The national anthem will continue to be played before all State of Origin matches, following a stunning backflip by the NRL this afternoon.
For the first time in 40 years, Advance Australian Fair was set to be axed from this year’s series after a number of players from both NSW and Qld refused to sing the anthem before kick off last year.
It’s understood the NRL made the controversial call to dump the anthem following a meeting on Wednesday, citing the series isn’t between international countries.
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However, the decision was overturned on Thursday, after ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys received a phone call from Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the issue.
“The Australian Rugby League Commission has today confirmed the National Anthem will continue to be played at State of Origin,” Mr V’landys said.
“Our decision not to play the anthem was never about politics. We have always been committed to the anthem as shown at the Grand Final last weekend.
“The original decision not to play the anthem at Origin was about the rivalry and tribalism associated with the Origin Series.”
The decision to overturn the call also follows strong public outcry, with thousands of fans taking to social media to vent their frustration at the anthem being scrapped for the first time in NRL history.
“Having listened to the public response and given the strong national unity in fighting the COVID pandemic together, the Commission has decided it is important to ensure that unity continues,” Mr V’landys said.
“We have always been a Commission that listens to our fans. We have heard the message and acted accordingly.”
The move has since been welcomed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“The NRL have done the right thing by listening to their fans and acting quickly to overturn their choice not to play the national anthem at the Origin Series,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
“We have all faced a year of struggle and heartbreak and it has never been more important to be coming together to celebrate Australia and to be able to sing together our national anthem at the game so many of us love.”