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This week's NRL rivalry round is set to celebrate all that is good in footy. Rugby league has had a lot of changes over the years; rule changes, team changes, name changes...but the one constant has been great rivalries. Testament to this has been this week's ongoing rivalry between QLD coach Mal Meninga and, well, most of NSW who should count themselves lucky that this rivalry is headed for the courts and not the car park...just ask Mark McGaw!
Rivalries in rugby league take on many different shapes and forms. At the most basic level rivalries crop up from time to time between opposing players. Fans love these rivalries, as such combat is the lifeblood of a full-body contact sport. You only have to look at YouTube to see which rugby league videos rack up the hits with the names Paul Harrigan and Mark Carroll making up a large percentage of them. Whilst it looked for a while like these one on one stoushes might be a thing of the past in stepped Ennis v Smith, Hayne v Slater and suddenly you've got yourself a great MMA fight card.
Sometimes these personal rivalries will manifest themselves into rivalries between entire teams. These may be smoldering fires of dislike burning for over a century or spot fires that have popped up overnight, either way they are a marvel to behold. Such is the beauty of rugby league, where an entire team marches down the field like an advancing army baying for blood, that a smart mouthed opposition has few spots to hide after a week of inflammatory tweets. This too pleases the fans, as watching your team crush your bitter foes from across the City/State/Tasman is an amazing way to cap off the weekend.
The last type of feud is the one that is generally a mystery to the average punter but ultimately the one that we seem to be getting a lot of lately. That is, the behind closed doors shafting and feuding that has gone on in boardrooms and Chinese restaurants throughout the nation in the setting up of the games Independent Commission (Try? No try? Decision pending?). Even Reg Ragen himself would have grown tired of the bad blood that has been leaked from NRL HQ over the past few months with regards to choosing the final Independent Commission and its pleasing to see the ref finally asking both parties to shake hands and walk away. If only we could somehow get the remaining News Ltd and ARL board money men onto the field together and let them slog it out in front of the fans, winner takes all!
Loser has to face Mal Meninga
Bring on the hate this weekend!