Super Referee Profiles

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12 Feb 2014 Selected Article image

SANZAR has drawn up profiles of the referees chosen to referee Super Rugby in 2014, a comparatively inexperienced squad of men.

Steve Walsh and Craig Joubert are the most experienced but there are those with few Tests, even no Tests at all. The most inexperienced are Matt O'Brien and Marius van der Westhuizen.

It is also interesting to see how many of these top referees started at school and how many were once in the IRB's Sevens Series.

Argentina

Francisco Pastrana
Twitter: @achipastrana
Born: 13 September 1979, Buenos Aires
Super Rugby Debut: 2012
Super Rugby Matches: 6
Test Debut: Uruguay vs United States, 2009
Test Matches: 10

A former player from Hindú Club in Argentina, Francisco Pastrana started his career in 2004 and is Argentina’s pre-eminent referee. After refereeing his first Test in 2009, Pastrana was appointed to the IRB Sevens Series and his career continued to grow, subsequently participating in Rugby World Cup qualifying matches, Vodacom Cup in South Africa and earning appointment to the Super Rugby panel. Pastrana first participated in Tier 1 matches as an assistant in Scotland vs South Africa in 2010 and continued with further appointments in The Rugby Championship and Six Nations.

Australia

Angus Gardner
Born: 24 August 1984, Sydney
Super Rugby Debut: 2012
Super Rugby Matches: 6
Test Debut: Papua New Guinea vs Vanuatu, 2011
Test Matches: 3

Angus Gardner started refereeing in 1999 at age 15 at Shore School in North Sydney and currently works there where he is responsible for overseeing the major building projects as part of the school’s master plan. Gardner studied at the University of Technology-Sydney and has a degree in Property Economics. He has previous experience in Property Development & Project Management including working for a listed property fund with Charter Hall.

His experience includes the 2012 Junior World Championship and 2013 Shute Shield Final in Sydney.

Rohan Hoffmann
Twitter: @pdrhoff
Born: 14 January 1972, Brisbane
Super Rugby Debut: 2013
Super Rugby Matches: 5
Test Debut: Monaco vs Bosnia, 2008
Test Matches: 4

Rohan Hoffmann is an ex-professional player, having earned 30 caps for Portugal and representing the country at two World Cup Sevens tournaments.

An English language teacher by trade and a holder of a commercial pilot’s license, Hoffmann is married to Maria Joao and father of Martin (15) and Pedro (7). He is an avid cyclist and social media addict.

Hoffmann started refereeing immediately after retiring as a player in Europe and also holds Portuguese citizenship. He was part of the refereeing team at the 2009 IRB Sevens tournament.

James Leckie
Born: 27 November 1975, Sydney
Super Rugby Debut: 2006
Super Rugby Matches: 24
Test Debut: Hong Kong vs Korea, 2006
Test Matches: 4

James Leckie attended Trinity Grammar where he played 1st XV and refereed weekend junior fixtures. He played wing for Sydney University Colts before injury forced him to look at refereeing to continue his passion for rugby. He has gone on to referee over 100 Sydney first grade games, 24 Super Rugby games, IRB Sevens, 2006 Commonwealth Games Final, four Junior Rugby World Cups and four Tests. He has also served as an assistant referee for some 30 Test matches.

Away from rugby, Leckie is married with two children. He is a school mathematics teacher and the owner of a swimming school.

Andrew Lees
Twitter: @Andrew_Lees79
Born: 7 June 1979, Canberra AUS
Super Rugby Debut: 2012
Super Rugby Matches: 7
Test Debut: Niue vs Solomon Islands, 2011
Test Matches: 2

Andrew Lees began refereeing whilst at high school in Canberra and combined this with playing throughout university. He progressed to senior rugby in Sydney in 2002 and was selected on the Australian Rugby Union’s Panel in 2008. Lees made his international debut at the 2008 IRB Sevens in Adelaide which was the start of a successful Sevens stint that included numerous Cup Finals and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He made his Super Rugby debut in 2012 and attended the IRB Junior World Championship in France the following year.

