British sports tracking technology company Hawk-Eye has said it is in talks with the International Rugby Board (IRB) about providing a replacement to the controversial television match official (TMO) system ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
Hawk-Eye already operates goal-line systems in football and video technology in Australian rules football league the AFL. It believes it can improve the speed of decision-making after the TMO system caused controversy during Saturday’s finale to the English domestic rugby season.
Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths labelled TMO “a shambles” following the club’s 24-20 Premiership final defeat to Northampton Saints – a game in which it took four minutes to award Northampton’s winning try and was also marked by two disallowed tries. Hawk-Eye founder Paul Hawkins told the Press Association Sport news agency that his company is hopeful of a role in rugby union.
Hawkins said: “Our system is a much cleverer way of looking at incidents. In Aussie rules, we have halved the average time for decisions to be made. We are in conversation with Premiership Rugby and the IRB and they are aware of our products. We hope of course they will be there for next season and it would be great if we were there for the World Cup.”
The IRB is currently conducting a global trial of TMO which comes to an end in August. Rugby union’s global governing body would not confirm or deny whether talks with Hawk-Eye were ongoing, but an IRB spokesperson said: “As with any global trial, the TMO is under a process of continual evaluation to promote clear, consistent and accurate decision-making while keeping game-time impact minimal.”
A Premiership Rugby spokesman added: “Aviva Premiership Rugby became the first league in the world – at considerable cost – to introduce the Television Match Official into every match, not just those that are televised live. We are therefore committed to doing everything in our power – with other stakeholders, including the IRB and RFU (Rugby Football Union) – to make sure we help the match officials get every decision right. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the TMO process to help our match officials and although we have spoken to Hawk-Eye we have no plans to use it at the moment.”
Hawk-Eye has been steadily increasing its presence in the sports market and last week said its technology is set to be used during events at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) 2015 World Championships following a successful trial at the inaugural World Relays event in the Bahamas last month. In April, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced that it is to use Hawk-Eye in a range of its events.