Super Rugby

NZ Commentator highlights home bias referee concerns

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Sky New Zealand Rugby commentator Tony Johnson has questioned Sanzaar’s local referee appointments for this weekend’s Super Rugby qualifiers.

Earlier this week Super Rugby’s ruling body Sanzaar announced the match officials for the weekend’s matches and given all of the home teams a local referee.

Johnson questions why Sanzaar have neglected the obvious opportunity to utilize neutral referees at such a crucial time in the tournament and predicted that, “There will be tears at some point over the reffing”.

“I cannot see why Sanzar (has) seen fit to appoint an Aussie to referee a Kiwi-Aussie game in Aussie, a Kiwi to ref a Kiwi-Saffa game in NZ, and two Saffa refs to police two Saffa-Kiwi games in SA,” said Johnson in his column for SuperSport.

“Have they run out of money? Do they like controversy?” questioned Johnson.

Brumbies v Higlanders – Angus Gardner (Australia)
Hurricanes v Sharks – Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Lions v Crusaders – Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Stormers v Chiefs – Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Johnson is not questioning the honesty or professionalism of the match officials in any way but as 135 Super Rugby matches have been played up to this point it would seem an easy decision to appoint neutral referees which would prevent the slightest suspicion or comment on “home town referee” decisions.

What makes the appointments all the more surprising is that just two weeks ago Sanzaar appointed Durban’s Stuart Berry for the Sharks v Cheetahs clash in Durban.

After that match in Round 16 the Cheetahs laid an official complaint against Berry for numerous decisions he made in the match. Berry has been absent on the match officials list since then but without knowing the reasons for the appointments it does appear that Sanzaar have invited further controversy.

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