Away from the field, Lees is a physical education teacher.

Matt O'Brien
Born: 22 July 1983, Invercargill, New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2014
Super Rugby Matches: 0
Test Debut: –
Test Matches : 0

Matt O'Brien started refereeing in 2008 on the Gold Coast after playing a number of Premier Grade seasons for the Breakers. He quickly progressed through Queensland’s refereeing ranks and was selected to officiate the IRB World Series Sevens in 2011 and has since refereed three Finals and the 2013 Sevens World Cup.

O'Brien has a Pharmacy degree from the University of Otago in Dunedin and has a number of pharmacy businesses in Queensland. He enjoys all sports - especially anything in the ocean – and is looking forward to making his Super Rugby debut this year.

Steve Walsh
Born: 28 March 1972, Cambridge, New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 1997
Super Rugby Matches: 95
Test Debut: Argentina vs France, 1998
Test Matches: 54

One of the most respected referees in world rugby, Steve Walsh took up the whistle at the age of 16 after calling time on his playing career because of a spinal injury three years earlier. A veteran of four Rugby World Cups from 1999-2011, Walsh is
currently on the IRB Elite panel and refereed the 2012 Super Rugby Final between the Chiefs and Sharks in Hamilton. Later that year he received the Australian Referee of the Year award at the John Eales Medal ceremony in Sydney and followed it up by
earning the same honour last season.

New Zealand

Nick Briant
Born: 10 June 1981, Hawera New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2013
Super Rugby Matches: 4
Test Debut: –
Test Matches: –

Nick Briant, who hails from Bay of Plenty, has been a feature of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2009 and has considerable experience at ITM Cup and Pink Batts Heartland Championship level. Briant started officiating in 2002 and he has carved out a place as a Sevens specialist. He became active in the shorter form of the game in 2010 and is a member of the IRB Sevens World Series 2013-14 Elite Panel having refereed 14 tournaments.

Mike Fraser
Born: 4 November 1980, New Plymouth New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2012
Super Rugby Matches: 6
Test Debut: 2013
Test Matches: 3

A member of New Zealand Rugby’s referee panel since 2007, Mike Fraser became the nation’s latest Test referee in November
2013, five months after overseeing the 2013 Junior World Championship in France. The Wellington-based Fraser had two quite different international rugby experiences, starting with Georgia vs United States in Tbilisi as his Test debut and Wales vs Tonga in Cardiff. He has also refereed five IRB Sevens tournaments.

Glen Jackson
Born: 23 October 1975, Feilding New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2011
Super Rugby Matches: 19
Test Debut: 2012
Test Matches: 4

Glen Jackson became a first class New Zealand Rugby referee in 2010 following his retirement from playing professionally in the northern hemisphere. The former Chiefs player progressed quickly through the ranks, making his Super Rugby refereeing debut within a year of his return to New Zealand. He made his international debut late in 2012, overseeing England vs Fiji at Twickenham and was later named New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year.

Chris Pollock
Born: 9 November 1972, Hawera, New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2006
Super Rugby Matches: 52
Test Debut: Niue vs Tahiti, 2005
Test Matches: 15

Chris Pollock is currently New Zealand’s most experienced referee with over 160 first class games to his credit and he has been a member of the New Zealand Rugby referees squad since 2001. Pollock had a busy 2013, which included the first British and Irish Lions vs Australia Test and the ITM Cup Premiership Final between Wellington and Canterbury. He was named New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year in 2013.

Garratt Williamson
Born: 27 April 1971, Wellington New Zealand
Super Rugby Debut: 2009
Super Rugby Matches: 27
Test Debut: Japan vs Samoa, 2010
Test Matches: 2

Now in his sixth season of Super Rugby and 10th in the New Zealand Rugby referees squad, Garratt Williamson is one of his country’s most-experienced referees. Williamson, who hails from Wellington, has overseen two Tests and been involved with a further 11 internationals as an Assistant Referee or TMO. He also has experience on the international stage with the shorter form of the game at half a dozen IRB Sevens tournaments.

