Refereeing imbalance? Try Kaplan for size

Refereeing imbalance? Try Kaplan for size

The public standing down of Super 14 referee Paul “Skid” Marks this week for “imbalance from a management perspective” seems to have marked a new official openness in discussing referee performance. If that’s the case, I’d like like to submit to the SANZAR panel a piece of evidence for long-term referee imbalance that’s far more conclusive than the footage of Kurtley’s knock on last weekend.

In the table below is a summary of Jonathan Kaplan’s Super rugby refereeing history with the Waratahs, together with a few comparisons.

G&GR kaplan stats 2

The first thing you’ll notice is that with Kaplan having been in charge of 15 Waratahs games over the years, they’ve managed to win one solitary, game, and that was at home. Compared with the Waratahs win ratio both home and away over this period, this is beyond “imbalanced”.

Now, if you take any referee’s stats for a single team over a short time (say, less than 10 games) you will find discrepancies – that’s just averages for you. Even in the teens, you’ll see variations from the norm for all experienced refs (the Brumbies have won 80% of their matches under Stu Dickenson*). But of all the referee historical performances, at these levels, only one is skewed out of balance so remarkably, and it is Kaplan’s.

So, if the SANZAR referees are happy to publicly strip a referee of his panel membership over one or two calls that were not straight forward (as the debate on this site has demonstrated), surely they must act where the proof is conclusive and unequivocal?

We look forward to more public and open debate, but aren’t holding our breath.

*Note that these will be Australian derbies over a period where the Brumbies were very strong

Some commentators have asserted that these stats are skewed because Kaplan could only have reffed Australian teams against New Zealand teams. This puzzles me, because it assumes that all Kiwi teams have been overly difficult to beat, and all South African teams easier to beat. Interesting, considering these comments so far have mainly been from IP addresses from South Africa.

A way to test this theory is to look at all other refs that we have data for over the Waratahs (those refs in the Super 14 as of 2009), especially the South Africans. Here’s what you get:

G&GR ref waratah stats

Even though there are very few refs with enough matches under their belts to draw too many conclusions from, I noticed two things:

1- The other South African referees are in line with the Tahs win average, so it doesn’t have anything to do with playing New Zealand teams

2 – If it hadn’t been for Kaplan, who knows where the Tahs might have got to! (OK, semi-joking).



Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

More in Rugby

  • Friday’s Rugby News.

    Namaste G&GRs and welcome to Friday’s Rugby News. After the great emotional purge of last week let’s...

  • Thursday’s Rugby News 22/9/22

    Happy Thursday everyone, another big week in the world of rugby. If you have Stan I’d recommend...

  • HUMP Day News

    Sorry for the delay team. I woke very early to return from NZ and had an appointment...

  • The Chewsday Chew

    Hey Cobbers. And welcome ye all to the week 27 instalment of the Chewsday Chew. For those...