Cost could delay video refs
February 7, 2000

Rugby union's planned introduction of video referees could be delayed because of concerns about costs, a leading official has claimed.

The experiment was due to begin in the southern hemisphere's Super 12 regional competition, which kicks off later this month, and the Tri Nations.

But Rian Oberholzer, head of the South Africa Rugby Football Union (SARFU), says New Zealand officials are concerned about the financial aspects of the plan.

"Ourselves and Australia are ready to go but New Zealand have notified us that they have problems," Oberholzer told the Cape Argus on Monday.

Oberholzer said the NZRFU objections were based on the cost of installing extra cameras and facilities for the video referee but said he saw no such problems.

"We are intending to place our video referee in the outside broadcast unit at the game and they can do the same," he said.

"If there are fears that there will be future financial outlay when we decide we need things like the equivalent of cricket's stump camera, then that is a bridge we should cross when we come to it."

The International Rugby Board is to discuss the issue of video referees in all internationals at their next meeting in Dublin in March although it would appear unlikely that any change would be introduced midway through the Six Nations tournament.

In the southern hemisphere experiment video evidence will initially used only to decide on disputed tries or goalkicks.

Players would not officially be allowed to ask for a video ruling although in rugby league and cricket, where the system is already in successful and widespread use, referees are usually happy to request one if there is the slightest doubt.

Any infringement in the build-up to a try would be outside the remit of the video referee, who would instead concentrate on the act of scoring.

Twickenham has finally installed a large screen for replays and, as with cricket and rugby league, the result of the video referee's deliberation will be flashed up on the screen.

The IRB has shown that it is quite happy to bring in changes to the laws of the game and the most recent developments, on show internationally for the first time in the weekend's opening Six Nations games, have been generally well-received by players and officials.

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