Kaplan’s ‘break’ just coincidence

André Watson says referee Jonathan Kaplan hasn’t been punished for the error made in Wales’ Six Nations win over Ireland last weekend.

The Sanzar manager of referees confirmed that Kaplan will be on Six Nations duty this weekend. Watson also added that the reason for Kaplan’s two-week break in Super Rugby thereafter is to give him time to rest.

Kaplan has been heavily criticised after his decision to allow Wales scrumhalf Mike Phillips’ try after a quick lineout, which proved to be the deciding score in Wales’ 19-13 victory in Cardiff. Replays showed that Phillips received the wrong ball from the touchline, meaning the try should have been disallowed.

Now Fox Sports have reported that Kaplan has been given a ‘three-week break’ after the howler at the Millennium Stadium, but Watson denied this.

‘Jonathan hasn’t been given a break because of the mistake,’ Watson told keo.co.za. ‘The referee appointments for the next four weeks were made last Tuesday, so last Saturday’s incident didn’t influence anything.

‘Jonathan will be on Six Nations duty this weekend and will be rested for two weeks as he returns to South Africa before his next Super Rugby appointment on 9 April.’

Watson doesn’t believe Kaplan should be blamed for the mistake.

‘Kaplan isn’t allowed to ask the TMO for help in that situation. That’s IRB protocol,’ says Watson. ‘He asked the assistant referee for advice and the decision was made. It’s the same situation when asking the assistant referee if the player was out or not.

‘The fact that it was the wrong decision was unfortunate and I guess it’s fair for everybody to expect the match officials to get something so basic correct. I don’t believe anybody should be singled out though. We will have to wait and see what [head of IRB's referee board] Paddy O’Brien says about the incident.’

By Gareth Duncan