New Zealand referee Chris Pollock’s decision making will be under closer scrutiny than usual during the Australian Super Rugby derby between the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs in Brisbane on Saturday.
For the first time in the competition’s 18-year history a match official will wear a mini-camera which will transmit images through broadcaster Fox Sports.
“Ref Cam” is a device built into Pollock’s earpiece and will see rugby become the first football code to use the innovation as part of live television coverage.
It is based on devices worn by police in San Jose, California. It weighs 75 grams and Pollock will also wear a vest equipped with a transmitting unit.
Designed to deliver viewers a unique perspective from the field of play and bring fans closer to the game, Ref Cam has the backing of Australian Rugby Union and SANZAR.
“We are delighted Fox Sports have been proactive in seeking to expand and deepen the experience for rugby fans around the country,” said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver.
“To have an unprecedented view from the thick of the action, whether the referee is preparing to bring two massive packs together or he’s just centimetres from the ball as a pass is fired across the backline …. this is an exciting step forward in terms of general sports coverage.”
The “Ref Cam” coverage will be reviewed by SANZAR after the match at Suncorp Stadium with a view to considering its broader implementation.
“We are very supportive of the trial of this new technology,” said SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters.
“We are always keen to work with our broadcast partners on initiatives that enhance their coverage of the game and deliver an even better fan experience.”
“Ref Cam” is Fox Sport’s latest hi-tech means of enhancing its coverage – a remote-controlled mini helicopter and head mounted camera on cricket umpires and players during the Twenty20 Big Bash League earlier this summer