24 Nov 2017
South African referees have made their panels known, and for the first time ever a woman is on the top panel of nine referees - Aimee Barrett-Theron.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
A former Test player for South Africa, she has this year refereed at the Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland, Craven Week (a first for a woman), the men's Under-20 Final and a Test between England and Canada. She is now in Dubai for the Women's Sevens.
Her speed and fitness are remarkable and suggest that she could easily keep up with top men's rugby.
She is not the only one promoted to the Premier Panel. Stuart Berry is back while Adrian Jacobs and Cwengile Jadezweni are there for the first time.
Banks Yantolo, SA Rugby’s Referee manager, said the four referees promoted to the Premier Panel had earned their stripes and had what it takes to succeed at the top.
He said: "Aimee, JD and AJ have all delivered on the promise they’ve shown over the last couple of years, while Stuart has been around for a while and has performed at a consistently high level in recent times.
"All the referees on our Premier Panel have Test experience and they are wonderful ambassadors to South African rugby wherever in the world they go.
"They are rightly the cream of the crop here.
"I am also excited about the quality of match officials on our lower panels – many of these referees have the potential to make it all the way to the top.
"We know the National A Panel, as our next tier, will be pushing hard to get onto the Premier Panel, while it is very encouraging to welcome eight new inclusions onto the National B Panel from our Academy Squad. We are looking forward to an awesome season in 2018.”
Absent from the panels are Jaco van Heerden, Lourens van der Merwe and Lesego Legoete. All three are Test referees. Van Heerden, an advocate of the supremed court, is to concentrate on his legal career. Van der Merwe and Legoete are to stay involved as TMOs. Van der Merwe was recently elected chairman of Free State referees.
Yantolo also thanked Van Heerden for his services. The 34-year-old, who has been on SA Rugby’s Premier Panel since 2014, has refereed in three Tests, 20 Vodacom Super Rugby and 34 Currie Cup matches, which included the 2017 First Division final and the Premier Division semifinals in 2014 and 2015.
Yantolo said: "Jaco has always been a true professional and he was an asset to South African refereeing.
"Unfortunately the demands of his legal career meant he could no longer commit the time required to perform as an elite referee. We wish him well for his future as an advocate."
SA Rugby Referee Panels for 2018
Premier Panel: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Stuart Berry, Quinton Immelman, AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni, Jaco Peyper, Egon Seconds, Rasta Rasivhenge, Marius van der Westhuizen.
National A Panel: Ben Crouse, Stephan Geldenhuys, Ruhan Meiring, Paul Mente, Vusi Msibi, Jaco Pretorius, Archie Sehlako.
National B Panel: Christopher Allison, Johre Botha, Rodney Bonaparte, Naka Bulelani, Griffin Colby, Jabian Jeftha, Jaco Kotze, Pieter Maritz, Mpho Matsaung, Phumzile Mbewu, Eduan Nel, Sindile Ngcese, Divan Uys, Ricus van der Hoven.
Women’s Panel: Cameron Dyers. Siyanda Ketse, Maria Mabote, Le-Ann MacClune, Lusanda Mtiya, Ashleigh Murray, Bulela Qwane.
Sevens Panel: Christopher Allison, Aimee Barrett-Theron, Johre Botha, Griffin Colby, Ben Crouse, Morné Ferreira, Rasta Rasivhenge.
TMO Panel: Christie du Preez, Johan Greeff, Marius Jonker, Joey Klaaste-Salmans, Lesego Legoete, Lourens van der Merwe, Shaun Veldsman, Willie Vos, JJ Wagner.
Selectors: Eugene Daniels, Dennis Immelman, Mark Lawrence, Balie Swart, Deon van Blommestein, Banks Yantolo.
National Performance Reviewers (Assessors): Johann Alberts, Willie Hess, Jacques Hugo, Dennis Immelman, Thuso Mngqibisa, Dawie Oberholzer, Willie Roos, Arthur Southgate.
From SA Rugby Communications