Can ref Joubert redeem himself?

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Stormers fans will never forget the day that Joubert was in charge of the Super Rugby final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto in 2010, where then-coach Allister Coetzee and captain Schalk Burger both lambasted Joubert for the manner in which he handled the showpiece clash.

They accused Joubert of applying “different rules for either side” at the breakdowns, with Burger adding that the Pietermaritzburg whistleman was “coaching the Bulls but penalising the Stormers”.

However, since that fateful May day, the Stormers have actually enjoyed a good record against the Bulls with Joubert in the middle. They have won three out of four matches, with the only Bulls victory coming at Loftus Versfeld on May 10 in 2014, where the three-times champions triumphed 28-12.

But Joubert will still be under the microscope on Saturday, as it will be his first appearance in a major 15-man game since the controversial Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland last October.

The 38-year-old former banker decided to award the Wallabies a last-gasp penalty for offside after a Scottish player – Jon Welsh – caught a ball that had been knocked-on by his teammate John Hardie.

But replays showed that Aussie scrumhalf Nick Phipps had got a touch to the ball before Welsh grabbed it, so the penalty should not have been awarded.

Joubert wasn’t allowed to go to the TMO under the protocols, and Bernard Foley kicked the winning penalty.

But then the South African sprinted off after the final whistle without shaking hands with the players. World Rugby subsequently announced that he made the wrong decision, saying that Joubert should’ve given Australia a scrum for Hardie’s knock-on.

He has been involved in the World Rugby Sevens Series in recent months, but will face intense scrutiny once more at Newlands on Saturday.

Joubert, though, has been one of the top referees in the world for many years in a career spanning 64 Tests and 93 Super Rugby matches, and is certainly the best in South Africa. He will hope to prove that again during the Stormers-Bulls clash (5.05pm).

New Zealand’s Glen Jackson will take charge of the tournament opener between the Blues and defending champions the Highlanders at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday morning (8.35am SA time), while other South African referees in action over the weekend are Stuart Berry, Marius van der Westhuizen and Jaco van Heerden.

Super Rugby opening weekend fixtures:

Friday

8.35am, Auckland: Blues v Highlanders – Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand).

10.40am, Canberra: Brumbies v Hurricanes – Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia).

7.10pm, Bloemfontein: Cheetahs v Jaguares – Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa).

Saturday

6.15am, Tokyo: Sunwolves v Lions – Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand).

8.35am, Christchurch: Crusaders v Chiefs – Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand).

10.40am, Sydney: Waratahs v Reds – Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia).

12.50pm, Perth: Western Force v Rebels – Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa).

3pm, Port Elizabeth: Southern Kings v Sharks – Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa).

5.05pm, Newlands: Stormers v Bulls – Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@IndyCapeSport

Original source: Can ref Joubert redeem himself?

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