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Friend hails 'really positive step' of URC appointing referee manager

Former Test referee Tappe Henning was announced in the role earlier this month.

Connacht boss Andy Friend is happy with the appointment.
Connacht boss Andy Friend is happy with the appointment.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Andy Friend has hailed the appointment of South Africa’s Tappe Henning as the referee manager for the United Rugby Championship earlier this month.

The URC had been without a referee manager for the opening months of the season after Greg Garner vacated the role last summer.

Connacht boss Friend highlighted the vacancy in October when he expressed frustration about a refereeing decision during his team’s narrow defeat to Munster at Thomond Park.

“We don’t have a referees’ manager, so I’m assuming that URC will be looking at that and hopefully something happens to the TMO that missed it. But it doesn’t help us,” said Friend at the time.

However, the URC appointed Henning to the role earlier this month.

60-year-old Henning’s most recent job was as the referee commissioner for Scottish Rugby, while he held a similar role with the South African Rugby Union previously.

An ex-referee himself, Henning took charge of 14 Test matches, as well as Currie Cup finals and a Super Rugby final. 

The URC said Henning “will be responsible for overseeing match official selections for URC fixtures, leading the review and analysis process alongside the five union referee managers from across the URC and identifying new refereeing talent.”

alan-quinlan-digital Henning is a former Test match referee. Source: INPHO

And having highlighted the vacant position back in October, Connacht boss Friend has now welcomed the appointment as a good one for the URC.

“I think Tappe Henning’s appointment is a really positive step by the URC,” said Friend yesterday as he looked towards his side’s clash with Munster on New Year’s Day.

“There’s not just myself, but other coaches crying out to have a central point to go to. A man with Tappe’s experience and the regard he’s held in in rugby circles is a really good appointment.

“I haven’t spoken personally to him but I’m quite comfortable with how things were resolved out of that [Munster] game. We have Chris Busby again this weekend and Chris is a really good young referee.”

Connacht didn’t have a game last weekend due to their St Stephen’s Day clash with Ulster being postponed after the northern province reported positive Covid cases in their squad.

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So Friend and co. are raring to get stuck into Munster at the Sportsground in Galway on Saturday.

“We have to deal with the way they want to play,” said Friend. “Their game is all about high kicks, contestable kicks, not giving away penalties, not giving easy access into your 22 where they will look to maul and scrum you.

“We have a job to do there, and off the back of it we have to have the confidence and belief to go and play our way. I think first and foremost don’t give them easy access points, and continue to have the belief and confidence in our own game.”


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella take a break from eating and drinking to chat about some interesting contract news in Irish rugby.

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