Throughout the illustrious history of State of Origin, there have been many memorable moments to both remember and savor. These include NSW's most drought-breaking State of Origin game two victory under a month ago, Queensland's dynasty winning series side, coming out victorious in 11 of the previous 12 versions of it before this most current one and Gorden Tallis's famous tackle on Brett Hodgson where he threw him over the sideline like a rag doll.
When it comes to controversial moments, the NRL is never far from the action either. Brett Stewart got suspended for the start of the 2008 season despite eventually being cleared of his sexual assault charges while Ben Barba became a Dally M winner with Canterbury not too long after had his off-field personal problems exposed to the world.
However, most recently after the inaugural Women's State of Origin game, both a memorable and somewhat controversial moment came at the full-time siren. Karina Brown and Vanessa Foliaki, two players, both from opposing teams were seen kissing each other. And despite the two Women being in a publicly known relationship, many sectors of the Rugby League community had and still do have a problem with what occurred. The NRL has come out and publicly supported the couple as well as themselves posting the image of them kissing with the #OurWay. Here's why the NRL is exactly right in supporting the type of love that is so harshly and unfairly criticized by not only many Australian's but by large portions of other countries as well.
No backing down now
Last year at the NRL Grand Final played between Melbourne and Cronulla, the headlining act for the pre-game performance was Macklemore. He stirred up a lot of controversy by performing his Same Love song. This is a piece of music that supports those of the same sex being with and loving each other. "Strip away the fear, underneath it's all the same love". The NRL backed it then and people from all around Australia were throwing shots at the League left, right and centre because of it. Yet the NRL stood defiantly and allowed not only Macklemore to perform but also came out and publicly backed gay marriage themselves, back in around the same time when the vote for it was seen as an issue by many. If the League were to suddenly crumble under all the incoming criticism as a result of what's occurred then it would be bad for a million and one reasons and here's one of the major ones.
According to the 2016 Census, there are around 46,800 gay couples living all around Australia. And to all the homophobic people out there, they exist and are a real part of a thriving Aussie society. While just like any normal person, gay, straight or otherwise, a certain percentage of them would follow the National Rugby League. If the NRL were to drop off their support for this vilified group then it would be not only a massive hate message to the passionate fans who follow their local team just like you or I, but it would also be a socially wrong message being sent out by the League itself. When issues like these occur and people are being victimized for no other reason than for liking and wanting to be with the same sex then it would be wrong if powerful organizations like the NRL didn't stand up and fight for what's right and publicly back the right way to go, which is what they strongly believe in.
For all the girls and women in Rugby League
For so long in the game of Rugby League your typical superstars such as your Johnathan Thurston's, your Billy Slater's and your James Tedesco's have really been the only players who Girls have been able to look up to in the NRL as a result of a serious lack of a well-established and well-recognized Women's Competition. However, now in recent years things have really gotten up and running in the Females side of the game. An NRL Women's Competition is now in play as well as State of Origin along with Test Matches. Girls can now aspire to be a Maddison Studdon or a Stephanie Hancock instead. While as well as that very important aspect to this side of things, it also gives Women who have been following the game their entire lives a different alternative to watch and follow if they wish to. Not showing support to both Brown and Foliaki would no doubt have a significant impact on the amount of young girls playing Junior Rugby League as a result of their parents views and would somewhat likely withdraw them from the game as a result while it would be truly saddening for no doubt a large number of Women who follow the game.
As for all the young Girls out there who turn up to their local ground every week to watch their favourite team or favourite player play, or for those who play the game of Rugby League whether in a physical or non-physical capacity, who maybe aren't quite sure of their sexuality yet, the NRL backing this is major for them. It gives them solace in knowing it's okay to be who they are and that they have people to look up to in the form Karina and Vanessa to help them get through what might very well be a rough period for them.
That, in conclusion, is why it's so important the game of Rugby League and the NRL itself is largely backing something that is so innocent, yet so important. This could be your neighbour, one of your relatives or maybe even a mate. You just don't know. And the NRL backing this is helping people to come out and express who they truly are and not be scared of it. A lot of people won't agree with this, but that just highlights most people's own insecurities about themselves. I for one applaud the NRL as they are doing what is exactly the right thing to do!!!