How do we fix the AFL video review system?
The Cats look dejected after a loss in the AFL 2nd Elimination Final match to the Fremantle Dockers at the MCG, Melbourne. (Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
Just one day before the first game of the AFL season, the league decided to adopt the video review system for questionable scoring decisions.
We are now almost a full season into it being in use.
There’s been some success over the six months. But on the main, there have been incidents that have made us wonder why it was brought in to start with.
There were teething problems in the first couple of weeks, but the big issue has seemed to be inconclusive evidence.
Take round 16 between Geelong and Collingwood. Joel Selwood soccers it off the ground in the early stages of the third quarter, only for the process to then take two minutes before coming up with inconclusive evidence.
Then you have what happened over the weekend in the semi final at the MCG – lack of communication.
West Coast’s Andrew Embley believing he’d rushed a behind, then to have Andrew Krakouer pick up the ball and kick the goal. Once the ball’s gone back to the middle of the ground, then the video umpire intervened to have a closer look.
Despite trumpeting the system would help contentious decisions, let’s look back because the system that is in place would not have changed the scores in certain circumstances
Think back to last year’s grand final when Sharrod Wellingham’s goal looked to have hit the post early in the third quarter, but was given a goal. That decision would not be reversed in the current system, because it wasn’t brought up by any of the other umpires on the field.
Go back to the 2009 grand final. Tom Hawkins’ goal late in the second quarter against St Kilda that was given a goal and clearly hit the post.
Again, no challenge from any of the umpires that day, so it would never have been reviewed in the first place.
Now that we have had time to reflect and ponder the use of the video review system, we can now make a better argument that the system needs an overhaul or needs to go.
There are three options for the AFL.
The first is the likely option in sticking with the review system and making little to no changes to the technological side of things, but tweaking the way the communication is done on-field.
The second option is the option I think the bulk of fans would like to see, but would need some investment from the AFL.
That would be to keep the video review system, but make a couple of changes.
Firstly, the AFL would need some of the money coming through from the broadcast deal to make sure there are cameras on the goal posts (probably needing one on each goal post), then a fixed camera on the goal-line from the sidelines. This would give us a better view of touched ball decisions on the goal-line or any defensive spoils that may actually stop a scoring shot.
Secondly, the AFL would need a dedicated umpire that reviews every scoring shot instantaneously. The way technology is these days, surely there is a possibility of a slow-mo replay to be shown to this umpire on his own TV feed.
That should only take 10-15 seconds maximum. On most occasions, the ball is still yet to be brought into play, or it’s on the wing. The TV umpire would have alerted the umpires to a closer review, play stops and it may only take an extra 30 seconds from there.
The third option is one the AFL would be at pains to do and is also highly unlikely – to get rid of the review system.
If they were to do away with it, would they go back to just having one goal umpire at either end, or would they bring in four goal umpires in total?
It would also require the AFL to admit they got it wrong. The AFL, as good an organisation as it is, is at times very bad at admitting its faults.
No matter the result, what the fans want to hear from the AFL in 2013 is “we rushed it through and got a few things wrong”.