Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johannesburg - It would be foolish to suggest they could ever satisfy everyone, but if the SANZAR referees do not get it right in their quest to facilitate an enjoyable and controversy free Vodacom Super Rugby season for players and spectators alike it won’t be for the wont of trying.Referees for first SIX rounds of the 2012 Super Rugby season
The referees spent four days in a training camp with SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray in Sydney recently where the priorities for the coming season were explained and debated. With new technology being introduced to improve technique and accuracy, and with some promising newcomers being added to a list which includes some of the world’s best and most experienced referees, Bray is excited about the coming season.
“There has been a real commitment by our team to look to improve on our overall outcomes and deliver our best possible performance every time we run out onto the field,” said Bray.
“We have spent considerable money and time on new technology to support the guys off the field, now we are coming to the time, like the teams, when we need to perform on the field.”
Bray said he was looking forward to committing to weekly reviews of the ‘Big 5’ priorities, of which more details will be released in the weeks remaining to the kick-off to the new season.
Two South Africans, Lourens van der Merwe and Stuart Berry, are among five new referees being introduced to Super Rugby this season, with New Zealander Mike Fraser and Australians Angus Gardner and Andrew Lees making up the rest of the list. Bray made special mention of another South African, Jaco Peyper, as a key referee for the future who will be monitored closely this year.
“The management team has to make astute decisions about the timing of appointing the new guys in the middle, and what game would best suit them. It’s the same dilemma that confronts the team coaches as they look to introduce new players onto the field. Sometimes injury or loss of form by others helps make that decision.
“Jaco Peyper had a big year in 2011 and we are going to really push him early and gauge where he is at. This could be a really good year for him. Glen Jacskon is also one for the future and our plan is to run him more in 2012,” said Bray.
Jonathan Kaplan, who is no stranger to Bulls/Sharks derbies, will take charge of the opening match in the South African conference on Friday, February 24 at Loftus, while Marius Jonker will referee the Stormers’ opening match against the Hurricanes at Newlands the next day. Mark Lawrence, unlucky not to be at the World Cup last year and now retired from international rugby, will be in Johannesburg for the last game of the first round between the Lions and the Cheetahs.