Nigel Owens has answered a series of questions on VAR in football in his weekly Wales Online.
Is VAR needed: “My reply is always the same,” he wrote. “That the modern game – be it football or rugby – is so incredibly fast that if you want to get the big decisions correct, then you need technology to help ensure that.”
Offside controversy: “The officials, including VAR, cannot be blamed for this one. You are either offside or you are not. There is no grey area. In football, provided you directly influence the game, that is the rule. That is what VAR is judging on.
“Once you go to them [the VAR or TMO] to review something, it ties the referee’s hands in applying empathy and the decision has to be a technical one. Is he offside, yes or no, as the rule stands? So don’t blame the referee or the VAR officials, they have to go by the letter of the law.”
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Is VAR being over-used?: “There is no doubt in my mind that VAR, and the TMO for that matter, is being over-used. Every goal is checked at the moment, for example, and that’s probably a little bit too much.
“That applies in rugby as well. We as match officials need to get the majority of our on-field decisions right and use the technology as back-up rather than to make decisions for us.”
The time it takes to make decisions: “This is one of the big issues in football at the moment, with claims it takes up to three minutes before a decision is made. A goal ruled out, or a penalty award. People get fed up with it, and understandably so.”
Refusal to look at pitchside monitors: “While the referees may be under a Premier League directive, this is one that I cannot fully understand if I’m honest. Look, if you are the referee, you are ultimately the one responsible for making key decisions. You are the one who will be receiving the flak.”
The lack of a big screen: “Rugby referees have the advantage of being able to look at any contentious incident up on the big screen. That doesn’t happen in football and I’m not sure that is fair on the fans who have paid good money to attend the game yet are left in the dark about VAR decision-making.”
The passion being taken out of the game: “This you could argue applies to rugby, as well as football, when a try is being checked and then potentially ruled out. But by showing the incident up on the big screen, the fans become part of that excitement and the passion isn’t lost.”
Don’t shoot the officials: “This is not a question of rugby getting it right and football needing to learn. Definitely not. As I say, I feel we still use the TMO a little too much in rugby and, of course, we had our own issues in the early days.”