Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union’s referee panel for 2016 will be the most transformed to date, showing its commitment to transformation at all levels of the game.
The National Panel consists of 18 referees, of whom eight are black, while four of the 10 referees on the Elite Panel are black, taking the total number of top level black referees to 12.
Cwengile Jadezweni, who refereed the Absa Under-21 final between Western Province and the Free State in October, is promoted to the Elite Panel for the first time in 2016. He is the only change at that level.
He joins 2015 Rugby World Cup referees Craig Joubert and Jaco Peyper, World Cup assistant referee Stuart Berry as well as Rodney Boneparte, Quinton Immelman, Pro Legoete, Rasta Rasivhenge, Marius van der Westhuizen and Jaco van Heerden in a strong panel.
On the National Panel, former Springbok Sevens and Western Province player Egon Seconds joins Jason Jaftha, Absa Under-19 final referee Sindile Ngcese, Oregopotse Rametsi, Archie Sehlako, Lourens van der Merwe and Ben Crouse, among others.
“We are delighted to announce this impressive referee panel, which consists of some of the top referees in world rugby,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “It is also pleasing to see the hard work put in behind the scenes to develop top black referees paying off. We are committed to transformation at all levels of the game in line with our Strategic Transformation Plan, and it gives us great pleasure to be able to announce our most transformed National Referee Panel to date.
“Every one of these referees have proved themselves, and the fact that we had three black referees take charge of the Currie Cup final (Rasivhenge), the Under-21 final (Jadezweni) and the Under-19 final (Ngcese) this year is evidence of that.
“We wish all the referees the best of form for the 2016 season, and we hope that they will again have a strong presence among the top referees in the world.”
The notable inclusions on the SARU Sevens panel are former Springbok Women’s player Aimee Barrett and Seconds, who joins Rasivhenge, Joubert and Van der Westhuizen.
Seconds made his debut as a referee in the Coca-Cola Academy Week in Vanderbijlpark in July and worked his way onto the National Panel in only five months. Barrett was also on the panel of referees for the Under-16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week in Oudtshoorn.
The 2016 SARU Referee panels:
Elite Panel (all SARU contracted): Stuart Berry, Rodney Boneparte, Quinton Immelman, Cwengile Jadezweni, Craig Joubert, Pro Legoete, Jaco Peyper, Rasta Rasivhenge, Marius Van der Westhuizen, Jaco Van Heerden
National Panel: Ben Crouse (Blue Bulls), Stephan Geldenhuys (Blue Bulls), AJ Jacobs (Griffons), Jason Jaftha (SWD), Jaco Kotze (Free State), Pieter Maritz (Blue Bulls), Mpho Matsaung (Griquas), Ruhan Meiring (SWD), Paul Mente (Leopards), Vusi Msibi (KwaZulu-Natal), Sindile Ngcese (EP), Francois Pretorius (WP), Jaco Pretorius (Valke), Oregopotse Rametsi (Leopards), Egon Seconds (WP), Archie Sehlako (KwaZulu-Natal), Ricus Van der Hoven (Pumas), Lourens van der Merwe (Free State)
Sevens Panel: Aimee Barrett (WP), Ben Crouse (Blue Bulls), Craig Joubert (SARU contracted), Jaco Kotze (Free State), Rasta Rasivhenge (SARU contracted), Egon Seconds (WP), Marius Van der Westhuizen (SARU contracted)
Women’s Panel: Aimee Barrett (WP), Larentia Fred (SWD), Mariandi Janse van Vuuren (Free State), Belinda Ketse Siyanda (Free State), Maria Mabote Motshidisi (Griffons), Le-Ann MacClune (SWD), Ashleigh Murray (Golden Lions), Bulela Qwane (WP)
TMO Panel: Christie Du Preez (EP), Johan Greeff (Blue Bulls), Marius Jonker (KwaZulu-Natal), Shaun Veldsman (Boland), Willie Vos (Golden Lions), JJ Wagner (Griquas)
Selector Coaches (Elite Panel): Rassie Erasmus, Dennis Immelman, Mark Lawrence, Balie Swart, Deon van Blommestein, Banks Yantolo
Performance Reviewers (National Panel): Keith Hendricks, Jacques Hugo, Dennis Immelman, Thuso Mngqibisa, Pierre Oelofse, Willie Roos, Kim Smit, Deon van Blommestein, Banks Yantolo