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Super 14 merit panel announced
Scrum.com
December 15, 2008
Referee Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa in action during match thirty seven of the Rugby World Cup 2007 between Scotland and Italy at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard in St. Etienne, France on September 29, 2007.
Jonathan Kaplan heads four South African referees selected in the inaugural Sanzar Merit Panel © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Super 14

South African referees dominate the first merit panel of officials that will take charge of the majority of matches in the forthcoming Super 14 season.

Sanzar (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia Rugby) announced last month that it would select referees based on a merit system rather than on nationality for the southern hemisphere provincial competition.

South African referees lead the way in the nine-man panel with Marius Jonker, Craig Joubert, Jonathan Kaplan and Mark Lawrence all slated. They are joined by Australians Stuart Dickinson, Matt Goddard and James Leckie with New Zealanders Bryce Lawrence and Steve Walsh also included.

Sanzar have announced that referees on the panel will control at least 75 percent of matches in the tournament with a back-up panel of seven referees on stand-by for when Six Nations appointments, injury or unavailability make merit panel officials unavailable.

The back-up panel features Chris Pollock, Keith Brown and Vinny Munro from New Zealand, Paul Marks, Ian Smith and Nathan Pearce from Australia and South African Phillip Bosch.

The move from Sanzar means referees will no longer be prevented from refereeing their countrymen in opposition to another teams from another nation. The decision was made to ensure the best players would be refereed by the best officials.

Merit panel: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Matt Goddard (Australia), Marius Jonker (South Africa), Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Bryce Lawrence (NZ), Mark Lawrence (South Africa), James Leckie (Australia), Steve Walsh (NZ).

Back-up panel: Paul Marks (Australia), Chris Pollock (NZ), Ian Smith (Australia), Phillip Bosch (South Africa), Keith Brown (NZ), Vinny Munro (NZ), Nathan Pearce (Australia).

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