Referees in Currie Cup Finals

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 20:11
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Since 1889 men have been refereeing South Africa's interprovincial matches. 128 Years later Jaco Peyper has the plum match of the year.

He is not new to the final, as it is his third, but always a huge honour for anybody appointed to this match.

The Currie Cup was added in 1892 as an award for winning the provincial tournaments which were played mostly as centralised tournaments, later in league and various other formats. 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 Burmese, 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 Currie Cup Finals. Tappe Henning refereed 20 tests, one Final. Mark Lawrence refereed 27 Tests and just two Currie Cup Finals. Gert Bezuidenhout referee three Tests and two Currie Cup Finals. Jonathan Kaplan refereed 70 Tests but only five Finals. Peyper has refereed 40 Tests and this is his third Currie Cup final.

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 Burmese, Bertie Strasheim, Gert Bezuidenhout, Piet Robbertse, Steve Strydom, Justus Moolman, Johan Gouws, Freek Burger, Stef Neethling, Tappe Henning, André Watson who refereed two Super Rugby Finals, Jonathan Kaplan, Shaun Veldsman, Mark Lawrence, Craig Joubert who has refereed one Super Rugby Final, one World Cup Final and two Currie Cup Finals, 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. Boy Louw is the only Springbok to have refereed a Currie Cup Final.

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.

There are some other firsts worth recording. The first man to referee a Test match was Dr John Griffin of the Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth. The first man to referee a match at an interprovincial tournament, Western Province vs Eastern Province, was Percy Ross-Frames, the lawyer who with Bill Bisset was instrumental in establishing the South African Rugby Board. The first man to referee a Currie Cup match, Western Province vs Transvaal, was Ferdie, whose first name was really Fitzmaurice, Aston. That was in 1892. He captained South Africa in 1896.

It would be good if we could find the referee for the first Rhodes Trophy match in May 1898, Western Province vs Eastern Province. The first referee for the first YTest between the SA Coloured Rugby Board and the SA Bantu Rugby Board in October 1950 was Gamatdien Davids, born in Kimberley, lived in Cape Town, his nickname Punky.

Craig Joubert of Durban refereed his first Currie Cup Final when the Sharks played in Durban and Jonathan Kaplan was living in Cape Town when he refereed a Final in Cape Town in 2014. It clearly was not a problem. Rasta Rasivhenge was a Western Province referee but for most of his refereeing career (and life) he was a Gautenger and a member of the Golden Lions Referees' Society. A referee's background has become less and less important in making an appointment. And so it was unremarkable that Jaco Peyper of Bloemfontein refereed last year's Currie Cup Final in Bloemfontein.

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 Burmese (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)
2014: Western Province vs Golden Lions: Craig Joubert (KwaZulu-Natal)
2015: Golden Lions vs Western Province: Rasta Rasivhenge (Western Province)
2016: Free State Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls: Jaco Peyper (Free State)
2017: Sharks vs Western Province: Jaco Peyper (Free State)

Referees in Finals by Number

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

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

Most Finals Refereed by Province

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

Biggest Number of Final Referees by Province

6 Western Province
5 Northern Transvaal
4 Boland
3 Eastern Transvaal, Natal
2 Eastern Province, Transvaal, Free State
1 Griqualand West, Mpumalanga

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 which became South Eastern Transvaal and Low veld.
Natal is now KwaZulu-Natal and now generally known as the Sharks.