Crusaders: Peyper is 'neutral'
Crusaders: Peyper is 'neutral'SHARE
SANZAAR opted for South Africa's Jaco Peyper to referee the Super Rugby Final between the Lions and Crusaders in Johannesburg on Saturday – because he is the best.
However, the New Zealand media had more than just a few hissy fits over his appointment, following – what has since been confirmed as correct – his decision to yellow card All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett in the Lions' 44-29 win over the Hurricanes in the semifinal last week.
Despite remaining silent when New Zealand Glen Jackson was name to referee the 2016 Final between the Hurricanes and Lions, the Kiwi media spat the proverbial dummy and 'demanded' neutral referees.
However, Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar said they have no issues with Peyper being in charge of the tournament decider.
He suggested there is simply no question of any bias on Peyper's behalf.
"We are happy with Jaco," Mooar said in a teleconference from the team's training base in Johannesburg.
"He has refereed a big crowds on big occasions in South Africa before. It is not something that will be daunting to him.
"He generally manages the players very well.
"It is something that is out of our control and we just have to get on with it.
"We are happy that he is refereeing the game."
Mooar's stance – in stark contrast to his compatriots – has been echoed by SANZAAR, the custodians of the tournament.
"The selection criteria for all match official appointments for the last two years follows a clear tournament policy – as agreed by the SANZAAR Executive Committee and the tournament’s stakeholders – that such appointments be merit-based regardless of neutrality," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.
"This policy is written into the tournament protocols and appointments are made according to this policy on a weekly basis and is also the policy used for the play-offs last year as well as this year.
"This merit-based policy was reflected with the appointment last year of New Zealand referee Glen Jackson to referee the Hurricanes versus Lions Final in Wellington.
"SANZAAR stands behind the policy and believes the best referees should be available to officiate the best matches," Marinos added.