How Good is Rugby League?
The beginning of march. Summer’s past its peak and cricket seasons over. Mouths begin salivating and lead shoots through pencils as the highlights and teasers appear on screens across the nation. It creeps closer to the weekend, and suddenly by Thursday you’re only hours away. The sun begins to set on the final day of a dark period lacking adequate sport to watch, a period that seems so long, yet is forgotten in an instant as 8pm hits. Boot to ball and body to body as the first hit-up of the season shakes the entire lounge-room. Footy’s back.
How lucky we are in this great nation to bear witness to this great game for 8 months every year. A game so great it could not be stopped by economic catastrophe, environmental disasters, infectious diseases, and anything else that happened in 2020. Not only did the game continue on while the world around it fell apart, it evolved and grew, adapting to the changes of a rapidly advancing society and tackling issues of social importance with competence and dignity.
But 2020 was far from an anomaly in the long and decorated history of Rugby League. The game has seen more than its fair share of challenges, yet always seems to rise above, just as new players rise above the feats of their predecessors.
As each new scandal washes over us in the never-ending media cycle of the modern day, the game soldiers forward, preaching its unique brand of brutally tough, yet exquisitely nuanced competition. Because at the end of the day, what sticks in the minds of people across the country aren’t the troublemakers and degenerates, but the magical moments of superhuman ability. The comebacks and the thrashings, the joy of beating a rival or winning the title, nothing can compare, and no other sport comes close.
In no other institution around the world can people with damaged reputations and troublesome histories transcend beyond their earthly capabilities to pull off godlike acts that win back the hearts and minds of even the most staunch opposition. Not since 776 BC, when the Greek Olympians competed naked for the approval of their gods has the world seen such a sport so grounded in humanity yet so holy and revered.
Rugby League has seen the downfall of clubs, players, administrators, systems and rules, but these are just mere formalities in such an immensely important industry. Just as they fall, so do they rise, into bigger and better versions of themselves. As young players struggle through the gauntlet of entering the divine realm, some may fall, but even more emerge as teachers, role models and most importantly, throbbers.
The paradoxical universe of Rugby League, where those who might have been societal outcasts now reign supreme, extends its culture throughout the many facets of the game. The Rugby League spirit, emblazoned on the premiership trophy, influences the management of the game while also spurring on the diehard support of its followers. Fans of every club feel a burning passion for their heroes, and the heroes themselves live for the adoration of their devotees.
Throughout humankind, people have waited to see the ascension of man into immortality, and Rugby League delivers that, 4 nights a week. So while you sit back, Bloke in hand, and witness the incomparable art of Rugby League for the next 8 months, spare a thought for those who haven’t found the light, but most importantly, be ever grateful for the gift we have been given. The gift of Rugby League.
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