• Kaplan: Two refs will benefit rugby

    SARugbymag.co.za speaks to former Test referee Jonathan Kaplan about the dual-referee system.

    How do you think the dual-referees system went on the opening day of the Varsity Cup?
    I'm a big fan of it, and I think it worked well.

    What do you like most about the system?
    It will almost certainly take [referee] personality out of the game and perhaps create a whole lot more space [for players].

    Did you spot any problems?
    Referees should be more aware of their positioning, as they tend to get in the way [of players].

    How would that problem be solved?
    Communication is key. Positioning is all about anticipation and as time goes by, they'll eventually get it right.

    Is there any chance of the two referees penalising different sides at the same time?
    It will happen, be it very rarely, but then a discussion between the two referees will follow and a good and fair decision will be arrived at on the basis of that discussion.

    Were the games better controlled in general?
    It's more about presence than control. Having two refs discourages teams from conceding penalties and therefore reduces the penalty count.

    Will it be cost effective to have two referees at higher levels of the game, in terms of having to pay two referees instead of one?
    It will increase costs, but the positives will justify it. As I said, the system will take the personality [of the referee] out of the game and make the game a lot more popular. Teams will not be treated differently by referees and that is what teams and fans want.

    The Varsity Cup has also introduced binding grips on the props' jerseys. Have they helped to stabilise the scrums?
    It's too early to tell, but just the fact that we try to be innovative is a huge feather in the cap for South African rugby.

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    Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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    Simon Borchardt