Saturday 21 October 2017

International Rules refs to get video technology back-up

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

GAA supporters will get an opportunity to assess the impact of video technology during the Ireland-Australia International Rules games later this month.

South African-born lawyer Ian Curlewis -- who has vast experience on disciplinary committees in rugby, cricket, tennis and squash -- will act as video match referee (VMR) for the Test games at the Gaelic Grounds on October 23 and at Croke Park a week later. He filled a similar role in the 2008 series in Australia.

Curlewis will have a number of powers, including instructing the referee to issue either red or yellow cards for infractions which have gone undetected by on-field officials.

He can also be called on by the referees (one each from Ireland and Australia) to adjudicate on disputed scores or whether a player was in the small rectangle ahead of the ball.

The use of technology became a GAA issue after a number of incidents this year where errors were made by officials which had a significant bearing on big games.

The controversies led to calls for the use of video technology to assist referees. There were also a number of problems over points and wides arising from confusion among umpires over whether the ball had passed inside or outside the post.

Curlewis will also have a significant role in disciplinary matters, in particular off-the-ball incidents which have gone unnoticed by the referee and his officials.

He will have the power to alert the referee, during a stoppage in play, and make a recommendation -- which must be accepted -- that a red or yellow card be issued.

The introduction of the VMR arose from negotiations between the GAA and AFL after the series came close to being scrapped following unsavoury incidents during games in Melbourne in 2005 and Croke Park a year later.

Curlewis was in place for the 2008 series, which passed off without major incident.

Pat McEnaney and David Coldrick will be the Irish referees for the two Tests, with the former joining an Australian counterpart for the first game and the latter doing likewise at Croke Park a week later. McEnaney has vast Rules experience, while Coldrick was involved in 2005 and 2006.

Apart from the introduction of the VMR, other significant changes were implemented in the 2008 series and will apply again this time.

They include: carrying forward suspensions for indiscipline into National League (GAA) and Premiership (AFL); not allowing any replacement for a player who has been sin-binned for 10 minutes; playing games over 72 minutes (four 18-minute quarters) as opposed to 80 minutes; restricting to 10 the number of interchanges allowed per quarter; allowing four consecutive handpasses, after which the ball must be kicked.

The Australians arrive in Cork next Monday and will stay there until Thursday, when they move on to Limerick. They will have a warm-up game against a UCC/CIT selection on Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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