SANZAAR has announced the referee team that will officiate the 2018 Super Rugby season. With the Super Rugby tournament format reducing to 120 regular season matches this season the referee team has been reduced from 19 to 17 referees. The team contains a balance of seasoned international referees, several referees who now have a couple of years of Super Rugby behind them and one newcomer, with AJ Jacobs from South Africa making his Super Rugby debut this season.
“Along with a new Super Rugby format we will have a refocussed referee team that has been through an extensive training camp over the summer in preparation for the 2018 season”, said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.
“I have challenged the team to further raise the quality of performance and play a role, within the confines of the laws, in ensuring that our matches are exciting and entertaining from start to finish,” added Marinos. “The team is a well balanced mix of referees with Test and Super Rugby experience and several emerging referees who now have one or two seasons under their belt. The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed 82 and 65 matches respectively, while we also have a group around the 40-50 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant and Mike Fraser,” said SANZAAR Game Manager, Lyndon Bray. “At the conclusion of the 2017 season SANZAAR conducted a survey of the Super Rugby team coaches and the feedback helped determine the focus for our annual referee camp which is always held prior to the start of each season.”
“The primary focus of the camp in Cape Town, South Africa was how our referee team ‘connects to the game’ and ‘builds strong working relationships’. The overall objective being to ensure the referees continue to build on their progress as Super Rugby and Test referees.”
"It was fantastic that 10 of our Super Rugby referees were able to experience Test rugby in Europe during November, and that Glen Jackson, Jaco Peyper, Ben O’Keeffe and Angus Gardner are scheduled to handle 6 Nations games early in 2018,” added Bray.
Federico Anselmi was born in Mendoza, Argentina and started his refereeing career on the World Sevens circuit in 2009, making his debut in Dubai. He capped his Sevens career by officiating at the Olympics during 2016. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2016 with his first game the Cheetahs versus Kings in Bloemfontein. He will be travelling into South Africa and New Zealand for his early games in Super Rugby 2018.
A former professional player, the ex Reds Super Rugby player (who also had a long stint with Wasps in London) quickly ascended through the Queensland ranks in 2015, officiating games with aplomb at Premier Rugby and National Rugby Championship levels before his Super Rugby selection in 2016. He successfully broke into the test ranks in 2016 and in November last year refereed the close encounter between Scotland and Samoa. After a strong start to his Super Rugby career expect to see more of Nic in the 2018 competition.
Nick Briant, hails from Bay of Plenty and started officiating in 2002 and like many referees completed a very successful Sevens career. He has been a feature of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2009 refereeing across all domestic provincial tournaments and now has substantial Super Rugby experience. Indeed he will probably pass the 50-match mark in 2018.
A member of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2007, Mike Fraser became a Test referee in November 2013, five months after overseeing the 2013 Junior World Championship in France. He has quietly but surely built up to 40 games in the Super Rugby environment and will be another looking to break the 50-match mark in 2018.
Angus Gardner started refereeing in 1999 at age 15 at Shore School in North Sydney. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2012, broke through at test level in 2016 and during 2017 refereed in all the major test match windows, including 6 Nations and The Rugby Championship. He is now one of the more experienced Super Rugby referees and is heading to the 60-match mark in 2018.
Glen Jackson became a first class New Zealand Rugby referee in 2010 following his retirement from playing professional rugby. The former Chiefs player progressed quickly through the ranks, making his Super Rugby refereeing debut within a year of his return to New Zealand. He made his international debut late in 2012, overseeing England vs Fiji at Twickenham. 2016 was an exciting Super Rugby campaign for Jackson, most noticeably for the fact that he was appointed to referee the Super Rugby Final, between Hurricanes and Lions. He refereed the match between Wales and Australia in the November test window and starts 2018 as one of Super Rugby’s most experienced referees.
Ben O’Keeffe started refereeing while at medical school in Dunedin and quickly progressed through the ranks to referee senior and representative rugby in NZ. He made his High Performance Referees Squad debut in 2012 and was another referee to have significant growth in 2016. That same year he went on to make his international debut test when refereeing Samoa v Georgia, most recently refereeing South Africa versus Australia in The Rugby Championship and then the clash between England and Australia last November. He is now an established member of the Super Rugby referee team and will be pushing the more senior referees for more of the marquee matches.
Jaco Peyper started refereeing 2001 at age 20 and made his first class debut in 2007. His career pathway started at Currie Cup and he progressed through Sevens Rugby and World Rugby U20s, to Super Rugby and on to Test level appointments. He is the longest serving referee on the Super Rugby refereeing team and has 82 matches behind him including the 2017 final between the Lions and Crusaders. He has become one of the senior test referees and last year refereed the first test between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions. We can expect another big season for Jaco again in 2018.
Hailing from Takapuna, just north of Auckland, Brendon Pickerill joined the Super Rugby refereeing team for the first time in 2016 after excelling throughout New Zealand provincial levels and on the world stage at the World Rugby U20 Championship, where he officiated a semi-final. He refereed 5 games in 2016 and followed this up with 7 games in 2017. He will be looking to push on in 2018 and consolidate his role in the referee team.
The former winger, who is affectionately known as 'Rasta', progressed from the junior ranks into World Rugby Sevens and Super Rugby in the last couple of years and had stints in Australia and France where he picked up valuable experience. In 2015 he handled the Currie Cup Final and made his Super Rugby debut in 2016. He is still refereeing Sevens Rugby and took charge of 5 Super Rugby matches in 2017. He will be looking to add to that experience in 2018.
Egon Seconds made his Super Rugby debut in 2017 Sunwolves v Hurricanes and is another former player to turn to the referee ranks, having played for the Stormers in Super Rugby from 2003 to 2007. Egon also represented South African at Sevens. He refereed 4 matches in 2017 and will be looking to cement his place in the referee team in 2018.
Marius van der Westhuizen started refereeing in 2007 in the Western Province Union. He was appointed to the South Africa National Panel in 2011 and Elite Panel in 2013. The Cape Town-based referee had a career-defining year in 2013 when he was called up to officiate two IRB Sevens Finals, the Varsity Cup Final and Vodacom Cup Final. He has been another one to have significant growth in Super Rugby having taken charge of 12 matches in 2017. He will be a key referee in 2018, having refereed a Quarter Final in Super Rugby last year and stepping up to referee England versus Argentina at Twickenham, in November.
Paul Williams joined New Zealand's high performance squad in 2014, which thrust him on to the Mitre10 Cup stage. A former player, Williams has a sound tactical knowledge and took up refereeing at junior level in 2011 when still a scrumhalf for Southern. He joined the Super Rugby panel for the 2016 season and refereed 5 matches in his debut year and followed this up with 6 matches in 2017. He is becoming comfortable and experienced at this level and will be looking for a big year in 2018. He topped off 2017 by refereeing the very enjoyable match in November, between Ireland and Fiji.
A teacher by trade AJ started refereeing while still a player, officiating high school matches. He was persuaded to prioritise refereeing over playing (thanks to some injury issues) and joined the Griffons Referees' Society in 2010. He quickly progressed to the South African Rugby Referees' Association's National Panel. He made his first class debut in 2015 by taking charge of the Blue Bulls versus Golden Lions. He took charge of his first match in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup later that year when he officiated the Free State Cheetahs versus Griquas match in Bloemfontein. He is the one new appointment to the Super Rugby referee team in 2018.