RWC ref shock for SA
Pretoria - A few shocks await rugby fans, players and coaches when the International Rugby Board (IRB) announces its referees for the Rugby World Cup.
Some bad news awaits at least two local referees, Mark Lawrence and Marius Jonker. It is believed that they were overlooked to officiate in the tournament that takes place in New Zealand in September and October.
Sport24 learned that these two talented South African referees will not be among the 10 names that are announced as World Cup referees.
They are also not among the seven assistant referees.
It should definitely be seen as a slap in the face for both as neither of them has put a foot wrong at international level and are still on the IRB’s elite panel.
It is shocking that Jonker (22 Tests) and Lawrence (25 Tests) are not even being considered as assistant referees.
It may well prompt Lawrence, who was controversially omitted from the 2007 tournament, and Jonker, who had an excellent tournament in France, to reconsider their careers as international referees. Both have established business interests outside rugby and could easily call an end to their international refereeing commitments.
It has been reported in the New Zealand Herald that the Northern Hemisphere will have the most referees at the tournament.
Wayne Barnes and Dave Pearson (England), Romain Poite (France), Nigel Owens (Wales), Alain Rolland and George Clancy (Ireland), Steve Walsh (Australia), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand) and Craig Joubert and Jonathan Kaplan (both SA) are believed to be on the list, with Jerome Garces (France), Chris Pollock and Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Simon McDowell (Ireland), Stuart Terheege (England), Tim Hayes (Wales) and Carlo Damasco (Italy) set to be touch judges.
Cobus Wessels and Christie du Preez, who are assistant referees on the IRB panel, have also been overlooked.
How Walsh could make the list ahead of Stuart Dickinson (51 Tests) and the two South Africans is a mystery. He was sacked as a referee by New Zealand because of bad behaviour.
Shaun Veldsman has at least made it as one of four television match officials.
South African referees manager André Watson was reluctant to comment about the appointments as they had not yet officially been announced.