Super Rugby has announced the 12-man referee team that will officiate the 2020 season and clarified the World Rugby Law Trial that will be utilised in the tournament.
Super Rugby has officially announced the 12-man referee team that will officiate the 2020 season. As in previous years, it comprises an excellent mix of very experienced referees and emerging referee talent that has one or two years Super Rugby behind them.
In preparation for kick-off on January 31 the Super Rugby Refereeing Team has recently been in camp at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa. This annual camp is designed to review game management protocols from the previous year and to proactively assess the requirements for the new season given World Rugby directives and potential Law Trials.
Super Rugby Game Manager, Lyndon Bray stated at the camp, “The camp has allowed the Super Rugby refereeing team to continue to evolve its game plan and match management protocols, anchored by the key deliverable, "how do we as referees deliver a successful Super Rugby game?" Within this is the main objective to assist the very talented players in the tournament to play their best rugby.”
“The refereeing team had a very inspiring and thought-provoking presentation from the RWC 2019 winning coach, Rassie Erasmus of the Springboks. There was also a presentation from SuperSport commentators, highlighting how the tournament is broadcast and promoted, and designed to help the referees to understand how they and the tournament are perceived within the sports world.”
“The recent camp covered the way in which our refereeing teams of four (referees, assistant referees and television match officials) continue to work on getting better at making the best game decisions in the major moments of the match. This includes foul play, try scenarios, contestable scrums [with reduced resets], that teams who are strong at mauling from their line-out are able to use their maul and that we enable space for teams to attack with confidence.”
“This is a very settled referee team and is a tight-knit group of 12 referees, from across South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. As in 2019, the referees will work in pods of four,” added Bray.
Mike Fraser in action, Crusaders v Blues 2019
Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos said, “Ensuring we continue to deliver world-class and best performance match officiating is hugely important to the integrity of Super Rugby. Super Rugby has led the way I believe in match officiating but we cannot afford to be complacent, and we are constantly adapting and innovating to ensure our match officials are the best they can be.”
"This year we have reduced the referee team from 15 to 12 following intense scrutiny of performance and the objectives we want to meet, as identified by the Stellenbosch camp in South Africa recently. This smaller, tighter referee team we believe will deliver greater consistency of performance and better critical decision-making processes to ensure Super Rugby delivers fantastic rugby for the players and fans,” added Marinos.
Another former player Damon played for Brothers in Brisbane where he was the club's all-time leading try scorer. He was selected for the Australian Sevens team in 2004 and played in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He was Australia's leading points scorer in the 2007–08 Sevens World Series and he captained the team in the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. In fifteens he had brief spell at the Melbourne Rebels in the ARC and in 2012 joined the Reds. After retiring he became a referee and in 2016 he made a rapid rise up the refereeing ranks making his debut in Queensland Premier Rugby and Australia's National Rugby Championship. He has since refereed at the World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby Sevens World Cup, and World Rugby U20 Championships and in 2018 refereed an international between Hong Kong and Cook Islands. This is his second Super Rugby season.
Federico Anselmi was born in Mendoza, Argentina and started his refereeing career on the World Sevens circuit in 2009, making his debut in Dubai. He capped his Sevens career by officiating at the 2016 Olympic Games Sevens. In 2014 he refereed at the U20s World Rugby Championship in New Zealand and in 2015 he was part of the World Rugby Referee Squad as an Assistant Referee. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2016 with his first game being the Cheetahs versus Kings in Bloemfontein. He will start the 2020 season in the 6 Nations as an assistant referee before returning to action in Super Rugby.
Nic is a former professional player whose career saw him have stints with the QLD Reds, Racing 92 (Paris) and London Wasps. His playing career was cut short in 2013 when a series of head concussions forced him into early retirement. He began refereeing in 2015 and quickly ascended through the national ranks joining the Super Rugby panel in 2016. In 2017 Nic officiated the final at the U20’s World Championships and broke onto the World Rugby panel later that year officiating the encounter between Scotland and Samoa. He has since refereed a number of tests including his first Tier 1 test match in 2018 between Ireland and Argentina. In 2019 he refereed in the 2019 Six Nations and in 2020 he will referee Ireland v Italy, following a quarter-final referee appointment at RWC 2019 in Japan. This is his fifth year in Super Rugby and he is now one of the more experienced tournament referees.
A member of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2007, Mike Fraser became a Test referee in November 2013, five months after overseeing the 2013 Junior World Championship final in France. Now an experienced member of the SANZAAR referee panel, closing in on 50 Super Rugby games, he controlled his first Super Rugby playoff game in 2018 after another year of consistent performances. He will miss the first few rounds of Super Rugby in 2020 due to appointments as assistant referee in the 2020 Six Nations.
