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Referees

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WhistleSANZAR has announced its referee squad for the forthcoming Super Rugby season with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Jaco van Heerden (South Africa) promoted and in line for debut during 2015.

O’Keeffe started refereeing whilst at medical school in Dunedin and quickly progressed through the ranks. He has featured in the Heartland Championship, ITM Cup, as a Super Rugby assistant and at the 2014 Junior World Championship where he earned appointment to the final between England and South Africa.

His father Peter also refereed at provincial level and when he’s not in the middle, O’Keeffe practices as an eye doctor in Wellington, New Zealand.

Pretoria-born Van Heerden meanwhile is an Advocate to the High Court of South Africa and joins Super Rugby ranks having made rapid progress applying law on rugby fields throughout his home country.

The 32-year old handled himself with aplomb in his first Currie Cup match during the 2014 season and it was no surprise that he was awarded a semi final later in the year.

A University of Pretoria Law Graduate, Van Heerden played rugby for his university before later turning his attention to refereeing.

 

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WhistleSuper Rugby starts in a month’s time with a match in Christchurch with Nick Briant to referee it.

SANZAR has released the names of the referees for the first three Rounds.

Briant referees the first match in New Zealand, Angus Garner the first in Australia and Rohan Hoffman the first in South Africa.

Jason Jaftha was injured for 2014 and his fitness needs to be assured for this year.

Marius van der Westhuizen will be refereeing his first Super Rugby match overseas after reaching Super Rugby last year.

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WhistleIt has been a year for referees much as any other year – a year of highs and lows where the best they can hope for is no complaints from players on the field and no complaints from watchers off the field.

Referee abuse remains a universal problem for referees. Glen Jackson, once a great player and now a great referee, said that there was a difference between playing and refereeing, for you could make 5 mistakes as a player and then get cheered for doing something well. In refereeing you are jeered for doing something perceived to be wrong and after that nothing that you do can rehabilitate you in the eyes of the beholders.

Much of the abuse is a repeat of what commentators have to say, regardless of whether what they say is wrong.

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WhistleSouth African referees Jaco Peyper, Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and television match official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman will all officiate in the 2015 Six Nations competition, World Rugby has announced.

Peyper will take charge of the match between France and Wales on 28 February at Stade de France in Paris, while Joubert will officiate the clash between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 1 March, with Veldsman in the role of TMO.

Berry, meanwhile, was named as an assistant referee for the matches between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 7 February and Ireland and France in Dublin on 14 February respectively.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

South African referee Craig Joubert has scooped the prestigious Referees’ Referee of the Year award.

Joubert received the award at the annual course for top referees in South Africa, the SA Rugby Referees website reports.

Chairperson of the SA Rugby Referees’ Society, Steve Meintjes, made presentations to members who had achieved exceptionally.

The following awards were presented:

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Referee: John Lacey

Referee: John Lacey

Ireland’s John Lacey will referee Saturday’s Test between Wales and the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Lacey, 41, was also in charge of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in August this year. The Boks won 13-6.

Saturday’s Test will be his 11th to date.

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Varsity CupThe FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International for 2015 is set to continue its grand tradition of trying out experimental laws, further cementing the tournament’s status as a testing ground for the laws of rugby.

This season sees the exciting reintroduction of the WHITE CARD – which was used in the inaugural 2008 Varsity Cup Final. The WHITE CARD is a card that can be used by either coach or captain to review a decision by the referee.

This exciting experiment is endorsed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU). Andre Watson, SARU General Manager Referees, had the following to say on the WHITE CARD.

“This is a step in the right direction to assist referees to get that important decision correct, and to put some responsibility on the captain and coaches to help with the process.”

The WHITE CARD challenge system is to only be used during the Varsity Cup. The team challenge, or WHITE CARD, can be called by the team coach or captain.

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WhistleThe Match Officials for all End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) as well as all other rugby of significance have been named.

South African referee, Jaco Peyper, is appointed for the England vs Samoa match and Glen Jackson will officiate in the Ireland vs Australia game in Dublin.

South Africa gets another French referee, Jérôme Garcès for the clash against Italy in Padua, whereas the Wales vs All Blacks game in Cardiff will be handled by Stuart Barnes.

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Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens

The Rugby Football Union has launched an investigation into alleged homophobic and racial abuse of the Welsh referee Nigel Owens by a group of England supporters during the defeat by New Zealand at Twickenham last Saturday.

