Top SA refs a curse?

2010-10-28 10:06

JJ Harmse

As the southern hemisphere descends on Europe, the next month will not only be massive for international rugby coaches and players, but so too will it be a crucial time for referees.

There is no doubt that performances by the officials will be scrutinised by the big shots at the IRB and whatever pecking order will be established after November, will probably determine which of the referees will get the nod to go to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand next year.

Rumour has it that no more than two from each country will go to New Zealand, and if true, that is very disturbing news indeed.

South Africa has been blessed with a number of great officials and to deny any of Jonathan Kaplan, Mark Lawrence, Craig Joubert and Marius Jonker a chance to officiate at the World Cup solely because they are from South Africa, would be a disgrace.

Jonker and Kaplan of course, went to France in 2007, when Joubert was still climbing the ranks and Lawrence was out of favour.

Both gentleman had excellent tournaments and should get the nod again. The only problem is that Joubert has risen to number one in the country and was given not only the Super 14 final, but the Currie Cup final as well, whilst Lawrence has redeemed himself since 2007 and is back on the official Test panel.

As it stands at the moment, we have four referees in the top 20.

England have three in Wayne Barnes, Andrew Small and Dave Pearson, New Zealand have three in Bryce Lawrence, Keith Brown and Chris Pollock, Australia have the duo of Stu Dickinson and Steve Walsh. Ireland, surprisingly, have four in George Clancy, Peter Fitzgibbon, Alan Lewis and Alain Rolland, Wales have only Nigel Owens, and France have Christophe Berdos, Romain Poite and Jerôme Garces.

It will be unacceptable if any of Small, Pearson, Brown, Pollock, Fitzgibbon, Clancy, Lewis, Berdos or Garces make it to New Zealand ahead of any of our four.

Because of the top-heavy structure in that top 20 and if only two per country are selected to go, one can almost already pick the referees that will handle the quarter-finals.

The two top teams in Pool C, expected to be Australia and Ireland, and Pool D, expected to be South Africa and Wales, will play each other in those quarter-finals.

If things go according to world rankings, South Africa will then face Ireland and Australia will face Wales.

In our match against Ireland, we will have to do without say Kaplan and Joubert, Rolland and Clancy, whilst in the other quarter, Owens, Walsh and Dickinson will have to be excused.

They are, according to those in the know, all in the top 10 of the current crop.

This will mean that Pool C and D will have to do with the bottom half when it comes to quality of officials, while Pools A and B will get our guys, the cream of the crop.

Not quite fair.

My biggest fear is that, as it happened in the Tri-Nations, the Springboks will have to deal with officials not of the same quality as the South Africans, while others benefit from being reffed by Joubert, Kaplan, Jonker and Lawrence.

It is no coincidence that the Wallabies v All Blacks clashes in Tri-Nations were such spectacles - they were all handled by South African referees.

By having our top four referees at the World Cup, it will eliminate two less competent officials.

The final should be handled by the number one ref in the world. Problem is, if the Boks again make it all the way, they might have to do with number six or seven!

Good luck to the officials in Durban on Saturday. Jason Jaftha (Under-19), Tiaan Jonker (Under-21) and Joubert (Currie Cup final) will have to be at their best and let’s hope all the losing teams accept the result and the referee’s judgment.

Rugby certainly will not be the winner if the losing captain whines the way Schalk Burger did after the Super 14 final!

But then, it is Western Province’s time, is it not?

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • BC - 2010-10-28 10:11

    What a joke of an article. A little biased maybe? Of course it is. Nobody outside of SA believes they have the best refs. Get over yourself SA! You ain't that great and neither is your rugby style.

  • rugga fan - 2010-10-28 10:22

    we've already been at the receiving end of k@k refs and cant see things changing any time soon

  • fuzzy - 2010-10-28 10:25

    What JJ??? no mention of the mighty Blue Bulls. OOPS , Sorry there is one - Craig Joubert the Plonker

  • Bob Smith - 2010-10-28 10:28

    JJ, for crying out loud, it's Currie Cup final week and you come up with THIS? Not to mention the Bok end of year squad being announced this weekend. This ref stuff could've waited up next week / month or even year! You are speculating at best who the IRB will select. They are only going to go with the top 10 refs, maybe a few more due to SA and Ireland having so many - so who sits in position 20 is irrelevant. You can't choose a list of refs based on the fact SA and Ireland could possibly meet in the quarters / semis or final. And I'd just like to remind you that the Boks got more than their fair share of luck at the last RWC when Wayne Barnes missed that forward pass that saw the French knock out the All Blacks. And on top of all that, you'll find many a SA fan who think Kaplan, Joubert, Lawrence and particularly Jonker are utter rubbish.

