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Two referees and 32 tries

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 07:52
Two-refs Two-refs630
Early indications are very, very positive
Quote-end

It may not be cause and effect, but it is a fact that in the four Varsity Cup matches on Monday, each refereed by two referees, 32 tries were scored.

It was the first round of the Varsity Cup and the first round of two referees in action on television for all to see.

Certainly it must have allayed fears. The nay-sayers were scared that there would be more penalties than ever. There were not. They were scared that the referees would get in a tangle - one penalising one side while the other penalised the other side. That, too, did not happen. There were even complaints that referees would not get enough exercise. On Monday's evidence, there was plenty of exercise for referees in a faster game then usual.

But there was well organised and orderly scrumming. There was quick ball from tackles. Skew throw-ins into scrums and line-outs were dealt with. Those are good things. There were no complaints about the refereeing. That's also a good thing.

The matches produced tries as follows:

NMMU vs Maties: 10 tries. The NMMU flank scored an astonishing five of them.
UCT vs Pukke: 10 tries
Tukkies vs UJ: 5 tries
Shimlas vs Wits: 7 tries

This is just a start - just the first week of the two-referee system but already there are positives. Positioning for the two referees is important and will become easier when they are used to it. In the Pretoria match it was great to see referees in the in-goal to decide try or no try themselves. They could do that because there is greater licence to move.

André Watson, South Africa's refereeing boss, who has been a proponent of the two-referee system, was certainly pleased. He made the following points:

"My comment re the two referees – after only two games on TV is as follows:

"1. I am extremely happy with the outcomes of the games, the number of tries, the flow, the limited stoppages, etc. Most importantly the accuracy of decision-making was superb.

a. The synergy and communication between the two referees – especially in the second game – was refreshing and a great experience to witness.

b. I have no doubt that if we smooth the rough edges, like correcting positional play and transferring and re-transferring of 'engaging referee duties' that the two-referee system will be successful.

c. The number of law errors, or human errors or non-decisions – the stuff that upsets all stakeholder - has been minimal and on a stats sheet came tumbling down – after just round one!

2. There is work in progress in that:

a. The referees need to adjust their positional play in order to get maximum benefit out of this system.

b. The communication needs to be directed not only to the players but to each other and the viewers.

c. Little nuances and mannerisms need to be adapted in order to get even better outcomes.

d. Above all, stuff I like to tackle head-on as a challenge has always excited me."

In summary Watson says: "It’s too soon to say that it is the answer, but early indications are very, very positive."

Ben Crouse, a National Panel referee, was one of the two referees in the Varsity Cup match in Pretoria. The other referee was Jaco van Heerden, an Elite Panel referee. Crouse speaks about the experience.

"We really enjoyed it and think it was a good first run out. I think one of the keys for Jaco and me was the communication between us where we communicated to go wide or closer, manage pillars etc.

"Scrums were much easier to manage even though we can still improve there.

"The feedback from coaches and players was very positive. They felt we created space and enjoyed that we communicated well with them.

"I certainly think that two refs might be the way of the future.

"The challenge with this system is to get consistency between the two refs."

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