1884
SoO - NT.png Northern Territory Thunder
SoO - Allies.png The Allies Allies 1995 Alex Jesaulenko Medal
SoO - ACT.png Australian Capital Territory
SoO - NSW-ACT.png New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory Rams 1993
SoO - VFA.png Victorian Football Association 1879
SoO - AA.png Australian Amateurs Amateurs 1988

State of Origin in popular media[edit]

Greg Champion wrote a song, "Don't Let The Big V Down", about the traditional navy blue jumper with a large white "V" used to represent Victoria in state games. The song is about a young man who is about to play his first state game and is approached by another man who tells him to not let the Big V down.

Champion also wrote another song, "Came From Adelaide", about two people watching a game between South Australia and Victoria. One of them turns to the other and says that the Croweaters cannot play. The other replies that this is not true and that the South Australians are great.

AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match, 2008[edit]

No official State of Origin matches were held between 1999 and 2008. In 2008, the concept made a return to celebrate 150 years of Australian football. In spite of lobbying for three or more games, involving at least six different teams or even an interstate carnival, one all-star game was played in 2008. The sides competing were Victoria and a "Dream Team", a composite team representing all other states, territories and countries.

Home team Home team score Away team Away team score Ground Crowd Date Time Broadcast Network
Victoria 21.11 (137) Dream Team 18.12 (120) MCG 69,294 2008; May 10 7:40 PM Ten

Other interstate matches[edit]

E. J. Whitten Legends Game[edit]

Following the death of Ted Whitten — who is regarded as one of the finest ever players of Australian rules — from prostate cancer in 1995, his son Ted Whitten Jr organised an interstate charity match between teams of retired players, to raise money for research into the disease. The only two teams which have taken part in these games are Victoria and the All Stars (similar to the AFL's "Allies"), who represent the rest of Australia. The first E. J. Whitten Legends Game was played at Whitten Oval in 1996, and it has become an annual event. The games have often attracted crowds of over 10,000, and this has resulted in it being moved from the Whitten Oval to Optus Oval, to Adelaide Oval (South Australia) and finally to Etihad Stadium.

Games between state leagues, 1991 to present[edit]

With the advent of interstate teams into the expanding VFL and its eventual re-badging and change to a national league in 1990, the state leagues would undertake steps to ensure that representative football would not be reserved solely for those players in the Australian Football League. State League Representative matches would allow those players participating in competitions that would be, in later years, categorised as second-tier leagues, to be selected for interstate duties. While State of Origin would continue for several more years with pre-dominantly AFL-listed players, this format would for many players, become the pinnacle of their football careers outside of playing in a premiership. For the most part during the ensuing years between the inception of State League and the end of Origin, it was the South Australian and Western Australian leagues championing the concept with the two leagues facing off many times. The other state leagues did take part in the concept, but on a far more limited basis. The Queensland, ACT and Tasmanian competitions featured on several occasions, the New South Wales league made scattered appearances while the Northern Territory was far less featured on the interstate stage mainly due to their domestic league being played in a different part of the year. Meetings between those competitions and the SANFL or WAFL were a rare occurrence.

The Victorian Football Association eventually made some appearances of their own at state league level from 1994, but also did not have games against South Australia or Western Australia for a few years. Eventually, after a restructure of that competition in 1996 which saw them adopt the name of the VFL, they faced the SANFL on the MCG in the curtain raiser to what would be the swansong of State of Origin football in 1999. From this day onwards, interstate football would become the domain of the leagues that underpin the AFL. In the years following, the participation of the "non-traditional" football states was not as high as that of South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria. Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory continued to play a part, while Tasmania's football system was split in half between north and south, as well as the state team being replaced by a club—Tasmanian Devils—which entered the VFL in 2001. The "Big 3" in the SANFL, WAFL and VFL entered into an agreement in 2003 to adopt a program where they would play each other in a rotational system over three years, which saw one state either sit out interstate football for one season or require that league to find alternative opposition.

Towards the end of the 2000s, the AFL by this time had control of the football administrations across the eastern states and the Northern Territory. Tasmania withdrew from the VFL and relaunched the statewide Tasmanian State League competition in 2009, then in 2011 the AFL created the North East Australian Football League out of established state league teams from New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and the Northern Territory as well as reserves sides from the four AFL clubs in those regions. With this, the representative football calendar would virtually encompass all of Australia. At first the NEAFL's conference system would allow two representative sides with Queensland and the Northern Territory making up the Northern conference team and the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory combination forming the Eastern conference side. A couple of years later, the NEAFL would be represented by a single team. How this arrangement fits into the individual state league schedules is still being worked on, but it has largely not disrupted the existing arrangements undertaken by the traditional football states. In fact, what would normally have been a "bye" year for the SANFL, WAFL or VFL allows them to instead play the NEAFL or the TSL.

Under this arrangement, the leagues of New South Wales (AFL Sydney), the Australian Capitol Territory (AFL Canberra) and Queensland (QAFL) were practically relegated to third-tier status behind the NEAFL and, as a result, any representative matches involving opposition outside of these territories have involved amateur-level leagues.

