Kaplan to hang up his boots

Leading referee Jonathan Kaplan will retire at the end of the season.

The South African official, who has taken charge of more tests, Super Rugby and Currie Cup matches than anyone else in history, will hang up his boots following a 21-year career.

Kaplan said: "Rugby has been my life for the past few decades and I’ve made the decision with a tinge of sadness.

"But the time has come to move on and make way for the young referees we have coming through in South Africa."

Kaplan has taken charge of a world record 68 test matches and four rugby World Cups. He said: "I’ve had an incredible career and I’ll miss my front row seats on the big stage. You have no idea how difficult it is. It’s like part of me is dying.

"I’ve always prided myself on having the best interests of the game at heart, and being brave enough to try and get the best out of every game in which I have been involved."

Born in Durban, Kaplan started refereeing as a schoolboy at King David in Johannesburg at the age of 17.

And despite announcing his retirement, he insists that he still plans to be involved with rugby in the future.

He said: "I’d like to remain involved in the game, quite in what capacity I am not sure at this stage."

Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU: "Jonathan has been one of the world’s best referees for a very long time now and has been a credit not only to South African rugby but the profession of refereeing."

    Last updated: 10:28am, February 15 2013