Tappe’s last dance

Veteran South African referee Tappe Henning has been given the unique opportunity of officiating the Springboks in an international match.

Henning will be the whistle blower for the Springbok XV vs World XV game on June 3 at Ellis Park Stadium. SA Rugby Manager for Referees, Andre Watson, says it is a way of rewarding a man who has paid his dues in his field of expertise.

Watson says the stature of the game was befitting of a man who has dedicated so much time and effort to refereeing in South Africa. At the end of last year Henning announced his retirement from Test rugby.

In the modern professional era referees are never appointed for Tests involving their own countrymen. Although the match is an unofficial Test it is nevertheless the closest anyone will get.

“From the point of view of SA Rugby Referees, the match will be a testimonial game for Tappe,” said Watson. “The IRB gave us the opportunity to appoint the match officials, and we picked Tappe. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ for services rendered to the profession in our country.”

The referee was asked to pick his own team of match officials. For touch judges, he chose Jonathan Kaplan and JC Fortuin. As Television Match Official he opted for Watson. Fourth and fifth officials are Mark Lawrence and Willie Roos. Henning chose Dr Louis Wessels as referee’s assessor.

Henning says he is thrilled. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. Not many referees end their careers on such a note. It’s a fine gesture from SA Rugby.”

Here is a brief overview of Tappe’s refereeing career:

- Started in 1987 with the then Northern Transvaal
- In 1993 he became a provincial referee
- In 1995 joined the Bankfin Currie Cup panels; he was the referee in the Currie Cup final between Natal and Western Province in Durban in his debut year
- Refereed first Test in 1995, Scotland versus Samoa at Edinburgh
- Touch Judge at 1999 Rugby World Cup
- Total of 240 first class games; among them 87 Absa Currie Cup, 53 Vodacom Super Series; 18 Tests, including Six Nations and Vodacom Tri-Nations