The NRL Bunker will rule on point-scoring plays, in-goal restarts and reportable foul play only in the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Following an extensive review of the NRL Bunker’s operation in 2016, the video review system will no longer rule on knock-ons in general play or 40-20s.
NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said overall the Bunker had been adjudged to be a significant step forward for the game in 2016.
“That said, we will continuously review the performance of the Bunker to ensure we keep improving. The review at the conclusion of the first season of the technology has led us to make some changes to the scope and operations of the system,” Mr Canavan said.
“As we all become more accustomed to the incredible technology that we have at our disposal, we will always look to refine the system to ensure that the Bunker serves the fans, the Clubs and players in the best way possible.
“Prior to the 2016 season, we set out to deliver improved accuracy, efficiency, consistency and transparency from a video review perspective and we did so.
“We are extremely confident that we will deliver on those key pillars again.”
The changes come after consultation with the NRL Coaches, the Competition Committee, as well as technical partners, broadcasters and fans. Experienced former head coach Ivan Cleary was also engaged in the process.
The changes will be in place for the first time in the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match this Friday in Newcastle.
NRL General Manager Officiating Tony Archer said following its inaugural season, the NRL Bunker would continue to improve officiating in the game.
“A review of the Bunker after the first year identified that the most appropriate areas our reviewers should be involved in are point-scoring plays, in-goal restarts and reportable foul play,” Mr Archer said.
“In all other aspects of officiating, the on-field officials will make the call.”
Mr Archer said video review times in 2016 were down 17 per cent on the previous video referee system in 2015.
“The average video referral decision time was 64 seconds in 2016, and that figure was 55 seconds in the 2016 Finals Series.
Mr Archer added average referrals per game were also down on 2015 figures (3.53 per game in 2016 compared to 3.77 per game in 2015).
“Five errors out of 709 video referee referrals were recorded in 2016, which is a significant improvement on 2015,” Mr Archer said.
“It is also worth noting that in 2015 we may not have even known if there was an error in all cases because we didn’t have the technology.
“Clearly we will always target zero errors but there will always be a human element to our decision-making.
“We also intend to refine our communication process to ensure fans have an almost instantaneous explanation of key decisions and evidence via social media.”
The make-up of the video review teams will also be altered in 2017. The senior review official will be aided by one review official and a Hawkeye technician.