WELLINGTON, New Zealand - South Africa's Jaco Peyper was Tuesday named as referee for the Super Rugby final as officials shrugged off calls for a neutral whistle-blower and a yellow-card controversy in the semis.
Governing body SANZAAR said Peyper's appointment was purely "merit-based" after putting him in charge of Saturday's final between South Africa's Golden Lions and New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders in Johannesburg.
"The selection criteria for all match official appointments for the last two years follows a clear tournament policy... that such appointments be merit-based," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said in a statement.
He added that New Zealand's Glen Jackson refereed last year's final between the Lions and the Hurricanes in Wellington, when the home team lifted the trophy.
Some experts have questioned the wisdom of using referees from the same country as one of the teams involved, with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson among those calling for the "best neutral ref".
"I'd love a neutral referee," he told New Zealand's Radio Sport. "Look it's not my decision, but in my opinion it's more around what's best for the game.
"Let's get the best neutral ref, I just think it's fair."
Peyper was also at the centre of controversy last week when he sin-binned Hurricanes fly-half Beauden Barrett at a key stage of their semi-final against the Lions in Johannesburg.
Replays suggested the punishment was harsh but the Lions took full advantage, scoring 17 points to seize the lead while Barrett was off the field in the second half.
"It was a pretty tough decision against Beauden," former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said on SuperSport TV at the time.
On Saturday, Peyper will have fellow South African Marius van der Westhuizen and New Zealander Glen Jackson as his assistants, while South Africa's Marius Jonker is the television match official.