Rugby Championship

Kaplan praises Newlands ref

2014-09-30 09:01
Nigel Owens (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former South African referee Jonathan Kaplan has heaped praise on Welsh referee Nigel Owens who took charge of the Springboks-Wallabies Test at Newlands last Saturday.

Writing on his website,, Kaplan said Owens - along with South Africa's Craig Joubert - are by far the two best referees in world rugby.

"Some interesting decisions on the day by a referee who facilitated a great spectacle," Kaplan wrote.

"The poise, communication skills and general game management of Nigel Owens is the best in the world and with our own Craig Joubert is streaks ahead of the rest (which is not that healthy but it is what it is). He is an example for the upcoming referees with many attributes of pure quality in this most demanding of arenas."

However, despite Kaplan's praise, he did not agree with all the decisions made by the officials on the day.

"Midway through the first half the Boks got a lineout 5m from the Wallaby line, they won the ball, and (Saia) Fainga'a ran around from the tram lines and deliberately and cynically went offside almost acting as the Bok ripper. It should have been an instant yellow card. No debate. These actions must have a higher sanction and consequence as they are coached and are a negative blight on the game. The sooner referees address this, the better for the game, and the better they will look as well!

"Also, (Bryan) Habana was tackled in the air by (Adam) Ashley-Cooper and once again, no upgrade of sanction. This is inconsistent with the mandate put out by the IRB protecting the jumper. Unless there is a simultaneous attempt to win the ball, taking into account the position of the jumper, it is the responsibility of the chaser to show greater awareness to the vulnerability of the catcher.

"The were a couple of clean outs by the the Boks which were less than desirable, notably one by Jannie du Plessis which should have been penalised, and the officials were lucky they picked up the pull back on Pollard in a vulnerable position under the Bok poles, so credit to the TMO for saving their bacon! Australia clearly didn’t want to defend the maul, and were intent on stopping it at source, sometimes splitting the pod on the way down from the contest in the air… Also a coached tactic which referees need to better understand and apply. Having said that, some of the maul formation is equally not always accurate, and this vexing subject needs much more debate than it gets at present."

The Rugby Championship concludes this weekend with the Springboks tackling the All Blacks at Ellis Park. England's Wayne Barnes will be the referee, while Owens will be on duty when Argentina and Australia duel in Mendoza.


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