AFL to make score review decision change after Richmond coach Damien Hardwick inspects process

AFL

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was taken on a personal tour of the AFL’s score review centre – ARC – on Monday as the league looks to improve its effectiveness.

Hardwick – who’s been a non-believer of the ARC for some time – took matter into his own hands after the Tigers fell short in an elimination final due to a controversial call which saw Tom Lynch awarded with a behind despite the umpire’s call of a goal.

Lynch appeared to kick the ball over the goal post but the review system found sufficient evidence to overturn the decision, believing the ball had crossed over the line of the post.

According to AFL journalist Jon Ralph, the AFL is looking at removing the “soft call”, which refers to the goal umpire not having to make a call before an incident is raised to the ARC.

This would help prevent the overturning of the umpire’s decision, with the operator in the review system given full autonomy over the verdict and no influence from the initial call.

“Two and a half weeks after the Tom Lynch goal that wasn’t a goal, he’s (Hardwick) been brought in by the AFL for really constructive discussions,” Ralph said.

“He had a personal tour of the ARC with Tim Livingstone (Richmond GM of football performance), he had it explained to him by not only Brad Scott (AFL GM of football) but also Andrew Dillon (AFL GM of football operations). And I believe there’s a significant tweak to the goal review system the AFL is considering.

“What we have now is the goal umpire is forced to make a decision, the soft call, goal or behind – even if, in this case, they have no idea.

“So I think what they could do next year, is if they are totally confused, you refer it without that soft call which means the people in the ARC make a decision on balance of probabilities.”

The Herald Sun revealed last month that the AFL is looking at trialing a ball-tracking technology, which involves small microchips by sports tech firm Sportable.

This initiative has already been adopted by Australia’s Super Rugby competition after successful trials, which involves eight beacons across a stadium with the ball communicating with those sensors 20 times a second. 

“There’ll be some trial of the ball-tracking system. It might cost money but if it costs millions, and we got a definitive call, I think you’d be on board,” Ralph said.

Football boss Gillon McLachlan believes there’s subjectivity in every call, including those operating the ARC.

“I reckon technology is always going to have its limits. I think the goal review generally has been fantastic, but there is not a sport in the world where there are not specific instances where people have to make subjective calls and that is the nature of our game and the nature of sport,” McLachlan said.

“There are calls being made every moment of the game. That call was made, frankly, from where I was sitting behind, it was a point (Lynch’s behind).”

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