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Bunker to survive NRL cost cuts

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11th May, 2020
23

The NRL won’t remove video technology as part of its coronavirus cost-cutting, but there will be some small changes made in the bunker.

The NRL will cut costs in their bunker but the video referee system won’t become a victim of coronavirus money saving.

The ARL Commission is expected to endorse a proposal this week to return to having just one on-field referee for the first time since 2008.

The move will save the NRL casual rates during the coronavirus pandemic, as they continue to use their full-time officials each weekend.

Queensland coach Kevin Walters on Monday also called for the bunker to be scrapped, claiming it hadn’t had the effect promised when it was introduced in 2016.

But while small changes will be made at the high-tech Sydney base, the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said the system will remain in place.

“We’re looking at some cost-cutting measures there, not that they will be noticeable. The bunker will still do its job in matches,” Annesley said.

“There are some internal mechanisms where there are potential to cut some costs.

“We are looking at that at the moment but it won’t be obvious to the general public when they see games take place.”

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The bunker comes at a cost of around $2 million per year, after being set up by Todd Greenberg in 2016 as a replacement for having video referees at each ground.

The league has been adamant it has since delivered more accurate decisions, with the multiple screens allowing for far quicker calls to be made.

The lack of a video referee was laid bare in this year’s NRL Nines, when Penrith were robbed of a quarter-final win after an illegal St George-Illawarra try on the buzzer.

Traditionally, the game has employed in-goal officials at both ends before the video referee was first introduced during the 1997 Super League season.

But Walters called for video officials to again be removed with more impetus placed on the on-field referee in a back-to-the-future move.

“The bunker, when we are looking at trying to save some month, I think it came up with some good little plans,” Walters told Sky Sports Radio.

“But overall I think most people would say it didn’t have the influence over our game people would like it would have.

“I’m a big believer in instant decisions and putting some more responsibilities on our referees.

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“They are going to make mistakes. Just like the players do every week, coaches make mistakes and linesmen make mistakes.

“When you’re brought up as a kid it’s about accepting the referee’s decision right or wrong.”

Walters also said he was a fan of going back to one referee, arguing the best games are those without increased penalty counts.

© AAP