Four South Africans have been included in the 12-man refereeing team that will officiate in the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
AJ Jacobs, Jaco Peyper, Rasta Rasivhenge and Marius van der Westhuizen are the only local referees that cracked the nod on the panel, along with four New Zealanders (Mike Fraser, Ben O’Keeffe, Brendon Pickerill, Paul Williams), three Australians (Nic Berry, Angus Gardner, Damon Murphy) and one Argentinian (Federico Anselmi).
‘This is a very settled referee team and is a tight-knit group of 12 referees, from across South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. As in 2019, the referees will work in pods of four,’ the competition’s game manager, Lyndon Bray, said.
In preparation for the looming Super Rugby campaign, the officiating team has recently been in camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa, where they reviewed the game management protocols from the previous year and proactively assessed the requirements for the new season given by World Rugby directives and potential law trials.
‘The camp has allowed the Super Rugby refereeing team to continue to evolve its game plan and match management protocols, anchored by the key deliverable, “How do we as referees deliver a successful Super Rugby game?”. Within this is the main objective to assist the very talented players in the tournament to play their best rugby,’ Bray added.
‘The refereeing team had a very inspiring and thought-provoking presentation from the World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus. There was also a presentation from the SuperSport commentators, highlighting how the tournament is broadcast and promoted, and designed to help the referees to understand how they and the tournament are perceived within the sports world.
‘This includes foul play, try scenarios, contestable scrums [with reduced resets], that teams who are strong at mauling from their lineout are able to use their maul and that we enable space for teams to attack with confidence.’
Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos added: ‘Ensuring we continue to deliver world-class and best-performance match officiating is hugely important to the integrity of tournament. Super Rugby has led the way, I believe, in match officiating but we cannot afford to be complacent, and we are constantly adapting and innovating to ensure our match officials are the best they can be.
‘This year we have reduced the referee team from 15 to 12 following intense scrutiny of performance and the objectives we want to meet, as identified by the camp in South Africa recently. This smaller, tighter referee team we believe will deliver greater consistency of performance and better critical decision-making processes to ensure Super Rugby delivers fantastic rugby for the players and fans.’
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