'Refs fitter than scrummies'
Bloemfontein - A professional referee is probably fitter than a scrumhalf in Super Rugby and does just as much preparation as coaches and players ahead of matches.
That was the revelation by Jaco Peyper, who is one of South Africa's most promising referees and fast climbing the refereeing ladder. He was recently promoted to Sanzar's merit panel of referees.
The former Grey College pupil was earlier this month also appointed as one of the International Rugby Board's (IRB) referees for next month's Junior World Championships.
Even Brendan Venter recently had praise for Peyper. The former Springbok centre and coach of English club side Saracens is well-known for being outspoken on refereeing issues.
Peyper, a qualified lawyer, said that the game demanded that referees run 9-10 km's per game.
"The game has changed a lot at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level, and there are a lot more contact situations. More than 260 tackles were made in Saturday's match between the Stormers and Sharks, which I officiated. That means that close on four tackles are made every minute," said Peyper.
"The younger you are, the more difficult it is for you because you don't know the short cuts yet. Your judgment is also better when you aren't under pressure.
"I believe we need to be just as fit, if not fitter, than a scrumhalf at Super Rugby level."
Peyper, whose grandfather Japie Theron was also a Currie Cup referee and secretary of the Free State Rugby Union (FRU), said that referees also do a lot of analysis.
"We use advanced technology just like the players and coaches," he said.
"When I officiate a match between team X and team Y, I could look at video material of how they play and what techniques they use."