  • Anton - 2010-10-28 10:40

    Is JJ Harmse wining because the Blue Bulls are not in the final... ? Yes JJ, everybody is always wining except the Blue Bulls hey ? Maybe time for you to go and report about hockey...

  • Deon - 2010-10-28 10:44

    No doubt that Joubert will have an influence in final (as he did in the S14 final). WP will have to score 14 points more than normal in order to win the game.

  • e - 2010-10-28 11:07

    Shame JJ, still sore that the Bulls did not make it?! Taking a cheap swipe at WP and Schalk only shows the mentally and lack of character of Bulls supporters!

  • Biro - 2010-10-28 11:09

    This author is clutching at straws... Kaplan is a has-been and has gone off the boil alarmingly in the last two seasons. Remember what he did in the Hurricanes - Crusaders match? Or how about his guessing in the Australia vs NZ match in Sydney last year? Mark Lawrence should concentrate less on his highlights in his hair and more on his refereeing, and Marius Jonker... Good Lord, what more is there to say about Marius Jonker? He cheated the Crusaders out of top spot and a S14 title at Loftus and also did his utmost to bring the Bulls back into the game against the Sharks in Durban in the recent semi-final.. He should be relieved of his whistle... Only half decent ref you have is Joubert! So dry your eyes princess...

  • Adrian - 2010-10-28 11:09

    Joubert and Jonker and great in same sentence. You know as little as the IRB big shots about referees

  • MB - 2010-10-28 11:16

    Kaplan is the best ref in the world by a country mile

  • @Fuzzy - 2010-10-28 11:38

    Fuzz I think you should catch a wake-up dude!!! Or start writing something which we can compare to JJ's articles. Perhaps you cant read....he makes several valid points that are of interest to ALL rugby supporters...not only the Bulls. If you has some balls you would have put your real name there and not commented like a faceless coward. Regards James Baker.

  • mark - 2010-10-28 11:50

    jj harmse,go an write for you mag or huisgenoot man,you knowledge of da game is talk about the refs,thats why when boks loose you blame the ref...concentrate on the style of play of the rugby sides in SA and THE boks kicking is the only thing they can do...maybee Sa hav the best refs but thats not important.write about how to improve rugby...i think you should watch the game on saterday AB vs Wallebies and learn somthing....please man.

  • Staalburgher - 2010-10-28 11:55

    @BC, that is because you are all hypocritical idiots.

  • MJ - 2010-10-28 11:58

    It seems like excuses are been trotted out far in advance for any bad results that eventuate at the RWC. That's hardly a positive omen...

  • Hano26 - 2010-10-28 12:15

    Yo BC are u from OZ or NZ???

  • Hano26 - 2010-10-28 12:16

    Yo BC are u from OZ or NZ???

  • Cobalt - 2010-10-28 12:34

    Bob Smith Barnes missed two forward passes in that game as the pass to Mcallister that gave him his try was also forward so take the 7 points off both teams and oh yeah the AB's still not good enough to get past the quarters. BC disagree even in the UK SA refs are regarded as a cut above.

  • CD - 2010-10-28 14:38

    JJ, you are such a disgrace, bringing up this old chestnut. '' It is no coincidence that the Wallabies v All Blacks clashes in Tri-Nations were such spectacles '' They were such spectacles because they play the same exciting brand of rugby as each other, exactly what the IRB were trying to implement with the rule changes. Just stirring the pot. Sport 24, i have been a fan of your site for a long time, but get rid of muppet reporters like JJ

  • Jim - 2010-10-28 15:00

    What a load of self opinionated south african crap.Kaplan is probably the most detested ref outside of S A ,his only interest is in blowing his whistle at any opportunity so he can pose for the cameras.

  • V. Zela - 2010-10-28 15:27

    The losing captain did not whine, he only stated the facts and you know it JJ. The bulls were never going to lose that one not after all that hype about going to Soweto

  • Caesar - 2010-10-28 18:38

    We South Africans don't think much of other countries international referees. It woulde come as a shock if those persons concerned went to a bit of trouble to read BBC and Sky News blogs and forums. It will be seen that our counterparts over the waters find our referees the laughing stock of world rugby. Our best are fingered as a bunch of jesters.

