The Australian Rugby League Commission has approved the implementation of a central command centre for video referee reviews, starting in the 2016 season.
Head of football Todd Greenberg said the new centre, which will be a first for Australian sport, will be based at NEP Australia at Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh, Sydney.
He said the centre, which will utilise Hawk-Eye Innovations video review technology and be supported by Telstra’s Digital Video Network platform, will be “a game-changer for rugby league”.
It has the potential to halve the time taken to review a decision – and deliver more accurate results, Greenberg said.
“We have been through an exhaustive trial process because this is so important for our fans,” Greenberg said.
“Now that it has been approved by the Commission we will begin work on the facility so it is up and running in time for the start of the 2016 season.”
Greenberg said the centre was designed to improve “accuracy, efficiency, consistency as well as transparency” of the decision-making process.
“Our video referees will be using state-of-the-art technology,” Greenberg said.
“We will control the vision, and the improved technology means we will be able to make informed decisions much quicker.
“Our video referees will have access to multiple camera angles and playback control for all reviewable decisions. Touch screen interfaces, zoom functions and split screens will further enhance the decision making process.
“Recent trials have shown that video referees can review decisions in an average of about 40 seconds when they have relevant angles and enhanced video review technology available at their fingertips.
“That’s half the current average time our video referees take to make a decision – and that will be our target next season.”
Greenberg said the central command centre would be introduced in conjunction with a reduction in interchanges and the introduction of a shot clock to achieve the NRL’s objective of more game continuity.
“Those three key changes are all part of our strategy to make the game more continuous and deliver a better spectacle for our fans,” he said.
“Ultimately, it has the potential to help us make the right decisions – and to make them quicker.
“But more than that, this system will allow us to be more transparent and transform the fan experience in partnership with NRL broadcasters through the live explanation of decisions to fans.
“I cannot overstate this – we will get more decisions right.
“And we will take significantly less time to reach those decisions.”
Greenberg thanked NEP, the world renowned broadcast solution provider who will house the new facility, Hawk-Eye Innovations who will provide the video review technology as well as Telstra, who will provide the digital video network connectivity platform to deliver this Australian first initiative.