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Ref Watch Special: Jonathan Kaplan

Kaplan referees his final first class game when Western Province host the Sharks in the Currie Cup final.

Kaplan referees his final first class game when Western Province host the Sharks in the Currie Cup final
rugby
Sport Local

CAPE TOWN – When the final whistle blows at the end of the Currie Cup final on Saturday evening spare a thought for one man. This is the guy who has never been able to celebrate at the end of a rugby match in which he was involved.

The one who has never received a standing ovation at the end of a match. The man who quietly makes his way off the field and feels lucky to escape with only a handful of insults from passionate rugby supporters. 

The man who has given 29 years of his life to the game and who is hardly ever spoken about for good reasons.

On Saturday Jonathan Kaplan will referee his final first class game when Western Province hosts the Sharks at Newlands in the Currie Cup final. 

At the age of 46 Kaplan is the most experienced Test, Super Rugby and Currie Cup referee.

The Durban born Kaplan refereed his first rugby match at the age of 17 while he was still in high school. 

He made his first-class debut in 1991 and two years later he was appointed to South Africa’s national panel of referees. 

In 1996 Kaplan took charge of his first international match in Harare when Zimbabwe took on Namibia.

On Saturday he referees in his sixth Currie Cup final. Kaplan has refereed three Super Rugby finals and attended four Rugby World Cups.

Kaplan’s career has certainly not been one without controversy, but you don’t stay on SARU’s panel of elite referees for 21 years if you aren’t a class above the rest. 

A referee will always make mistakes and Kaplan will admit that, but the ones he made were few and far between and without too much influence on the game.

At the end of the 80 minutes on Saturday there will be tears of joy for the winning side and its supporters, while the losing team might also shed a few for coming so far but falling at the last hurdle.

However, the most emotional person at Newlands at the end of the game might well be Mr Jonathan Kaplan. 

After being a servant for rugby all over the world, making South Africa proud on the biggest stages and giving the best part of his life to the game we say thank you to Jonathan Kaplan and we look forward to seeing you reach greater heights in the sport, without a whistle in your hand.

Fluit fluit Meneer Kaplan, jou storie is uit.


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