Super 14
Super 14 refs to get tough at the breakdown
January 30, 2009
South African referee Andre Watson takes charge, Australia v Pacific Islanders, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia, July 3, 2004
Andre Watson has pledged that the Super 14 will be strictly refereed © Getty Images

With the 2009 Super 14 season around the corner the tournament's elite referees have signalled their intentions to strictly police the breakdown as the great and good of Australian, South African and New Zealand rugby go head-to-head.

The season gets underway when the Highlanders host the Brumbies in Dunedin on February 13 and will feature referees selected on merit rather than nationality. Andre Watson, South Africa's manager of referees, has also confirmed an IRB directive to clean up the often contentious contact area.

"What the IRB's directive is trying to achieve is to create more of a contest for the ball at the tackle, to move away from the tendency that had developed to be more tolerant on the attacking side, allowing them to seal off the ball, to go off their feet," Watson told South African TV station SuperSport. "We want to see a real contest for the ball, with the first players arriving at the tackle really fighting for it.

"I believe it will create more excitement, there will be more turnovers and we're hoping to see quicker and cleaner ball. We want to eliminate the missiles. We want to see players on their feet moving the obstacles. No shoulder charges and flying tackles. It's common sense really and we just want to be stricter on it."

South African referees have also received coaching from Springbok scrum coach Balie Swart in an attempt to better understand the mechanics of front-row play and have also been told to wise-up in terms of infringements in the lineout, including early-lifting and stepping across the line.

"It's more of a re-emphasis when it comes to the line-outs," Watson said. "And it also goes to wanting a fair contest. By coming down on early lifting, barging or stepping across we hope to ensure that the team throwing in the ball enjoy the advantage they're meant to have."

During a distinguished career Watson took charge of the 2000 and 2003 Super 12 finals as well as the 2003 Rugby World Cup final between England and Australia before receiving an IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service in 2008.


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