SANZAR rewards Lawrence
Cape Town - South African rugby fans have not seen the end of controversial New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence.
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SANZAR have announced that Lawrence have made it onto their merit panel for next year's Super Rugby tournament.
Lawrence was heavily criticised for his handling of South Africa's Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Australia, during which he allowed a "free-for-all" at the breakdown.
This comes after it was reported on Thursday that Lawrence was nominated for his country’s referee of the year award.
There was, however, some good news for South Africans after 5 local referees made it onto the 10-man merit panel. They are: Marius Jonker, Craig Joubert, Jonathan Kaplan, Mark Lawrence and Jaco Peyper.
Stuart Berry and Lourens van der Merwe made the reserve panel, while Pro Legoete missed out.
New Zealander Lyndon Bray, SANZAR's refereeing boss, says they want to utilise only the best referees for most of next year's tournament.
“We plan to give our merit panel referees around 80% of the games in Super Rugby, next year, with the reserve panel picking up the balance.
"Our aim is for the best referees to be refereeing the most rugby. The Reserve Panel will operate in a similar way to a rugby team’s reserve bench,” explained Bray.
“It is inevitable that we need reserve referees performing in the middle because, like players, referees can suffer from injuries and loss of form. In addition, it is vital that we continue to develop and grow our talent for the future, which cannot be achieved overnight.”
“The five new referees will gain valuable Super Rugby experience in 2012 and will join three other referees on our reserve panel. This will help us maintain the growth of our team, with up to five referees potentially leaving the team by the end of next year.”
Four referees from 2011 will not be involved in the 2012 tournament - Stuart Dickinson has retired, whilst Vinny Munro, Pro Legoete and Nathan Pearce were not selected for 2012.
“Stuart had a very celebrated career in the top flight for many years and he will be sorely missed by our team.
“Knowing that we are likely to lose some more referees from our team next year, it was important to balance the new guys selected for 2012 with some maturity and experience.
"We believe we have a strong team of referees for Super Rugby 2012 Super Rugby and some new competition will be healthy within our team,” Bray said.
SANZAR's panels for 2012's Super Rugby tournament:
Merit panel: Keith Brown (NZ), Marius Jonker (SA), Craig Joubert (SA), Jonathan Kaplan (SA), Bryce Lawrence (NZ), Mark Lawrence (SA), Jaco Peyper (SA), Chris Pollock (NZ, Steve Walsh (Aus), Garratt Williamson (NZ).
Reserve panel: Stuart Berry (SA), Mike Fraser (NZ), Angus Gardner (Aus), Glen Jackson (NZ), Andrew Lees, (Aus) Ian Smith (Aus), Lourens van der Merwe (SA), Jonathon White (NZ).