It may be a showdown between the best in the northern hemisphere and the world champions, but don’t expect to see the world’s best referees in action when the British and Irish Lions tour South Africa.
JJ Harmse writes that Sport24 has reliably learnt that controversial Australian Stuart Dickinson and Frenchman Christophe Berdos have been appointed as referees for the Springboks’ three Tests in June and July.
Each one will officiate a Test and the top performer will take charge of the third Test.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) met at the weekend to discuss the referees, but no announcement has been made.
IRB referees boss Paddy O’Brien and the chairperson of the selection committee, David Pickering, have already met with team management of the Springboks and Lions to discuss the criteria for selecting the referees.
It was then decided that neutral referees from the IRB’s high performance panel should be used.
However, the majority of the referees are from South Africa or the four home unions, which only left French and Australian referees.
Berdos (39) has been a referee since 1988 and his breakthrough came in 2003 when he was a referee at the Under-19 world championships. His first Test was the one between Samoa and Tonga in 2006. He was a touch judge at the 2007 World Cup and officiated at the end of that year when the Springboks played the Barbarians at Twickenham.
His first Six Nations Test was between Scotland and Ireland last year.
While Berdos has only officiated in a few Springbok Tests, Dickinson is no stranger to South Africans.
The 41-year-old Aussie has officiated in 41 Tests and 70 Super games. He is one of the most experienced referees in the world.
While he commands respect as a referee and is Australia’s best referee by a distance, he is not a favourite among Springbok supporters.
He has dished out five yellow cards to Springboks and been involved in a few controversial incidents in matches South African teams played in.
The referees for the seven other matches on tour will be awarded on merit. That means South Africa’s best referees should all get opportunities to officiate in Lions games.Tweet