South Africans make up half of the positions on the ten-man Merit Panel of referees for the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, Sanzar announced today. Two more South Africans have been added to the Reserve Panel for the first time.
Rugby World Cup referees Craig Joubert and Jonathan Kaplan as well as Marius Jonker, Mark Lawrence, and Jaco Peyper are the five South Africans on the merit panel while Lourens van der Merwe and Stuart Berry come on to the Reserve Panel. The other newcomers are Angus Gardner and Andrew Lees of Australia and Mike Fraser of New Zealand.
“We plan to give our Merit Panel referees around 80% of the games in Super Rugby, next year, with the Reserve Panel picking up the balance,” said Lyndon Bray, Sanzar’s Game Manager.
“Our aim is for the best referees to be refereeing the most rugby. The Reserve Panel will operate in a similar way to a rugby team’s reserve bench,” explained Bray.
“It is inevitable that we need reserve referees performing in the middle because, like players, referees can suffer from injuries and loss of form. In addition, it is vital that we continue to develop and grow our talent for the future, which cannot be achieved overnight.”
“The five new referees will gain valuable Super Rugby experience in 2012 and will join three other referees on our Reserve panel. This will help us maintain the growth of our team, with up to five referees potentially leaving the team by the end of next year.”
Four referees from 2011 will not be involved in the 2012 tournament - Stuart Dickinson has retired, whilst Vinny Munro, Pro Legoete and Nathan Pearce were not selected for 2012.
“Stuart had a very celebrated career in the top flight for many years and he will be sorely missed by our team.
“Knowing that we are likely to lose some more referees from our team next year, it was important to balance the new guys selected for 2012 with some maturity and experience. We believe we have a strong team of referees for Super Rugby 2012 Super Rugby and some new competition will be healthy within our team,” Bray said.
The full Sanzar Referee Team is:
Keith Brown (NZ), Marius Jonker (SA), Craig Joubert (SA), Jonathan Kaplan (SA), Bryce Lawrence (NZ), Mark Lawrence (SA), Jaco Peyper (SA), Chris Pollock (NZ), Steve Walsh (AUS) & Garratt Williamson (NZ).
Stuart Berry (SA), Mike Fraser (NZ), Angus Gardner (AUS), Glen Jackson (NZ), Andrew Lees, (AUS) Ian Smith (AUS), Lourens van der Merwe (SA) & Jonathon White (NZ).