Oh yes, I’m bringing this old chestnut up again. It is time once and for all to change State of Origin coverage.
Enough with the late start, no more weekday hassles, let’s just give everyone the most logical and enjoyable Origin experience possible.
And for those of you that for whatever reason continue to beat the dead horse that is tradition, in the wise words of Shrek, “That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.”
Many fans – myself included – have been saying for years now that the old and tired 8pm Wednesday time slot is outdated and needs to be changed, mostly because we too are now all old and tired.
The midweek 8pm start (or 8.10, or 8.15, depending how many more Menulog ads they want to cram in before kick-off) just sucks. Many of us were up early that day for work and school, and it always turns into one of those days.
Nothing has gone right, you’re trying to get out of work before everyone arrives at your place, your crappy boss has planned a last-minute meeting that should have been an email, and you’re struggling to remember if you have enough tomato sauce at home for the hot dogs.
The group chat is going off because Macca is stuck in traffic, Robbo realised he needs to go home first, and Steve has decided to bail because he’s buggered. Typical Steve.
The kids are also exhausted, and there are only ever two scenarios – you say they can’t stay up and they become sooky little turds, or you let them stay up and they become tired little turds in the morning.
By the time the 80 minutes has been played, we’ve waisted another 20 minutes for the Bunker and twiddled our thumbs through what feels like seven captain’s challenges – everyone is cactus.
And that’s if you have watched it at home. If you actually went to see it live, you would have had to fight your way through normal peak-hour traffic along with game day traffic to get to the stadium.
And then after the match, you struggle to keep your eyes open to drive yourself home, only to grab an hour or two of sleep before getting back into the car to head back off to work again.
Yay for tradition.
Now, lets check out the alternative. A weekend game with an earlier kick-off.
Most will get to take their time and enjoy a lazy Sunday morning. No heading into work, no fighting the traffic to get home. You and the kids may even get to take a nap before the festivities start. Your friends can come over early, you’re happy when you fire up the BBQ, and relaxed when the whistle blows at 6pm.
As for those with tickets, I was very fortunate to be one of those in Perth. And let me tell you, it was glorious.
A lovely sleep in, followed by some brunch, and a very relaxed day. The atmosphere was great, the pubs were full, everyone was out and about in their team colours, and after a few cold ones, fans slowly made their way over to Optus Stadium.
The roads were flowing, the trains and buses weren’t packed – no added work-day congestion.
Once at the ground, some stayed outside with all the entertainment that was on offer, and others headed in to watch the curtain raiser that was being played. At 5pm Grinspoon blessed us with their thrills, kills and Sunday pills, and before we knew it, it was game on.
After the Blues smashed the Maroons and sent the series to a decider, it was just after 8pm and everyone started to make their way home. At the exact same time on the clock that NSW and Queensland viewers were settling in, Perth fans were leaving the ground, switching off their TVs, and getting ready for the next work day at a decent hour.
It worked. It really worked. Everyone was relaxed, there was no extra traffic on the roads, and it was a decent time to start watching a game as well as seeing it end.
‘But it’s the ratings, it’s the revenue, it’s the vibe, it’s Mabo.’ No. Just no.
The ratings from Sunday’s Origin in Perth were the highest they have been since 2019. That’s because it was on a Sunday – they would have been even higher if it started at 6pm in the eastern states.
No more Wednesday at 8pm. No Wednesday at 6pm. And no Sunday at 8pm.
Just make it Sunday at 6pm.
There is never an issue when the cricket is running late, or the tennis has gone to another set for the news time to move and be a shorter bulletin.
How would the rest of the weekend look? There are so many options. Last weekend worked perfectly with the Test matches and the NRLW Origin.
Do that again. Or have spilt-round games on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday with Origin on Sunday.
However it plays out, Sunday night at 6pm is just perfect for Origin.
The world is different now, we need to move with the times. We have a women’s competition. Rabs has retired. You are reading this article on a screen and not getting black ink in your fingers.
Times change. Things evolve. And so should Origin coverage.