Inventor defends right to be heard
The inventor of the technology that allows refereeing decisions to be broadcast beyond the playing field has defended the rights of fans to be taken closer to the action, insisting it is now part of the entertainment experience.
The advent of products such as Fox Sports' 'Ref Cam' and SportsEars, for which Murray Tregonning is responsible and which has licenses with the NRL, AFL, ARU and NZRU, take fans and the media onto the field to hear everything that the referees say over the course of 80 minutes, an insight that has now been available for more than a decade.
Following the outcry over the way in which players and referees are speaking to each other after Nate Myles and Chris Sandow were both sin-binned for dissent during Round 16, Titans co-captain Greg Bird suggested that the game become more selective in what it broadcasts from the playing field.
The NFL in the United States uses a system whereby match officials only broadcast information to fans relevant to a particular call or review and Bird believes it is a model the NRL should consider adopting.
"I think you should be able to speak to the referee without having the wider public hearing what you say," Bird said.
"The way they do it in the NFL, the guy turns the microphone on when he has something to say to the crowd.
"He's talking to the players on the field, he's not talking to millions people at home watching on TV. He's talking to the players and that's the way it should be."
Tregonning, however, believes that fans have every right to hear what is happening on the field between players and officials and that it adds significantly to their appreciation of the contest being played out.
"Having invented and introduced SportsEars into the NRL in 2002, which allowed for the first time fans at the game to hear the referees, I was new to the game of rugby league. But being able to hear the referee brought a whole new appreciation of not only the referees but the game of rugby league in general," Tregonning told NRL.com.
"I think people forget there are actually three teams out there on the field, for without referees we would not have this great game.
"Listening to the referees whether at the game on SportsEars or on TV, is part of the whole entertainment experience, and hearing the referees' decisions not only informs, but also educates the viewing public."