Owens told The Telegraph that he welcomed the investigation but revealed he has considered quitting the sport because of an increasing level of homophobic abuse in stadiums and on social media.

The investigation was launched after the RFU received an official complaint from a supporter who also outlined the extent of the alleged abuse directed at the 41 year-old official during England’s 21-24 defeat in a letter to The Guardian newspaper.

“As a lifelong rugby fan, a straight man in his 60s, I could not believe that a bunch of men half my age watching a rugby match in the 21st century could be capable of hurling such nasty, foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic abuse at an openly gay match official,” wrote Keith Wilson, from South Yorkshire.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

While Springboks fans will be relieved to see the back of French referee Romain Poite, Steve Walsh lies in wait at Twickenham next Saturday…

Poite raised the ire of several Bok fans during Saturday’s 29-15 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, although it must be said, the Boks were the masters of their own demise.

Australian Walsh will handle matters in Saturday’s Test against an England side which went down 24-21 to the All Blacks.

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WhistleSouth African referees Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and Jaco Peyper will be on international duty this weekend as the northern hemisphere rugby season takes centre stage.

Joubert, who took charge of the Currie Cup final two weekends ago as well as the USA v All Blacks Test last weekend, will officiate the Test between Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, with Peyper serving as an assistant referee, while Berry has been tasked with refereeing the clash between Canada and Namibia at Parc Eiras Stadium in Wales on Friday.

Frenchman Romain Poite will referee the Test between Ireland and the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday.

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Laurent Labit

Laurent Labit

Racing Metro backline coach Laurent Labit has been handed a 15-week ban for his disparaging comments against the referee in his side’s loss against Stade Francais.

Labit will be banned from all access to grounds, dressing-rooms and entry areas in all Top 14 and European Cup games up until February 15, the French Rugby League Union announced.

Racing Metro were also hit with a 50,000 euros fine for his words which were seen as tainting the reputation and integrity of South African referee Jacob van Heerden.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will be in Chicago this Saturday when he referees the Test between the United States and New Zealand.

Joubert was the referee in last weekend’s Currie Cup final between Western Province and the Golden Lions at Newlands. He received high praise for the way in which he handled the game and this week his reward is a trip to the United States.

The Eagles play the All Blacks at the Soldiers Field, the home ground of gridiron club Chicago Bears, which seats 61 500 and is sold out.

Meanwhile, other South African referee in action this weekend is Jaco Peyper, who will take charge of the Barbarians v Australia game at Twickenham in London.

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Marius Jonker

Marius Jonker

South African referee Marius Jonker has announced his retirement from top-level refereeing.

The 46-year-old refereed a Test between Namibia and Germany in Windhoek on Wednesday night and after the final whistle confirmed that he had retired from first class refereeing and that it was his last match in charge.

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WhistleCraig Joubert is one of 26 referees to referee a Currie Cup Final since the first one in 1939.

South Africa’s provincial teams first played in a competition in 1889. The Currie Cup was added in 1892 but played mostly as centralised tournaments. There was not a Final till 1939 and then Finals were sporadic till 1968 since when there has been a Final each year.

Refereeing the Currie Cup Final is cherished by referees as it is cherished by players who play in it. After all there is only one a year.

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WhistleCraig Joubert will take charge of the ABSA Currie Cup final between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, with Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete named as the Assistant Referees.

Legoete has also been tasked with handling the ABSA Under 21 A Division final between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, while Rodney Boneparte will officiate the ABSA Under 19 A Division final also between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

The referee appointments for the provincial play-off matches this weekend were made by the South African Rugby Union on Monday.

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WhistleRound nine of the National Rugby Championships (NRC) in Australia took place earlier with the first game providing us with what was quite possibly the worst ever decision on a rugby field, and the first ever ‘Own Try’ in rugby.

The Sydney Stars versus North Harbour Rays clash gave Mitch Lewis a chance to bag some meat and get on the scoresheet, but he never would have guessed it would be against his own team.

In football (or soccer) own goals aren’t unsual, as defenders occasionally slot the ball into the back of their own net. In rugby however, no such thing exists, because when a player grounds the ball over his own tryline, it’s a 5m scrum if carried over, or a 22m drop-out if not.

All that changed in Australia a while ago however, as a bizarre call resulted in the TMO and Referee awarding what is quite possibly the first ever own try in rugby! Seriously.

