Provan came up with video referee idea in 1976

Future Immortal Norm Provan showed he was a visionary in 1976 when he wrote a column for Rugby League Week on his idea to bring in video replays to help referees.

His idea was to use the new at the time technology of the "television video disc" to help referees clarify decisions on try-scoring plays with a "neutral video committee of three officials" set up at each ground who would wave a red or green flag to indicate the final decision to the on-field whistleblower.

The video referee was first used in Australia during the Super League competition of 1997 and has been part of every season of the NRL era which kicked off the following year.

"We are not that far away now from what Norm suggested," NRL senior manager of officiating Bernard Sutton said.

"It's essentially the same system - independent people who review but do not look at every aspect but tries.

"When video referees first started, up until the end of 2015, they were at the ground and had a more sophisticated way of communicating by going to a board or a screen but essentially the system that Norm was referring to is not too different to what we are now in terms of video refereeing."

 

Titled "TV jury", this article first appeared on the front page of Rugby League Week on May 29, 1976, written by Norm Provan.

Modern aids are being used by to crucify referees - why can't modern aids be used to save them?

This week has been "chop up referees" week.

And all because of the television video disc.

After fulltime of the 1965 Grand Final Provan talks to some young fans on field ahead of the presentation.
After fulltime of the 1965 Grand Final Provan talks to some young fans on field ahead of the presentation. ©NRL Photos

In my playing days the video disc did not exist and referees were spared the wrath which today springs from video replays.

Today, with the video disc operating, a referee has no hope in hell of being right.

I would not be in a referee's shoes for all the tea in China.

And if I was a referee I wouldn't make a decision on a try until the video has been examined.

Why can't a neutral video committee of three officials be set up at each ground?

If there was doubt in a referee's mind about a try he could signal to the committee who could then study the replay of the video.

A member of the committee would then signal, with either a red or green flag, if the try should be allowed or not.

I would not want to see the video used for every decision relating to the game - only for doubtful tries.

I'm sure referees would appreciate the availability of such a modern-day aid.

if I was a referee I wouldn't make a decision on a try until the video has been examined.

Norm Provan

At least let's consider the possibility and don't scoff at this suggestions.

This looks like being a vintage year for disputed tries.

It will be a record year of sacked referees if the video disc is not installed at all grounds.

Forming a video committee would be a way of keeping the vice-presidents occupied.