Non-neutral referees approved for Super 12
February 18, 2005

The SANZAR Executive Committee has approved a change to the Super Rugby match officials' appointment policy, which removes the requirement for franchise-neutral appointments for local derbies, it was announced today.

The change will come into effect from Week One of the 2005 Tooheys New Super 12 competition.

The first example of this policy in practice is the appointment of North Harbour referee Steve Walsh for the opening Tooheys New Super 12 match in New Zealand between the Highlanders and Blues in Dunedin on 25 February.

New Zealand Rugby Union and SANZAR Chief Executive Chris Moller said the policy change had been initiated by the Super 12 coaches, supported by the referees and was endorsed by the SANZAR Executive Committee at its recent
meeting in Wellington.

"In the past, SANZAR has had a requirement that referees not only be country-neutral but also franchise-neutral. However, the coaches have supported the policy change which is positive for the competition as local derby games will be officiated by the best available referees," Mr Moller said.

Mr Moller added that this had, in fact, always been the case in Australia where most of the refereeing panel are resident in either New South Wales or Queensland and regularly officiate in matches involving their teams.

In addition, SANZAR has agreed to a request from the NZRU to appoint a sixth referee to cater for a Week Two Tooheys New Super 12 fixture in New Zealand.

This is due to the fact that Paddy O'Brien has been appointed to referee the IRB Tsunami Appeal match on 5 March in London, the same day he was due to officiate in a Tooheys New Super 12 match in Christchurch.

The NZRU's other four leading referees are already committed to other overseas Tooheys New Super 12 or Six Nations appointments.

As a result, Bryce Lawrence will referee the Crusaders v Chiefs match in Christchurch on 5 March.

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