AFTER a century of bitter rivalry, rugby union and rugby league are on the brink of a grassroots merger under a proposal to create a hybrid game to introduce children to the common basics of the two sports. Union coaching great Alex Evans first raised with league legend Wayne Bennett the idea of the codes combining to teach primary school children generic rugby skills more than three years ago. But it was only in recent weeks, when Evans feared criticism of Bennett might drive the Brisbane Broncos coach out of the game, that the two men decided to act. "It's Alex's idea but I support it," Bennett said yesterday. "It gives kids opportunities. It's such a big career if you've got ability, and one game mightn't suit you but the other game might. You've got a lot of similarities between the two codes. At school level we should look at introducing a hybrid game that would give kids the opportunity to make choices." Evans was expected to meet Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill this week. Mr O'Neill was unavailable for comment yesterday but National Rugby League chief executive David Gallop said he would keep "an open mind".