Wayne Barnes (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says they have no issue with England’s Wayne Barnes refereeing their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
At the previous World Cup in New Zealand, the Boks were eliminated in the quarter-finals when they lost to Australia in Wellington.
The South Africans dominated territory and possession in that game, but were unable to notch a win, losing 11-9.
However, the match will be best remembered for the controversial performance of New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence, who copped heavy criticism for his inconsistent refereeing, with Lawrence eventually forced to quit refereeing not long afterwards.
Saturday’s referee, Barnes, is also no stranger to quarter-final controversy.
He copped heavy criticism in New Zealand after the All Blacks’ shock 20-18 defeat to France in Cardiff at the 2007 World Cup.
But Barnes has since improved markedly as a referee and is currently one of the game’s leading officials.
“I think he’s been one of the best referees in the tournament. I’m very happy to have him,” Meyer said at the Springbok team announcement in Bagshot outside London on Wednesday.
Barnes refereed South Africa’s 46-6 win over Samoa earlier in the tournament, and despite penalising the Boks 15 times during the game, they have no problems with the English official.
“When we played with him previously we conceded a lot of penalties, but what I do like about him is that he’s consistent and you know exactly where you stand (with him). As a team and as a coach you can prepare for that, as long as the referee is consistent both ways.”
Meyer described Barnes as a referee that “knows the law well” and with a “great feeling for the game”
According to Meyer, his players also know where they stand with regards to the breakdown and maul laws.
“We’re very happy with him. He knows the conditions. He’s a great ref," continued Meyer.
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Twickenham is scheduled for 17:00 (SA time).
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein