Monday 19 August 2019

'Do you want to get the big decisions right?' - Rugby World Cup final ref Nigel Owens backs TMO for GAA

Nigel Owens believes that increased technology can benefit gaelic games.
Nigel Owens believes that increased technology can benefit gaelic games. Newsdesk Newsdesk

Popular Welsh referee Nigel Owens has backed the introduction of a Television Match Official type system for gaelic games but his support comes with a caveat.

There have been a lot of instances where retroactive action has been taken in the GAA using video evidence which would have been available to a TMO had one been in place.

Such incidents have led to calls from many quarters for the introduction of increased technology to aid GAA referees in officiating games, especially given the speed of our national games, the dimensions of the playing fields and the positive impact of the HawkEye system.

Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens believes the option may need to be adopted so big decisions in games are accurate but he warns that overuse could detract from both codes.

"You've got to get the balance right. You can't have a Test rugby match anymore without technology to help you make decisions, especially the big decisions, correctly," he told Game On on 2FM.

"That's how the game has gone and it's the same for hurling and gaelic football as well.

"If you want to get the big decisions right then you may need to introduce technology but what you have to ensure is that if you do introduce technology, that it's not overused and it doesn't stop the flow of the game.

"In rugby, we need to get the balance right. I think the TMO is sometimes overused and it takes away from the contest itself.

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"When I spoke about this to some of the young referees a while ago, it's a bit like when you're in the circus and you're walking across the tight-rope, 60 or 80 feet in the air, when  you haven't got a safety net underneath you, you are going to be concentrating so much to make sure you are not going to slip off.

"When you have a safety net, when you know if you're going to fall that you are going to bounce back up and not get hurt, you can go across it a bit more blazé and that's when the mistakes happen.

"When you know you have the technology to back you up, sometimes there is a decision and you think 'I better make sure'... and even if you're 99.9pc certain and you're probably going to be 99.9pc right most of the time when you go with your gut feeling, there is always that element of doubt and you have that safety net to fall back on and it's very difficult as a referee, and I have been in that situation myself when your pretty much as safe as you can be with a decision but because you have technology you think 'I better check this to make sure'' and that is a problem sometimes."

Owens used the media as a barometer for his performance in New Zealand's 34-17 victory over Australia on Saturday evening and revealed that he plans to continue refereeing until the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"I enjoy reading the press before every game and after every game, it's part of it," he added.

"When nobody mentions you in the papers afterwards, your job is done and that's the way that I look at it.

"You can't go out and referee a game of Test match rugby and not make a mistake.

"I started refereeing 28 years ago and there is not one game in that 28 years when I haven't made a mistake and I look forward to going on to 2019 hopefully, if I stay fit and referee well enough.

"All you can hope for as a referee is that the mistakes you do make don't make a difference to the outcome."

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