The NRL has made a hugely controversial call to scrap the singing of Advanced Australia Fair from the upcoming State of Origin series.
The NRL has made a hugely controversial call to scrap the singing of Advanced Australia Fair from the upcoming State of Origin series.

ScoMo intervenes in NRL's National Anthem call

The NRL is poised to backflip on its decision to dump the national anthem from State of Origin after a fierce backlash from fans and a phone call from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Independent commission chairman Peter V'landys stepped in this afternoon to overturn the decision after he received a phone call from Morrison on the issue.

It is believed Morrison told V'landys that after a year of heartbreak it has never been more important to be singing the national anthem.

Fans also rejected the move, with 85 per cent of Telegraph readers saying the anthem should be kept in an exclusive poll.

Earlier it was revealed that the NRL was set to abandon the national anthem for the game's biggest showpiece event, the State of Origin series.

It will be the first time in 40 years the anthem will not be played before the kick-off when the series begins in Adelaide on Wednesday night.

The independent commission made the controversial decision at a meeting on Wednesday after consultation with the chairmen of the NSW and QLD organisations.

Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walker refused to sing the national anthem before game one of last year’s Origin series in Brisbane. Pictire: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walker refused to sing the national anthem before game one of last year’s Origin series in Brisbane. Pictire: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images


The explanation given was that the event is not a contest between international countries.

However the NRL has confirmed the anthem will remain for grand finals and Test matches.

"Playing the national anthem will be reserved for Test matches, grand final and ANZAC Day," NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"State of Origin is about the tribalism of the two states, it's Australia's biggest sporting rivalry. When NSW and Queensland run out we want that tension to erupt immediately.

"The game remains committed to our anthem. You need to look no further than last weekend's grand final."

The anthem became a huge issue in the NSW camp last year when Blues stars Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Josh Addo-Carr spoke out before the game about their refusal to sing.

The Daily Telegraph understands the NSW Rugby League was against scrapping the anthem but bowed to the wishes of the NRL.

The Daily Telegraph is seeking comment from the NRL.

While Indigenous Blues opted against singing the anthem last year, NSW stars including captain Boyd Cordner, Jake Trbojevic and Damien Cook said they would sing the Australian national anthem "loud and proud".

NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler had vowed to support any indigenous Blues players who wish to remain silent for Advance Australia Fair in 2020, saying: "Our anthem, it definitely needs work".

Earlier this year, the ARL Commission scrapped the national anthem at the annual All Stars match on the advice of the game's indigenous players.

Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine said: "It is the national anthem of the country and if the NRL doesn't want to be proud of the nation then they should say it.

"Quite frankly the NRL loses credibility by saying it is not an international game when they are still playing the anthem at the grand final.

"We know the real reason why the NRL has pulled the nation's anthem and they are taking their fans for fools by not being honest."

QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher has backed the NRL's move to ban the national anthem at State of Origin, saying the showpiece event should not become a political platform.

"I have been to events where some players would not observe the national anthem and I found it embarrassing. That behaviour detracts from the event," he said.

"Principally, the national anthem should be reserved for international events.

"My personal view is that it shouldn't be played at Origin for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's not an international event and in recent years it has attracted some controversy which is not fair to the game and to the anthem.

"Australians should be proud of their anthem and if you have the green and gold on everyone will sing along with it.

"But if certain sections of society have an issue with it and if there will be negative reaction drawn to State of Origin, it's not worth the controversy.

"State of Origin is not an international event, so there's no reason why it should be played.

"The QRL were asked for their opinion and I agreed Origin was not an international event. There have been pockets of dissent lately and it has involved administrators and players.

"There may have been some problems from the NSW camp last year and we didn't get any inkling of it until the last minute.

"We are all Australian and I don't want to see State of Origin used as a political football, pardon the pun.

"The Origin event should be respected and honoured, not get involved in political issues."

Originally published as NRL bans national anthem from State of Origin



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