Columnists 28.4.2017 08:51 am

Kings show glimpse of class but the refs are another matter

Jonathan Kaplan. Photo: Gallo Images.

Jonathan Kaplan. Photo: Gallo Images.

The men with the whistle again provide some talking points in Super Rugby and our local men certainly aren’t blameless.

The Kings pulled off the shock of the weekend and thoroughly deserved it.

They were under the pump from the start, but showed tremendous character to beat the Tahs 26-24 in Sydney.

Even if they don’t do much else in the year, coach Deon Davids has proved that good structure, selection and game plan can triumph.

They now face up to a Rebels team who beat the Brumbies and then drew with the Sharks in Durban, so a homecoming win will not be easy.

The Rebels will have targeted this fixture and seem to have improved so there may not be much in it at the death (BettingWorld 10/11 Kings).

In Match 4 of the Rugby 5 coupon, the Jaguares come off an unlucky loss to the Lions and are now at home to the Sharks.

I think the Jaguares may have the edge as they have never lost by that much to the Sharks (Jaguares BettingWorld 10/11).

The Brumbies played well in fits and starts against the Canes but got smashed when it counted.

They have home advantage against a Blues team which has struggled to win away for the past few years.

There were once again a couple of poor performances by some referees.

On the whole though, this is a group with good prospects. I like the Kiwi youngsters who have performed really well this season.

Brendon Pickerill has got loads of potential even though he is very raw.

His feel for the game is good.

He may not be Sanzaar game manager Lyndon Bray’s idea of a top five referee, but it’s not going to be long before he gets used to the shape of Super Rugby and Test matches.

Paul Williams didn’t have a great start at the weekend, but he too has done well with his common sense approach.

Mike Fraser has always been a man with a good head, a good man manager and a good communicator. I would like to see him get a play-off match this year.

Australia have Angus Gardner who has generally done very well barring one off-day a fortnight ago.

After that is anyone’s guess, but perhaps ex-player Nic Berry has the most potential as he hasn’t been doing this for too long and packages himself well.

Of the South Africans, Jaco Peyper stands out like a sore thumb.

I think Marius van der Westhuizen really serves the game well and tries really hard for the players; Rasta Rasivhenge has the people skills to keep learning his trade, while Jaco van Heerden just needs a bit more accuracy when the pace lifts and needs to learn how to blend in with the game rather than being the showpiece himself.

Having said that, he has presided over a couple of good games of rugby this season.

The big worry for me is that I think the Kiwis are getting it right among their referees too now, and have a few very good ones who are coming through very strongly.

Gone are the days where we could say that we have the best refs in the south.

Jonathan Kaplan is a former international rugby referee who holds the SA record of 70 Test matches, including 18 in the Six Nations.

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