Wed 23 May 2018 | 01:19

AUDIO: SANZAAR discard happy to be PRO14 trailblazer

Stuart Berry on being in charge of Pro14 Final by Rugby365 interviews
Wed 23 May 2018 | 01:19
AUDIO: SANZAAR discard happy to be PRO14 trailblazer
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It is historic for many reasons, – because it is also his first season in this competition – previously known as the Welsh-Scottish League, Celtic League and Pro12 – which features South African teams.

Berry's story is the proverbial 'Phoenix rising from the ashes'.

Having been sacked by SANZAAR's one-man 'selection committee' – which decides on who makes the cut for Super Rugby – Berry, in his first season of Pro14 refereeing, was appointed to take charge of the Final between Leinster and Scarlets in Dublin on Saturday.

"It is a massive privilege," Berry said of the appointment.

"As a South African referee, to be in this position and to have refereed in one of the greatest competitions in Europe is great."

This is a wonderful achievement for the 35-year-old businessman from Durban, who recently became a father.

He has the experience of having refereed 11 Tests, 51 Currie Cup matches, 26 Super Rugby matches and now 13 Pro14 matches.

Last Saturday, Berry refereed the semifinal between Leinster and Munster in Dublin while Johnny Lacey of Ireland did the other semifinal in Glasgow.

"It is a really interesting time for South African rugby and our expansion into Europe," he said, adding: "I feel privileged to be part of that expansion and being the first [South African] referee to officiate alongside the likes of Nigel Owens and Romain Poite. Also to be able to put my name on the list of referees for a Pro14 Final.

"The expansion of South African rugby into Europe is a really interesting one and one that has proven it has a lot of merits to it.

"I certainly feel privileged to be in a position help pioneer that expansion."

South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux said: "We are immensely proud of Stuart and we know he will represent South Africa with aplomb in Dublin on Saturday.

"His appointment to the Final is well-deserved and we believe it underlines the fact that our entry into this exciting competition in the Northern Hemisphere had been a great success."

PRO14/12 Final referees down the years:
2010: Chris White (England)
2011: Nigel Owens (Wales)
2012: Romain Poite (France)
2013: John Lacey (Ireland)
2014: Nigel Owens (Wales)
2015: Nigel Owens (Wales)
2016: Nigel Owens (Wales)
2017: Nigel Owens (Wales)
2018: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

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Audio: Sanzaar Discard Happy To Be Pro14 Trailblazer | Rugby365