Kaplan: Owens is world’s best

Jonathan Kaplan says referee Nigel Owens 'is the best in the world' following his performance at Newlands on Saturday.

Writing on ratetheref.co.za Kaplan commended Owens' influence on an entertaining match between the Springboks and Wallabies. He went on to say that, along with Craig Joubert, he is 'streaks ahead of the rest' and an example for all up-and-coming referees.

'Some interesting decisions on the day by a referee who facilitated a great spectacle,' said Kaplan. 'The poise, communication skills and general game management of Nigel Owens is the best in the world.

'Midway through the first half the Boks got a lineout 5m from the Wallaby line, they won the ball, and [Saia] Fainga'a ran around from the tram lines and deliberately and cynically went offside, almost acting as the Bok ripper. It should have been an instant yellow card. No debate. These actions must have a higher sanction and consequence as they are coached and are a negative blight on the game. The sooner referees address this, the better for the game, and the better they will look as well.

'Australia clearly didn’t want to defend the maul, and were intent on stopping it at source, sometimes splitting the pod on the way down from the contest in the air. It is a coached tactic which referees need to better understand and apply. Having said that, some of the maul formation is equally not always accurate, and this vexing subject needs much more debate than it gets at present.

'Also, Habana was tackled in the air by [Adam] Ashley-Cooper and once again, no upgrade of sanction. This is inconsistent with the mandate put out by the IRB protecting the jumper. Unless there is a simultaneous attempt to win the ball, taking into account the position of the jumper, it is the responsibility of the chaser to show greater awareness to the vulnerability of the catcher.

'There were a couple of clean outs by the the Boks which were less than desirable, notably one by Jannie du Plessis which should have been penalised.

'The officials also failed to pick up the pull back on [Handré] Pollard in a vulnerable position under the Bok poles, so credit to the TMO for saving their bacon.'

Kaplan's full column

Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images