Friday, 25 May 2018

Has the Summer Bash Killed the Video Ref?

“… we can't rewind we've gone too far. Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VCR.”

You might have seen the hoo-ha around changes to the Video Referee’s powers at this year’s Summer Bash. The RFL will ‘trial’ new decision-making parameters for the Video Referee  - with a reduction in the number of  things that the match referee can send upstairs.

The video referees’ remit has been reduced to making judgement on just three areas of the game:
1: the grounding of the ball,
2: is a player in-touch/touch in-goal
3: has the ball/a player gone over the dead ball line.

Pretty simple!

The RFL were forced to concede that the concept of the
Video Ref had got out of hand...
There will be none of Stupid League’s “I have a try/no-try” ‘live’ decision pantomime - nor will the Video Referee be able to check for obstruction, foul play, onside, offside or challenges in the air.

The RFL are packaging it up as a trial to see what happens if you ask referees to do their job and stop creating false tension for the TV cameras. They said: “We have worked hard in recent years and have seen the amount of time it takes for a decision come down significantly, but we are always willing to discuss new ideas and receive feedback from our partners. The Summer Bash offers the perfect opportunity to conduct a trial across six games and we will be interested to receive feedback from fans, players, coaches and the broadcaster following the event blah, blah, blah…”

Sky Sports Head of Rugby League, Neville Smith, said: “Sky Sports and Rugby League were pioneers in video technology ‘in-game’ and we will never stand still looking to improve what we offer fans.” Yeah, right, you Murdoch sock-puppet...

Run through the TLCRF80mins Bullshit detector, that translates as: “We invented this blight on our game and made it so integral to the viewing experience that we forgot what people actually came to watch. Having ruined the viewing experience at the top level for fans in the ground and at home, we will never stand still looking to improve ways to keep people paying £58 a month to watch Huddersfield v Salford.”

So, in short, the Video Ref. at Blackpool will have a quiet day because there will be:

No ‘live’ calls from on-field match official
No checks for obstruction
No checks on foul play
No checks on-side or offside on kicks
No checking challenges in the air and
No checks of knock-ons in general play/ or scrum, head and feeds, even if the ball is out of play.

The Video Ref. CAN still be called on for:

Checking 40/20s: but only where ball is kicked from (ie inside the 40) -  but not where it goes out!

PLUS, on:
Goal line drop out / 20m tap decisions the on-field ref must give a restart decision, whereupon the Video Ref can have no more than two looks. If the footage is inconclusive the game restarts with the referee’s original decision.

So, in short : basically the game will be trusting the officials to make the same decisions they make every week in the Championship, with the Video Ref effectively reduced to an in-goal judge.

Given that life happens in real-time and not at 32-frames-per-second in stop-frame, the Video Referee has distorted key moments in the game to one man’s five minute contemplation of one 32nd of a second frozen in time. The fact that finger-tip, ball and ground are all in fleeting contact for less time than it takes to blink makes a mockery of the game. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for this stain on the game