The NRL has confirmed that radical new ball-tracking technology could be introduced to the league by next season to eliminate contentious forward passing decisions, with early trial results showing ‘positive’ results “.
The league revealed earlier this year that it was testing the new technology during preseason and will continue to do so over the coming months.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said on Monday the NRL had been pleased with early trials of the technology, which involves a tracking device fitted to the ball.
He said once the final trials are complete, the results will be presented to the Australian Rugby League committee, which will decide whether or not to invest in the technology.
Annesley said he hoped a decision could be made before the start of the 2023 season in March next year.
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“The first tests have been positive,” he said.
“If we can convince the players, the clubs and the general public that he is credible and that will eliminate some of these debates about whether the passes are forward, then that would be a good result, then we will continue to pursue it.
“I hope we will have some kind of result before next season, whether positive or negative. I hope positive.
Annesley ruled out the possibility of introducing the technology this year and reassured fans that the ongoing trials would not affect games this season.
“We are going through additional trials right now,” he said.
“Nobody will notice a difference and of course we won’t introduce new technology in the middle of a season.”
The technology would help match officials rule definitively on forward passes, the cases of which frequently divide fans and currently cannot be withdrawn by the Bunker.
During Sunday’s clash between the Roosters and the Raiders, the debate raged when Angus Crichton threw what appeared to be a suspicious pass to Paul Momirovski, who dived for the Roosters’ second down.
Annesley supported the on-field referees’ decision to pay for the try, which ultimately did not affect the outcome of the match.
“The direction of a pass is relative to the player making it and not the actual path relative to the ground,” he said.
“A player running towards his opponent’s goal line may throw the ball to a colleague who is behind him, but due to the momentum of the thrower, the ball moves forward relative to the ground. It’s not a forward pass.
“Momirovski has always been behind Crichton and that’s all that matters.
“To say this is some kind of outrageous decision that the match officials botched just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.”