Now jousting gets VAR: Medieval horseback events become latest sport to get help from video referees

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology is to be trialled in jousting as the equestrian sport becomes subject to the same scrutiny as football and tennis.

The system will track and use video replay to accurately score the competitors’ moves in the fast-paced medieval sport during a series of jousts across England in August.

Jousters at Pendennis Castle in Cornwall will see the charity English Heritage collaborate with VAR specialist Hawk-Eye to trial the technology for the first time on Wednesday.

The VAR system is regularly used in football, tennis and cricket, among other sports, to enable officials to reach more accurate decisions.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology is to be trialled in jousting as the equestrian sport becomes subject to the same scrutiny as football and tennis

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology is to be trialled in jousting as the equestrian sport becomes subject to the same scrutiny as football and tennis

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology is to be trialled in jousting as the equestrian sport becomes subject to the same scrutiny as football and tennis 

The charity said accuracy was vital in ‘England’s first national sport’ – which sees participants wearing chain mail and charging at each other on horseback – as each hit with the lance to different parts of the shield or helmet is worth different points.

Emily Sewell, English Heritage’s head of events, said that one of the misconceptions around jousting was that the ‘intense clashes’ were choreographed.

‘It takes a great deal of precision and skill to aim the 12ft lance at a moving target and make the hit with the most points and it really matters to the knights – their honour is everything,’ she said.

‘But it also currently requires our Knight Marshall to accurately observe the location of each hit every time, which is quite a challenge.’

The changes haven’t been welcomed by everyone in the sport, as some have argued the approach is too ‘modern’ for a medieval game.

Knights of Royal England managing director Jeremy Richardson told the Telegraph: ‘The scoring can be tight, but we like the old-fashioned rule that the referee’s decision is final.

‘We don’t like this newfangled, modern approach because we are recreating something from the 14th century. You may as well get drones in to fly above the horses’ heads!’

Part of England Heritage’s ‘Myths and Legends’ summer season, jousting will be hosted at locations across the country for the month of August.

A campaign was launched by the charity in 2016 for jousting to be recognised as an Olympic sport, receiving thousands of signatures on a petition calling for it to be introduced at a future Olympic Games. 

The changes haven't been welcomed by everyone in the sport, as some have argued the approach is too 'modern' for a medieval game

The changes haven't been welcomed by everyone in the sport, as some have argued the approach is too 'modern' for a medieval game

The changes haven’t been welcomed by everyone in the sport, as some have argued the approach is too ‘modern’ for a medieval game

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