16 Dec 2008

South Africans dominate Merit Panel of refs

6:46 pm on 16 December 2008

Just two New Zealand rugby referees have been named on the inaugural Merit Panel of officials for next season's Super 14.

South Africans account for four of the nine referees, 3 from Australia and just Bryce Lawrence and Steve Walsh from New Zealand.

SANZAR announced last month that it would use referees on merit rather than on nationality to officiate in the competition.

It means referees will no longer be barred from refereeing their countrymen in matches against a team from another nation.

The South African referees are Marius Jonker, Craig Joubert, Jonathan Kaplan and Mark Lawrence, the 3 from Australia are Stuart Dickinson, Matt Goddard and James Leckie.

SANZAR says the group will control at least 75 per cent of matches in the tournament while a back-up panel of seven referees had been selected to officiate when Six Nations appointments, injury or unavailability make Merit Panel officials unavailable.