Australians love their sport, and no sport is more popular than either AFL or NRL, depending on where you live. Objectively determining which code is best has long been considered impossible, but we now have a way to settle the argument once and for all: a fight to the death between all the AFL club mascots on one side, and all the NRL club mascots on the other.
Such a fight would, of course, result in billions of dollars of property damage, untold civilian casualties, and unacceptable reductions in broadcast revenue. For this reason, it is unlikely to be approved by the AFL or the NRL in the foreseeable future. I have therefore taken it upon myself to extrapolate the most likely outcome of this battle, using Champion Data from 2001 to the present day.
Disclaimer: While I have made use of all publicly available information, the combat prowess of some AFL and NRL mascots has not yet been fully documented and as such these predictions may not be 100% accurate. This is for informative purposes only, no copyright is intended.
* I accidentally used the Gatorade logo instead of the Giants logo, but I’ve already done all the illustrations and it’s too late to change them now.
Under the laws of mascot algebra, which allow common animals to be cancelled out, two Eagles, two Bulldogs, and two Tigers will be instantly eliminated.
The Rooster is also likely to leave at this point, as it will be drunk, and curiously distracted by the departing canines.
The First Encounter
The NRL mascots will gather together and swear to treat this battle like a home and away season, which to them will mean starting three weeks before the AFL. They will launch a surprise attack on Etihad Stadium, where a NAB Challenge game will be unfolding before a crowd much larger than most NRL home and away matches.
Although they will hold the element of surprise, the NRL mascots will be outnumbered, on a rubbish playing surface, and confused by the abundance of spectators. Furthermore, they will underestimate the power of the Cat, who will “courageously” get in the way of opposition legs, drawing an untold number of questionable free kicks in the process.
From thousands of metres above ground, the Storm will rain down a constant deluge. In retaliation, Etihad Stadium will close its roof. Feeling ineffectual, the Storm will pay an additional $3.78 million over five years, making it rain so hard that the entire continent will be submerged.
Taking advantage of the deluge, the Shark will swim south with all the power of a Chinese female swimmer at the 1994 World Aquatic Championships.
Being far more adapted to underwater slaughter than to winning NRL grand finals, the Shark will have little difficulty eviscerating those AFL mascots that are not inanimate objects or theoretical concepts. The momentum will quickly swing, and the NRL mascots will march to a comfortable victory.
Several years later, the Storm’s illicit conduct will be uncovered, and the result of the battle overturned. The Storm will be prohibited from taking any further part in the war.
The Battle Proper Begins
The AFL mascots, now ready to unleash their primal power and annihilate their foes, will charge through a banner of crepe paper and sticky tape to a dinky tune from the 19th Century. No one will consider this ridiculous.
The mascots will then gather in a huddle and swear to treat this battle like a Grand Final, which to them will mean creating the most boring, one-sided contest possible. If successful, their plan – a non-stop aerial bombardment of NSW and Queensland – will both ensure victory and deprive audiences of any sense of spectacle.
But they will have forgotten that the Bomber jet is being flown by top-up pilots and elevated rookies. No sooner will it take off than it will crash into a pharmaceutical laboratory slightly north of Essendon Airport.
Moved by this tragic loss of prohibited supplements, the Shark will call for a minute’s silence, backdated by twelve months.
The Struggle for Air Supremacy
Reeling from its disallowed victory, the NRL mascots will unleash the Dragon in a bid for air supremacy. Not only is this enormous flying lizard able to breathe fire, it also has the unique ability to be in two places at once, rendering it virtually impossible to kill.
The first casualty will be the Magpie, whose demise will draw obligatory cheers from AFL supporters nationwide, followed by the Hawk. As the brown and gold buzzard lies dying on the ground, the Dragon will begin to chant, “Eleven-peat! Eleven-peat! Eleven-peat!”
AFL supporters will be confused, as they are generally ignorant of St George’s unbroken premiership streak from 1956 to 1966, but will be more than happy to see the Hawk suffer an undignified death.
The Crow will die next: eaten alive with a healthy sprinkling of Mitani® chicken salt. Even NRL supporters will consider this excessive, as the club will have already suffered enough with the loss of Patrick Dangerfield.
Sensing its imminent demise, the Swan will offer the Dragon $1 million a year for nine years.
Neither mascot will be heard from again.
The Great Battle of Albury-Wodonga
On a quiet morning in July, the two armies will meet on the banks of the Murray River just outside Albury-Wodonga. The Giant will lead the charge, riding the Lion and wielding the Anchor. He will be met by the Warrior, Raider, Knight and Cowboy (who will have tamed the Bronco), and a bloody melee will ensue.
As the fight rages on, the Saint will wander the battlefield, dispensing advice on how others should lead their lives, while doing its best to cover up the history of sexual abuse within its ranks.
As the NRL mascots begin to tire, the best parts of the Lion (being its powerful jaws, fearsome mane, brute strength, and thundering roar) will get homesick, leaving the Giant riding nothing more than an oversized house pet. The Anchor—which will have been a splendid shield to this point—will prove useless in attack. Despite early signs of promise, the Giant will be overpowered.
Note: I realise this sounds impossible, because when was the last time the Warriors, Raiders or Knights won anything significant??? But please remember that the war is not over!!! And eg the Warriors made the Grand Final in 2011. Anyway this is all based on Champion Data statistics: I am not liable for the result.
While all this is going on, the Kangaroo will hop around the outback, pursued by the Panther, who may or may not be an urban legend. Nobody will take any notice.
