Rugby fans can expect an exciting Summer Nations Series, featuring a host of ground-breaking innovations designed to enhance the matchday experience.
The tournament, scheduled from 29th July to 27th August, serves as a warm-up for the World Cup in September and will showcase thrilling games among the top-tier teams.
The series introduces a foul play 'Bunker' review system, inspired by the successful use of the Television Match Official (TMO) Bunker during the recent World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
This system allows the on-field referee to seek assistance from a second TMO in case of indecision about a potential red card incident.
After two video replays, if the referee remains unsure, a yellow card can be initially shown, providing the Foul Play Review Officer (FPRO) within the TMO Bunker up to eight minutes to conduct a detailed review and upgrade the yellow card to a red card if deemed appropriate.
This approach aims to prevent any wrongful issuance of red cards and ensures fair decisions are made.
Hawk-Eye technology will also make its debut as the independent video replay operator during the Summer Nations Series. This cutting-edge system supports referees in their decision-making process, promoting greater accuracy in crucial match moments.
In addition, a shot clock will be implemented for kicks at goal, providing players with 90 seconds to complete their conversion and 60 seconds for penalty kicks. Kicking tees will be red hot!
The shot clock was successfully trialled during this year's Six Nations and is expected to increase the pace of in-game play.
Fans will be delighted by other innovative additions, including Ref Cam and Smart Ball match data. These features promise to offer exciting new angles and perspectives, allowing broadcasters to provide fans with a closer look at the action on the field.
Julie Paterson, director of rugby at Six Nations Rugby the organisers of the Summer Nations Series, emphasised the importance of embracing technological advancements in the sport.
She stated, "Bringing the latest technology, processes, and rugby-focused innovations into Six Nations Rugby competitions is a core part of helping drive the collective growth of the game. The likes of the Bunker Trial and Hawk-Eye will offer even more support to match officials and the decisions they make in the heat of a live match environment. For fans, we want to bring them as close to the action as possible. Everyone in the game wants to keep developing and pushing new initiatives, and the Summer Nations Series offers a great opportunity to deliver in this area."
With these exciting innovations taking centre stage, rugby enthusiasts can look forward to an electrifying Summer Nations Series, setting the stage for a memorable Rugby World Cup in the following months.