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VIDEO: Jaco Peyper opens up on the state of SA refereeing

For many years South Africa was at the top end of World Rugby’s refereeing totem pole.

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There were Andre Watson, Jonathan Kaplan, Craig Joubert and recently retired Jaco Peyper – to name but a few.

However, Peyper’s retirement has raised the question about where the ‘next generation’ of Test referees will come from.

Peyper, South Africa’s third most capped international referee, has moved on to become the national team’s ‘Laws Advisor’.

But there are no obvious replacements on a refereeing Test panel.

Peyper says he sees enough ‘talent’ in the South African set-up and referees that can ‘one day’ move up to international standard.

“They need the exposure and the backing,” Peyper said in a media round table – ahead of Round 12 of the United Rugby Championship.

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Peyper, who himself had to patiently wait for his opportunities, said it would take time.

“You get young players that come through quickly, because they have the natural talent and they fit in with the team,” the 43-year-old said, adding: “They come through faster than referees.

“Referees need more time to get to the top, because you are on your own, you need a bit of life experience and gain [the] skills.

“It takes time,” he said.

(WATCH as Jaco Peyper opens up on the state of South African refereeing after his retirement….)

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Pointing to Morné Ferreira, the only South African who will referee a URC match this weekend, as one who has the talent to make it to the top.

“He needs to now spend the time and pay his dues,” the retired veteran said.

“Hopefully in the next two or three seasons, MornĂ© can produce at the highest level.”

Peyper said it is one thing to get to international level, but to reach a stage where you get selected onto an elite panel and perform on the World Cup stage – even reach the play-off stage – will require another four or five years of hard work.

“It takes time to learn the lessons and understand things.

“[In] refereeing, experience means a lot.

“It is not just experience in rugby, it is life experience.

“You need to be put in various situations in life, before you can deal with it under pressure.

“It will take time, but South Africa has enough referees.

“[SA have] enough platforms – like the Varsity Cup.

“Not many countries have a competition where you as a student can referee [a match broadcast] on television in a full stadium and a national audience.

“South Africa has the referees and the platforms.

“I can see the next generation, but it won’t happen overnight.”

Jaco Peyper's career by numbers

Refereeing legend Nigel Owens said SA refereeing is in a transitional phase – with the likes of Peyper having retired and moved on.

“There is a rebuilding process,” Owens said.

“If you look at the talent South African referees had over the years, when that [era] comes to an end it requires rebuilding.

“That takes time.”

Owens said they are “very excited” in the URC about a couple of the young SA referees coming through.

“Are they ready for those big, big matches yet?” he asked.

“Probably not quite, yet.

“With the likes of Jaco [Peyper] and other people supporting them, we will see them back at the top end of the game.”

Some of them might be groomed in ‘home’ matches on South African soil – such as Cwengile Jadezweni and Griffin Colby (assistant referees) in the Sharks versus Ulster matches in Durban, as well as AJ Jacobs and Hanru van Rooyen (assistant referees) in the Stormers versus Edinburgh game in Cape Town.

Owens said the balance between giving referees opportunities and experience, as well as managing them is important.

“Part of my role as a [referees] selector in the URC I try and watch as many games as I can.

“I also watch the URC game of the referee that I am reviewing.

“Some talented referees are coming through in South Africa, but they need a bit more time in the rebuilding [phase].

“There are things in place to assist the process of rebuilding.”

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