World Cup - Referee: Craig Joubert

Tue, 06 Sep 16:52:00 2011

We look at the career of World Cup referee Craig Joubert.

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Craig Joubert may have learnt the ropes in the corporate world rather than as a player on the rugby field, but the South African is already one of the most respected referees in the game.

The Durban-born official is one of two referees from South Africa named on the 10-man panel to officiate at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

At the age of 33, he heads to the tournament as the second youngest referee – only Englishman Wayne Barnes is younger at 32 – and he is known for getting on with the game in a business-like, no-nonsense fashion.

Joubert, whose late father, Des, was also a professional referee although only at provincial referee, holds an honours degree in Business Finance after graduating from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

He subsequently went into the industry for five years and, as his best accolade as a player was being selected to play for Natal as a fly-half at the Under-13 Craven Week, some thought he had turned his back on the game.

However, while he was wearing the shirt and tie, Joubert always kept the whistle close to his heart.

Having been educated at Maritzburg College, Joubert was always inspired by his father, a man who taught him that “refereeing is mostly about managing people in a respectful yet assertive manner”.

Joubert made his provincial debut in 1999 and his Super Rugby debut four years later.

Sandwiched between the two roles was a brief spell on the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series, while his first international breakthrough came in his rookie Super Rugby season when he took charge of a match between Namibia and Uganda in Windhoek.

To date, he had refereed 158 first-class matches, including 25 Tests, South Africa’s domestic Currie Cup final in 2010 and 50 Super Rugby matches.

Arguably his biggest occasion of his career so far was the Super Rugby final between the Bulls and Stormers in 2010, a match that was played at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto due to Loftus Versfeld’s Fifa World Cup commitments.

“I remember the atmosphere was something else,” he said. “Vuvuzelas were blaring for the entire 80 minutes. It was noisy, communication with the captains was a challenge at times, but it was so special. It was my first Super Rugby final and it was one of the highlights of my job so far.”

Joubert will take charge of Ireland-USA, France-Canada, Ireland-Russia and England-Scotland at the RWC.


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