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Currie Cup Referees - 1939-2013

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 09:02
Jonathan-kaplan1
Appointments increasingly are a matter of merit and not dependent on residence
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Jonathan Kaplan is one of 26 referees to referee a Currie Cup Final since the first one in 1939. This Final between Western Province and Sharks at Newlands will be his sixth Final.

South Africa's provincial teams first played in a competition in 1889. The Currie Cup was added in 1892 but there was not a Final till 1939 and then Finals were sporadic till 1968 since when there has been a Final each year.

Refereeing the Currie Cup Final is cherished by referees as it is cherished by players who play in it. After all there is only one a year.

Eddie Hofmeyr, Ralph Burmeister, Steve Strydom, Freek Burger and Mark Lawrence refereed more Tests than Currie Cup Finals. André Watson is the only referee in South Africa to be appointed to referee seven Currie Cup Finals. He refereed 27 tests, only seven finals. Tappe Henning refereed 20 tests, one final. Jonathan Kaplan has refereed more Tests than any other referee in the whole history of Test rugby, 68 in all, but only five finals. Mark Lawrence refereed 27 Tests and just two Currie Cup Finals. Gert Bezuidenhout referee three Tests and two Currie Cup Finals.

On the other hand Jimmy Smith-Belton refereed no Tests but three Currie Cup finals while his contemporary and Eastern Province colleague, Frans Muller, refereed three Tests and no Currie Cup finals.

Test referees appointed to the final: Eddie Hofmeyr, Chris Ackermann, Ralph Burmeister, Bertie Strasheim, Gert Bezuidenhout, Piet Robbertse, Steve Strydom, Justus Moolman, Johan Gouws, Freek Burger, Stef Neethling, Tappe Henning, André Watson, Jonathan Kaplan, Shaun Veldsman, Mark Lawrence, Craig Joubert who has refereed one Super Rugby Final, one World Cup Final and one Currie Cup Final and Jaco Peyper.

Referees who refereed the Final but never a Test: Jimmy Smith-Belton, Boy Louw, Carl Basson, Albie Henkes, Bowden Coombe, Fonnie van der Vyver, Ben Calitz and Cassie Carstens

It is no wonder that refereeing a Final is so special for a referee, as indeed it is for players.

When first there were finals, the visiting team was given a panel of three referees from whom to choose the referee for the match.

The first final was played at Newlands in 1939, Western Province vs Transvaal. The referee was Boy Louw, a famous Western Province Springbok turned referee. It was the year after he had retired from rugby. Transvaal was captained by his brother and fellow-Springbok Fanie. Transvaal won, and there were no complaints about the referee.

Piet Robbertse of Eastern Transvaal was the first unattached referee to referee a Currie Cup Final. That was in 1973 when Northern Transvaal played Transvaal at Loftus Versfeld - to retain the names of those times. Uniquely Robbertse was also the last referee to referee a Final with his own province (Eastern Transvaal) involved - until Craig Joubert, that is. Joubert, after all, was living in Durban, and nobody seemed to worry about it at all, as appointments increasingly were a matter of merit and not dependent on residence.

Jonathan Kaplan lives in Cape Town and referees a Final in Cape Town. It clearly is not a problem. In fact if all the referee's biography was taken into account to measure pure unattachment, the only Final which Kaplan could have refereed would have been Free State vs Griquas, which is not going to happen. After all Kaplan was born in Durban ad was a member of the Natal Society at one stage. He was educated in Johannesburg and the first society he joined was the Transvaal Referees' Society. He did his army training in Pretoria and was a member of the Northern Transvaal Referees' Society. He studied at UCT and was a member of the Western Province Referees' Society - as he is again after his return to the Mother City. In any case a referee's background is becoming less and less important in making an appointment.

The referees of Eastern Transvaal (a.k.a. Gauteng Falcons, now Valke) have refereed more Currie Cup Finals than the referees of any other province.

