Dave Craven: Ability to challenge over forward passes would bring clarity

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Now that football chief Sepp Blatter has finally emerged from his bizarre little world to see sense about the need for video technology it means he has effectively drawn level with the rest of the sporting community.

Clearly, that is never a good thing. It is always a worry if you are on the same page as the bumbling FIFA president.

So, something must be done. If he has advanced so, then, must everyone else in order to keep some semblance of sanity.

If Blatter is now au fait with the prospect of goalline cameras, the rest of us must stride further forward into a bold, new future.

Rugby league has long been a pioneer when it comes to trying out innovations, never afraid of change.

Of course, the sport has long since incorporated video referees and, on a wider scale, also introduced alien concepts such as the play-offs series and the oft-maligned Club Call as well as changing rules to allow for ideas such as the 40/20.

However, in one main area, the sport continues to show as much ignorance and foolishness as Blatter did for so many years.

It has been bemoaned in this column before about why video referees cannot rule on forward pass decisions.

It is something to do with the camera angles sometimes creating a false representation of what actually happened even if 15,000 people in the ground can see Brent Webb has delivered another NFL-style touchdown throw.

To be fair, most officials do now pick up on the Leeds player’s famous assists, but you get my gist.

It has to be accepted that – just as Blatter did for so long – the game’s bosses will not budge on this protocol. Fair enough.

So what can we do to try to circumnavigate the persistently annoying problem.

One suggestion that regularly comes up – again, particularly, after last week’s Challenge Cup semi-final with Leeds and Wigan – is the potential to give teams the chance to challenge a referee’s dubious call.

There were probably forward passes directly involved in three of the tries scored during that epic battle at the Galpharm Stadium.

Video referee Steve Ganson found himself in the unenviable position of reviewing some of them for other doubts yet not being able to instruct on-field official Ben Thaler to disallow scores which clearly appeared to benefit from forward passes.

It is almost farcical, especially when big-screen replays in the ground highlight the errors.

But if sides were able to challenge the decision, as is the case in cricket and tennis, and ask the video referee to use his judgment on ANY aspect, it would cut out so much controversy and bring some much-needed clarity.

Obviously, there would have to be a limit with perhaps just two challenges per game.

If a side is successful, though, then it would maintain the right to challenge again.

As the next Hull derby approaches on Monday night, people are obviously re-telling that magical moment when Dave Hodgson earned Rovers a last-gasp victory in the final throes at Magic Weekend.

But, inevitably, they then also recollect the blatant forward pass from Rhys Lovegrove for Michael Dobson’s try that had helped set up that winning position.

Hull captain Andy Lynch would undoubtedly have challenged that decision given the chance, just as Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin would have done after Kevin Sinfield ushered a pass forward in the build-up to Zak Hardaker’s first try on Saturday.

Invariably, the referee does get things right and some players would often find their initial belief proved incorrect.

But they should still have that opportunity to test out their instincts especially when so much is at stake – a place at Wembley or derby-day win.

Until they do that, for all the sport’s trailblazing reputation, it threatens to be just as archaic as that dinosaur Blatter.

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