Cape Town - The 15-man referee team that will officiate the 2019 Super Rugby season was announced by SANZAAR on Monday.
It comprises an excellent mix of experienced international referees, several referees with one- or two-years’ Super Rugby experience and some emerging referee talent in the form of South African AJ Jacobs and Australia's Damon Murphy.
Jacobs is one of five South Africans on the panel, the other being Jaco Peyper, Rasta Rasivhenge, Egon Seconds and Marius van der Westhuizen.
Following a comprehensive review of match official performances in 2018 and to ensure continued growth in the referee team performance, the team has been reduced from 17 to 15 referees. Another outcome from the review will see all match referees, assistant referees and television match official appointments being made by SANZAAR.
When required, due to logistical and operational requirements, SANZAAR will utilise match officials from outside the team of 15 that allows for the development of local talent.
"The team is a well balanced mix of referees with Test and Super Rugby experience and several emerging referees who now have one or two seasons under their belt.
The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed 95 and 77 matches respectively, while we also have a group around the 40-60 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant, Ben O'Keeffe and Mike Fraser.
Making their Super Rugby debuts this year will be AJ Jacobs and Damon Murphy," said Super Rugby Game Manager, Lyndon Bray.
"What is exciting for 2019, is that our 15 referees will be working closely in five pods of three, with each pod refereeing together on as many of their games as is practical (referee and assistant referees).
This will inevitably help the efficiency of their teamwork and the way in which they can support each other, both on and off the field.
“In late January we held our annual pre-season match officials camp in Christchurch, New Zealand.
We continued to work on the team’s awareness of the priorities in the game, focusing on set piece, tackle and space on the field.
The other key area of the game we identified as a priority is to strengthen our capability around high impact decisions and especially around how our referees use the Television Match Official process," added Bray.
Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos also commented: "Ensuring we deliver world class and best performance match officiating is hugely important to the integrity of Super Rugby which is one of the world’s best rugby tournaments. Super Rugby is leading the way I believe in match officiating and we are constantly adapting and innovating to ensure our match officials are the best they can be."
"This focus was rewarded in November last year with nine of our referees officiating in international matches in Europe.
Plus we have Nic Berry, Jaco Peyper, Glen Jackson, Ben O'Keeffe, Angus Gardner and Paul Williams taking charge of Six Nations matches in a couple of months’ time," added Marinos.
2019 Super Rugby referee panel:
Federico Anselmi - Argentina (14 Super Rugby matches)
Nic Berry - Australia (21)
Nick Briant - New Zealand (50)
Mike Fraser - New Zealand (48)
Angus Gardner - Australia (62)
AJ Jacobs - South Africa (0)
Glen Jackson - New Zealand (77)
Ben O'Keeffe - New Zealand (36)
Jaco Peyper - South Africa (95)
Brendon Pickerill - New Zealand (18)
Rasta Rasivhenge - South Africa (15)
Egon Seconds - South Africa (4)
Marius van der Westhuizen - South Africa (35)
Paul Williams - New Zealand (19)
Damon Murphy - Australia (0)