|Website||City vs. Country|
|Most Wins||City Origin|
|Winners||Draw - City retain shield as 2007 winners|
City vs Country is an annual Australian rugby league match that takes place in New South Wales between a City and Country side. It is played before the Rugby League State of Origin series and is often referred to as a selection trial for the New South Wales Blues team.
The concept of an annual clash between a City and Country team originally started in 1911 with a Metropolitan side taking on the Country team. The first match officially took place on June 10, 1911 with City taking the victory 29 to 8. It would take another nineteen years before an annual clash between an official City and Country side was agreed upon during the 1930 season.
The players who now represent the City and Country sides come from the National Rugby League competition in Australia.
City Origin Team
Country Origin Team
The concept took off and by the early 1900s `Country Week', as it was titled, became a major component of the Rugby calendar. This rivalry between City and Country continued to occur after Rugby League was formed in 1907. However, it was only in 1911 that rugby league held its first recorded City V Country clash. While there is some indication that a match may have been played in 1910, the code's infancy probably resulted in the game not being of a high enough standard to be recorded.
The representative match was played on a laissez-faire basis in League up until 1928 when the Country Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League saw the value in making the tournament an annual match. This was understandable at the time for League, as many areas in Country NSW had not even heard of League until late 1927.
Newcastle was the first non-Sydney town to take up the code in 1909 in its own domestic competition, which was boosted by the participation of the `Rebels' in the NSWRL Sydney competition in 1908 and 1909. The Illawarra region followed in 1910, but further away from Sydney it took longer for the code make any impact.
By the time the match was made a permanent fixture, interest in the concept was high enough to make it sustainable. However, similar to State of Origin before 1980, Country Rugby League faced the problem of its major players being snapped up by the richer Sydney clubs, draining the regional representative sides. This assisted City's domination of the fixture.
It wasn't till 1987, with the recent inclusions of Canberra, Illawarra and Newcastle in the NSWRL competition, that the "player drain" issue was addressed. The Origin rule, which was also used to revive the State of Origin concept, proved invaluable in giving Country the player base it needed to compete with the City team. However, Country only recorded their first win five years after the concept was introduced, in 1992.
Country then won three out of the five years after their first Origin victory before the City vs Country concept was removed from the representative scene (much like the World Sevens and Kangaroo Tours) as a result of the Super League War.
The competition wasn't revived again till four years later, when the National Rugby League saw the match's value in terms of media exposure, television ratings and the merit of taking the fixture to country towns.
Under residency selection rules
Interchange Bench: Interchange Bench: