The NRL has launched the NRL Bunker, the most state-of-the-art video referral technology in Australian sport, to be in full operation from round one of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Based at Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh, the NRL Bunker will utilise Hawk-Eye Innovations video review technology and be supported by Telstra’s Digital Video Network platform.
In 2016, review officials will have access to multiple camera angles and playback control for all reviewable decisions, with touch screen interfaces, zoom functions and split screens to further enhance the decision-making process.
The rollout follows extensive trialling in 2015, alongside further testing with NRL media partners during the 2016 pre-season.
NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said he was targeting an average of between 50 and 60 seconds for video reviews through the course of the 2016 season with the new technology.
This will compare to an average of 77 seconds for the 757 video referee decisions made during the 2015 season.
“The NRL Bunker will improve accuracy, efficiency, consistency and transparency, and combined with the introduction of the shot clock and a reduction in interchange, will result in a more free-flowing game," Mr Greenberg said.
“Make no mistake, this is a game changer; we will control the vision, and we will have access to much improved technology, which means we'll be able to make informed decisions much faster than we have done previously.
“Supporters will also be informed – we will transform the fan experience through live explanations via the broadcast and via our digital and social platforms.”
Mr Greenberg also said the NRL Bunker had significant and positive implications for the match review process.
He said that initially the NRL would retain the existing process of charging players, but hoped to reach a point during the season when all charges could be issued within 24 hours of a game being completed.
“This has the potential to revolutionise our match review process,” Mr Greenberg said.
“Even now we are in a far better position than we were last season.
“Our match reviewers can view incidents in real time with access to up to 12 camera angles and the vastly improved playback and screen technology.”
NRL General Manager of Officiating Tony Archer said a greater consistency would be achieved as a result of the new facilities.
“Last year, we used 22 video referees,” Mr Archer said.
“In 2016, we plan to use less than 10 review officials over the course of the season.”
The two senior review officials – Bernard Sutton and Luke Patten – will share the duties overseeing every NRL match from the NRL Bunker.
Two review officials will also provide assistance to the senior official through the course of each match.
The review officials will come from a pool which includes Bryan Norrie, Jason Robinson, Steve Chiddy, Ben Galea, as well as Sutton and Patten.