Reviewing all the angles

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

After further review, the CFL's new instant replay system is coming into focus in time for the regular season.

Director of officiating George Black said the CFL used more than a dozen reviews in pre-season contests to fine tune its video replay capabilities.

Black likes what he sees.

"Replay is all about angles and, from our perspective, we work really hard trying to put officials in the right place at the right angle to make the call," Black said.

"But occasionally they're not in the right place and TV can offer us a different look the official doesn't see that helps us get the call right.

"It's in everybody's best interests to do so."

In pre-season games the CFL used the raw feed from scoreboard screens across the league, then channelled the video into its replay systems to practise and make sure technically everything worked.

"We had a total of 14 reviews, four initiated by the booth, mostly late in the game," Black said.

"During the season we'll take the raw TV feed, pump it into our system and capture every replay angle TV offers on broadcasts. Once we capture that we can run it back and forth, slow motion it. We can look at however many angles TV offers, as well as the original live film and make a decision."

Although it will take time before the new system is operating more efficiently, Black said a major concern is reducing the time of each review.

"One of the things we're concerned about is the length of games and we want to make sure this thing doesn't lengthen games unnecessarily," Black said.

"We're monitoring all of that time. We averaged two minutes and four seconds per review in the pre-season and we'd like to shorten that up."

HOW IT WORKS:

CFL Instant Replay is a system designed to assist officials in evaluating situations on the field where judgment may be in question due to:

- Positioning and limited view of the action.

- Speed of action, making a split-second decision difficult.

- Error in judgment.

Each team can call two challenges per game prior to the last three minutes of regulation time.

The first challenge will have no impact on team time-outs, regardless of the outcome.

A second challenge, if unsuccessful, results in the loss of a team time-out, either in the first or second half.

THE PROCESS:

- The head coach indicates a challenge by stepping onto the field and throwing a flag.

- Referee confirms the nature of the challenge and will announce either "the play is not reviewable" or (team) has challenged the ruling of (play in question) on the field.

- Referee proceeds to sideline monitor booth to review the play. He will be equipped with a headset to communicate with the replay official in the league supervisor booth who also has a video review screen.

- The replay official cues the most appropriate video clips for the referee to review.

- The referee has a maximum of 90 seconds to watch video and make a decision.

- The referee then returns to the field to announce either: "After review, the ruling on the field stands," or "After review (explains decision) the challenge is upheld."

In the final three minutes of the game, only the video review team upstairs can review a play.


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