Mr Oregan Hoskins, President of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), on Wednesday congratulated two of the country’s best up and coming referees, Marius van der Westhuizen and Rasta Rasivhenge, for their superb performances at the recent Emirates Airlines Glasgow Sevens.
Van der Westhuizen became the first referee in the 14-year history of the HSBC Sevens World Series to be appointed on merit to handle a final which featured his own countrymen.
Rasivhenge in turn refereed the third place playoff in Glasgow – as he did earlier in the series in Tokyo – after a number of very good performances in the pool stages of the tournament.
“This is a superb achievement by Marius and Rasta and we’re very proud of them,” said Mr Hoskins.
“We have merit referee appointments in Vodacom Super Rugby, but as far as I know, this was the first time it has happened on such a big international stage.
“It’s a huge feather in the cap of our Refereeing Department that neither South Africa nor New Zealand, who contested the final in Glasgow, deemed it necessary to question the decision to award this important match to Marius.”
The final in Glasgow was Van der Westhuizen’s second final of the current season – he also handled the final at the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens in March, where Fiji beat Wales. It was Van der Westhuizen’s fifth appearance at a HSBC Sevens World Series tournament.
Rasivhenge referees two finals earlier in the 2012/13 Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth. Last season, he was in charge of the final in Hong Kong.
“Both Rasta and Marius have been appointed to the panel of 10 referees at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow at the end of June,” said André Watson, SARU’s General Manager: Referees.
“This is a wonderful achievement and shows how high they are already regarded internationally. Sevens provides a great pathway for referees to advance to the higher levels of 15-man code, as we’ve seen with Craig Joubert in the last decade.
“A lot of time and energy have been invested in Marius and Rasta, as well as our other referees, and to see them succeed at the highest level is indeed a huge compliment to everyone involved in SARU’s refereeing department.”
Other notable international refereeing appointments in the coming months include that of Stuart Berry (IRB Junior World Championships in France), Jaco Peyper (two matches on the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia), Joubert (second Test, Australia v British & Irish Lions in Melbourne and Samoa v Italy in Nelspruit) and Lourens van der Merwe (Japan v Wales in Osaka).
Furthermore, Marius Jonker and Christie du Preez (as assistant referees) and Shaun Veldsman (TMO) will be involved in three Tests in Argentina in June.
Two of SARU’s referees’ assessors, Banks Yantolo and Dennis Immelman, will perform these duties at IRB tournaments – Yantolo will be at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow and Immelman at the Junior World Rugby Trophy in Chile.