Nigel Owens: The ‘crucial’ thing Jaco Peyper will add to the Springboks

Jared Wright
Former referees Nigel Owens and Jaco Peyper.

Former referees Nigel Owens and Jaco Peyper.

Former international referee Nigel Owens believes that the Springboks will “benefit incredibly” from Jaco Peyper’s move into the coaching team.

Peyper announced his retirement from match officiating ahead of the Six Nations following his injury during the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Wales and Argentina.

The highly respected South African was set to officiate during the 2024 Six Nations but instead opted to hang up his whistle due to his injury. He has since been added to SA Rugby’s coaching structures as National Laws advisor.

Springboks to benefit from Jaco Peyper’s expertise

Owens worked closely with Peyper for several years and has backed his fellow former official to thrive in his new role in assisting the Springboks.

“The Springboks will benefit incredibly from Jaco’s appointment,” Owens told South African newspaper Rapport.

“We all know of his quality and experience as a referee, and he will certainly be missed on the international stage, but his input in the Springbok camp to help them better understand the laws of the game and lower their penalty count will be valuable.”

While referees have worked closely with national teams in an advisory role in the past, it is becoming increasingly common for teams to hire ex-officials on a full-time basis to understand the laws of the game better.

Fabien Galthie added Jerome Garces to his France coaching team in a similar role to that of Peyper in 2020, while fellow Frenchman Romain Poite is currently on Toulon’s payroll.

Even Owens was lined up for a coaching role as Rassie Erasmus wanted the Welshman to join his staff ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. He ultimately turned down the offer as he was in the final stages of adopting his first child.

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Dealing with the referees

Owens says that discipline is crucial at Test level, and believes Peyper’s appointment will go a long way to South Africa limiting their penalty count.

“We saw it during the quarter-final, semi-final and fine of the World Cup when the Boks won each game by one point. One penalty, and it’s three points, and then you’ve lost one of those games. It’s crucial, and Jaco will bring that to the table [reducing the penalties],” he said.

It’s not just the penalty count where Peyper will have an influence, according to Owens, who adds that he will assist the Springboks with adapting to different referees who have their own tendencies and focus more on certain parts of the game than others.

He added: “Jaco’s appointment will also greatly benefit the players in their relationship with the referees and what the best way to deal with them is as each referee is different.”

SA Rugby confirmed Peyper’s appointment alongside the recruitment of Harlequins defence coach Jerry Flannery and ex-Japan assistant Tony Brown.

Erasmus also confirmed that Duane Vermeulen joined SA Rugby’s coaching structures as a ‘roving coach’ as he completed his coaching staff ahead of his second stint as head coach.

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