Angus Gardner started refereeing in 1999 at age 15 at Shore School in North Sydney after injuring his back. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2012 and broke through at tier 1 test level in 2016 and has refereed in all the major test match windows since then, including 6 Nations and The Rugby Championship. He is now one of the most experienced Super Rugby referees having taken charge of 72 matches. In 2018 he refereed his first Super Rugby Final, between the Crusaders and Lions in Christchurch, and he was named the World Rugby Referee of the Year. In 2019 he refereed 10 Super Rugby matches and refereed at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. He has been appointed to referee Wales v Scotland in the 2020 Six Nations.
Ben O’Keeffe started refereeing while at medical school in Dunedin and quickly progressed through the ranks to referee senior and representative rugby in NZ. He made his High Performance Referees Squad debut in 2012 and was another referee to have significant growth in 2016. That same year he went on to make his international debut test when refereeing Samoa v Georgia, most recently refereeing South Africa versus Argentina in The Rugby Championship and then the clash between Wales and Australia and Ireland and the USA last November. He is now an established member of the Super Rugby referee team and will be pushing the more senior referees for more of the marquee matches. He refereed nine matches in 2019 and went on the referee at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. He has been appointed to referee Italy v Scotland and England v Wales in the 2020 Six Nations.
Jaco Peyper started refereeing 2001 at age 20 and made his first-class debut in 2007. His career pathway started at Currie Cup and he progressed through Sevens Rugby and World Rugby U20s, to Super Rugby and on to Test level appointments. He is the longest-serving referee on the Super Rugby refereeing team and has 82 matches behind him including the 2017 final between the Lions and Crusaders. He has become one of the senior test referees in world rugby having refereed 46 Test matches and in 2017 refereed the first test between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions. In 2019 during he passed the 100 match milestone - only the fourth referee to have done so and refereed the final between Crusaders and Jaguares. He refereed at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and is another to have been awarded a match in the 2020 Six Nations [England v Ireland].
Prior to becoming a Professional Referee with New Zealand Rugby, Brendon worked in project management in the construction industry, having gained degrees in Civil Engineering and Commerce. A keen rugby player and supporter, Brendon took up refereeing for the North Harbour province where he went on to referee in New Zealand domestic competitions and the 2015 World Rugby U20 Championships. He joined the Super Rugby refereeing team in 2016 and now, entering his 5th season of Super Rugby, he has refereed in 25 matches to date. In November of 2017 he made his test match debut, going on to referee a further 3 test matches the following year. In the last two seasons he has consistently delivered strong performances at Super Rugby level and he aspires to one day referee at the Rugby World Cup.
The former winger, who is affectionately known as 'Rasta', progressed from the junior ranks into World Rugby Sevens and Super Rugby in the last couple of years and had stints in Australia and France where he picked up valuable experience. In 2015 he handled the Currie Cup Final and made his Super Rugby debut in 2016. He is now paying full attention to refereeing Super Rugby as he finished refereeing sevens in 2018 as he took charge of 15 Super Rugby matches in the last 3 years. He will be looking to add to that experience in again in 2020 and starts off with two matches in Buenos Aires, the home of the Jaguares.
Marius van der Westhuizen started refereeing in 2007 in the Western Province Union. He was appointed to the South Africa National Panel in 2011 and Elite Panel in 2013. The Cape Town-based referee had a career-defining year in 2013 when he was called up to officiate two IRB Sevens Finals, the Varsity Cup Final and Vodacom Cup Final. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 and has been achieved significant growth in Super Rugby having refereed a Quarter Final in 2017 and he has now taken charge of 44 matches including seven last season. He has also now refereed 11 international matches.
Paul Williams joined New Zealand's high-performance squad in 2014, which thrust him on to the Mitre10 Cup stage. A former player, Williams has a sound tactical knowledge and took up refereeing at a junior level in 2011 while still playing scrumhalf for Southern. He joined the Super Rugby panel for the 2016 season and refereed 5 matches in his debut year and followed this up with 6 matches in 2017. In June of 2018 he took charge of the second test between Australia and Ireland in Melbourne and added two more tests, England vs Japan and Scotland vs Argentina during November of that year. In 2019 he had a busy Super Rugby schedule as well making his 6 Nations debut when England host Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on the 16th March. In 2020 he will establish himself as a core Super Rugby referee and will further his international experience when he referees Scotland v France in the 2020 Six Nations.
A teacher by trade AJ started refereeing while still a player, officiating high school matches. He was persuaded to prioritise refereeing over playing (thanks to some injury issues) and joined the Griffons Referees' Society in 2010. He quickly progressed to the South African Rugby Referees' Association's National Panel. He made his first class debut in 2015 by taking charge of the Blue Bulls versus Golden Lions. He took charge of his first match in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup later that year when he officiated the Free State Cheetahs versus Griquas match in Bloemfontein. He was the one new appointment to the Super Rugby referee team in 2019 and has refereed 8 matches. He will be looking to add to his experience in the tournament this year and gets an early chance to impress with several others on Six Nations duty.