Gibson satisfied with SANZAAR referee process

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says he has 'no issue' with SANZAAR's referee selection process, after a controversial loss to the Crusaders last weekend. 

Gibson made contact with SANZAAR referee boss Lyndon Bray and match referee Ben O'Keeffe in the wake of a 31-29 defeat, in which two major incidents were overlooked during the match, and said he was happy with their response.

"We've had really positive correspondence with the referees boss Lyndon and the referee himself and I'm really happy with that process," he said.

"It's been a good one.

"We certainly don't blame the referee for anything that went on in the game and we're still kicking ourselves, around we felt we had better control of that game, we should've come out with a better result."

The oversights in the match by all four referees in the Waratahs-Crusaders match, has generated debate around the establishment of a neutral match referee, or at least one foreign match official

All four officials in the match were from New Zealand, missing a Joe Moody hit on Kurtley Beale that was later deemed a red card offence, with the prop suspended for two matches.

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper also appealed to have a tip tackle reviewed in the dying stages of the match, when the Waratahs were down by two points, but O'Keeffe refused to go to the TMO and TMO Alan Paterson did not intervene.

Gibson said he wasn't worried about the process of selecting referees, though.

Ben O'Keeffe will be refereeing the England-Australia game at Twickenham on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images"I think there's a really clear process in place. They've got the merit system, there's lots of transparency between the referees and the head coaches and I've got no issue with that," he said.

If neutral referees were something SANZAAR were considering, it won't be happening this week, with New Zealand referees O'Keeffe and Brendon Pickerill officiating the Hurricanes-Reds and Waratahs-Highlanders matches, respectively.

In the Reds match, all four match officials are from New Zealand, while the Waratahs match will have three Australian match officials, in Will Houston, Graham Cooper and George Ayoub.

The Brumbies-Lions game on Sunday morning will be officiated by New Zealander Nick Briant, with the rest of the match officials all from South Africa.

It is believed teams and coaches contribute to the decisions around the strategy of referee selection and have agreed to a fully merit-based system over ensuring neutral referees for each game.

None of these appointments are out of the ordinary, with the cost to fly match officials to different countries considered prohibitive.

Of the 17 Super Rugby referees, seven are from New Zealand, five from South Africa, three from Australia and one each from Japan and Argentina.