TV Technology In Sport Has Limits

Before, you ask, tweet, message, blog or call, yes, of course, I'm gutted this morning. Wales lost in the Rugby World Cup semi final by a single point and were robbed - but not by the sending off of the captain after ten minutes based on a harsh refereeing judgement. Rather, it was poor kicking with three penalties, a conversion and two drop goals missed that actually cost the otherwise brilliant Welsh side the match.

However, watching an Englishman (Dallaligo of all people!) and a South African totally indignant on TV brought a smile to my face, especially when the great Francois Pienaar said that video playback would have prevented the sending off and saved the game.

The role of television in sport has become totally embedded. I remember looking at covering some horse racing online, and a fundamental requirement was to provide coverage for the stewards. Likewise, footage produced by my companies has been used to decide results in major sporting events ranging from sailing to mountain biking.

Cricket has made brilliant use of technology (and the luddite Indian Cricket Board have been ridiculous in their opposition to it), as does tennis. Football still needs goal line technology, and American Football, operating in the world's most litigious country, makes sure that all decisions are spot on.

But rugby... Technology is used of course for reviewing try line incidents, but there is so much about the game that is subjective. Rugby referees aren't abused like football refs are, but they can make or break a game in a much more meaningful way. Having a referee called Alain Pierre Rolland referee a match involving a French side was calling for trouble (he was already derided as 'Rolland The Rat' on Welsh rugby message boards for previous performances), but the worst decision he actually made in the match was awarding a penalty against the French in open play - a conversion missed by the Welsh full back.

Sport has been very good to television - helping build major empires - and television has often been good back to sport in making games more equitable, but at the end of the day it's one side against another, with a human being in the middle making tough calls.

So, well done Wales. You were the best side by some distance, but you can't kick for toffee. And that's the reason that France are in the World Cup Final, not a blind Irish/French referee. However, there are many in Wales today who will be recalling the old Max Boyce ditty:

I am an entertainer 
And I sing for charity, 
For Oxfam and for Shelter, 
For those worse off than me. 

Bangladesh, Barnardo's Homes, 
And though I don't get paid 
It does one good to do some work 
For things like Christian Aid. 

But of all the concerts that I've done 
For the homeless overseas 
The one I did that pleased me most 
Was not for refugees. 

'Twas for a home in Ireland 
That stands amongst the trees, 
The Sunshine Home in Dublin 
For blind Irish Referees!