Remorseless Extortion And Sporting Day Tickets

A picture is worth a thousand words…

AC. April & May 2002

Or does it?

The images on the left side of the page were those given to the journal by the giver. They were “ideas” of what would become part of a young man’s desires and journey. It was words of inspiration and encouragement to go forth and become a man out there in the world.

Carpe Diem

“seize the day”

On the opposing pages were tickets to his first general admission to the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Reds. At the time the young man did not understand the leagues, players or fans. He only understood these were local teams playing a local sport and he wanted to get a better, clearer understanding of this sport.

On April 26, 2002 the young man set off down the hill to the north of his home. Wandering down to the river to await one of the Cities rivercat hydrocraft ferries which would land him a few blocks away from the ANZ Stadium where the Brisbane Broncos would be hosting the Newcastle Knights. Today the young man would be attending his first National Rugby League (NRL) matchup.

He was here to observe and take notes for his upcoming journalism assignment to capture the essence of a nearby sport. He’d been watching the kids down at their pitch near his home. But had heard that watching adults play the matchup you can see the variations in the match, the set plays and grasp the speed to which the NRL players competed with haste.

His eagerness to understand and learn about the players, plays, competition and fans led him to arrive a few hours early to check out the venue and the “tailgating” that he had heard of by others. Tailgating at a rugby match did not have the same meaning as it did when attending American football games back in North America. The fans were drinking heavily but were quit tame in their mannerisms and politeness. Although the language barrier was still there between the Australian English and the American English. As always the young man dressed the part with the local memorabilia t-shirt of gold and maroon. Pulled out his camera and took a barrage of photographs. Then dipped his own hands into the swill of the day before being led into the stadium for pre-game photographs because after all he was thinking about brought his media badge with him.

The game consisted of brutal hits on the field that could be heard up in the second section of the stands. He wandered away from his seat more than once to gain closer access to the field. Camera always at the ready. Today, he learnt National Rugby League was not the type of rugby for which he understood and became agitated after a while but was excited about the new sport he was aiming his 400mm f/5.6 lens at. He shot four or five rolls of Kodak 200 ISO film and a couple 1600 speed, too.

A month later the young man learnt about an upcoming Super 12 powerhouse matchup scheduled between the hometown Queensland (QLD) Reds vs New South Wales (NSW) Warataths at the Ballymore in what was known as a bitter rivalry between the two provinces of QLD and NSW!

The match took place on Sunday May 5, 2020. At the time of this matchup the young man did not understand or know what the game of Rugby Union meant to the City he was now living in. He did not have any knowledge about the format of play, positions, players or teams. He was there to observe and learn how the interactions took place on a higher skill level.

His intent was to see the entire match through his eyes instead of his 500mm f/4 lens where all he would be doing is snap, snap, snapping images against his Fujifilm 400 ISO Velveta film. Turning natural light and motion into beautiful art illustrating this sports commitment.

However today he was here to learn about the matchup, the players and hits league as he’d been told it was an extremely different sport than the one he had observed in April between the Broncos and Knights.

On this pitch he would learn about the exertion of men.

The speed, precision and process of scoring tries, throwing the ball back into play and standing motionless to engage the sidelines and its fans. The score at the end of the match came and went as did the meat pies and copious amounts of cheers from the drunken fans.

By the end of today’s matchup the young man would understand several key elements about the sport of rugby. First that there was more than one version of the sport. Like American Football and Canadian Football. They were somewhat the same sport, played with a similar ball with a similar goal but that there were far too many differences to be ignored.

Brisbane Broncos
  • National Rugby League (NRL)
  • Since 1895 in Northern England
  • 13 players
  • A rugby league pitch is between 112 and 122 metres long by 68 metres wide
  • Players split between Forwards & Backs
  • Tackling is permitted to prevent progress
  • Scoring
    • Try = 4 points
    • Conversion = 2 points
    • Drop goal = 1 point
    • Penalty goal = 2 points
  • Less penalties exist in League
  • Scores in match are usually lower
  • NRL ball is more pointy
  • Possession
    • Contesting the ball after the tackle
    • on the ground in rucks
    • mauls
  • Ball goes out of play
    • scrum restarts play
  • “more physically demanding” because there are less players on the field
  • in League each team can be tackled six times before handing over possession
    • usually after the 5th tackle the team with the ball will kick it
  • The ball can only be contested in a one-on-one tackle
    • Less scope for a turnover
    • the ball is not contested after a tackle
  • if the attacking team losses possession, drop the ball or pass the ball forwardthe ball is awarded to the defending team and results in a scrum
  • overall possession of the ball and how it changes between teams is similar Union
  • match is 80 minutes of play
    • Ball is usually in play 30 minutes or less
Queensland Reds
  • Professional Rugby Union
  • 15 players
  • Since 1845 in Warwickshire England
  • A rugby union pitch is between 106 and 144 metres long by 68 to 70 metres wide
  • Players split between Forwards & Backs
  • Tackling is permitted to prevent progress
  • Scoring
    • Try = 5 points
    • Conversion = 2 points
    • Drop goal = 3 points
    • Penalty goal = 3 points
  • More penalties exist in Union
  • Scores in a match are usually higher
  • Union ball is wider at ends
  • Possession
    • Contesting the ball after the tackle
    • on the ground in rucks
    • mauls
  • Ball goes out of play
    • Line-out
    • the ball can be contested during line-outs and/or scrums
  • “less physically demanding” because there are more players on the field
  • in Union the attacking team can hold the ball as long as they can and the opposition is trying to take the ball away
    • the ball can be contested after a tackle
  • if the attacking team losses possession, drop the ball or pass the ball forward
    • the ball is awarded to the defending team and results in a scrum
  • overall possession of the ball and how it changes between teams is similar to League
  • match is 80 minutes of play
    • Ball is usually in play 40 minutes or less

As you can see in the similarities and differences chart above… if you were a “new person” attending these two sporting events you might be very confused on just how similar these sports are?

And if your livelihood depended on your grasping the concepts of these two sports you too might attend multiple matches to understand the culture surrounding the sport (League & Union), they players and coaches involved in the competition and of course, the people who love the sport: Fans!

~ James Curtis

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