24 Mar 2014

Four Super Rugby referees canned

7:10 pm on 24 March 2014

Four Super Rugby referees have been stood down for poor performances.

South African official Stuart Berry, compatriot Lourens van der Merwe, Argentine Francisco Pastrana and Australian referee Angus Gardner were all stood down by governing body SANZAR.

SANZAR referees boss Lyndon Bray indicated last week there would be a purge of officials and he says the quartet have paid the price for poor performances.

Berry had come under widespread criticism after he penalised the Reds 17-4 against the Lions, who came back from 20-3 down to win 23-20 in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The performances of Berry, who awarded a controversial try to the Lions against the Blues the week before, and van der Merwe in South Africa had sparked renewed calls for SANZAR to return to neutral referees.

Van der Merwe has been stripped of controlling this Saturday's Blues-Highlanders clash in Auckland while Pastrana has been replaced by Nick Briant who will now referee Friday night's Crusaders-Hurricanes game in Christchurch.

Bray has dismissed the need for neutral referees but said decreasing the pool of officials would see more consistency with the very best handling more games heading into the finals.