Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

URC referees boss Tappe’s take on red cards and Hawk-Eye

"We will continue to investigate but I believe we will get to an appropriate solution to protect our 80 minutes of rugby 15 against 15.”

United Rugby Championship Head of Match Officials Tappe Henning took part in a media round table earlier this week where he discussed a broad range of subjects around refereeing and the URC.

A number of interesting subjects came up, two of them being the use of Hawk-Eye technology in the URC and World Rugby’s interest in expanding the 20-minute red card rule that is currently being trialled in the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

On the use of Hawk-Eye, Henning is a keen advocate of the technology and is excited to see it being used in rugby union, having successfully been brought into other sports such as cricket, tennis and football.

“It’s an unbelievable system. Hawk-Eye offers so much. I can’t even begin to describe how much technology we can apply in the game and we are so excited to bring it into the game,” said Henning.

“Accuracy of decision making is hugely important and if we can use it (Hawk-Eye) to improve it, it will be great for the game.

“The experience of the spectators will be enhanced and the understanding of the decision making process will be so much better.”

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Henning added that there had been a meeting recently between European Professional Club Rugby, Premiership Rugby (England) and the URC to discuss the use and implementation of Hawk-Eye in the various competitions.

“Hopefully by the start of next season we will be in a position where we can put it in front of our board, to make a decision on whether it can be implemented in our competition,” said Henning.

On the controversial 20-minute red card rule, which sees a player being sent off and unable to return, however, the team is able to make a tactical substitution after 20 minutes which allows the game to return to 15 vs 15, Henning is torn on the rule.

He believes more research needs to be done before it is implemented in the URC as there is a need to protect player welfare, but also a need to protect a match being ruined by a 15 vs 14 situation early in a match.

’15 against 15′

“If you want to change player behaviour (dangerous play) the punishment must fit the crime,” explained Henning.

“There must be a tangible consequence for players to realise; I’ve got to take more care about how I handle myself on the pitch and how I handle my opponents because it can cost my team dearly. So I need to make some changes to my behaviour on the pitch.

“If the punishment does not fit the crime it is not going to change the behaviour. So that’s the situation we find ourselves in. We will continue to investigate but I believe we will get to an appropriate solution to protect our 80 minutes of rugby 15 against 15.”

Henning went on to add that research must continue to be done and it can’t get to a stage where rules are being switched out every couple of years.

“Once we’ve got a lot of information on the table I think it will be an informed decision about what the consequences will be. But I still think we need to do a lot of research before we go into a 20-minute red card and then it’s 15 on 15 again,” said Henning.

“We have to come up with the best outcome and not after two years decide it’s not working and have to change again, so we must take our time.

“But I am a big supporter that we need to protect 15 against 15 in some form of a decision about red cards.”

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