‘Remove doubt about referee bias’

Five former Springboks on whether there should be neutral referees in Super Rugby.

Joel Stransky (former Bok flyhalf)

‘Yes, definitely. I think there have been some really poor refereeing performances and really bizarre TMO decisions lately and if there were neutral referees, we would not be having this conversation. It would completely remove any doubt around referee bias, whereas right now there is doubt around one or two referees and whether they are hometown blowers. Neutral referees would make the argument null and void.’

Rob Louw (former Bok flank)

‘Having neutral referees in Super Rugby is a great idea. I had the worst experience of my life when we played in New Zealand in ’81. However, I don’t think referees, or TMOs, go out there to cheat on purpose, but I do think they get influenced by the local crowd. Still, regardless of their nationality, I think TMO decisions lately have been disastrous worldwide.’

Corné Krige (former Bok flank)

‘Having neutral referees is first prize, but I don’t think it’s always possible because of the massive costs involved in flying referees in from different countries. I don’t think referees deliberately favour sides from their home country, but it might be a case of referees feeling under pressure from a noisy home crowd and sometimes those 50/50 calls do go in favour of the home team.’

Garry Pagel (former Bok prop)

‘I don’t think there needs to be neutral referees. The referees should be qualified enough not to favour one team over another. But I think it becomes an issue for the opposition side if correct decisions are made against them, then it becomes difficult. Other than that I don’t think it’s necessary, the referees should be impartial in any case.’

Stefan Terblanche (former Bok fullback)

‘I think it’s a good idea if they can do it, but I’m not too worried about it. I’d like to think that referees would not be influenced whether they are refereeing a South African, New Zealand, Australian or an Argentinian team, they should be educated enough to not be influenced. The Crusaders are not normally a side who complain about referees, but they are also calling for the issue to be reviewed, so maybe it should be looked at. But personally I don’t have an issue on which referee is used.’

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