SANZAAR, the organising committee for the Super Rugby franchise, has uneiled the 19 strong referee pool for the 2017 season. Out go retirees Chris Pollock (NZ) and Craig Joubert (SA), alongside fellow South African, Stu Berry and Australian Andrew Lees, with rookie, Egon Seconds joining the remaining members of last year’s squad.
Just back from a four day pre-season referee camp in Sydney, the squad contains a mix of seasoned professionals, several referees who now have one to two years of Super Rugby behind them who are joined by debutant, the former Springbok 7s and Stormers player, Egon Seconds. He joins fellow former players Glen Jackson, Jamie Nutbrown and Nic Berry in replacing ball with whistle.
The team comprises seven New Zealanders, six South Africans, four Australians with Shuhei Kubo from Japan and Boli Anselmi from Argentina.
SANZAAR referees head, Lyndon Bray, speaking after the camp said, “The team is a nice blend of Test and Super Rugby experience and emerging talent and is very settled as we head into another season. The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed over 50 matches each, while we also have a group around the 30 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant and Mike Fraser.”
At the SANZAAR Referee Team camp, the team was put through its paces; testing their physical, mental and technical skills. All crucial training aspects in order to put the referees under the same type of game pressure that they experience on the field.
“The camp agenda was planned around creating strong clarity of what we are trying to achieve in the game and then using different skills-based activities to then put them under physical and mental pressure, while having to make game related decisions at the same time”, explained Bray.
Glen Jackson, the ex-Chiefs player and now a leading referee in World and Super Rugby, worked with the physical strength and conditioning coaches to put together some skills based scenarios. This involved referees being called out of a physicall ball-game activity to watch a tackle, line out, scrum or maul clip, and through the Match Communication gear, then communicate that decision to another team mate. This work tested both the accuracy of the referees across all the clips, as well as their communication across their team.
Earlier in the camp, the referees worked through a desk-based virtual challenge exercise that simulated climbing a mountain! Placed in climbing teams of eight, the referees were faced with a series of challenging decisions, on their way to try to reaching the peak of Mount Cook in New Zealand.
“This activity was the start of the camp and it was a fantastic way to force the boys out of their comfort zone and challenge the way they work as a team, Bray said. “This really challenged the way they work as a team of four within the 80 minutes of the game.
The second day enabled them to take the learnings of the virtual mountain climb and challenge their ‘current state’ of thinking in relation to how they work with their assistants and the television match official.”
The referees also worked through the feedback from the Super Rugby referee coaches, the learning points from their own 2016 season reviews and the more experienced referees led the team through the rugby related phases of the game, seeking to ensure greater consistency of approach.
“It was a really focused, energised and committed four days and I was really impressed with their work ethic and commitment. But now, the proof of the pudding will be in how we as a team referee the games,” added Bray.
2017 Super Rugby Referee Team
Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Nic Berry (Australia)
Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Angus Gardner (Australia)
Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Will Houston (Australia)
Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Paul Williams (New Zealand)