This summer’s Rugby World Cup warm-up matches will feature a shot clock to prevent time-wasting and a “Bunker” review system to upgrade yellow cards to red.
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During the Premier League Summer Series, referees will also wear body cameras, but they will not be used in games. In fact, the footage may be used for disciplinary hearings following the match, but it is primarily intended to enhance the viewing experience on television.
As part of a wave of new technology in place for the Summer Nations Series, which features 12 international teams and runs over five weekends from 29 July, Hawk-Eye will act as the independent video replay operator. As part of the Six Nations this year, a 90-second conversion time and 60-second penalty kick time were trialled. Now, those countdowns will appear on stadium screens and television broadcasts to speed up play.
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A “Bunker” review system gives officials more support when determining whether an offence warrants a red card. Referees who ask for second opinions can send a player to the sin bin for 10 minutes, while a “Foul Play Review Officer” watches the footage and decides whether a yellow card is enough. After 10 minutes, either the player returns to the field or receives a red card.
Smart Ball match data will also be useful to television viewers, which can measure spin rates, distances covered, and speeds.
“Bringing the latest technology, processes and rugby-focussed innovations into Six Nations Rugby competitions is a core part of helping drive the collective growth of the game,” said Julie Paterson, Six Nations director of rugby. “Everyone in the game wants to keep developing and pushing new initiatives.”