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Rugby referees…

I want to start off by saying, “A good rugby game is a match where the referee and or his officials are not part of the post-match conversations!”

Yes, we are once again pushing the envelope on a topic that for long now has been the main discussion at almost every weekend braai and it needs to stop as far as we are concerned.

This past weekend during round 7 of Vodacom Super Rugby we as rugby supporters had to endure more of what is becoming one of the major factors that some do not want to attend or even watch the game most of us love.

Saturday evening the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers met at Loftus Versfeld in a game that has been building to be a thriller over the last couple of weeks until the officials were named…

When the names of Marius van der Westhuizen and Marius Jonker pop up, then most South African supporters cringe, and Saturday again showed why.

To prove this we did the effort of watching the game three times over the last 4 days and we have made some notes, which we would like to share with everyone. We do however want to make it very clear that these two names are not the only referees in world rugby guilty of spoiling the game for millions week after week.

So here goes our analysis of what transpired on Saturday at Loftus with match times to assist:

12:08 – The Stormers have advantage and Damian de Allende skip passes to SP Marais, clearly forward with referee in clear line of sight. No call?BULLS 7 – 0 STORMERS

20:23 – Bulls on attack and Pieter Steph du Toit high tackles Jesse Kriel, again referee in clear line of sight, no penalty and no advantage. Even commentator mentions high tackle. How can referee miss this so easily?BULLS 12 – 3 STORMERS

23:14 – Stormers on attack and Marco van Staden high tackles Justin Philips. No difference as to previous incident and ref gives penalty without asking even referring it to TMO for possible further sanction against van Staden but stands with penalty. Less than 3 minutes of play but clearly no consistency Mr ref? BULLS 12 – 3 STORMERS

36:16 – Pieter Steph du Toit picks and goes for try line. Loses ball as he tries to score but ball goes back off Bulls player’s foot. Du Toit then continues to play ball on the ground while laying on the floor and Jan de Klerk finishes off the try. Ref asks TMO Jonker to check du Toit attempt at scoring for possible knock. TMO confirms no knock and try is awarded. Should TMO not know the rules and call out du Toit’s illegal ground play or do TMOs not apply certain laws? BULLS 19 – 11 STORMERS

38:50 – Stormers on attack, loose ball and PSdT clearly knocks ball with fingers with ref behind him in clear sight calling it backwards? Two phases later Damian de Allende scores try under poles. Are we watching the same game Mr Referee and assistants? BULLS 19 – 18 STORMERS


41:41 – TMO interrupts play for possible foul play after ref awards Stormers penalty. Ref overturns penalty and sends PSdT off for reckless play. Why does TMO intervene here but not on other infringements that ref and assistants don’t call? BULLS 19 – 18 STORMERS

61:01 – SP Marais makes late shoulder charge on Handré Pollard after kick. Pollard asks question, no response from any officials. BULLS 26 – 18 STORMERS

65:52 – Siya Kolisi “dots down” in corner. However ball never touches a blade of grass as clearly seen on 2nd replay angle. Again no intervention from TMO who has all the tools and rights to question any try or line decision. What’s happening in the TMO box? BULLS 26 – 23 STORMERS

71:14 – Penalty given to Stormers for apparent deliberate knock by Embrose Papier. TMO requested to check if worthy of yellow. First and last replay clearly shows Dillyn Leyds pass ball forward into Papier’s tackling arms to milk penalty / card. Penalty stands! How did TMO not see Leyds’ deliberate forward pass? BULLS 33 – 23 STORMERS

What I am trying to illustrate here is not the mistakes or anything the Bulls or Stormers made but the costly errors by the officials involved. Some of the blunders they made could have turned the match completely for either side but thankfully it did not.

However, when you go back and you look back at when the Bulls played the Emirates Lions it did cost them as the same Marius van der Westhuizen dished out cards left right and centre that made the game a no contest for almost 12 minutes when the Bulls were down to 13 men at one stage conceding 21 points in that time. Not long after that the Lions transgressed in the same way the Bulls did, they however only got warnings. Where is the consistency in officiating?

The same happened 2 weeks later when the Bulls faced the Chiefs in Hamilton. Ref kept on warning the Chiefs, so much so that even the New Zealand commentators remarked on it that there should have been cards.

At this moment in time there are about 3 referees in world rugby as far as I am concerned that only ever get compliments, Nigel Owens, Glen Jackson and recently Nic Berry, and rightly so. The rest are all just a shame to the game and really need to step up.

These three men are consistent in everything they do and no bias is shown to the home team, which is another problem with certain officials. Where in what rugby law does it state that an official should be more for the home side than opposition? Nowhere!

I really hope that one day we as rugby supporters can fill up stadiums because of good rugby and not stay home because of referees that feel the need to have the spotlight on them. All we want is good honest fair officiating and consistency in doing so.

Jacques is the founder & webmaster of and is a sports lover of note. He likes writing opinion pieces that matter.



  1. J M Hill

    April 4, 2018 at 6:18 PM

    This last weekend Nigel Owens and TMO cost Toulon a win against Munster quite clear hometown decision

    • Jacques Henning

      April 5, 2018 at 1:05 PM

      Due to work obligations we missed this. Care to elaborate on what happened and at what time?

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