[insufficient interest to justify an illustration]
State of Origin
At this point in the battle, the NRL’s best mascots will depart for State of Origin duty. But even with the Bulldog, Sea Eagle, Storm, Dragon, and Rooster unavailable for selection, the Panther still won’t get a call up.
With their comrades fighting amongst themselves to determine which state has the most embarrassing supporters, the Panther and the Warrior will be outnumbered and exposed. The Demon will rise from the bottom of a ladder in Hell and lead a quick and bloody counterpunch.
Meanwhile, in the State of Origin, the Bronco will suffer an injury and miss the rest of the fighting. The Knight, Cowboy and Rabbit will return unscathed, but the rigours of State of Origin will have taken their toll, and the trio will soon fall to a three-way jab from the Demon’s trident.
The Raider, who will have played no more than a peripheral role in the State of Origin, will embrace its ACT roots and cull the Kangaroo.
The Alberton Massacre
The first Saturday in August will be the darkest day of the entire battle. The Power will be feeling unwanted and unloved, as none of the other mascots require electricity for continued operation. This brooding outcast from South Australia, desperate to be involved, will dip its toe into Port Adelaide Harbour, thereby electrocuting the world’s oceans in one heinous act.
The Eel and the Shark will die instantly, of course. But so will the whales, dolphins, orcas, turtles, tuna, dugongs and countless other species that make the oceans their home. Surfers and swimmers in the sea at the time will be fried. Ocean liners will be cooked. Any living thing in contact with the water will no longer be a living thing.
The impact on the world’s populations will be catastrophic. Famine will spread on a massive scale, as humans will no longer have free harvest of King Neptune’s bountiful crop. International trade will slow to a standstill, as shipyards work overtime to rebuild their damaged fleets. Japan’s best scientists, having dedicated their lives to researching whale populations, will enter an inexorable spiral of depression.
The war crime will later be investigated by a joint sitting of the International Court of Justice and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and Club Chairman and Sunrise host David Koch will tender his resignation. With its spiritual leader gone, the Power will quietly unplug itself.
The electrocution of the oceans will weaken the gates of the deepest dungeon of torment ever created (the Gold Coast), and allow the Titan to escape. Taking colossal strides across the continent, the Titan will accidentally crush the Raider, who really should not have lasted this long anyway.
Swinging its mighty swords with reckless abandon, the Titan will destroy Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, and will carve a series of chasms across the nation so deep and so wide that the vast interior will be cross-hatched with waterways from the Indian to the Pacific, from the Timor Sea to the Great Australian Bight.
Standing in its way will be the Demon. The clash of sword against trident will ring across the land, deafening those with poor hearing to begin with, and bursting the eardrums of everyone else.
Yet, having already put in a solid 20 minutes of competitiveness, the Demon will be looking to coast to an unfamiliar victory. It will make clumsy skill errors, and allow the Titan to land easy blows. It will recruit a number of useless devils and imps to its cause, who will only serve to further lower morale.
Mercifully, the fight will end quickly.
The Titan will throw its head to the sky and unleash a mighty roar. Then it will notice that the sky is Blue. If the NRL is to defeat the AFL, the Titan must destroy the colour Blue itself!
Reaching both hands deep into the electromagnetic spectrum, the Titan will grab hold of all wavelengths between 450nm and 495nm.
With a cosmic wrench of Olympic proportions, the Titan will tear these colours from the visible spectrum. The blue whale carcasses at the bottom of the ocean will become mere whale carcasses, bowerbirds will be forced to use other colours in the construction of their love-nests, and the sky will be drained of all colour.
Victory at last.
Artist’s impression: hellish land with colourless sky.
... but not for long!
As the Titan marches triumphantly across Australia, the Sun will watch with keen interest from its vantage point approximately 150 million kilometres away. After a delay of around 449 seconds (due to the speed of light), the Sun will see that the Titan has defeated all other AFL mascots, and will finally be drawn into the conflict.
Without warning, the Sun will move one foot closer to Earth.
Note: not to scale!
Putting astronomy to one side in the interests of a dramatic conclusion,1 this change in orbit will see surface temperatures rise steadily by 0.5 degrees per year. By the year 2120, daily highs of 100º Celsius will be common, and any water left outside will simply boil away into vapour. Humans will adapt to the changes by living in air-conditioned bunkers where water can be stored in liquid form, but it will not be much of an existence. If you think of the worst dystopian future you’ve seen in the movies, this will be worse.
Not only will the climate be ruined, but being closer to the sun will mean the Earth year is shortened. People will age more quickly as a result, and what crops we manage to preserve will be confused and produce smaller and smaller yields. (Eg potatoes will be the size of pebbles, carrots will be the size of baby carrots.)
Outside the bunkers, the world will be stripped of all life. Forests will burn. Animals will explode. The very air we breathe (if it weren’t certain death to venture outside the bunkers) will be heavy with scalding hot steam. The vicious temperatures will cause sedimentary rocks to leach uranium into the atmosphere, adding nuclear radiation to the list of problems.
Inside the bunkers, humans will live and die in poverty. Each successive generation will be smaller than the last, and weaker. Their brains will shrink. They will gradually lose the ability to write, and then, to read. Art, science, literature, and history will be lost. Life will become a never-ending cycle of feeding and reproduction, played out by withered ghouls encased in concrete prisons.
Even the Titan, who had survived the worst conditions the world could offer (the Gold Coast) will not be able to withstand the torture. In the year 3201, over a thousand years since the last game of AFL or NRL was played, and over nine hundred years since the concept of competitive sport vanished from humanity’s collective consciousness, the Titan will fall to its knees and, with no one around to see or to care, draw its final breath.
The AFL will be victorious.