The NRL is today briefing their referees on the very likely scenario where a televised football match will have to be called off at halftime, out of compassion for the losing side.

This comes ahead of the showdown at Suncorp Stadium between the red hot Penrith Panthers and the limping Brisbane Broncos.

Following the round 5 fixtures that saw the Penrith Panthers put 30 points on an in-form Canberra Raiders, and the Broncos go down by 30 to the Rabbitohs – the often-joked-about ‘Mercy Rule’ is now being very seriously considered as a humane way out of tonight’s match for the Brisbane side.

Both the referees association and the NRL Head Office have been in talks about calling the match if it turns into a bloodbath.

According to the NSWRL Junior Rugby League polices and procedures manual, the Mercy Rule exists to discourage a drop-off in grassroots numbers when young players get thrashed for the first time.

All matches in the Under 18s to A Grade competitions are ordered to stop immediately when there is a gap of 60 points. Officials at official tables will sound the siren at the appropriate time.

If the mercy rule is utilised tonight, it will be the first time that a match was called off early due to humiliation since the Super League War.

“We just can’t sit back and let things get out of hand,” said NRL boss Peter V’landys today.

“There will be kids watching and a free running Panthers rolling over the hapless Broncos is far too graphic to let the youngins watch on a Thursday night.”

“We’d have to change the rating to MA15+”

“And given the way these Broncos roll over, it’s a very real possibility, so we are fully prepared to launch Project Mercy if things get out of hand.”

“If you want 60 or 100 point drubbings go and watch that boring stuff they play down in Melbourne,” he finished.


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