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'Not a single guy and England has got four': Ex-Bok coaches give raw views on RWC referees

By Ben Smith
Referee Jaco Peyper speaks with England's Owen Farrell in March when he last refereed in Dublin (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Two former Springbok coaches have given their differing views on the 12 referees appointed to officiate the Rugby World Cup later this year in France.


The list of selected whistle blowers include four England referees, two Australian, two New Zealanders, one Frenchman, one South African, one Irishman and one Georgian.

Former Bok head coach Nick Mallett didn’t have any problems with the list saying that many of them have previous World Cup experience to fall back on.

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“No not all, I think those are very experienced referees,” Mallett said.

“I see there are five from the Southern Hemisphere and seven from the Northern Hemisphere.

“The World Cup is in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s probably not favouritism, that’s the state of referees at the moment.

“I think we’ve got four or five who were there last time. Wayne Barnes, Nic Berry was there, Andrew Brace was there, I think Angus Gardner was there, Luke Pearce and Jaco Peyper.

“There is a lot of experience.”

However, former Springbok assistant and Lions head coach Swys de Bruin had a stronger view that there wasn’t enough of a spread among the playing nations.


The experienced Jaco Peyper was the only South African referee selected while nations like Scotland, Wales and Italy received none.

“It’s very important to know it works, how they select these guys,” de Bruin said.

“There is a guy called Joel Judge, he’s the convenor of selectors and he’s assisted by Bryce Lawrence from New Zealand and then Tony Spreadbury from England.

“There’s more on the panel but these three, according to my sources, they dictate who is doing what.

“So that’s why there is four guys from England in this 12, they might be the best, but I’ll come to that.


“There is four guys from New Zealand and Australia, and we all know Bryce Lawerence, you know the experience we had in this country with him.

“In saying that the favouritism is definitely not with some of the sides.

“The URC coaches, there is only three of them in that panel. Scotland, Italy and Wales got nothing. Not a single guy and England has got four.

“My concern is if you had 20 teams in the World Cup and you ranked them [referees] one through 12, surely it’s everyone’s game.

“Let one guy be from each of these countries on merit, so that you involve everyone.

“For me it is distorted picture slightly, the spread at the World Cup is not so well.”

Despite only having one referee selected, Bruin viewed it as a success for the programme with other South Africans involved as assistants and in the Sevens programme.

“From our point of view, from Mark Lawrence [SARU referee manager] and Rassie and our guys who control it in South Africa, they’ve done very well,” he said.

“They’ve got Jaco Peyper up there, they’ve got Marius Jonker as the TMO, Aimee Barrett and two Sevens guys.

“So our picture, being a small little country in rugby in their opinion, on the southern end of Africa, we are not too shabby.”


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Andy 401 days ago

Surely it is about having the best referees to do the job! Makes absoluteley no difference where they come from unless you are implying that they are not impartial!!??

Jen 401 days ago

We just need fair and accurate refereeing - I don’t care where it comes from.

BeeJay 402 days ago

After his appalling performance at the weekend in the Saracens v Northampton match, Karl Dickson shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a whistle ever again let alone a World Cup.

Shaylen 403 days ago

I think he is right. You have to have a more representative world cup refereeing team. You cant tell me there isnt one decent referee from Scotland and Wales. I think its crazy that only 12 referees are front line referees when you have as many as 48 games in a world cup

Jmann 403 days ago

Disgraceful comments. The simple fact is that there are probably only 5 or 6 decent refs in the world today and SA has none of them.

It's good to see the French refs being sidelined after a few years of poor performance now. Keeping Raynal is appalling

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