A referee as slick as a whistle

2014-11-13 00:00

ALTHOUGH he might not be officiating tense Test matches any more, Marius Jonker will still be involved in refereeing club rugby in KwaZulu-Natal and is looking to specialise as a third match official.

Jonker was highly regarded as an international referee, but called time on his professional career last month after 14 years at the coalface.

Looking back on his many years as a judge of the 15-man game, Jonker recalls what got him involved in refereeing.

Playing flyhalf in a social league up in Richards Bay in the late 1990s, he happened to go for a kicking practice session one fateful day and decided to watch one of the games on the go.

“The referee for the game did not pitch and I was asked to step in. It was a disastrous refereeing display, but I loved it,” Jonker told The Witness.

He officially started refereeing in 1999 in a match between Richards Bay Hoërskool and a visiting side — he was “a nervous wreck”.

Jonker went on to officiate the Saru country districts week in Nelspruit later that year. Following that, his first Saru appointment was a match between Free State and the Pumas.

He broke onto the international scene in 2005, taking charge of a Test match between Uganda and Zimbabwe.

“Look, I went on to referee much bigger Tests which carried much more prestige, but my first one will always be special.

“Getting the Test blazer with the Bok on it was also special and Craig Joubert was the one who handed me that blazer. He is a great referee and an even greater friend. We have had some special times together all over the world,” Jonker said.

He couldn’t quite pin down a favourite memory of his career, but holds a number of Test matches dear.

“I guess your first Tri Nations game is special, but I always enjoyed reffing Six Nations more. There is just so much more going into those Tests. Wales versus France in 2008 was special. It was the last game of the tournament with the winner (Wales) being crowned Six Nations champions. Another one would be Australia against Samoa in 2010 when Samoa beat a full-strength Aussie team for the first time in history.”

An ever-present conversation in rugby circles is the complexity of the rules that govern the game we all love. Jonker, on a parting note, believes it a question that must always be asked and has his own view on how the game should be.

“This is a very debatable question. I believe that we are over complicating matters. The game is about the players — let’s let them play.”

Jonker in brief:

HISTORY

School: Hoërskool Gert Maritz, Pietermaritzburg.

Playing career: Played flyhalf for PMB Police and Empangeni Rhinos before becoming a ref.

Notable tournaments reffed:

∙ 2004 U19 World Championship including the final between France and New Zealand.

∙ Currie Cup and Super Rugby from 2005 to 2014

∙ Reffed three games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and was a touch judge in the England-France semi-final. — Sourced.

JONKER ON THE JOYS OF THE JOB, DESPITE THE PRESSURE:

“I have had a fabulous time doing what I did and plan to have the same fun in the future. Refereeing is a lonely job, but also a very fulfilling one. It will bring you lots of joy, but it will no doubt hurt you on your way. If you can juggle and manage all of these then you should consider joining the referee team.”

HAVING A REFEREE COACH WOULD HELP DEVELOP MORE OFFICIALS

“I was blessed to have had Phillip Botha discover and get me on the right track. He is the best referee coach in the world in my opinion and it is sad that he is lost to the game. As I was growing into a better referee there were other individuals who had some input into my career, some good and some not so good,” Jonker said.

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