The South African Rugby Union (SARU) referees started their season on Wednesday with a three-day national camp in Riebeek-Wes in the Western Cape where the standards for the season were set and the referees informed about the expectations of them.
The camp was managed by SARU General Manager of Referees Andre Watson, who was assisted by former Springbok and SA Referees scrummaging consultant Balie Swart, and veteran referees Mark Lawrence and Neville Heilbron.
Day two of the camp on Thursday started with an early morning fitness test, which was followed by law interpretation sessions in which Watson, Swart and Lawrence guided the referees through a series of scenarios involving scrums, rucks, lineouts and mauls, to ensure consistency in decision-making across all competitions.
“The annual national referees camp serves an important purpose for us because it ensures that the referees are all aligned in terms of how we would like the game to be officiated,” said Watson. “Through this we hope to achieve better consistency and accuracy in the decisions made from the FNB Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup through to the Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby competitions.
“We have covered the most important areas of the game in the last two days and it is pleasing to see that everyone is on the same page in terms of the implementation of the laws. It is also encouraging to the see the enthusiasm and passion among the referees, and we believe this will be transferred onto the field in the coming months.”
Other areas covered in Thursday’s session were when to allow teams an advantage and when to penalise and reward teams at the breakdowns, and in the scrums and mauls.
The referees will write an exam on Friday morning and then have a “live exam” in the afternoon which involves identifying errors in past matches through a series of video clips. These results combined the results of their fitness tests will determine whether they are appointed to officiate matches this season.
“A number of world-class referees have come through our structures over the years and it remains one of our objectives to continue producing referees who excel on the world stage,” said Watson. “This is achieved through hard work and determination, and this group of referees certainly boasts those qualities. Another key to achieving this is accountability for one’s decisions and that is a point we have emphasised at the camp.”
The camp concludes on Friday.