  • Chrisjan - 2010-10-28 18:50

    Hierdie perd is 'n lopende advertensie vir Bloubul-"commin"-heid. Wie de hel is hy om namens ons te besluit ONS skeidsregters is die beste in die wereld?!!! Bloubul-ondersteuners sal waarskynlik so dink want dit is hierdie einste brigade Bloubul-pellie, hand-om-die-blaas skeidsregters wat verantwoordelik is vir hul bekers die afgelope paar jaar. Vra vir die ander provinsies se ondersteuners (en sommer ook ander lande se ondersteuners) wat onder hierdie spul partydige beenkoppe se fluitjies deurgeloop het en jy kry 'n ondubbelsinnige: "Nee dankie, gee ons enige dag enige oorsese blaser met liefde! Nie die WP of die Sharks is opgewonde oor Joubert se aanstelling Saterdag nie - geen mens gaan kan voorspel wat hy Sat gaan aanvang nie. Enige iets is moontlik! Wat die ander doffelkoppe betref: net Lawrence kan wereldgehalte genoem word. Was daar in enige werelddeel al 'n groter pateet as Marius Jonker?!!! Hy is 'n skande vir al wat 'n S-Afrikaner is! En jy JJ Harmse, hou jou vooroordele vir jouself! Vertel ons tog net volgende keer waarop jy jou aannames basseer!

  • Chrisjan - 2010-10-28 19:27

    @Caesar: Agree 100% friend. As julle by Sport24 JJ Harmse se perdedr@lle as vye aan ons wil opdien, doen dit dan tog in hemelsnaam nie onder die opskrif "Expert Opinion " nie. Tans het die woord "expert" vir die meeste van ons 'n positiewe betekenis, maar hierdie smartvraat is vinnig besig om hierdie perspektief totaal tot niet te maak. "Expert JJ - bid jou aan?! Hy is 'n blote "Quintus van Blou(Rooy)en-wanna-be"!

  • Chris in Oz - 2010-10-28 23:39

    Yes, send Joubert to the World Cup. Maybe he will then have an unbiased game if he can not referee a Bulls game. So how many people will turn up Saturday at Absa-less Stadium to watch Craig Joubert in action?

  • Billabong - 2010-10-29 01:18

    Well I guess you have to start making your list of excuses somewhere. Might as well start blaming the refs. FYI Steve Walsh is a Kiwi not an Aussie. Oops.

  • Ramage - 2010-10-29 10:17

    Jonker is the biggest joke to ever take on a referee's whistle He has no idea how to referee a scrum and his guessing there is pathetic. The other Sth African referees though set a good standard and referee well and consistently. So different from the Apartheid era referees

  • Kaas Windvogel - 2010-10-29 10:20

    @Billabong : FYI Steve Walsh has moved to Oz, and has defected from NZ. Generally i am of the opinion that our refs are not as good as we believe, based on the simple principle that when we play domestic rugby, everything looks rosy. however at international level we almost always misinterpret the refs calls - which leaves us exasperated. We simply want a fair contest and have expectations of fair calls. We like winning. as do the rest of the world.

  • Stark - 2010-10-29 14:03

    Stuart Dickinson is out of favour with the IRB, and will not be refereeing in NZ. I can guarantee that. IRB are taking 10 referees to NZ a reduction from 12, with 7 Assistants. Poite, Barnes, Owens, Rolland, Clancy will be the Northern Hemispheres take Bryce Lawrence, Joubert, Mark Lawrence, Walsh, Kaplan will be Southern Hemispheres take. No one on that list comes close to Wayne Barnes, he lets the game flow, and has the best accuracy in decision making. His game in Bloemfontein was immaculate, where he was let down by the AR where he missed a not 5 metre throw. I find it strange how Dickinson gets a S14 Semi where they were based on merit, yet he gets 2nd rate international games.

  • gecko - 2010-10-29 14:42

    whats the point of this article. If you r rumour is tru the IRB says two refs from each country. Get over it. It seems fair to have equal amounts of refs from each representitive country irrespective of how good you think ours are.

  • BLOUBUL - 2010-10-30 07:42

    What a waste of space this article is.

  • Ingwe - 2010-10-30 13:14

    Kaplan goes by the name of Kraplan to many non South African rugby supporters shows you what the rest of the world thinks on him. Let the excuses begin. JJ you really do need to try and write a balanced article not the normal rubbish you publish.

  • Jaco - 2010-10-30 22:04

    Poor, poor reporting. How this pseudo-journalist called JJ Harmse could go from praising our referees to beyond the heavens, to suddenly swipe at WP/Schalk for no reason other than being bitter about his failed Bulle, only he (won't) know.

  • Owie - 2010-10-31 20:42

    Not sure about the whining comment at the end. But I do think it is an interesting topic. I think refs should group up into teams of three. 1 ref and two touchies. There should then be a scoring sheet of how the team(refs) does at every game. The scoring should give each team the oppertunity of where they are allowed to score the ref on a criteria of faults , and also positive aspects. I dont think it should only be up to the IRB to decide who the best or worst refs are. Drifting a bit now, refs could maybe go private, that way the best rated ref team can apply/bid for games. I think in international level we need to get to a point where teams shouldnt be able to "read the ref" . Refs should be reffing to a set standard

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