Now here’s a video to really make your blood boil
The locals didn’t riot on the streets of Townsville this weekend, though after a provocative and demeaning rugby league video screened in the video ref’s booth on Friday night, they were probably entitled to.
North Queensland were robbed by the video ref. Maybe they would’ve beaten Manly if decisions had gone their way, maybe they wouldn’t. What’s beyond question is that the Sea Eagles scored two tries which were clearly not that. Even the one-eyed Manly fans saw enough through their single open peeper to admit they were lucky.
Over in the AFL, the opposite happened. The video ump got a controversial decision completely right, yet fans and commentators were incensed. All of which proves one thing. It proves that video technology will never definitively settle any argument. But that doesn’t mean we should throw it out.
The AFL video blow-up was inexplicably weird. Here’s what happened. With Collingwood deep in attack, West Coast forced a behind. The ball clearly crossed the line. But the onfield officials ruled otherwise, allowed play to continue, and Collingwood duly kicked a goal a few seconds later.
Watching the game live, you couldn’t believe the decision. In real time, you could clearly see the ball cross the line. I saw it, my six year old AFL Auskicker son saw it, the whole of Australia saw it! Or did we?
Your eyes can of course deceive you. Flicking relentlessly as I was between channels all weekend, I happened to catch the Radike Samo no-try for the Wallabies against the Pumas of Argentina. To the naked eye, his first half effort in the corner looked a try for all money. In slo-mo, it clearly wasn’t. He’d dropped the ball, as the video review clearly showed.
Video officials were invented to settle this sort of issue. They were also invented for moments like the one in the Collingwood/West Coast game. So here’s how that little show panned out.
When a review was mercifully called for, just seconds before the centre bounce, the video review guy saw what the rest of us saw. The ball had clearly crossed the line a few seconds before the goal was kicked, and he correctly overturned the goal and awarded a behind. Amen. Sanity had to returned to the universe.
Except it hadn’t. For the rest of the evening, commentators Luke Darcy and Matthew Richardson harped on and on about how the decision should never have been reversed because there was “inconclusive evidence”.
How was the evidence inconclusive? As the screen grab at the top of this piece and the one below both clearly show, you can see the ball behind the line as clearly as you could see streams of foamy saliva streaming through the gap-toothed mouths of the furious Collingwood fans.
The rugby league tries are barely worth going into. One looked a clear double movement, the other an even more blatant knock-on. The universe saw them, the officials didn’t.
The lesson of the weekend is that nobody sees anything the same way in football, as indeed in life. The further lesson is that it’s better to have video officialdom than nothing. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and all that.
There is disturbing talk in the NRL today of changing the “benefit of the doubt” rule to reward the defending team instead of the attacking team. That’s how it has always worked in cricket, but it wouldn’t work in league because you’d end up with nobody ever scoring.
I don’t know how you make video officials, the public and fans all see the same thing in any code.
But it’s pretty obvious that changing the rules is no answer. To use a particularly timely phrase, that’s the equivalent of moving the mountain to Mohammed.
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