Off the Wall

Today's news that technology that will end referees missing forward passes, and calls forward passes that are not forward, will be available next year will be treated with scepticism by some, and alarm by many.

But before we say "oh no, not more delays" we need to consider whether this may well be the very technology we should be embracing.

I have two main complaints about the use of the video referee to rules on tries.

Firstly, the replays on replays policy of most video referees has overwhelmed the "benefit of the doubt" rule that should ensure reasonably quick rulings.

Secondly the video referee cannot rule on forward passes, even when they are glaringly obvious.

That leads to justifiable complaints that we simply don't have a fool proof system when it comes to adjudicating on tries. And it unquestionably leads to referees "correcting" later in the game when they find out a try has to be awarded off a forward pass the missed.

Today's story relates to a technology GPSports Systems is developing that will enable a micro chip to be inserted in Steeden footballs, used by the NRL, and will send a signal to the video referee within a quarter of a second if, when passing the ball, a player propels it forward.

If that technology is confirmed, and found to be relatively fool proof, and confirmed that a decision can be made in a matter of seconds, it needs to be considered.

There will be a debate about whether it should be used right throughout the game, or used when determining whether a try has been scored.

And, who knows, we may soon have follow up technology that will enable us to abolish sideline officials, otherwise known as touch judges!

I know we have to exercise caution when it comes to the use of technology, given that we are arguably well ahead of every other sports in its use already.

But the use of a micro chip inside a football would address one of our biggest problems - forward passes - without slowing up play unnecessarily.

If it is proven to be reliable, we should not hesitate to embrace it.

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