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WhistleThe two REFEREES for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Finals of 2014 have been revealed.

Jaco van Heerden will take charge of the first Semi-Final between the Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park (kick-off at 14:30 SA Time).

Van Heerden will be assisted by Ben Crouse and Sieg van Staden, while Johan Greeff will be the TMO.

Pro Legoete will handle duties in the second Semi-Final at Newlands between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).

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WhistleThe International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for upcoming November internationals.

Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during the June international window, The Rugby Championship and other matches.

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will kick off a busy month of Tests as teams and officials begin the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015, when he takes charge of the New Zealand v USA fixture at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1.

Steve Walsh will be the man in the middle for England’s match with the Springboks and Nigel Owens will officiate at Stade de France when Les Bleus take on Australia, as well as refereeing New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham. Wayne Barnes has been appointed to Wales v New Zealand in Cardiff, while Ireland v Australia in Dublin will be refereed by Glen Jackson. Jérôme Garces will be in charge when the Wallabies take on England and will be in Padova on November 22 to referee Italy v South Africa.

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Nigel Owens

Having been involved in the professional game for the best part of 20 years now, I fully appreciate the hard work that goes in on a daily basis for players to perform and the challenges they face mentally and physically throughout the season.

Since becoming a coach, I also know the hours, which all those that support the players put in behind the scenes, whether they are coaches, medics or performance staff. However, I reckon that the toughest job in professional rugby might not be that of the players or management, but that of our referees.

The game’s officials often perform a thankless task and don’t get the chance to share a victory with others like we do. And, in the context of our fast-moving collision-based sport, which has a number of intricate laws, it is very difficult to get everything right.

Coaches and players make many mistakes during 80 minutes of rugby, so it is understandable that referees will also make errors. A lot of these errors are frequently viewed as great decisions by the opposing team, which makes things even more difficult for the man in the middle to get things right.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

This weekend saw the finale of The Rugby Championship and we saw two very contrasting games. The All Blacks won the trophy… again. Deservedly.

The Pumas won their first ever fixture in this tournament, a historical moment and one they will never forget… I certainly won’t, but the highlight had to be the bromance in the coaches box after the game where their Latin exuberance, warmth and hot blooded nature got the better of some of them… Put it this way, there was lots of lovin!!

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

This weekend’s rugby was dominated by The Rugby Championship.

Credit again to the best team in the world, the All Blacks for completing yet another win and dominating the important parts of each match to win the trophy.

The were put under some pressure by the Argentinian scrum early on but still found a pathway to success and their superior conditioning allowed them to come right back at the dominant pack in the second half.

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Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone Holmes receiving his marching orders against the Dragons.

Glasgow’s Tyrone Holmes has received a one-week ban after being sent off for stamping on an opponent during the PRO12 game against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade last Saturday.

League organisers confirmed the Glasgow flanker appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Wednesday.

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Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens

Wales’ Nigel Owens will be the man with the whistle for the Springboks’ must-win Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Newlands on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 17:05 SA Time.

In a tournament blighted by sub-standard officiating, Heyneke Meyer’s men will be hoping Owens has a controversy-free match as they look to keep their title hopes alive with a bonus-point victory in Cape Town.

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Glasgow WarriorsGlasgow Warriors maintained their 100% winning start to the season with a 33-13 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday afternoon.

Four tries from Alex Dunbar, Josh Strauss, Tommy Seymour and Tim Swinson mean the Warriors return to Scotstoun with the bonus point.

Glasgow’s other points came from the boots of Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg.

The Warriors had to play most of the second-half with fourteen players after Tyrone Holmes received a controversial red card for stamping.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann has received a 1 week ban for foul play.

Blue Bulls captain and flank Deon Stegmann was suspended for 1 week on Wednesday for striking a player with his elbow in their Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings last Friday.

His Blue Bulls team mate, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, meanwhile, was cleared of further sanction after receiving a Yellow Card in the match for charging into a ruck without using his arms.

Stegmann and Mbonambi both appeared before a SARU judicial committee in Pretoria on Tuesday after being sent to the sin-bin in their clash in Port Elizabeth.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

What a difference a week makes…

 

The Rugby Championship:

We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.

It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.

He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann is to appear in front of a judiciary.

