Cape Town – With the South African Conference tightly
knit and three teams level in second place behind the log-leading Lions, governing body SANZAAR has changed the referee for the
clash between the Bulls and Jaguares in Buenos Aires on
Kick-off is at 23:40 SA time.
According to the supersport.com website, while late changes of referees are apparently
based on rankings and form, and referees are stood down if the governing
body feels they need a rest, the decision to change from a New Zealand
referee to an Argentinean referee for the clash – a vital one in terms
of the conference – has certainly raised eyebrows around Loftus Versfeld.
the game was meant to be refereed by young Kiwi referee Brendon
Pickerill, but this was changed on Tuesday by SANZAAR to local referee
home-town referees are nothing new in the competition, the spotlight on
referees of late, including the ill-fated 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier between
Spain and Belgium last month has brought whistleblowers very much
into focus, after a Romanian referee was appointed for a game where
Romania stood to benefit if Spain lost.
Still, with the
Jaguares and the Bulls on level footing on the log, it may not have
been the best thing to appoint a home-town referee, especially in an
environment which Bulls coach John Mitchell expects to be “hostile”.
has, however, been a Super Rugby referee for several seasons now – with
mixed success – but the move has certainly become a talking point in the
SANZAAR replied to queries on the change with the same
statement they sent to media the day before after the Stormers
complained about Mike Fraser’s officiating.
“As far as SANZAAR is
concerned there is no issue whatsoever with match officiating. We have a
very professional team of referees that are selected from the best
officials from the national unions. There is also a very professional
and robust system in place for the selection and management of match
officials. That system is discussed at length with teams and coaches and
reviewed every year,” an official said.
“The coaches and teams
have opted for merit based appointments as an integral part of this
process – that is the best referee for the job regardless of
“The controversies are created by disappointed coaches and the media to be honest.
said for individual matches the coaches have the ability to provide
feedback to Game Manager Lyndon Bray each week. And they do provide a
lot of feedback as part of the ongoing review process. Lyndon reviews
all matches and works with the referees on performance and referee
managers in the national unions, and adjustments are made weekly when
necessary – for example we have had some injuries and illness this