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Duty Ref 524 - Stuart Berry

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Stuart Berry, one of South Africa´s top referees, who this year refereed his first Tier 1 Test in Argentina and received glowing reports for it, answers readers´ questions.

1. Name: Mike Jones

A penalty is given by a referee. Before the kick is taken or the option of a scrum taken, the non-offending side want to bring back a suspended player. (The suspension time has clearly passed so is not an issue.) Many, if not most referees, seem to apply Law 3.13 (b) and refuse the non-offending side the ability to return their player because they regard the ball as not ‘dead’. However, Clarification 2-2007 in the circumstances given above clearly says that the ball is ‘dead’ and that the player can return. What is the relationship between 3.13 (b) and 2-2007, and which takes precedence? They both can’t be right!

Stuart Berry: Hi Mike, good question. It was the same as a normal substitution were we used to say that it can’t take place at a penalty kick. However, I can confirm that you can process a substitution at a penalty kick and that the player coming on may take the kick for goals.

2. Name: Agie Pienaar

Is it harder to referee your own team? This happens a lot in South African rugby, but I wondered if Jaco Peyper would find it harder to referee the Currie Cup Final because he is a Free Stater? Will he be harder on Free State or will he favour Free State?

Doesn´t appointing home referees open the door for greater criticism and moaning?

Stuart Berry: Hi Agie, good question and always a talking point.

I think one of the key elements to consider here is that referees in professional rugby go through significant mental training, and the game is fast that by the time you have made a decision, it is purely based on what you see in front of you, and the fact that it happens so fast means you don’t really have the time or ability to consider which teams it is for or against.

In addition to that, a referee at the professional level has essentially emotionally separated themselves from any outcome within a tournament, thereby alleviating the opportunity for an emotional decision, whether it be for or against a particular team.

So with regards to Jaco’s appointment, the coaches and major stakeholders all agree that the best referee is due to get the best game, and Jaco was the best referee in Currie Cup. Both coaches would have agreed to his appointment, and it is testimony to his ability as a referee and a professional.

3. Name: Ruzzenente Claudio
Just a question pratical. When the captains choose ends, who throws the coin? The referee or the home captain or the visiting captain? Who calls - home team or visiting team?

Stuart Berry: Hi Claudio, thanks for making contact with us. There is no real rule on this. Some referees like to toss the coin themselves; others like to give the home captain the coin to toss. Either way, the visiting captain calls heads or tails and the winning captain can choose either sides, or whether they want to kick/receive.

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