Rugby is leading the way in sports tech, how far behind are other sports?

Although decision-making technology is breaking into sports more often with things like goal-line technology in football and the Snickometer in cricket, many would argue that technological assistance could be used a lot more often. One sport that is leading the way in terms of taking advantage of tech developments is Rugby League, and other sports should definitely consider following suit.

Rugby League introduced video referees to assist with decisions way back in 1996, long before cricket and tennis incorporated their equivalents. This was an indicator of the sport’s willingness to adapt, and they have been leading the way ever since. The sport has enabled viewers to get more involved than ever in recent seasons, as the referees have microphones and “refcams” (see video below) to help the audience to feel immersed in the action. Leagues such as the National Rugby League in Australia are watched by thousands already, but it’s touches like these that help bring it to global audiences.

The NRL Grand Final has been breaking viewing figure records for the past few years, and the thrilling 2016 encounter between Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and Melbourne storm will have served to attract more fans to the sport. The Storm are heavily tipped at 8/1 in the NRL betting to make the final in Sydney again this year, and the refcams, microphones, and hawk-eye tech will be pivotal in the biggest game of the season.

Cricket has also begun to make use of a lot of gadgets to enhance the game and export it to mass audiences across the globe. In addition to the Snickometer which is used to pick up the sound of the ball hitting the bat, the sport uses Hawk-Eye to show the path of the ball, Hot Spot to show where the ball landed, and Ball Spin RPM to show how fast the ball was spinning after it had been bowled. All these features (see video below) help the viewer become more engrossed in the action by allowing them to make their own decisions about whether a player is out or not.

There is no doubt that these advanced technological developments are helping to improve sports and enhance the viewing experience. Bringing them into the game is an advantage, and more sports need to get on board. Football, for example, could get left behind if it refuses to start adopting modern decision review systems. People have argued that something like a video referee would slow down the game too much, but if the wrong decisions continue to be made by referees the calls for tech will grow louder.

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