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GPS Technology For Forward Passes In The NRL - Yes or No - You Decide

The Mad Chatter - Friday, August 05, 2011

GPS Satellite NRL Forward PassIt was revealed today that the National Rugby League (NRL) and more specifically the NRL Referees are considering introducing GPS Satellite technology to help officials judge forward passes. I personally think this is a bloody ridiculous idea but I'm very impressed with the technology.

The idea to assist referees, umpires, adjudicators or any other match official make the correct decision is always welcome. After all, we want match officials to make more correct decisions more often. However, we have to be careful that by introducing available technology the role of the on field officials is not diminished to a point where a third umpire or video referee may as well run the game from the video box and just sound a massive hooter if they think something has gone wrong. How far is too far I guess is the real question here.....

First of all I'm going to say WOW!! What awesome technology. I'm no tech-head but you'll get the idea. Basically leading sports technology company GPSports Systems say they can plant a fancy microchip into the skin of a Steeden. This fancy microchip sends a signal to a satellite and then uses GPS technology to determine if the ball has gone forward. A message from the satellite will then be beamed into the video referee box to indicate that a pass has traveled forward. The video referee will then give the on field referee one of those famous 'tips'. I'm sure we've all wanted to shoot a laser beam into the video referees box before and all thought some referees and umpires are getting directions from another planet but this really is impressive stuff if it all happens as fast as they claim. I'm sure this would also make Channel 9 and Foxsports happy becuase they'll invent a forward-pass-o-meter which will add to the viewers experience. More viewers equals more advertising dollars!!

If it was up to me to build one of these things, I would have deployed my industrial size roll of sticky tape and taped my Nav-Man to my footy and booted the bejesus out of it for a test run. Problem is I would have lost the ball and had no GPS machine to go off and find it.....Is it 2011 or 2099?? This is good technology indeed.

Referees boss Bill Harrigan admits six tries have been allowed in 2011 from forward passes and that thee have been others that have been called back from legitimate passes.

"Considering the number of tries scored, it's a small percentage, " Harrigan said.

"But if anyone can show us technology that is going to help our guys, I'm all for it. Umpires and referees in other sports like cricket and tennis are getting help all the time."

I know we have Hawk-eye in tennis, Eagle-eye and Richie Beanud's favourite the snickometer in cricket, swimming has the world record line, athletics the photo finish but when is enough enough. I think using GPS in rugby league to determine forward passes is going too far.I know clowns like Channel 9 pest Phil Gould and Foxsports equivalent Gary Freeman will be all for this technology because they think the referees are all bloody hopeless. Let's just get a bit fairdinkum here - the match officials in most sports get the vast majority of decisions correct after one view of it live in a split second - we sometimes need ten replays to make our mind up.

I'm not going to get in to the debate about whether the ball leaves the hands and floats forward, or whether it is indeed a forward pass. I'm sure the technology will be tested and tested and the level of accuracy required to work out the difference in these cases will be assured before its implementation. What I will get into a debate about is why the hell do we need a satellite to tell us if a ball was passed forward when rugby league at the top grade has two referees and two touch judges.....That's four sets of eyes!!

I think the other point fans of rugby league need to ask ourselves is as general punters watching a TV screen or even live sometimes, we watch this at a certain angle which is completely different to that of the officials. We see a pass and blow up deluxe but our blow up is based on what we just saw from the angle we saw it at. Whether the ball has a fancy microchip in it and whether that sends a message to referees, it is not going to change my view of the same incident and my potential blow up. Let alone the blow up from the players when one of these new forward pass calls doesn't go in their favour. They already crack the you know whats when the video ref denies them a try.

I'm prepared and I think the NRL should be prepared to cop the occasional dodgy forward pass call at the expense of relying on technology and video referees to make what should be easy on field decisions. There is also the debate about slowing the game down too so I think we are a long way off this type of stuff be introduced and also a long way from needed it. Maybe the referees in the rugby union might want it - some of the forward passes missed in that sport are beyond a joke.

GPS Technology is undoubtedly awesome but why not put it to better use like helping me find my wallet at home after stumbling home from a big night at the pub or help me locate the spot where I left my thongs after going for a swim at the beach.....Rugby league is a simple game and not the place for more GPS in my opinion. We don't need this space-age stuff even though it is awesome. Let's focus on getting the blokes in the pink AAMI shirts to make the right calls in the first place!! The last thing they need is more interference from a swanky female GPS voice telling them to 'turn around at the next available opportunity' while they run around the field.

What do you think? Bring the GPS in for forward passes or get the on field officials to get it right in the first place?? Let me know what you think.....

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