Markham: Origin 'farcical' after four sin-binnings
They tried to keep negativity out of the headlines, but the fallout from last night's Origin bust up will have had NRL bosses spitting tacks over their morning coffee today for the umpteenth time this month.
And now they must deal with the consequences of a decision to belittle one of their greatest pinnacles by squashing out one its key aspects.
Last night's clash between Queensland and New South Wales, which Queensland won 26-6, became a farcical affair shortly after the halftime break when four players were sent to the bin for a dust up which resembled a dozen elderly women waving their handbags at each other.
Two of the four players, Brent Tate and Greg Bird, were in the middle of the scuffle in an attempt to shut it down yet somehow felt the wrath of some power-hungry refereeing.
The other two, Justin Hodges and Trent Merrin, were more deserving after breaking a new rule which is threatening to take away an important element of Origin football.
As of 10 days ago, any punch thrown in a match will result in the player being sent to the sin bin.
No arguments, no bargaining, just straight to the sidelines.
For the normal NRL competition it's a good decision and NRL boss David White can be given a light pat on the back for that.
But when it comes to State Of Origin, he's got it all wrong.
White was quoted as saying last week that he didn't want the three-game series being highlighted by brawling, and that it was a decision which was made for the good of the game.
Reaction from last night's efforts would suggest otherwise.
Leading players, coaches and administrators have all spoken out against the rule being introduced in Origin, and it's hard to disagree.
On three occasions each year, Origin is the centrepiece of rugby league, and the amount of publicity for the sport it creates is second to none.
It's built tradition and rivalry with the odd punch-up thrown into the mix every now and then.
Punching in sport is ugly, but punching in Origin is a beautiful thing.
Hundreds of thousands of people have grown up with the image of Queenslanders and New South Welshmen locked together, staring each other down before letting rip.
It's passion, not violence.
You have 26 men on a footy field, playing their guts out for their state with testosterone and adrenalin and flowing through their bodies at an alarming rate.
It's only natural they are going to get fired up at each other, and the flow-on effect from that is there is a high chance things are going to get heated.
By automatically sending them off the paddock for such displays, NRL is now threatened with taking the passion out of its greatest arena.
Players won't want to get fired up in case they have to feel the wrath of the judiciary board later.
Origin will become just like any other NRL match and the interest in it will suffer.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has asked the public to decide on what should happen from here on in.
He's called for polls to run on whether or not a punch is deserving of 10 minutes in the bin.