The appointment of Jaco Peyper as referee for Saturday’s Super Rugby final between the Lions and the Crusaders at Ellis Park has caused a mini-outcry – especially Down Under.
At the root of the complaint is the 58th minute yellow card Peyper dished out to Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett in last weekend’s semifinal against the Lions.
And in Barrett’s absence, the Lions scored 17 points to change a deficit from 22-29 into a match-winning lead of 39-29 by the time the All Black flyhalf returned to the fray.
But these same Kiwis conveniently forget that a New Zealand referee was in charge when Glen Jackson officiated last year’s final in Wellington between the Lions and the Hurricanes… and the Lions didn’t offer a single complaint.
The Stuff.co.nz website said Peyper handed out a second-half yellow card to Beauden Barrett for apparently “accidentally” rolling away with the ball after a tackle on Ruan Combrinck, calling it a “very harsh call”.
“The deeper issue is that Peyper’s nationality meant that controversy was almost bound to rear its ugly head. There is a simple way to avoid this: the Super Rugby final must be refereed by ‘neutral’ referees.
“Instead, we have a situation where we are talking about Peyper and perhaps not giving enough credit to the Lions, who finished like a tank platoon over the top of the weary Canes.”
Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said the selection criteria for all match official appointments for the last two years follow a clear tournament policy – as agreed by the executive committee and the tournament’s stakeholders – that such appointments be merit-based.
“This policy is written into the tournament protocols and appointments are made according to this policy on a weekly basis and is also the policy used for the finals last year as well as this year.”
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said they saw the impact of a yellow card against the Sharks during the quarterfinals and it’s “already difficult playing against a quality side”.
“When you give away a card it’s tough and the Hurricanes experienced that, but it was created through pressure,” he said.
“The good thing is that the players used the opportunity. The reality is that it won’t get any easier and you still have to work hard.”
Ackermann said a card didn’t necessarily mean points get handed out on a silver platter.
“The card made a difference but the players’ calmness, decision-making and intensity were great. The guys did small things much better in that second half.”