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Kaplan: Bledisloe Cup 2000 my favourite Test

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Sportal.co.nz     16 Nov 2013     Getty

Kaplan told Sport24.co.za: "It was a brilliant game with the two teams [Australia and New Zealand] at the peak of their powers.

"Both were playing for the Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup titles and the No.1 ranking in world rugby.

"That game, long remembered for its dramatic twist at the end, really tested me as a professional referee," he said.

The game, the first to be played at Westpac Stadium, was won by Australia when captain and lock John Eales kicked a penalty goal in the final act of the match.

Interestingly, the man who was at fullback for New Zealand that day, Christian Cullen, was ranked by Kaplan as the most dynamic attacking force of all the players he refereed.

He said Springbok lock Victor Matfield was the pre-eminent lineout forward who almost redefined the role. But he also enjoyed the play of halfbacks George Gregan (Australia), Joost van der Westhuizen (South Africa) and Justin Marshall (New Zealand).

Kaplan noted the development of former New Zealand Super Rugby player Glen Jackson as a referee and said he encouraged more former players to take up refereeing.

"There is a massive void personnel-wise and thus a real opportunity for those who have played at the highest level owing to their game understanding. While Glen can still improve in terms of accuracy of his decisions, he has a great feel for the game and I have no doubt he will grow even further into the role," he said.

Kaplan never refereed a Rugby World Cup final which was one box he left unticked but he didn't believe one game defined a career.

He did admit there were games he would have liked to control differently, including a Bledisloe Cup game in 2006 in which he said he felt 'inefficient'.

"That day I thought I let myself down and those that had selected me. As a referee, you have to be honest with yourself and if incorrect decisions are made, they have to be acknowledged. Rugby is complex and in many respects, refereeing is too difficult for one man to do," he said.

In retirement Kaplan said he wanted to stay involved in the game, and would continue to referee club and school games but he was looking for involvement in the refereeing, high-performance or media sides of rugby.