Under-pressure video referees to explain decisions Print E-mail
Written by Dean Ritchie, The Daily Telegraph   
Friday, 30 August 2013 19:33

The NRL will revolutionise rugby league forever on Friday with under-pressure video referees to publicly explain their decisions to millions of Channel Nine viewers.

The Daily Telegraph can exclusively reveal that video refs will be called upon to explain each contentious decision to television fans for the next two NRL rounds and then throughout the finals series.

After a decision is reached, Nine viewers will then hear audio from the video refs revealing why the decision was made and which rules were employed.

Play will not be stopped, the video ref’s explanation running for between five to ten seconds.

If the system is successful over the final two rounds, the NRL will look to play the video ref's audio through the public address system at every NRL ground for fans attending games.

Channel Nine and Fox Sports, the game's two broadcasters, have approved the plan.

Nine and Fox Sports commentators will discuss the controversial try, as usual, before then handing over to the video referee.

The senior of the two video referees will make the announcement.

"We are looking at ways of expanding the communication process around video referee decisions," said NRL head of football Todd Greenberg.

"We hope to achieve a greater level of transparency for the fans in relation to decisions made by the video referee.

"It's important to point out that it won’t mean that everyone will agree with decisions that are made, but they may at least understand the basis for the decision that was made.

"This will be in place for all matches in round 25 and if it's well received, we will consider other opportunities to also feed audio into our stadiums for the members and fans during the finals series.

"It's important rugby league continues to be innovative and progressive and this continues with our overarching vision to be regarded as a sport that is both entertaining and engaging at all levels."

Video referees have been under fire over the past two years.

They were involved in a number of blunders last season, culminating in the sacking of NRL referee co-coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper.

Their decisions may not improve but at least the public will be aware of the reasons behind each verdict.

Friday's game at Allianz Stadium between Wests Tigers and South Sydney will be the first time viewers hear from the video referee.

"It sounds like a great innovation," said NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley.

"The fans have always wanted to know why decisions are made from the video referee’s box and now they will.

"It is all about the game being transparent.

"It will be great the viewers – they will be involved in the game and the video ref's will probably be more understood too."

An on-line Daily Telegraph poll, which attracted more than 10,000 respondents,- actually gave the NRL video referees some support.

Asked what was worse - the NRL video referee or cricket’s DRS – only 20 percent voted for the rugby league version.

Cricket's DRS attracted nearly 36 percent of the vote.

Fans have not exactly given new Referee's Coach Daniel Anderson a strong endorsement.

Nearly 38 percent admitted the standard of refereeing had gone down since Anderson took over this year.