Kaplan: Bad choice of Loftus ref

    2015-03-03 10:18

    Cape Town - Retired South African referee Jonathan Kaplan says it would have been better for Pretoria-based Jaco van Heerden NOT to have been handed the Bulls v Sharks Super Rugby clash this past weekend.

    Van Heerden and television match official Johan Greeff were heavily criticised for their performances after the Bulls beat the Sharks 43-35.

    There were some debatable decisions made by the officials in the game at Loftus Versfeld.

    Greeff allowed a try by wing Francois Hougaard to stand after it appeared the pass he received from fullback Jesse Kriel was forward.

    Sharks fullback SP Marais was denied a try in the 65th minute, with the Bulls leading 33-29, when Odwa Ndungane was ruled to have knocked on while contesting for the ball in the air.

    Jan Serfontein was also awarded a try on the stroke of full-time after appearing to lose control of the ball.

    Kaplan commented on the weekend’s action via his website,

    “I’m not going to dissect each and every incident, and I don’t think it is wise to crucify a young up and coming referee, who is just starting out on his journey, but for starters I don’t think it is ideal to be appointing a Pretoria-based referee for this fixture. It’s all about perception, and errors made inadvertently for the home team are magnified. He didn’t need the extra pressure and he could quite easily have done the Lions/Stormers game in Johannesburg,” Kaplan wrote.

    “There were some emotional people after the game claiming that there was cheating or a bias towards the Bulls. This is simply untrue. This referee is a man of honour, an absolute gentleman, and he will be given the tools to improve over time. Whether he makes it, is as much up to him as it will be up to his customers’ views on his ability."

    Kaplan though agreed with the sentiments of Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold when he said officials needed to be more consistent.

    “I thought the TMO in this game made a couple of interesting calls. I disagreed that the pass for Hougaard’s try wasn’t clearly and obviously forward and was bemused that this wasn’t checked by the referee himself or alerts given to him by his assistants. It only came as an afterthought when they were checking for foot in touch. If the first incident wasn’t clear and obvious, I’m not sure how Ndungane’s knock could be seen as such either. And therein perhaps lies the rub of the green. Just a bit of inconsistency that seems to rile the public.

    “The referee made a nervy start as he was trying to set out his stall, and some important sanctions were inaccurate, but I really felt for him in this pressure cooker of a fixture!”

    CLICK HERE to read Kaplan’s full column on his website

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