State league awards[edit]

The state league representative matches, like State of Origin matches, also have individual best on ground medals:

State league representative match results: 1991–present[edit]

Bold text indicates the home team.

Year Result Venue
1991 WAFL 17.20 (122) def. SANFL 11.12 (78) Subiaco Oval
1992 SANFL 9.18 (72) def. WAFL 9.12 (66) Football Park
1993 WAFL 15.20 (110) def. SANFL 13.8 (86) WACA Ground
TFL 11.8 (74) def. QLD 9.10 (64) Bellerive Oval
1994 AFL-NT 15.13(103) def. VFA 12.8 (80) Melbourne
WAFL 10.14 (74) def. SANFL 7.18 (60) Football Park
QLD 18.18 (126) def. TFL 10.10 (70) Brisbane
1995 AFL-NT 11.11 (77) def. ACT 9.16 (70) Canberra
TFL 14.15 (99) def. SANFL 12.12 (84) North Hobart Oval
WAFL 14.14 (98) def. QLD 8.17 (65) Brisbane
VFA 16.15 (111) def. NSW 2.7 (19) Melbourne
1996 VFL 15.18 (108) def. TFL 13.8 (86) Melbourne
SANFL 15.20 (110) def. WAFL 6.9 (45) Subiaco Oval
1997 SANFL 13.17 (95) def. ACT 8.5 (53) Canberra
VFL 11.25 (91) def. ACT 10.6 (66) Canberra
TFL 19.6 (120) def. WAFL 10.13 (73) North Hobart Oval
1998 SANFL 17.13 (115) def. WAFL 10.10 (70) Football Park
TFL 13.10 (88) def. VFL 6.17 (53) North Hobart Oval
1999 SANFL 12.11 (83) def. VFL 8.11 (59) MCG
ACT 9.11 (65) def. NSW 9.6 (60) Sydney
WAFL 20.12 (132) def. TSFL 10.14 (74) Kalgoorlie
2000 SANFL 15.17 (107) def. WAFL 8.17 (65) Adelaide Oval
2001 SANFL 20.14 (134) def. VFL 14.12 (96) Adelaide Oval
2002 VFL 18.17 (125) def. SANFL 10.9 (69) Adelaide Oval
WAFL 24.15 (159) def. QLD 6.12 (48) Fremantle Oval
2003 SANFL 17.16 (118) def. WAFL 8.10 (58) Fremantle Oval
QLD 10.9 (69) def. ACT 5.13 (43) The Gabba
2004 VFL 10.9 (69) def. WAFL 8.10 (58) Leederville Oval
QLD 10.11 (71) def. ACT 8.9 (57) Manuka Oval
2005 SANFL 20.8 (128) def. VFL 18.16 (124) TEAC Oval
WAFL 18.21 (129) def. QLD 11.5 (71) Carrara Oval
QLD 18.14 (122) def. ACT 12.12 (84) Manuka Oval
2006 SANFL 14.14 (98) def. WAFL 12.9 (81) Adelaide Oval
2007 VFL 25.11 (161) def. WAFL 5.12 (42) TEAC Oval
ACT 16.11 (107) def. NSW 14.9 (93) Manuka Oval
QLD 13.7 (85) def. TAS 10.14 (74) York Park
2008 SANFL 25.11 (161) def. VFL 14.12 (96) Adelaide Oval
WAFL 24.20 (164) def. QLD 14.7 (97) Tony Ireland Stadium
2009 WAFL 12.10 (82) def. SANFL 12.9 (81) Leederville Oval
TSL 20.9 (129) def. QLD 11.14 (80) Bellerive Oval
2010 VFL 20.11 (131) def. WAFL 11.11 (77) Leederville Oval
QLD 23.26 (164) def. TSL 13.7 (85) Fankhauser Reserve
2011 WAFL 16.17 (113) def. QLD/NT (NEAFL North) 16.11 (107) Rushton Park
2012 SANFL 15.11 (101) def. WAFL 13.9 (87) Glenelg Oval
VFL 20.17 (137) def. TSL 3.11 (29) Bellerive Oval
QLD/NT (NEAFL North) 31.15 (201) def. NSW/ACT (NEAFL East) 8.8 (56) Fankhauser Reserve
2013 SANFL 21.14 (140) def. QLD/NT (NEAFL North) 9.4 (58) Richmond Oval
WAFL 17.16 (118) def. VFL 15.11 (101) Jubilee Oval
TSL 15.11 (101) def. NSW/ACT (NEAFL East) 8.13 (61) Skoda Stadium
2014 WAFL 19.18 (132) def. NEAFL 6.11 (47) Blacktown ISP Oval
SANFL 18.10 (118) def. VFL 14.12 (96) North Port Oval
TSL 18.12 (120) def. NEAFL 11.13 (79) Bellerive Oval
2015 WAFL 18.13 (121) def. SANFL 11.10 (76) Lathlain Park
NEAFL 11.11 (77) def. TSL 8.9 (57) Moreton Bay Sports Complex
2016 SANFL 16.10 (106) def. VFL 13.9 (87)[58] Adelaide Oval
WAFL 25.14 (164) def. TSL 4.6 (30)[59] Bassendean Oval


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External links[edit]