Field narrows in search for Saru referees boss

APART from appointing a new Springbok coach, rugby bosses will this week decide who will replace Andre Watson as the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru’s) manager of referees.

Business Day understands referees’ assessor Banks Yantolo and television match official Shaun Veldsman are shortlisted for the position. It is not clear if there are more names, but a source who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said referees’ assessor Deon van Blommestein was also a candidate.

Saru conducted interviews for the position this week and are expected to inform the preferred candidate by Monday, if not by the end of the week.

The new manager has to take up the position in the second week of next month, which means he will have to resign from his current employer within the next week. Saru would also want the appointment to be in place by the time a referees’ camp is held in Cape Town next month.

Earlier this year, Saru agreed to contract extensions for World Cup officials Craig Joubert and Jaco Peyper, as well as Rasta Rasivhenge, while the rest of the referees on its elite and national panels were still on interim contracts.

Another source told Business Day that some of those officials should be in a position to conclude deals with Saru by the end of next week.

The position of referees’ manager is not expected to carry as much weight as it did with Watson at the helm, and the incumbent will have to report to Rassie Erasmus, who heads Saru’s all-powerful rugby department.

While the names on the short list could raise eyebrows, there will also be questions about the omission of experienced former referees, such as Mark Lawrence, Jonathan Kaplan and Marius Jonker. Lawrence and Jonker are still in the Saru fold, but might be deemed to have been too close to the action in the ousting of Watson.

Part of the criteria for the referees’ manager position is Test experience, which places Veldsman at the front of the queue.

However, there may be a strong drive to instal a black African manager, which would put the Border-based Yantolo in pole position.

Attempts to get comment from Saru’s communications department were unsuccessful.



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