17 Apr 2017
On Easter Monday, Jaco Pretorius will referee the final of the Varsity Cup.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
It is a big step in the career of a relatively new referee.
Jaco had a great playing career and, not an unusual occurrence, his career ended through injury he started refereeing. That was in 2012.
Five years later he is refereeing the final of the enormously popular Varsity Cup. Varsity Cup matches are televised on a Monday afternoon/evening. They have been great opportunities for teams, individual players and, also, referees.
The final is between old adversaries, Tukkies and Maties, and will be played at the Tuks Stadium in Pretoria. It is likely to be a fast, tense, high-level match.
After he had left HTS Springs, Jaco played rugby league for St Helens, the famous Merseyside club, at a time when rugby league was no longer anathema to rugby union which was by then also professional.
He played club rugby on the wing for Springs for 11 seasons. He also played for the Valke Sevens team for six seasons. He is clearly in love with rugby, as was his father who played for the old South Eastern Transvaal.
Rugby is not the only love of his life. In fact, No.1 is his wife, Jacoba, who has been and still is, his inspiration.
And then he loves his job as the maintenance manager for Element Six in Springs. The global company is a part of the De Beers Group and the world's leading manufacturer of synthetic diamonds amongst other "supermaterials". "I really enjoy my work which is almost the same as refereeing, no day is the same."
In 2012, after a serious knee injury, Jaco joined the Valke referees' society, and made rapid progress, for which he thanks above all Sieg van Staden, who "stuck with me through good and bad times."
He has also benefitted from the help given him by SARU's Deon van Blommestein. "He has turned my way of refereeing around in such a positive manner."
Already in 2012 Jaco was on the national contenders' panel, the next year a reserve for the national panel and since then on the national panel of referees, which puts him in the top 28 referees in South Africa.
He enjoys refereeing: "It is just like playing rugby, the butterflies and nerves before a match, and having the best seat in the house during a game, is priceless. Just to contribute to an amazing game."
Of course, he is looking forward to Monday's final. "I am super excited. I cannot even say it is a dream come true, because never in my life would I have dreamt of refereeing the Varsity Cup final. The best two teams in the competition, and with such class on the field, it will make my job so much easier on the field."
Jaco Pretorius was born in Standerton on 13 November 1980.