Aaron Smith uses the first big Captain's Referral perfectly

Aaron Smith uses the first big Captain's Referral perfectly

The Highlanders marched to their first victory of the Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 season as they punished the Chiefs in the second half claiming a 23-39 victory.

Jona Nareki was the star of the show scoring three tries and assisted another as Tony Brown's charges surged to victory. 


The clash in Waikato also provided the first big Captain's referral which Aaron Smith executed perfectly having come off the bench.

The Chiefs scored an excellent try before Smith asked the referee, Paul Williams, to check for potential foul play on Josh Ioane.

Chiefs' replacement lock Mitchell Brown was judged to have elbowed Josh Ioane in the neck as the second-rower led with his elbow up.


The Chiefs' try was chalked off and the Highlanders were able to end their chances of a late comeback and denied them a losing bonus point. 

The introduction of a ‘captain’s referral’ for Super Rugby Aoteraoa allows a team to ask the referee to check with the TMO in one of three scenarios: any decision made in the last five minutes of the game, an infringement in the buildup to a try, or in an instance of foul play.

Each captain is given one opportunity per match to ask the referee to have the Television Match Official (TMO) check for an infringement in the lead up to a try, or to review foul play.

  • Captains will have 10 seconds to make their referral after a try has been awarded.
  • The TMO will be able to go back to the last stoppage in play, regardless of how many phases have been played.
  • Foul play referrals can be made after any stoppage in play if the captain believes foul play has been missed by the match officials.
  • Captain’s must reference ‘specific’ incidents or infringements.
  • Footage must be ‘clear and obvious’ for a referral to be upheld.
  • The scrum and lineout are not included in the referral process.

If the referring captain is correct, they will retain their referral, but if the referee’s original decision stands, or the TMO footage is not ‘clear and obvious’, the captain loses their referral.

The captain’s referral will be applied more broadly from the 75-minute mark in any match at which point the captain, provided they have not already lost their referral, can use it to check any referee’s decision, regardless of whether a try has been scored.

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