AJ Jacobs has been appointed to the 15-man panel of Vodacom Super Rugby referees.
The South African and an Australian, Damon Murphy, are the two new referees in the tournament. Jacobs is one of five South Africans on the panel, including Jaco Peyper, Rasta Rasivhenge, Egon Seconds and Marius van der Westhuizen.
Following a comprehensive review of match official performances in 2018, and to ensure continued growth in referee performance, the team has been reduced from 17 to 15 referees. Japanese referee Shuhei Kubo and New Zealander Jamie Nutbrown have both been left off the panel for this season.
Another outcome from the review will see all match referees, assistant referees and TMO appointments being made by Sanzaar. When required, due to logistical and operational requirements, Sanzaar will utilise match officials from outside the team of 15 to allow for the development of local talent.
‘The team is a well-balanced mix of referees with Test and Super Rugby experience, and several emerging referees who now have one or two seasons under their belt,’ said Super Rugby game manager Lyndon Bray. ‘The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed 95 and 77 matches respectively, while we also have a group around the 40-60 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant, Ben O’Keeffe and Mike Fraser.’
‘What is exciting for 2019 is that our 15 referees will be working closely in five pods of three, with each pod refereeing together in as many of their games as is practical [referee and assistant referees]. This will inevitably help the efficiency of their teamwork and the way in which they can support each other, both on and off the field.
‘In late January we held our annual pre-season match officials camp in Christchurch, New Zealand. We continued to work on the team’s awareness of the priorities in the game, focusing on set piece, tackle and space on the field. The other key area of the game we identified as a priority is to strengthen our capability around high-impact decisions and especially around how our referees use the television match official process.’
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