Cape Town - New Zealanders are seemingly unhappy with the performance of South African referee Jaco Peyper during the Hurricanes’ 44-29 Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Lions at Ellis Park.
Peyper has been criticised for his decision to send Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett to the sin-bin in the second-half of last Saturday's clash.
The Lions, who were trailing 29-22 at the time of Barrett's sin-binning, scored 17 unanswered points during his absence to lead 39-29 by the time he returned.
South African television pundits Naas Botha and Nick Mallett called Peyper’s decision 'harsh and tough', while the New Zealand media also hit out at the referee.
Patrick McKendry, a scribe for the New Zealand Herald, wrote: "The Hurricanes had several reasons to be disappointed with the performance of ref Jaco Peyper - particularly for the second-half yellow card shown to Beauden Barrett, who was sin-binned for playing the ball with his legs in a ruck when replays showed he was simply trying to get out of the way. The Lions were hot on the attack, but there was no team warning, just a straight yellow from Peyper, and the home side capitalised first with the easy penalty kick and then a converted try while Barrett was off."
Paul Cully from the Stuff.co.nz website called for the introduction of neutral referees for the playoffs.
“Peyper handed out a second-half yellow card to Beauden Barrett for apparently not rolling away after a tackle. To my eyes it was a very harsh call. But that's not really the problem. The deeper issue is that Peyper's nationality meant that controversy was almost bound to rear its ugly head. There is a simple way to avoid this: the Super Rugby semi-final must be refereed by ‘neutral’ referees. Instead, we have a situation where we are talking about Peyper and perhaps not giving enough credit to the Lions, who finished like a tank platoon over the top of the weary ‘Canes.”
The Lions will host the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final on Saturday (16:00 kick-off), with SANZAAR expected to name the match officials for the clash on Tuesday.