Referees for Currie Cup Finals

1939: Western Province vs Transvaal: Boy Louw (Western Province)
1946: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province: Carl Basson (Northern Transvaal)
1947: Western Province vs Transvaal: Albie Henkes (Western Province)
1950: Transvaal vs Western Province: Eddie Hofmeyr (Transvaal)
1952: Boland vs Transvaal: Chris Ackermann (Boland)
1954: Western Province vs Northern Transvaal: Ralph Burmeister (Western Province)
1956: Natal vs Northern Transvaal: Bowden Coombe (Natal)
1968: Northern Transvaal vs Transvaal: Bertie Strasheim (Northern Transvaal)
1969: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province: Fonnie van der Vyver (Northern Transvaal)
1970: Griqualand West vs Northern Transvaal: Ben Calitz (Griqualand West)
1971: Transvaal vs Northern Transvaal: Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal)
1972: Eastern Transvaal vs Transvaal: Piet Robbertse (Eastern Transvaal)
1973: Northern Transvaal vs Transvaal: Piet Robbertse (Eastern Transvaal)
1974: Northern Transvaal vs Transvaal: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1975: Orange Free State vs Northern Transvaal : Justus Moolman (Eastern Province)
1976: Orange Free State vs Western Province: Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal)
1977: Northern Transvaal vs Orange Free State: Jimmy Smith-Belton (Eastern Province)
1978: Orange Free State vs Northern Transvaal: Gert Bezuidenhout (Transvaal)
1979: Western Province vs Northern Transvaal: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1980: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1981: Northern Transvaal vs Orange Free State: Johan Gouws (Eastern Transvaal)
1982: Western Province vs Northern Transvaal: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1983: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province: Johan Gouws (Eastern Transvaal)
1984: Western Province vs Natal: Cassie Carstens (Northern Transvaal)
1985: Western Province vs Northern Transvaal: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1986: Western Province vs Transvaal: Steve Strydom (Orange Free State)
1987: Transvaal vs Northern Transvaal: Freek Burger (Western Province)
1988: Northern Transvaal vs Western Province: Jimmy Smith-Belton (Eastern Province)
1989: Western Province vs Northern Transvaal: Jimmy Smith-Belton (Eastern Province)
1990: Northern Transvaal vs Natal: Freek Burger (Western Province)
1991: Northern Transvaal vs Transvaal: Freek Burger (Western Province)
1992: Transvaal vs Natal: Freek Burger (Western Province)
1993: Natal vs Transvaal: Freek Burger (Western Province)
1994: Orange Free State vs Transvaal: Stef Neethling (Boland)
1995: Natal vs Western Province: Tappe Henning (Northern Transvaal)
1996: Transvaal vs Natal: André Watson (Eastern Transvaal)
1997: Western Province vs Free State: André Watson (Gauteng Falcons)
1998: Blue Bulls vs Western Province: André Watson (Gauteng Falcons)
1999: Natal vs Lions: André Watson (Gauteng Falcons)
2000: Natal vs Western Province: André Watson (Falcons)
2001: Western Province vs Natal: André Watson (Falcons)
2002: Lions vs Blue Bulls: Jonathan Kaplan (Boland)
2003: Blue Bulls vs Sharks: Shaun Veldsman (Boland)
2004: Blue Bulls vs Free State Cheetahs: André Watson (Falcons)
2005: Blue Bulls vs Free State Cheetahs: Jonathan Kaplan (Boland)
2006: Blue Bulls vs Cheetahs: Jonathan Kaplan (Boland)
2007: Free State Cheetahs vs Golden Lions: Mark Lawrence (Mpumalanga)
2008: Sharks vs Blue Bulls: Jonathan Kaplan (Western Province)
2009: Blue Bulls vs Free State Cheetahs: Jonathan Kaplan (Western Province)
2010: Sharks vs Western Province: Craig Joubert (KwaZulu Natal)
2011: Golden Lions vs Sharks: Mark Lawrence (Mpumalanga)
2012: Sharks vs Western Province: Jaco Peyper (Free State)
2013: Western Province vs Sharks: Jonathan Kaplan (Western Province)

Number of Finals per Referee

7. André Watson
6. Steve Strydom, Jonathan Kaplan
5. Freek Burger
3. Jimmy Smith-Belton, Gert Bezuidenhout
2. Piet Robbertse, Johan Gouws, Mark Lawrence
1. Boy Louw, Carl Basson, Albie Henkes, Eddie Hofmeyr, Chris Ackermann, Ralph Burmeister, Bowden Coombe, Bertie Strasheim, Fonnie van der Vyver, Ben Calitz, Justus Moolman, Cassie Carstens, Stef Neethling, Tappe Henning, Shaun Veldsman, Craig Joubert, Jaco Peyper

Name changes

Transvaal became the Gauteng Lions, later the Golden Lions, then the Lions and then again the Golden Lions
Northern Transvaal became the Blue Bulls.
Eastern Transvaal became the Gauteng Falcons, then Falcons/Valke, now Valke.
Orange Free State became Free State, then Free State Cheetahs.
Mpumalanga was formerly South Eastern Transvaal and then South Eastern Transvaal and Lowveld.
Natal is now KwaZulu Natal

First referee to referee a Final: Boy Louw
First unattached in a Final: Piet Robbertse
Most Finals: André Watson

Most Province Representation in Finals

11 - Eastern Transvaal
10 - Western Province
7 - Boland, Orange Free State
5 - Northern Transvaal
4 - Eastern Province, Transvaal
2 - Natal, Mpumalanga
1 - Griqualand West

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