Fri 22 Apr 2022 | 10:55

How SA teams responded to Tappe Henning's debrief

How SA teams responded to Tappe Henning's debrief
Fri 22 Apr 2022 | 10:55
How SA teams responded to Tappe Henning's debrief

INTERVIEW: Tappe Henning, the Head of Match Officials for the United Rugby Championship, dismissed the notion that there is a difference in interpretation between Northern and Southern Hemisphere referees.


The new URC refereeing boss is adamant that if a referee makes an error, it doesn’t mean it is a different interpretation.

Henning, speaking during a media round table in which he addressed a broad range of subjects around refereeing and match officials in general, also revealed how the South African teams responded to his debrief with them earlier this month.

He said his biggest challenge since taking office has been dealing with the “perception” of different interpretations between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere match officials.

“I have been on a tour with the referees that refereed the first four rounds of the Trans-Hemisphere games in South Africa,” he said.

He said that they have met up with all the franchises.

“We looked at what the concerns were of the players and coaches around different interpretations,” the URC referees boss said.


“What we managed to do was realise that if a referee makes a decision and the team is uncomfortable with the decision, it doesn’t mean it is a different interpretation.

“It may be a poor read from the referee, or an error from the referee. It could even be a misunderstanding from the team.”

Henning said they worked through a lot of clips with the various South African franchises – both the players and management teams – to ensure they have a better understanding of what are the real differences.

“The South African teams have responded very well,” he said of sessions they had with the SA franchises that lasted two-and-half to three hours at a time.


He said his roadshow will take him to Ireland and Italy next, followed by visits to the Scottish and Welsh teams.

“We need to be all comfortable with what we are looking at and understand what we are looking at,” Henning said.

He said the South African teams bought into the process and have a much better understanding.

“If you look at the discipline the South African teams now have, now that they have a better understanding, you will see the results.

“The last two local derbies [refereed by Euro officials], all four teams were penalised less than 10 times – which is unheard of for South African teams,” Henning said of games that saw Frank Murphy (Ireland) in charge of the Stormers versus Bulls in Cape Town and Ben Blain (Scotland) referee the Sharks against the Lions in Durban.

“The feedback I got from them was pretty good.

The URC refereeing boss said they will now also have regular ‘game conferences’ between the teams and match officials at the start of every season, to ensure everyone is on the same page.


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