Standing of women's game reflected in referee appointments

The women's game continues to climb in recognition - and not just with bigger crowds turning up and the games being played at better venues.

Some of the top officials in the game have been called upon to officiate in games for the Farah Palmer Cup.

One of New Zealand's top-ranked referees, Ben O'Keefe, who these days hails from Wellington but learnt much of his refereeing while he was a medical student in Dunedin, refereed the game between Tasman and Taranaki in the Farah Palmer Cup at Motueka on Saturday.

He was the referee in the Rugby Championship match between the Springboks and Argentina in Durban on August 18, then flew to Argentina, where he was on the sideline at Mendoza in the return match on August 25.

He flew back from that match to New Zealand and refereed the game in Motueka.

Otago referee James Doleman was in charge of the match between Otago and North Harbour at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday.

Some of the top-ranked referees will officiate women's games throughout the Farah Palmer Cup, along with female referees.

The move to get top-ranked referees is a chance to give value to the competition.

Some of Otago's best referees have been rewarded with appointments in the coming weeks.

Stu Curran and Jono Bredin have been appointed to officiate at the national under-19 tournament in Taupo next week.

Eden Brown and Caleb Neilsen will be officiating at the South Island under-18 tournament at the start of next month, while Sam Adam and Oliver Hadfield have been named referees for the South Island under-16 tournament.

Meanwhile, Japanese referee Shuhei Kubo was in the right when awarding lineouts straight off penalties near the tryline in a game last month.

Kubo had many puzzled in a Mitre 10 Cup match last month when he awarded a penalty to the attacking team 5m out and once the team indicated it was going for touch, he ordered the lineout rather than wait for the ball to be kicked out.

But when penalties are awarded 5m out, and the attacking team wishes to go for touch, a change in the rules this season allows the referee to just order the lineout; a kick to put the ball out is not required.

The law was introduced to save time. It was believed to be the first time the rule was used when Kubo made his ruling in the match between Hawke's Bay and Otago.


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