Jonker makes Super 14 history

2009-01-22 07:54
Into the record books (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – Marius Jonker will make history on February 14 when he becomes the first local referee to officiate a Super 14 match between a South African team and an overseas opponent.

Jonker will carry the whistle when the Bulls tackle the Reds at Loftus in Pretoria on Valentine’s Day.

Neutral referees were used in the past, but this year there is a merit panel, which means the best referees regardless of nationality will be used.

Jonker is one of four South African referees on the merit panel. The others are Jonathan Kaplan, Mark Lawrence and Craig Joubert.

Jonker said his preparation would not differ in any way for such games.

“I simply see a red team playing against a blue team. My preparation will not be any different,” said Jonker.

The question arises whether referees, in an attempt to be seen as neutral, may not even favour the visiting side. Jonker, however, does not think it will even be an issue.

“I know a lot of referees, including myself, that make mistakes. However, I know of nobody that will try to cheat in a subtle way. It’s so professional now and there are so many cameras and eyes on you,” he said.

“We’re heading into unknown territory and there are sceptics. The press could make a big scene if you make mistakes. But I’m excited. Rugby deserves the best players and officials to be involved.

“South African referees are in very good standing at the International Rugby Board. We are highly-rated and guys like André Watson and Tappe Henning have done great work.”


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