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13 of Australian sport’s greatest rivalries and when we’ll see all the 2024 instalments

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With passionate fans, ruthless competitors and the universal goal of winning, it’s no surprise that rivalries create a great deal of hype in sports.

So here are some of the best in Australia’s sporting landscape right now.

13 of the biggest rivalries in Australian sport

There are matchups that send Aussie fans and the media into a complete frenzy.

Rivalries yield the irrational feelings that help define sport.

In light of some incredible battles on the cards, as 2024’s insane sports lineup is about to come at us quick, here are 13 of the best feuds in Australian sport right now; whether they stand the test of time or are having a real moment right now.

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New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons 

Since Origin’s inception in the 1982, the NRL’s annual three-game series has continued to capture huge television audiences and sell outs.

The response from fans almost certainly sees strong divides with Australians either passionately gunning for the Maroons or for the Blues. Of course, the series is all about bragging rights. The incredible 2022 series-decider at Suncorp Stadium typified where the rivalry is positioned — at the top of Australian sport.

Queensland leads the head-to-head battle 69-58, with two draws, the Maroons have claimed 24 series to the Blues’ 16 and head into 2024 as the title holders, dominating in 2023.

2024 meetings

ORIGIN I: June 5, 2024 at Accor Stadium, Sydney – 8:05pm kick off

ORIGIN II: June 26, 2024 at Melbourne Cricket Ground – 8:05pm kick off

ORIGIN III: July 17, 2024 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane — 8pm kick off

Adelaide Crows v Port Adelaide Power

The setup for this match-up is simple, yet effective. ‘The Showdown’ dates back to 1997, producing some incredible and wild moments from the two Adelaide-based teams. Talk about rivalries.

In these bitter rivals’ only post-season meeting in 2005, Chad Wingard helped Port Adelaide bag the win with his fifth goal in the game’s dying seconds.

The old cliche ‘ladder and form don’t matter’ certainly rings true here, with a recent instalment in Round 3 2022 ending on a Jordan Dawson goal after the siren, handing underdogs the Crows a memorable win.

2024 meetings

The Crows and Power will open 2024’s Gather Round in the first of their two major instalments this upcoming season.

Game 1 | Adelaide v Port Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, Round 8, Thu May 2, 7:30pm

Game 2 | Port Adelaide v Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, Round 23, August 16-18 (tbc)

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Brisbane Broncos v North Queensland Cowboys

The Queensland derby is one of the most popular games on the NRL fixture. Both clubs were founded in the late 80s and early 90s respectively, building up an intense rivalry ever since, that attracts large crowds with two of rugby league’s most ‘tragic’ supporter bases.

They’ve clashed over 50 times, with ‘big brother’ Brisbane boasting the greater success. The contest has reached dizzying new heights since the two clubs played out arguably NRL’s greatest Grand Final in 2015. Since then, there have been some insanely close games that are decided in the final plays.

2024 meetings

Game 1 | Broncos v Cowboys, Suncorp Stadium, Round 4, March 29, 8:05pm

Game 2 | Cowboys v Broncos, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Round 21, August 10

rivalries
The Cowboys and Broncos have built one of the huge rivalries in Australian sport, elevated by the 2015 NRL Grand Final.

Australia v England 

When it comes to cricket, there is no bigger rivalry than The Ashes. Since its beginnings in 1882, both countries battle it out for the famous Urn. 

‘The Ashes’ was coined following a ‘joke’ article being published in an English newspaper, which poked fun at the homeland’s defeat to Australia. From there, the rivalry has now grown into what we know it as now. 

The Aussie are ahead in series wins, 34 to 32, coming off a summer where they smoked the English down under 4-0 and retaining the Ashes in 2023 in a spicy series that finished all square.

2024 meetings

None – Australia and England will only meet in the shorter format a little later in 2024.

When’s the next Ashes series? The summer of 2025-26, in Australia. It’s going to be enormous.

Melbourne United v Sydney Kings

This match-up is always heated, with key figures from both franchises normally happy to help fuel the fire in the build up to games. United coach Dean Vickerman is never shy to admit they’re games that mean that little bit more.

Among the notable recent moments, Casper Ware signed with the Harbour City rivals and who can forget Andrew Bogut’s ‘subtle’ dig, labelling Melbourne the ‘trust fund baby’ of the league.

2023/24 meetings

Game 1 | Melbourne United 105 – 93 Kings, Round 8, November 19

Game 2 | Kings 85 – 101 Melbourne United, Round 14, Thu Jan 4, 2024

More games next season, TBC

Hawthorn v Geelong

The Easter Monday staple is another massive AFL rivalry, always drawing large MCG crowds.

A well-known and controversial story which encompasses this ongoing feud happened during the 1985 premiership season. Leigh Matthews, formerly a player with Hawthorn, struck Geelong’s Neville Bruns in the jaw. As a result of the incident, Matthews became the only player in VFL-AFL history to be charged by police for an on-field act. 

Now while things aren’t as violent between the sides these days, there’s an eerie similarity to the NRL’s Broncos-Cowboys rivalry, listed above, with encounters seemingly always going down to the wire.

