Jonathan Kaplan

About Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan is South Africa's most celebrated and respected rugby referee, breaking and setting various world records. His experience is undisputed having overseen 107 super rugby games (the first and only referee to reach this milestone), 70 test matches ( the man to pass the 50 mark), 161 currie cup games (the first man to pass the 150 mark) and 425 first class games (setting another remarkable world record). To top it off, he has also spent 21 years on South Africa's refereeing panel. Now retired from active refereeing, he is focusing on writing his book, enjoying some horse racing and spending quality time with his dogs. In his spare time, he has agreed to weigh in on referees' performances each week, providing insight into controversial calls and a first-hand understanding of what it's like to make those calls on the day. With credentials like his, we think you should sit up and listen!

Kaplan’s Comments – More ruthless approach to referee efficiency required

Hayden_Triggs_Blues_v_Stormers_Super_Rugby_2015IT’s not unusual these days for referees to be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In fact, it’s more likely that there will be more controversy in the coming weeks and months because not enough is being done to help them.

It is pointless to axe […]

May 22nd, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Super Rugby Round 13

Courtnall_Skosan_Lions_v_Highlanders_Super_Rugby_2015Super rugby started with the matchup between the Crusaders and the Reds, possibly the last home game for two of the living legends of the modern game, and likely of all time! After coughing up some early opportunities, the Crusaders ran riot and gave their favourite sons, […]

May 11th, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Food for thought

Gareth_Evans_Highlanders_v_Sharks_SR_2015The highlight of the weekend for me was the European Championship Final between Toulon and Clermont. It was a gripping game, played in a test-match environment and expertly handled by Nigel Owens, who once again showed why he is so well respected by the refereeing community and […]

May 4th, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Frustration with judiciary decisions

AlbertsPeyperRedcardThe judiciary has made some really interesting decisions of late, some of which the public is naturally outraged over. I have often alluded to and written about the disconnect that exists between match officials and the judicial officers, and the problems and issues show no signs of […]

April 22nd, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Restarting with a new ball

Bulls-VictorThere appeared to be quite a bit of confusion in the wake of Bulls’ Captain, Pierre Spies’ claim that the ref got it wrong by allowing the Lions to have a quick kick-off or restart after they had landed their go-ahead penalty. He then said that it […]

April 10th, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Super Rugby Round 8

StormersVsHurricanesSo let’s start off on a positive note .. I finally predicted a full house this weekend! Not that difficult given the match-ups, but it needed a moment of inspiration from Faf de Klerk in the 80th minute of the Lions fixture against the Bulls for it […]

April 6th, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Varsity Cup Semi’s

TL_1189154-webThe varsity cup reached its semi final stage with two fixtures that were completely contrasting in style and outcome .

In the first, the UCT Ikey Tigers came to Bloemfontein hoping to reverse the result from our first fixture there a fortnight ago. The team was pretty determined […]

March 31st, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Interesting appeals

Bulls_full-back_Jesse_Kriel_against_CrusadersSo I see that the sentence handed out to Frans Steyn was deemed questionable. Not really a surprise. As I said, my understanding of the law is that once you lifted a player off the ground, it was your responsibility to bring him to ground safely, no […]

March 31st, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Stepping up to the plate

Aaron_Cruden_of_the_Chiefs_(R)_Cobus_Reinach_SharksWhat an unbelievable weekend to end off the 6 Nations… Still the best competition in world rugby!

First up was Wales demolition of the brave Italians. So keen to do well and keep improving, they managed to hold out until just after halftime. Then the floodgates well and […]

March 24th, 2015|

Kaplan’s Comments – Why was no action taken?


Right… I finally got a few right! Story of my life…

The 6 Nations test between Wales and Ireland was everything it was cracked up to be. It had all the drama and intensity that go with this Competition, probably the best in the world at the moment, […]

March 17th, 2015|

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