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Hawkeye in talks with IRB

Technology company Hawkeye is in talks with the International Rugby Board (IRB) about providing a replacement to the controversial television match official (TMO) system ahead of the 2015 World Cup, it can be revealed.

Hawkeye, which already operates goal-line systems in football and video technology in Australian rules football, believes it can significantly increase the speed of decision-making. It is also in talks with Premiership Rugby.

The discussions come at a key time for the sport after Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths labelled TMO "a shambles" following the Aviva Premiership final - it took four minutes to award Northampton's winning try and there were also two disallowed tries.

The IRB is conducting a global trial of TMO which comes to an end in August.

If Hawkeye can convince the organisation that their system is worth the extra money then it would be in place for the 2015 World Cup in England.

Hawkeye, which was acquired by Sony two years ago, believes it can provide information for decisions within a few seconds by synchronising cameras from multiple angles. Computer tracking will also provide information about whether the ball has crossed the line though it would still be able to video replays to judge whether the ball had been grounded.

Paul Hawkins, founder of Hawkeye, confirmed that talks were in progress.

He told Press Association Sport: "Our system is a much cleverer way of looking at incidents. In Aussie rules, we have halved the average time for decisions to be made.

"We are in conversation with Premiership Rugby and the IRB and they are aware of our products.

"We hope of course they will be there for next season and it would be great if we were there for the World Cup."

The IRB would not confirm or deny whether talks with Hawkeye were on-going.

But an IRB spokesperson said: "As with any global trial, the TMO is under a process of continual evaluation to promote clear, consistent and accurate decision-making while keeping game-time impact minimal."

The big issue is likely to be over cost, especially for Premiership Rugby, as the Hawkeye system would be more expensive that the current TMO system which just uses the existing TV feeds.

The league is also adamant that the decisions made via the TMO at the final on Saturday were proved to be correct.

"Aviva Premiership Rugby became the first league in the world - at considerable cost - to introduce the Television Match Official into every match, not just those that are televised live," said a Premiership Rugby spokesman.

"We are therefore committed to doing everything in our power - with other stakeholders, including the IRB and RFU (Rugby Football Union) - to make sure we help the match officials get every decision right.

"We are constantly looking at ways to improve the TMO process to help our match officials and although we have spoken to Hawkeye we have no plans to use it at the moment.

"The current TMO global trial is in place until at least August."


From Belfast Telegraph