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Kaplan passes Watson

Record Test caps for SA Referee

On Saturday, when Ireland play New Zealand, Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa will referee his 28th Test, thus breaking the record he held jointly with André Watson.

Kaplan is meticulous in his record-keeping and will enjoy breaking this record all the more, four days after his birthday.

We asked Watson, now the manager of South African referees, how he felt about it and he said: "Hopefully he can double it.  I really am happy for him, for he deserves it. After all records are there to be broken."

South African Rugby CEO Johan Prinsloo  congratulated, saying: “Jonathan is an exemplary referee among his peers not only in South Africa, but also around the world. We are all proud of his achievements, following in the footsteps of such achievers as André Watson. Such achievements should inspire young talented referees to reach remarkable heights in their profession.”

At the SA Rugby Awards in Johannesburg last month, Kaplan received the Marriott Refereeing Achievement of the Year award, SA Rugby’s highest honour for a referee. 

He is presently recognised as South Africa’s number one referee and would certainly rate amongst the top referees in the world.  Recently, he handled the difficult and emotionally-charged Currie Cup Final between the Blue Bulls and the Cheetahs, with distinction. He said after the match: "I can't do better than that."

What helps Kaplan in his refereeing is the confidence to let the players play and his understanding of the game and the referee's place in it. Games move when he referees.

Jonathan Isaac Kaplan was born in Durban on 7 November 1966. He started refereeing when a schoolboy at King David's in Linksfield, Johannesburg. He was then 17 and too young to have a driving license which meant that his mother drove him everywhere.

He refereed his first provincial match in 1993, his first Test in 1996. That first Test was a long way from Lansdowne Road – Zimbabwe vs Namibia in Harare.

He became one of the first referees in South Africa to be a full time employee of SARFU and has refereed many high-profile matches, most recently the third Test between the All Blacks and the Lions.

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