Rugby World Cup 2015: Haringey Rhinos vice-president Paul Murphy talks technology
Haringey Rhinos vice-president Paul Murphy will be keeping a keen eye on the referees and taking special interest in any contentious decisions during the Rugby World Cup.
Murphy was a television match official (TMO) for three group games during the 2007 tournament in France – England v USA, Georgia v Namibia and South Africa v Tonga.
He said: “I initially applied [in 2007] as a volunteer through the FFR (French Rugby Federation) to become a fourth official. I ended up being a TMO in Lens for three group matches.
“The last game proved a challenge to us as we lost communication with the referee and couldn’t notify him when the 80-minute mark passed.
“Understandably there was an aura of confusion around the ground, but we eventually were able to transmit the message.
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“There was nothing really contentious in terms of foul play or touchdowns in any of those games, though.”
Technology has evolved hugely in the eight years since then, Murphy adding: “Our powers were more limited than they will be at this World Cup. The TMO can call a review and immediately tell the referee on the field.
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“The technology is far more advanced for this tournament. They have a Hawk-Eye system in place which has been used successfully at Wimbledon.
“They can identify what has happened on a multi-screen platform well before anyone else has seen it. There will be two TMOs this time around so they will be able to call in things much quicker than before.
“The downside to that is we had the luxury of being up in a box with a bird’s eye view of the game in 2007, which was just as good as watching it on the screens – but in this World Cup they’re going to be in Portakabins and out of the way, which isn’t as enjoyable. It’s better for them in terms of doing their job, though.”
Murphy went on to work as a referee liaison officer at the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, and operated as a media officer at the 2014 tournament in Paris. He expects to be involved this time too, although he is yet to find out in what capacity.
“All I do know is I will doing something at all the games which are being played at the Olympic Stadium,” he said. “I’m happy to do anything there, so I might be a referee liason officer again or a steward – I don’t mind, whatever. I do it because I love it, I’m a volunteer, not a professional.
“Most games [at the Olympic Stadium] will be refereed by French referees so it might be handy if I’m there close up, because I speak a bit of French.
“Over the course of the next two months I’ll also be officially hosting some Argentinian and Uruguayan referees, taking them to games. It will be busy.”