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SANZAR moves to merit-based referee appointments
Scrum.com
November 10, 2008
Referee Steve Walsh of New Zealand officiates during the Rugby World Cup 2007 Pool C match between Georgia and Namibia at the Stade Felix Bollaert in Lens, France on September 26, 2007.
The move could see New Zealand referee taking charge of an All Blacks match next year © Getty Images
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SANZAR has taken the ground-breaking step of empowering their top match officials to referee more of the best matches in Super 14, ensuring the highest standard of refereeing in its 2009 competitions.

Officials will be appointed from a panel founded on merit before nationality and will no longer be prevented from refereeing their countrymen in opposition to another nation. In effect, this will allow a referee from one of the SANZAR countries to referee in matches involving teams from his country, regardless of the opponent.

"This is a significant step and was taken simply because we wanted to have the best refereeing the best," said Andy Marinos, managing director of SANZAR. "It will create a more competitive environment for our referees and will also lead to greater accountability.

"It obviously means that a South African, Australian or New Zealander could referee his countrymen when they play against a team from one of the other two nations. But we are confident in the ability of our officials to handle the change."

Match referees will be appointed from a pilot merit panel that will be named before the start of the Super 14 season. The panel will be revised after six weeks into the competition and a second time before the semi-finals.

"The move to 'neutral' officials was one of the major strides that professional rugby took but as the game has matured it has become obvious that we need the best officials on the field," said Marinos. "Referees will have the opportunity to move up the pecking order as the season progresses, providing them with tangible performance incentives".

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