South Africa

Stuart Berry
Twitter: @stu_berry
Born: 10 June 1982, Durban
Super Rugby Debut: 2011
Super Rugby Matches: 7
Test Debut: Japan vs New Zealand, 2013
Test Matches: 1

Stuart Berry was born in Durban and schooled in KwaZulu-Natal. He attended Hillcrest Primary and High Schools before attending the University of Natal where he obtained a Master of Science degree in Hydrology. Berry currently owns his own company based in Durban, managing the operation of sporting events and music concerts.

He made his Test debut when refereeing Japan’s clash against the All Blacks in Tokyo at the end of 2013.

Jason Jaftha
Born: 4 May 1985, Prince Albert
Super Rugby Debut: 2013
Super Rugby Matches: 6
Test Debut: Zimbabwe vs Spain, 2012
Test Matches: 2

Jason Jaftha grew up in a rugby family and turned his attention to refereeing at the age of 15 after a brief stint playing scrumhalf at school level. When he’s not on the field, Jaftha is helping his father run the family business. He also enjoys reading, spending time with friends and says that travelling on the IRB Sevens circuit was a great experience that showed him many new places, cultures and experiences. His refereeing experience includes the 2012 Currie Cup First Division Final, 2008 IRB Sevens and a Vodacom Cup Final.

Craig Joubert
Born: 8 November 1977, Durban
Super Rugby Debut: 2005
Super Rugby Matches: 69
Test Debut: United States vs Canada, 2005
Test Matches: 48

Craig Joubert’s late father Des (who was himself a provincial referee), encouraged him to take up refereeing as a teenager. He quickly rose through the ranks and officiated his first Test in 2005. Joubert has plenty of big game experience including the Semi-Final and Final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, as well as numerous Super Rugby Finals. He also ran touch at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and refereed the 2005 IRB Sevens World Cup.

Away from rugby, Joubert studied Business Finance at the University of Natal and worked in corporate banking before
refereeing became a full time commitment.

Jaco Peyper
Born: 13 May 1980, Bloemfontein
Super Rugby Debut: 2009
Super Rugby Matches: 34
Test Debut: Kenya vs Zimbabwe, 2011
Test Matches: 15

Jaco Peyper started refereeing in 2001 at age 20 and made his first class debut in 2007. His career pathway started at Currie Cup and progressed through the IRB Sevens, IRB Under-20s, Super Rugby and on to Test level appointments.

Peyper obtained degrees in Accounting and Law from the University of the Free State and currently works as a consultant to Peyper Sesele Inc. when not refereeing. He is married to wife Zenobia and has an eight month old daughter Nina.

Lourens van der Merwe
Born: 3 February 1977, Pretoria
Super Rugby Debut: 2012
Super Rugby Matches: 10
Test Debut: Botswana vs Swaziland, 2012
Test Matches: 7

Lourens van der Merwe started refereeing in 2000 and is also a physical sciences teacher at Grey College in Bloemfontein.

His refereeing experience includes the 2012 Junior World Cup Semi-Final, 2011 Vodacom Cup Final, as well as numerous appointments throughout the Currie Cup divisions.

He married wife Liene in 2003 and the pair have two boys, Llewellyn (6), WJ (3) and a girl Suzaan (1). In his spare time, Van der Merwe loves to spend time in his garden or watching a movie with the family.

Marius van der Westhuizen
Twitter: @mariusvdw
Born: 6 January 1984, Cape Town
Super Rugby Debut: 2014
Super Rugby Matches: 0
Test Debut: –
Test Matches: 0

Marius van der Westhuizen started refereeing in 2007 in the Western Province Union. He was appointed to the SA Rugby
Contender Panel in 2009, National Panel in 2011 and Elite Panel in 2013. The Cape Town-based referee had a career-defining year in 2013 when he was called up to officiate two IRB Sevens Finals, the Varsity Cup Final and Vodacom Cup Final. He also made his Currie Cup Premier Division debut last year in a semifinal and looks forward to stepping up to Super Rugby level in 2014.

Away from the rugby field, Van der Westhuizen is a keen golfer.