The 18 referees selected for the 2012 Super Rugby competition spent 4 days together at Coogee Beach, Sydney in the middle of January, working towards achieving more consistent outcomes across Super Rugby.

The top referees in the world, along with some new selections for 2012, worked through key outcomes around the "Big 5 Priorities" of the game, once again signed off with the 15 Franchise Head Coaches, later in 2011.

There remains a strong level of continuity for the fans, with the Big 5 Priorities remaining consistent to those work on in 2011, with a key focus on improvement, rather than change.

Lyndon Bray, the SANZAR Game Manager, said that the highlights were the way in which the referees came together as a team, the work done around the scrum, and the outcomes being agreed at tackle.

"For the first time in the history of Super Rugby, we invited the 3 National Scrum Coaches [Balie Swart from South Africa, Patricio Noriega from Australia and Mike Cron from New Zealand] to attend the camp and agree on some key consistent messages in order for us all to contribute to improving our scrums.  We have agreed to a really lofty aim in Super Rugby: to see 70% of our scrums completed on the first hit [between the front rows].  This is lofty, as currently we are tracking at about 48% completion rates."

The National Scrum Coaches will be responsible for helping achieve better uniformity in approach, both by referees and teams, within Super Rugby, under the coordination of the SANZAR Game Manager.

"We listened to the feedback from both Media and Fans, and agreed that something has to be done to improve the contest at scrum time.  I think people want to see well contested scrums, but they don't want us to go through 3 attempts every time we try to set a scrum."

"Likewise, we reviewed the tackle and agreed with the coaches that we are doing well on removing the tackler from around the ball, which is giving teams at least 70% of their ball at the tackle available within 3 seconds [a key measure for teams].  This speed is important, as it allows them to launch attack before the defence has time to set up right across the field.  Our improvement areas are around the approach to the tackler assist [player on his feet making a takcle, who has to release the ball and player when the ball carrier goes ot ground], and the habit of players from the ball carrier's team arriving and launching over the ball off their feet, effectively killing the contest."

Amongst other things, the referees also committed to greater teamwork during the game with their Assistant Referees, improved attention on the offside line at ruck time and improved review of performance from week to week.

SANZAR Rugby will be monitoring the progress within the game, which you can follow wihtin About Rugby.