Rugby league is sport’s answer to Harry Potter
How many codes do you know that have a hoodoo, a wizard and a cauldron? Rugby league has mystical figures at club, state and international levels, making the game mysterious and unpredictable.
The spell starts at club level, with the Canberra curse denying the Dragons any success in the nation’s capital. The St. George Illawarra Dragons have not beaten the Canberra Raiders at Canberra Stadium since 2000.
The players and coaches try not to talk about the hoodoo but it obviously plays on their minds.
On Monday night the Raiders snatched victory from the Dragons after Raiders fullback Reece Robinson scored a try in the dying minutes. The 22-18 victory wasn’t the first time the Dragons had been pipped at the post in Canberra. The Raiders scored a shock 20-19 win in the corresponding fixture last year to extend the Dragon’s misery.
The 12-year curse has meant none of the senior players of St. George have ever tasted victory down south. With Dean Young retiring at the end of the season, the 29-year-old never will.
A Wizard may be the reason behind the Canberra curse, but it is not the one rugby league has come to know and love. Gary ‘Wizard’ Freeman was a Balmain Tigers legend and Kiwi international who is now floating around the game as a respected journalist.
Freeman played 51 games for the Balmain tigers and played 45 Tests for the Kiwis. He was magical for the Tigers and was instrumental in leading Balmain to grand finals in 1988 and 1989. Freeman also had stints at the Eastern Suburbs, Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels.
Wizardry must be among Tiger and Kiwi halfbacks, with current West Tigers halfback Benji Marshall also a magician on the field.
Then there’s the Cauldron. Suncorp Stadium.
The home of the Brisbane Broncos, but more importantly the home of the Queensland Maroons, which is where we found ourselves for the third State of Origin.
A ground filled with 60,000 screaming Queenslanders hoping to send NSW packing with yet another series defeat. The Blues aimed to break their own curse and end a run of six straight Origin series losses.
The drive from the Caxton Street hotel was no doubt be filled with hexes and venomous slurs towards the Blues. NSW were locked inside the cauldron when the temperature reached boiling point.
So with a Canberra curse, a couple of Kiwi wizards, and a Queensland cauldron, rugby league is indeed the centre of dark arts in the sporting world.
These dark arts provide the game with unpredictable upsets, skilful shenanigans and close encounters. With these effects, we are all put under a love spell that has us adoring the greatest game of all.
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