Controversial ref dropped from panel

Matt O Brien (Gallo Images)
Matt O Brien (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Controversial sevens referee Matt O'Brien has received another dressing down after being dropped by the Australian Rugby Union as one of their top referees and off the Super Rugby panel, reports.

The referee, who caused a major outcry for the one-sided nature he handled the second half of the Wellington Sevens final on Sunday morning, is no longer on the Super Rugby panel of referees after making his debut in 2014 and appearing again on the panel in 2015.

While the move has little to do with his sevens performances, O'Brien was dropped because of bad reviews in the last season of Super Rugby and hasn't been included in the Australian submissions for the panel either.

However, this is little consolation for the Springbok Sevens team who endured a very one-sided refereeing performance to the point they lost the Wellington final, and will likely cross paths with O'Brien again this week.

Questions have been raised as to the possible conflict of interest with O'Brien's father Paddy being in charge of sevens referees and appointing O'Brien, who is an Australian citizen but was born, schooled and went to university in New Zealand, for such an important final in New Zealand featuring the All Blacks.

But World Rugby has not responded to questions on the apparent conflict of interest, with O'Brien senior again appointing the referees this weekend for the Sydney leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

When the panel was announced on Tuesday, South Africans Rasta Rasivhenge and Quinton Immelmann were both added to the panel for this year's tournament, ironically as Rasivhenge was last year refereeing under the Australian banner after a fall-out with then SA Referees boss Andre Watson, who has since left his post.

Rasivhenge and Immelman will join their compatriots Craig Joubert, Jaco Peyper, Stuart Berry, Marius van der Westhuizen and Jaco van Heerden on the Super Rugby panel.

“The inclusion of Rasta and Quinton on the Super Rugby panel is just reward for the hard work they have been putting in over the last few years and I can’t wait to see them make their debut in the best provincial competition in the world,” said Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s General Manager: Rugby.

“We’ve always produced referees of the highest calibre and the Super Rugby panel is further proof of that. Craig and Jaco are two of the most experienced referees in the world and will raise the bar even further this year, while Stuart, Marius and Jaco are three of the best up-and-coming match officials in the game.

“The work done by our very own referees department has not gone unnoticed and it’s great to know South Africa is still at the fore when it comes to producing the best match officials for world rugby.”

Australia's referees are Nic Berry, the impressive Angus Gardiner, Rohan Hoffman and William Houston, the latter who is a newcomer to Super Rugby.

2016 Super Rugby referees:

Federico Anselmi (Argentina - 0 Super Rugby, 7 Tests)*

Nic Berry (Australia - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Stuart Berry (South Africa - 21 Super Rugby, 5 Tests)

Nick Briant (New Zealand - 25 Super Rugby, 2 Tests)

Mike Fraser (New Zealand - 23 Super Rugby, 4 Tests)

Angus Gardner (Australia - 26 Super Rugby, 5 Tests)

Rohan Hoffman (Australia - 26 Super Rugby, 3 Tests)

William Houston (Australia - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Quinton Immelman (South Africa - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Glen Jackson (New Zealand- 41 Super Rugby, 16 Tests)

Craig Joubert (South Africa - 93 Super Rugby, 64 Tests)

Shuhei Kubo (Japan - 0 Super Rugby, 6 Tests)*

Andrew Lees (Australia - 22 Super Rugby, 2 Tests)

Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand - 5 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)

Jaco Peyper (South Africa - 59 Super Rugby, 29 Tests)

Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Chris Pollock (New Zealand - 70 Super Rugby, 22 Tests)

Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa - 9 Super Rugby, 1 Test)

Jaco van Heerden (South Africa - 6 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)

Paul Williams (New Zealand - 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)*

* Denotes a new squad member in 2016

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