I was told that Americans wear padding because they're running full-tilt at each other. I think American football players are wussy compared to the Australians I've been watching. Don't get me wrong, I'd never go up against a football player ever; I can barely bike to the park and back without getting winded. But the rugby league players also run full-tilt at each other.
And they don't have padding.
I've never seen so much blood on tv that wasn't part of some murder mystery. In the first fifteen minutes, half of each team already had bloody lips. And these guys aren't built like football players. Football players are like trains - huge everywhere, muscles as big in their fingers as in their calves, and likely weighing over 250 lbs. Rugby players are built more like soccer players; thin, solid muscle, quick, and agile. But at the same time, they can take a hit. I just watched a guy get his legs pried apart by the other team (two other guys, one for each leg) so a third could get the ball from him.
It's like there are no rules; soccer meets football meets hockey. They beat the snot out of each other like in hockey (fighting seems to be the reason half the people come), run the field like football players, and pass like soccer players. Remarkable game, really.
Anyway, I suppose I should choose a team. Usually, I pick my team at the end; whoever won is worthy of my respect. But I don't think that will fly in Melbourne. In the States, there are enough people that don't care that I can fit in. Here, it's sacralige to claim neutrality. And so, without further ado ...
[post-game report: I chose the right team. Queensland Maroons 16, NSW Blue, 14. Suh-WEET.]