Another chapter was added to this rivalry back in April 2022, after the Hawks toppled the Cats and took out the win by 12 points.  

2024 meetings

Game 1 | Hawthorn v Geelong, MCG, Easter Monday, April 1, 3:20pm AEST

Game 2 | Geelong v Hawthorn, GMHBA Stadium, Round 17, 5-7 July (TBC)

Collingwood vs. ………?

Defending premiers the Pies have a few rivalries; they’re very well hated by opposition teams right around the competition.

Carlton:

Many AFL fans will tell you this is the biggest in footy. It’s the oldest and one of the most historic in Australian sport.

The Magpies and Blues have not met in a final since 1988. From 261 total meetings, Collingwood leads 129-128, with four draws. Carlton, though, lead 5-1 in Grand Finals. They play for the Peter Mac Cup and Richard Pratt Cup, depending on who hosts the fixture.

2024 meetings

Carlton v Collingwood, MCG, Sunday May 21, 3:20pm AEST

Collingwood v Carlton, MCG, Round 20, TBC

Essendon:

Though the annual ANZAC Day match is one of the AFL’s showpiece regular season games, it’s captivating any time these two sides go head to head. Built on close geography, the strong and passionate fan bases at play, plus the status that both teams hold, this is always must watch.

2024 meetings

Game 1 | Essendon v Collingwood, ANZAC Day, MCG, Round 7, April 25, 3:20pm AEST

Game 2 | Collingwood v Essendon, MCG, Round 17, 5-7 July (TBC)

Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers 

There are some spicy A-League Men’s matchups, but probably none more than Sydney and the Western Sydney Wanderers (WSW); the Sydney Derby.

Since the Wanderers first began back in 2012, the rivalry was ignited. Much like several others seen across the different codes, this one also tapped into a divide that saw the East versus the West. 

The rivalry had even more fuel added last year after a public dispute led to Sydney losing Serbian star Milos Ninkovic to its cross-town rival, after seven seasons in sky blue.

2023-24 meetings

Game 1 | played | Sydney FC 0 – 1 Wanderers , Allianz Stadium, November 25

Game 2 | Wanderers v Sydney FC, CommBank Stadium, Sat March 2, 7:45pm AEDT

Manly Sea Eagles v Melbourne Storm

The Sea Eagles have several mouthwatering rivalries in the NRL, including with the Newcastle Knights and the Parramatta Eels (plus formerly with the North Sydney Bears). But these days, it doesn’t get much bigger than their reciprocated hatred of the Melbourne Storm.

The clubs played in consecutive blowout Grand Finals in 2007 and 2008, each winning one. In the ’07 decider, Manly fullback Brett Stewart was knocked unconscious early on, as the Storm recorded a huge win. And a few years later in the 2011 regular season, brother Brett was involved in one of rugby league’s most infamous brawls, the Battle of Brookvale. And they’ve played out plenty of brutal games since then.

2024 meetings

Sea Eagles v Storm, 4 Pines Park, Round 12, Friday May 24, 8:00pm AEST

Waratahs v Brumbies

Fans might argue the Bledisloe Cup is rugby’s biggest battle down under, and it’s certainly worth a mention. But the All Blacks have dominated that series for two decades now, while contests at Super level have remained more engaging and unpredictable.

The Waratahs have a strong rivalry with the Queensland Reds, with incredible history backing it up, but there’s even a bit more to their relationship with the Canberra-based Brumbies, which has been built off a ‘big brother-little brother’ vibe since 1996.

When the Brumbies formed, its initial team was filled with Waratahs ‘rejects’, kickstarting an inferiority complex in the nation’s capital.

2024 meetings

Game 1 | Brumbies v Waratahs, GIO Stadium, Round 7, Sat April 6, 7:35pm AEST

Game 2 | Waratahs v Brumbies, Allianz Stadium, Round 12, May 11, 7:35pm AEST

rivalries
Rivalries | Former Brumbies star and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper locking horns with openside breakaway rival David Pocock.

Australia v USA Swimming

The Dolphins hosted USA Swimming last year, for another instalment of the Duel in the Pool. These happened biennially between 2003 and 2007, before the US embarked on other focuses.

Australia’s upset win over the US in the 4-100m men’s relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympics is one of the all time great sporting moments and it’s grown into a bitter feud.

Roosters v Rabbitohs

Certainly not least, this is one of the great rugby league rivalries.

Both are foundation clubs dating all the way back to 1908, pinned against each other through nearby geography and constant disagreements. The NRL knows this is one of its showpiece events, always scheduling matches in key time slots.

South Sydney’s co-owner and Hollywood star Russell Crowe commissioned a Book of Feuds, which was released in 2008. Its content incensed arch nemesis the Roosters.

2024 meetings

Game 1 | Roosters v Rabbitohs, Round 3, Friday March 22, 8:05pm AEST

Game 2 | Rabbitohs v Roosters, Round 27, Friday September 6, 8:00pm AEST

Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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