One thing is for certain rugby analysts all over the world are watching this week’s Six Nation’s opening matches with great interest.
In a sport that became so professional in 1996 nothing is left to chance so every coach and his analyst will be glued to every match.
Not only are the opposing teams carefully observed but a very important analysis will be made of how match officials interpret the laws and how they use the third match official (T.M.O).
Two key phases normally under the spotlight will be the interpretation of the break down laws as well as the scrummaging laws.
It will also be of great interest for analysts to see how the T.M.O will be influenced by the home broadcaster.
Retired All Black Andrew Mehrtens has stated that ”home advantage” is taken to an unacceptable level due to the use of impartial replays by home TV producers.
There have been a couple of controversial decisions that caused major upset last year in the rugby championship and the autumn internationals.
The Springboks beating the All Blacks 25-24 in Johannesburg only after the T.M.O intervened. The use of T.M.O has become an analyst’s priority again after the autumn international at Twickenham between England and New Zealand.
Is technology harming rugby?
Technology exists in the form of T.M.O and on demand replays to assist match officials make the right decisions. The problem is we seldom see the home team’s questionable moments replayed due to the home broadcasters influence.
The issue is not the use of the T.M.O it’s the way it’s used to put pressure on the referee.
In the Six Nations and at this year’s World Cup when games will be very tight and referees will be under real pressure it is a real concern that broadcasters have this sort of influence over officials.