Peyper opens up on Final hat-trick
CURRIE CUP SPOTLIGHT: Jaco Peyper, a 38-year-old Bloemfontein lawyer, will be refereeing his fourth final on Saturday – the fourth out of 57 finals.
There have not always been finals but there have always been referees – clever men who can decide on right and wrong in accordance with a complicated set of laws.
He, of course, has the credentials. He has refereed at the World Cup and has refereed 45 Tests, over 80 Super Rugby matches including two finals and many, many Currie Cup matches. He is fit, understand rugby and knows the laws and their intentions well. He communicates well with players, brief and clear, and has an unfussy demeanour. He has all the credentials all right. But then he has been on World Rugby’s elite panel of referees since 2012.
Of course, he is looking up to the game and is aware of the traditions of the Currie Cup and the prestigious place it has held in South African rugby. In a conversation about the final Peyper said: “I remember, from the age of six, watching the Currie Cup every weekend, being played with the leather Super Springbok ball. My rugby formation days were spent watching the Currie Cup in the late 1980s and early 1990s on TV and at the stadiums live!”
Now he is not watching but is one of the 31 men on the field, making a contribution to the historic occasion, a privileged position indeed.
“It is very special to be part of such an historical competition and no matter what some people say – you’ll have two very charged up teams desperate to win the Currie Cup. That will never change.”
What is the mindset going into a match like this?
“The approach is not much different from league games in play-off rugby with the understanding that, although one can hopefully make a contribution to a good rugby product and strive to be in the background, the ultimate role of the referee in a final is to keep it fair and just. You cannot sacrifice that for the sake of a spectacle and the result changes due to that.
“Sometimes it means you have to be unpopular, accepted, and aim to get through those big moments with the clear logic of the neutral.”
And at the end of the match, there is the hope that the referee gets no mention, because he has done nothing to sharpen the blades of criticism.
The teams will know Peyper well. This is his fourth Currie Cup Final and the third time he has had these two teams in a final. In addition, he refereed the Stormers vs Sharks match in Round 8 of Super Rugby. They will also have met him in Currie Cup matches. He was the referee in the Currie Cup match this season when Western Province played the Golden Lions and when Free State played the Sharks.
Peyper has vast rugby experience. After he left Grey College where he played and was plying at Kovsies, he decided, aged 20, to start refereeing. He and his whistle have travelled the world in the 18 years since then. He is universally acknowledged by the people who are trained to examine referees as one of the very best in the world. After the final, he will be heading overseas for two tests, one a World Cup qualifier, the other England vs Australia at Twickenham.
Peyper has a “proper” job. He is an attorney in the firm Peyper Attorneys in Bloemfontein, but away for about six months of the year, a great deal of his work development is on hold.
And Peyper has a family – wife Zenobia and two daughters. Zenobia, a sportswoman, understands a sportsman’s needs and ambitions, and accepts that for a while she has a half-year husband. And the three ladies in Peyper’s life managed to get to Sydney for two of the five weeks he was away.
Rugby will get a good deal from Jaco Peyper at Newlands on Saturday.
By Paul Dobson