JJ Harmse

Refs to dictate Heyneke's hand

2012-03-15 15:07
Sport24 columnist Heyneke Meyer (File)
Heyneke Meyer will have a last chance to look at England in the Six Nations this weekend before they take on the Springboks in June.

England play Ireland in London and thanks to their impressive win over France last weekend, could still be Six Nations champions, depending of course what happens in the other competition decider between Wales and France.

There will be another reason for Meyer to rather focus on what is happening in the Northern Hemisphere than in Super Rugby this weekend as some of the referees that could be involved in the Test series in June will also be in action.

Our own referees - and those of England - are of course out of contention for the clashes in Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

Looking at the pecking order of referees at the moment, it is a pity that at least five of the top 10 in the world will not be eligible to handle the series, and with Tests series' in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Argentina on the go at the same time, one can only hope the IRB will send one of the top three available to handle the Tests against England.

In 2009 we got Christophe Berdos during the Lions series and to be honest, he was not really capable of handling a Test match of that magnitude.

We also had Bryce Lawrence, but a lot has happened since and it is doubtful if he will be sent to South Africa.

There's no doubt that the way the game is officiated by SANZAR referees in Super Rugby is very different from the way the game is handled by the IRB appointed referees in the Six Nations.

To be honest, I prefer the Six Nations way as I believe the SANZAR approach is slowly eroding the South African strengths in the game.

I have used this forum before to complain about the way the Australians seem to run the rule over our own administrators, but I am worried that we are also following suit with regards to applications to the breakdown, the scrum and the rolling maul.

Stats have shown that the latter hardly exists in the Australian game, yet it is one of our strengths, with the Bulls and Stormers both very good at this phase of play.
How long before it refereed out of the game?

What Meyer needs to do this weekend is to make a judgement call on how he will prepare for England and what players he must pick to contest the breakdown.

It will help of course if he knew who the referees for those Tests will be. If we get a "Southerner", say Steve Walsh or Lawrence, the Bok coach will know he can play his form fetcher from Super Rugby, whoever it may be at the time.

If he gets a "Northerner", say Alain Rolland, George Clancy or Nigel Owens, he will have to change his thinking again and pick someone who can contest at the ruck Northern Hemisphere-style.

All of this is way too confusing for the good of the game and in a way we are our own enemies here.

Yes, the Super competition is great and we love our local derbies, but is the way the game is being reffed via SANZAR instructions not detrimental to our natural strengths in the game?

Should Meyer’s first match in charge not be determined by his selection policy, ability to get his team together in a week and game plays rather than which referee will be in charge?
The divide is getting bigger and it seems we are having a hand in that.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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