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Jonathan Kaplan is a former international rugby union referee who officiated in four Rugby World Cups. Discover more about his career with rugby gurus RugbyPass.

Jonathan Kaplan Bio

Jonathan Kaplan is a former international rugby referee. At the time of his retirement in 2013, he held a number of records, including the record for the most international matches as a referee. Jonathan Kaplan was inducted into the RugbyPass Hall of Fame in 2021.

Born 7 November 1966, Jonathan Kaplan began refereeing while he was still at high school. In 1991, he then made his first class debut. Only two years later, he was appointed to South Africa’s national panel of referees.

Between 1993 and 2013, Jonathan Kaplan enjoyed a great amount of success in the game. At the domestic level, he refereed more than 100 Super Rugby matches and more than 160 Currie Cup games. During this period of his career, he took charge of numerous Currie Cup and Super Rugby finals.

In 1996, Jonathan Kaplan made his international debut. Following several impressive performances, he served as a touch judge at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Following this, he was appointed as a referee for the 2003, 2007 and 2011 editions of the tournament. During the 2007 Rugby World Cup, he also had the honour of refereeing the semi-final between England and France. 

Outside the Rugby World Cup, Jonathan Kaplan also took charge of the first ever game in the Six Nations Championship, the second test between the British and Irish Lions and Australia (2001) and the third test between the Lions and New Zealand (2005). At the time of his retirement, he was the most experienced test referee of all time. However, this record has since been overtaken.

Today, Jonathan Kaplan works for Major League Rugby. He is responsible for the appointment and development of match officials.