The Daily Telegraph accidentally revealed the winner of the 2020 Dally M Medal before the Canberra Raiders’ Jack Wighton was officially hailed as the NRL’s player of the year, prompting an investigation by the league and a mea culpa from the paper.
Ahead of Monday night’s ceremony, which saw Wighton sneak ahead of the Parramatta Eels’ Clint Gutherson and Penrith Panthers’ Nathan Cleary to claim the game’s top individual honour, The Daily Telegraph sparked all kinds of chaos online by spilling the embargoed results to its readers.
As someone whose work often involves embargoed content, I can tell you this is pretty much a nightmare scenario, and I don’t envy anyone who was on the wrong side of that big, red, ‘PUBLISH’ button.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that folks present at the modified awards ceremony had their phones confiscated to avoid learning of the result early, and Wighton said he only knew he won it at the tail-end of the ceremony.
However, Ivan Cleary, Penrith coach and Nathan Cleary’s father, reportedly said he was aware of the result before Wighton copped the medal.
Taking to Twitter after the error, Daily Telegraph sports reporter Phil Rothfield apologised for the situation, saying it was the result of a “production error that was out of my control.”
Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight. We apologise sincerely for the mistake. #DallyM
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) October 19, 2020
Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham this morning, Rothfield’s colleague, editor Ben English, said Tele staff were “absolutely shattered”.
“All we can say is we’re very sorry,” he added.
Speaking to the Herald, ARL Commissioner Peter V’Landys said “mistakes do happen but we’ll certainly do an investigation to see how this happened,” to ensure this particular brand of SNAFU “never, ever, ever happens again.”
The Panthers will face the Melbourne Storm at the 2020 NRL Grand Final, which will take place on Sunday, October 25 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium. If the results of that one leak before the final whistle, then we’ll have something to worry about…