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Rugby league used NHL's replay system as model

Australian-based National Rugby League first contacted NHL in 2007

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

The success of the NHL's instant replay system served as inspiration for the Australian-based National Rugby League to implement their version of a "situation room," billed as the most state-of-the-art video referral technology in Australian sport.

The concept is taken from the NHL's replay system instituted in 2002, which has drawn positive reviews. In March 2006, Sports Illustrated wrote "the NHL does get video review better than any other league." In 2014, Major League Baseball set up a central control room from MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York, similar to the NHL's situation room in Toronto, to review all replays.

The NHL set the standard for centralized replay and other leagues, most recently the NRL, are following suit.

"One thing that a central location does is it brings consistency to your calls," NHL senior VP of hockey operations Mike Murphy told the Canadian Press in 2014. "So the call you get tonight is probably going to be the same as the call tomorrow night or the next night because it's the same people doing it.

"Well, we've had meetings in here with both the NBA and the NFL. Years ago Major League Baseball did come in here. We've had horse racing come in and look at our place. … We've had a lot of sports. We've had Aussie rugby come in a couple of months ago and look at our setup here."

Former IIHF referee Rick Williams and ex-professional goalie David Turik, along with NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk and current referee Tony Archer, represented the NRL during a visit to the NHL's situation room in November 2013 on a game night. During the meeting, Williams helped assist with the similarities between rugby and ice hockey. McGuirk and Archer were impressed with the NHL's technology and were treated to a game at Prudential Center between the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils to see how the system works at an actual venue.

The NRL video room was unveiled for the first round of the NRL Telstra Premiership game between Parramatta and Brisbane on March 3. Officials have access to multiple camera angles and playback control for all reviewable decisions. Touch screen interfaces, zoom functions and split screens are also available to further enhance the process.

"This is the result of an extraordinary amount of time and effort, through the planning of and then the construction of the most innovative video review system in Australian sport," NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said.

The NRL got the ball rolling in 2007 when Williams and Turik introduced the Video Review Room to then-NRL COO Graham Annesley and suggested they speak to the NHL.

"I got hold of Mike Murphy," Williams said. "Mike sent me a PowerPoint on the video review presented to the League's general managers the year prior (2006), which highlighted the effectiveness of the innovative system. David Turik and I presented this to Graham Annesley, who got it right away."

Greenberg is targeting an average of 50-60 seconds for video reviews in the 2016 season. By way of comparison, video referee decisions averaged 77 seconds in 2015.

"It will improve accuracy, efficiency, consistency and transparency," Greenberg said, "and combined with the introduction of the shot clock and a reduction in interchange, will result in a more free-flowing game.

"Make no mistake, this is a game changer; we will control the vision, and we will have access to much improved technology, which means will be able to make informed decisions much quicker than we have done previously. Supporters will also be informed. We will transform the fan experience through live explanations via the broadcast and via our digital and social platforms."

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