Anger as whites shut out of Rugby League World Cup

November, 2008

If consistency was a virtue (TM), that might have been a headline by Daniel Lane at the Sydney Morning Herald. Instead, his 2006 article was titled: Anger as Aborigines, Maori shut out of cup. Back then, retired Aboriginal footballer Arthur Beetson called for indigenous teams to compete in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. As it turned out, they were not included but did play an invitational warm-up match before the opening game, including a very spirited pre-game "haka off" (warning: contains half-naked crazy man):

"As the host nation, Australia can allow the Maori and Aborigines to enter a team in the World Cup but they don't want to," Beetson said.

"You just hit brick walls with the ARL. It's because of this type of thinking that rugby league has gone nowhere in 100 years.

"We could pick a team that would give the World Cup a real shake, and that's without the Aborigines who could be picked for the Australian team. Is the ARL worried we might beat them?" ...

"It would be appropriate in that the two indigenous people of the host nations who have contributed so much to the game can be recognised at the World Cup."
Sounds good. I'm all for it, although the distinction between a World Cup and Indigenous Cup would take some clarifying. But, alas, there is no mention of the value of a white Australian team "who have contributed so much" more to the game and who have no team representing them (the current Australian team is racially mixed and turning browner by the day).

In the aftermath to this game, there were again calls to allow indigenous teams into future world cups. But, now they also suggest allowing Aboriginals to decide whether they want to play for the Dreamtime team or the Australian team. Andrew Stevenson writes Give Kangaroos last pick of the cultural melting pot:
Bring back the Maori and you might bring back some effervescence to some otherwise very flat beer. And, another guaranteed way to raise a froth is choose all the Kooris, Gooris or Murris, for the Indigenous Dreamtime team. Imagine how well they'd go with Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Scott Prince helping to direct proceedings.

"I think they should get the best of the best Aboriginals and the best of the best of the rest of the country and let's see how they go. I think they would surprise a lot of people," said Anthony Mundine, making a lot more sense than usual. "I think that would give our youth something to strive for and something to dream about."

The Kangaroos will still probably win but, with half a dozen competitive teams and some epic mate-versus-mate confrontations, international rugby league could live again.
Indigenous teams would somehow add effervescence and froth. How so? Yes, by adding competitiveness, but he is also hinting at the added spice of a racial contest. But, either way, the addition of a white Australian team would also add both because the current Australian team is one-third non-white. So was a white Australian team suggested? No. Alas, the white side of the brain does not work for today's journalists. The closest suggestion to a white Australian team is described as "the last pick of the culural melting pot": we only exist in the defacto negative as the undefined leftovers (still unable to positively discriminate with pride and identity).

And if it's good for indigenous youth to strive for and dream about playing for their race, then why not white Australian youth also? The silence is deafening ...

Another SMH article Call to relive the Dreamtime says...
With a number of players likely to be first choice selections in both sides, Mundine said the decision should be left to the individuals but predicted most Aboriginals would want to play for the Dreamtime team.

Supporting his view is the actions of Kangaroos stars Greg Inglis and Scott Prince ...

"To get out there and represent the Indigenous people is a very proud moment," said South Sydney-bound fullback Rhys Wesser, who scored two tries.

"It was great to take the game back to the grass roots and you saw all the people who came out today to celebrate this moment so I think that it would be good to have it every year. We're very proud of our culture and if we could have this game once a year it would give us something to celebrate."

Soward added: "I'd love to see us in the World Cup and even the Maoris, we gave a good account of ourselves today and obviously we've got a huge following so it would create more revenue."

Former Manly great Cliff Lyons, who acted as a mentor in camp and was a trainer, backed Soward's call.

"I thought today's game was better than the one last night [between England and Papua New Guinea] so why not," Lyons said. "It was a great contest."
If Mundine predicts most Aboriginals would play for a Dreamtime team, then do you think most whites would want to play for a Colonial team (or whatever you want to call it)? Alas, we only hear the crickets chirping in the journalists' brains. And if it's a "proud" moment to represent the indigenous team, then wouldn't the same be true for whites? Chirp, chirp, chirp ...

Another article says...
Match-winner Jamie Soward ... believes some of Australia’s best players would support the idea and pick the Indigenous team over the Kangaroos ...

“It would be up to them (Aboriginal heritage Test stars) whether they’d want to play for Australia or the Aboriginal team but I’m sure they’d probably take the Aboriginal team.

“It’s been an emotional week for all of us. Talking at the start of the week what it meant to each player was pretty special and something I will never forget.”

While inclusion in a World Cup is highly unlikely, the near 10,000 fans who flocked to the SFS early enough to watch the game would support the prospect of further clashes between the two teams.
It could have also been an emotional week for whites too. Chirp, chirp, chirp, ...

OK, Ireland beating Samoa was cool, but it's not quite the same as supporting a white Australian team.

The arguments for race based teams are partly based on re-establishing a competitive world cup, but also on the unmistakable pride in playing for and supporting one's race. So white Australians have a right to be angry because, unlike other Indigenous groups, we are not permitted to play for our race. Sure, we might struggle for some equivalent to the haka, and we probably won't attack the referee if things don't go our way, but the pride is there all the same. Whites may still dominate the Australian team, but there's not the same pride in the jersey anymore, and it will soon be dominated by non-whites.

And further, if there is so much pride in playing for your race, then it follows that the National Rugby League competition should also permit teams to discriminate by race (as well as allowing teams of mixed race). If all this talk about racial pride is accurate, then that would explain why I get more enjoyment watching the all-white Ireland team playing than I do the mixed-race Australian team. And it would also add more "froth" to the NRL competition.

Until next time from the journalistic Bermuda Triangle ... Chirp, chirp, chirp ...

Also: Arthur Beetson has also called for a Reconciliation Test between Aboriginals and the Rest of Australia because:
People don't realise that a lot of our mob call Australia Day 'Invasion Day'. An annual game would be a chance to heal the rifts.
I agree it would help to heal the rifts, but if it's reconciliation you seek then you need to play white Australia. And if Tonga and Samoa can play peacefully, but with passion, despite 1000 years of hatred then I think we can do the same with our 200 year history. Let's get it on.

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