A 15-man referee team that will officiate the 2019 Super Rugby season. It comprises an excellent mix of experienced international referees, several referees with one or two years Super Rugby behind them and some emerging referee talent in the form of South African AJ Jacobs and Australia’s Damon Murphy.
Following a comprehensive review of match official performances in 2018 and to ensure continued growth in the referee team performance, the team has been reduced from 17 to 15 referees. Another outcome from the review will see all match referees, assistant referees and television match official appointments being made by SANZAAR. When required, due to logistical and operational requirements, SANZAAR will utilise match officials from outside the team of 15 that allows for the development of local talent.
“The team is a well balanced mix of referees with Test and Super Rugby experience and several emerging referees who now have one or two seasons under their belt. The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed 95 and 77 matches respectively, while we also have a group around the 40-60 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant, Ben O’Keeffe and Mike Fraser. Making their Super Rugby debuts this year will be AJ Jacobs and Damon Murphy,” said Super Rugby Game Manager, Lyndon Bray.
“What is exciting for 2019, is that our 15 referees will be working closely in five pods of three, with each pod refereeing together on as many of their games as is practical (referee and assistant referees). This will inevitably help the efficiency of their teamwork and the way in which they can support each other, both on and off the field.”
“In late January we held our annual pre-season match officials camp in Christchurch, New Zealand. We continued to work on the team’s awareness of the priorities in the game, focusing on set piece, tackle and space on the field. The other key area of the game we identified as a priority is to strengthen our capability around high impact decisions and especially around how our referees use the Television Match Official process,” added Bray.
Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos said, “Ensuring we deliver world class and best performance match officiating is hugely important to the integrity of Super Rugby which is one of the world’s best rugby tournaments. Super Rugby is leading the way I believe in match officiating and we are constantly adapting and innovating to ensure our match officials are the best they can be.”
"This focus was rewarded in November last year with nine of our referees officiating in international matches in Europe. Plus we have Nic Berry, Jaco Peyper, Glen Jackson, Ben O’Keeffe, Angus Gardner and Paul Williams taking charge of Six Nations matches in a couple of months time,” added Marinos.
2019 Referee Pods:
POD A: Angus Gardner (Leadership Group); Ben O'keeffe (Leadership Group); Damon Murphy
POD B: Jaco Peyper (Leadership Group); Paul Williams; Egon Seconds
POD C: Glen Jackson (Leadership Group); Nick Briant; Federico Anselmi
POD D: Mike Fraser (Leadership Group); Brendon Pickerill; Rasta Ravishenge
POD E: Nic Berry (Leadership Group); Marius van der Westhuizen; AJ Jacobs
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 debut 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 be travelling into New Zealand for his early games in Super Rugby 2019.
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. Nic’s performances have been rewarded with additional appointments in the 2019 Six Nations in which he will referee France vs Scotland and England vs Italy.
Nick Briant, hails from Bay of Plenty and started officiating in 2002 and like many referees completed a very successful Sevens career. He has been a feature of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2009 refereeing across all domestic provincial tournaments and now has substantial Super Rugby experience having refereed 50 Super Rugby matches and eight international matches.
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.
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 62 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.
Glen Jackson became a first class New Zealand Rugby referee in 2010 following his retirement from playing professional rugby. The former Chiefs player progressed quickly through the ranks, making his Super Rugby refereeing debut within a year of his return to New Zealand. He made his international debut late in 2012, overseeing England vs Fiji at Twickenham. 2016 was a break through year for Jackson, most noticeably for the fact that he was appointed to referee the Super Rugby Final, between the Hurricanes and Lions. He starts 2019 as one of Super Rugby’s most experienced referees having refereed 77 Super Rugby matches and he took charge of Italy v Georgia and France v Argentina in last November's international window.
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.
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. We can expect another big season for Jaco again in 2019.
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 4th season of Super Rugby, he has refereed in 18 matches and assistant refereed in 51. In November of 2017 he made his test match debut, going on to referee a further 3 test matches the following year. Going forward, Brendon aims to consistently deliver 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 last year as he took charge of 15 Super Rugby matches in the last 3 years. He will be looking to add to that experience in 2019.
Egon Seconds made his Super Rugby debut in 2017 refereeing Sunwolves v Hurricanes in Tokyo and is another former player to turn to the referee ranks, having played for the Stormers in Super Rugby from 2003 to 2007. Egon also represented South African at Sevens. He refereed 4 matches in 2018 and will be looking to cement his place in the referee team in 2019.
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 another one to have significant growth in Super Rugby having refereed a Quarter Final in 2017 and he has now taken charge of 35 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. 2019 provides even more opportunity with a busy Super Rugby schedule as well making his 6 Nations debut when England host Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on the 16th March.
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 is the one new appointment to the Super Rugby referee team in 2018.