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Crusaders call for neutral referees in Super Rugby

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Crusaders assistant coach and former All Black prop Dave Hewett has called for SANZAAR to bring back neutral referees in Super Rugby.

Hewett’s referee call comes a day after the Crusaders beat the Lions 37-43 in Johannesburg in a match which all of the match officials were South African.

Hewett is not alone in calling for neutral referees as coaches and fans from all sides have joined the chorus for SANZAAR to bring back neutral match officials.

The match referee Stuart Berry awarded the Lions 13 penalties against the Crusaders who were awarded just six penalties against the Lions.

Several of Berry’s decisions left the Crusaders puzzled but Lions fans claimed on social media that Berry is “so scared of being accused of being biased he blows totally against SA teams”.

Fans from the Lions and the Crusaders were not happy with Berry’s performance claiming bias and Hewett said that neutral referees would do away with the perception of a local referee favouring a local side.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB‘s Tony Veitch Hewett was asked if the situation had gotten to the point where Sanzaar have to look at going back to neutral referees.

“That’s a really important thing,” he said.

“The problem that you have is when you get a referee from the city you’re playing in, there’s a massive crowd influence that comes in.

“They do affect it, it does happen. So neutral referees would take that out of any discussions post-match essentially,” Hewett said.

Hewett said that visiting teams had some to accept that when in South Africa you have to allow a “margin for error” from home referees.

“It’s something that is frustrating from a coaching point of view and can have a massive influence on the game.”

The Crusaders lost their opening match to the Chiefs but have since gone unbeaten and are on a four match winning streak with the Force in Perth ahead next week.

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