Joubert to blow first whistle in 2014

PUBLISHED: February 10, 2014

With less than a week until the 2014 Super Rugby season kicks-off, SANZAR has released its referee appointments for the opening four rounds with Craig Joubert earning the honour of getting the competition underway in Bloemfontein.

Whilst Joubert will kick-off proceedings this weekend, the DHL Stormers will have Jaco Peyper (v Lions), Steve Walsh (v Hurricanes) and Rohan Hoffmann (v Crusaders) as the men in the middle for their first three fixtures of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

A recent pre-season training camp in Sydney provided a rare opportunity for the referee team to meet and SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray said he was pleased with the outcomes derived and feels his squad is ready for the year that lies ahead.

“Given the nature of modern global rugby, January’s training camp was the sole opportunity to have all of our referees together during the year,” commented Bray.

“Not only did it allow us to conduct reviews, professional development, fitness testing and refine nutrition, travel and recovery plans, but it also presented an opportunity to gel and set goals for the forthcoming season.

“We recognise the need for our referees to be physically and mentally prepared in a similar way that a player might prepare for a season and it’s pleasing to see the level of professionalism and dedication to all aspects of the craft increasing throughout world refereeing.

“Our underlying focus in 2014 will be to create a game that is ‘Easy to play, referee and watch’ which we seek to achieve with better scrums and quick ball, providing teams with a platform to play fast and attacking rugby,” added the SANZAR refereeing boss.

“We will continue to work closely with coaches and referees to create symmetry and consistency about what we’re trying to achieve.”

The 2014 Super Rugby season gets underway on Saturday, February 15 with Joubert to open proceedings between the Cheetahs and the Lions in Bloemfontein, whilst Jaco Peyper will oversee the clash between the Sharks and Bulls from Durban that follows immediately after. The matches kick-off at 17h05 and 19h10, respectively, in South Africa which equates to 04h05/06h10 (NZT) and 02h05/04h10 (AEDT) on Sunday morning.

Two Assistant Referee appointments are still to be confirmed as a result of a knee injury sustained by Jason Jaftha during Friday night’s trial match between the Lions and Sharks in Johannesburg. An update will be provided in due course.

* CLICK HERE for ALL the appointments for the first four weeks of the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.