Major League Rugby (MLR) have confirmed reports that Jonathan Kaplan will lead the appointment and development of match officials for the 2021 season. Kaplan will also be assisted by Chris Pollock in a technical advisor role.

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Between them, Kaplan and Pollock have refereed at six Rugby World Cups and 96 international matches, including five Lions Tours.

“We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Kaplan and Chris Pollock to Major League Rugby,” said Commissioner George Killebrew. “Their caliber speaks for itself and their experience at the highest level will no doubt be beneficial for our growing pool of officials.”

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The duo will focus on developing existing talent in North America and supplementing this pool with referees from overseas.

“We are both very excited to be able to contribute to the refereeing landscape in MLR,” said Kaplan. “We’re hoping to use our experience and knowledge of the game at the elite level to identify and develop match officials with the express aim of improving the quality of the game in MLR and in North America.”

“We recognize the importance of the man in the middle in facilitating an action packed and easy to understand game for fans to fall in love with. We look forward to using Jonathan and Chris’ expertise to help lead this,” said Killebrew in a statement.

Kaplan began refereeing in 1984, while still a high school student. He made his first-class debut in 1991 and was appointed to South Africa’s national panel of referees in 1993. In 1996 he made his international debut in a match between Namibia and Zimbabwe in Harare.

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Some of Kaplan’s other notable games in charge include the first ever game in the Six Nations Championship, between Italy and Scotland in 2000, the second test between the British and Irish Lions and Australia in 2001 and the third test between the Lions and New Zealand in 2005.

He officially retired as a referee in 2013.

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