SANZAR today announced the referee appointments for the first six rounds of the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby season, kicking off on Friday February 24th.
Chris Pollock will kick off the season overseeing the opening round one and 2012 clash between the Blues and the Crusaders at Eden Park on February 24th (KO: 19h40 local), a fixture which marks the beginning of the New Zealand Conference.
Across in Canberra, Garrett Williamson will control the match between the Brumbies and Force (KO: 19h35 local) to open the Australian Conference; while later that evening Jonathan Kaplan will officiate the match between the Bulls and Sharks in Pretoria (KO: 19h10 local) to start the South African Conference.
SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray was excited in releasing the first appointments for 2012, having just spent a very meaningful four days in camp with the SANZAR Referee Team, at Coogee Beach in Sydney during January.
Bray said key points for the first six rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby were a continuation of handling the ‘Big 5’ priorities consistently, looking to continuously improve performance on the field and to make the game easy to play, referee and understand (as spectators).
“There has been a real commitment by our team to look to improve on our overall outcomes and deliver our best possible performance every time we run out onto the field. We have spent considerable money and time on new technology to support the guys off the field, now we are coming to the time, like the teams, when we need to put the performance on the field. I know the guys can’t wait for the season to start.”
SANZAR and Bray were looking forward to committing to weekly reviews of the ‘Big 5’ priorities, with more details regarding the new initiative to be released in the coming days.
Bray confirmed that SANZAR has some new game footage technology, which improves the ability to share game clips not only with referees, but also with teams.
“We have created some new ways to share game clips and footage that helps both referees and players to amend technique and improve accuracy in their performance. These tools will aid our review of games and allow us to provide more meaningful feedback to the referees and to the team coaches. The bottom line is that we want to continue the trend of the last couple of years, and keep getting better, not only as individuals, but across the whole referee team.”
This year sees five new referees (Mike Fraser NZ, Angus Gardner & Andrew Lees AUS, Lourens van der Merwe & Stuart Berry SA) introduced to the Super Rugby, and they will enter the competition as the right time arrives.
“The management team has to make astute decisions about the timing of appointing the new guys in the middle, and what game would best suit them. It is the same dilemma that confronts the team coaches as they look to introduce new players onto the field. Sometimes injury or loss of form by others helps make that decision!”
Bray added that there are some key referees for the future that will be closely measured early on, to monitor progress.
“Jaco Peyper had a big year in 2011 and we are going to really push him early, and gauge where he is at. This could be a really good year for him. Glen Jackson is also one for the future and our plan is to run him more in 2012. In the middle of our Merit Panel, there are several guys who I am sure would love to put some pressure on the guys at the top of the tree at the moment. It is all healthy competition.”
To download the referee appointments for the first six rounds, click here.