Experienced match official Rasta Rasivhenge was a notable absentee when SA Rugby announced the national refereeing panel for 2023.
Rasivhenge has been a regular on the match officials panel since 2010, taking charge of games in the Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup and Varsity Cup, as well as the Sevens Series.
The 36-year-old briefly left South Africa for Australia in 2014, but returned in 2015 and become the youngest referee to take charge of a Currie Cup final that year. Since then, he has refereed in Super Rugby, Test rugby, the Top 14, PRO14 and the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
Despite being one of South Africa’s more experienced referees, Rasivhenge was not included on the elite panel for 2023.
Three female match officials have been promoted to join Aimee Barrett-Theron on the national refereeing panel in a ground-breaking move, announced by SA Rugby on Friday, along with two other match official panels for 2023.
Ashley Murray-Pretorius, Sinesipho Foloti and Giana Viljoen join Barrett-Theron at the top of the domestic refereeing structure, meaning they will be in line to officiate at Currie Cup level in future.
Newly appointed male match officials to the national panel were Jonathan Lottering, Hanro van Rooyen, Hernus Coetzee, Zukile Madikizela, JD de Meyer and Lulutho Matomela as the national panel underwent a post-COVID overhaul, while Siyanda Ketse and Aneka Fick have been promoted to the women’s panel.
“After two years of delays due to the COVID-pandemic, we kicked off with a successful referee talent identification programme in all 14 provinces,” said Banks Yantolo, SA Rugby Referees Manager, following the department’s annual selection and grading meetings.
“We invited the top performers to the various SA Rugby Youth Weeks for intensive coaching and enhancement, and the inclusion of the next generation of young men and women’s referees onto the panels attest to the success of this programme.”
Murray-Pretorius, Foloti and Viljoen are following in the footsteps of Barrett-Theron, who represented SA Rugby with distinction at the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, by being included on the national panel.
Other changes to the panels are that Archie Sehlako has moved over to the TMO group and Mpho Matsaung has joined the referee coaching structures, while Bulelani Naka (work commitments) and Rasivhenge (contract has come to an end) were not included on the panels for next year.
SA Rugby Match Official Panels for 2023 (names in alphabetical order):
National Panel: Christopher Allison, Aimee Barrett-Theron, Johre Botha, Hernus Coetzee, Griffin Colby, JD de Meyer, Morne Ferreira, Sinesipho Foloti, Stephan Geldenhuys, AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni, Jonathan Lottering, Zukile Madikizela, Lulutho Matomela, Pumzile Mbewu, Ruhan Meiring, Paul Mente, Vusi Msibi, Sean Muller, Ashleigh Murray-Pretorius, Dylen November, Jaco Peyper, Marius van der Westhuizen, Hanro van Rooyen, Giana Viljoen.
Women’s Panel: Angelic Bezuidenhout, Cameron Dyers, Aneka Fick, Yohane Halgryn, Siyanda Ketse, Maria Mabote, Tshepi Maropa, Akhona Mngcolomba, Siyanda Pikoli, Zoe Naude, Bulela Qwane.
TMO Panel: Ben Crouse, Christie du Preez, Quinton Immelman, Marius Jonker, Archie Sehlako, Egon Seconds.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix