Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Jake White agrees with the notion that a neutral referee should have been appointed for Saturday’s Super Rugby final.
This comes after southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR announced on Tuesday that South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will be in charge of the final between the Lions and Crusaders in Johannesburg.
This decision was made despite calls for a neutral whistle-blower following a yellow-card controversy in the semi-finals.
Peyper was at the centre of controversy last week when he sin-binned Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett at a key stage of their semi-final loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.
Replays suggested the punishment was harsh but the Lions took full advantage, scoring 17 points to seize the lead while Barrett was off the field in the second half.
Peyper will also have compatriot Marius van der Westhuizen and New Zealander Glen Jackson as his assistants, while South Africa's Marius Jonker is the television match official (TMO).
New Zealand media earlier this week lashed out at the decision to appoint a South African referee and White understands their point.
“In a sport where coaches get hired and fired on results, and television rights are in the millions of dollars, how do we not have a neutral referee in these games?” White wrote via a column for All Out Rugby.
“I’m not saying Peyper or any other referee is cheating, but the competition opens itself up to criticism by appointing officials with national ties to one of the teams. If Peyper makes any decision against the home team, he’s vilified, and when he blows in favour of the home team, people ask questions.
“I look at Super Rugby and I ask why we don’t have money to fly an Australian referee to South Africa for the semi-finals. The Hurricanes went from 22-3 up to losing the semi-final on a massive yellow-card decision. When you look at that decision in the context of a competition where a lot of players weren’t yellow-carded for incidents that were worse than that, I can see how that’s a bitter pill for the Kiwis to swallow, and how Peyper’s nationality is an easy target.
"Do you think New Zealand will ever play in a World Cup final with a Kiwi ref? If the answer is no, then how can we accept it in Super Rugby?"
White further predicted that the Lions would win on Saturday.
“The Lions will win the Super Rugby final. They’re at home, the Crusaders have had to fly to Johannesburg and captain Kieran Read is carrying an injury.”