Vodacom Blue Bulls captain and flank, Deon Stegmann, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will face SARU disciplinary hearings on Tuesday after being cited following the team’s Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Stegmann, received a Red Card for striking a player with his elbow at a ruck in the 69th minute, which was in breach of Law 10.4 (a), while Mbonambi received a Yellow Card in the 12th minute for charging into a ruck dangerously, which contravened Law 10.4 (h).

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Amy Perrett

Amy Perrett of Australia gives a decision.

When I shared a laugh and a chat with Amy Perrett, nearly six months ago, she, like almost everyone else in women’s rugby, had her sights firmly trained on the World Cup in and around Paris during early August.

England subsequently claimed the trophy, and the tournament served to enhance the rapid growth the women’s game continues to enjoy.

Perrett is no stranger to rapid growth. Aged just 25, the Sydneysider has established herself as one of the top referees in the women’s game and a prize commodity for the Australian Rugby Union.

Back on that gloomy March afternoon in Edinburgh, where she was preparing to take control of a Six Nations clash between Scotland and France, she spoke softly of making the cut, of winning selection for the World Cup panel.

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

With the recent pedantic display of refereeing, it pains me to say that the World Cup could turn into a game of whistle-blowing, ruining the experience for the spectators and more importantly the players.

Some of the technical refereeing that has been on display has eliminated any “feel” for the game.

Right now, the blokes in the middle are trying to put on their best show to be chosen to get a gig in England in 2015. But who is judging their performance so they get to secure a position as a top whistle-blower?

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George Clancy

In the spotlight: George Clancy

SANZAR are looking to bring in a challenge system in order to combat refereeing errors, with each team allowed three per game.

Following in the footsteps of cricket and tennis, teams would be able to challenge a referee’s decision, while the TMO would be used only for these challenges, leaving the on-field referee to make the rest of the calls.

There are currently concerns that referees are hiding behind their TMOs at the moment, rather than making their own decisions, and the official in charge would now be responsible for deciding on tries and incidents of foul play.

The news comes after a weekend where both Rugby Championship games featured controversial refereeing decisions, with Argentina denied a perfectly good try when Pascal Gauzère called a knock-on on a charge-down from Leonardo Senatore.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

The Rugby Championship is, many would argue, the pre-eminent event of its type outside the World Cup.

It may lack the history, and maybe even some of the ingrained tribalism of the Six Nations, but more often than not since 1996 it has featured the top three ranked teams in the world, and many of the best players on the planet.

It has produced some of the most thrilling, spectacular matches ever played, in front of some of the biggest crowds ever to watch the sport.

It is an elite showcase of the game, and it deserves better than what we saw at the weekend.

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WhistleIt has been widely acknowledged that the standard of refereeing in the Rugby Championship this past weekend was less than stellar. All lovers of the game, from fans through to coaches and players, are justifiably exasperated by such result-affecting calls by refs.

Sadly, this is not the first time and, probably, won’t be the last time the rugby world is incensed by sub-standard refereeing performances – unless something proactive is done to address what is a very real problem.

What is missing in all the blustery huffing and puffing though, are solutions or suggestions that the IRB (or World Rugby) can use to address the problem.

So here are my suggestions. My solutions. As just a passionate lover of the sport. See if you agree or disagree. Pick them apart. Point out their weaknesses. Tell me why they won’t work. No hard feelings. All I ask is that for every criticism, you offer an alternative solution.

Hopefully with all the traffic Rugby Talk.com is attracting these days, someone of influence will read all our comments and maybe… just maybe… do something positive with them.

I believe a three-part solution will sort out most of the issues but, like anything, there has to be the political will to address and sort out the problem instead of worrying about offending egos or apportioning blame.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Do I really need to confirm what everyone else already knows… This was not a good weekend for referees!

We are operating in a system where I have said that these type of weekends are not avoidable and until key elements of the system are exposed, and then adequately addressed, this will continue into the future.

The referees are not getting it right, and it is pointless saying after the fact, that things need to be looked at, when the writing was on the wall from the get go.

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Johan Ackermann

Not a happy camper: Lion’s coach Johan Ackermann

Xerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann was close to tearing his hair out in frustration, not so much by the way his team stumbled to a 36-26 loss at the hands of the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their Absa Currie Cup encounter, but more by the refereeing decisions that negated his side’s normally strong scrum platform.

Ackermann called the contest “the most boring game” and admitted to being frustrated by referee Marius van der Westhuizen’s high penalty count – against both sides – at the set piece, that robbed the game of much momentum and made it a stop-start affair.

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