Given the demanding travel schedule for elite referees, Van der Westhuizen admits being home at this time of the year is slightly unusual, but he has been making the most of it, especially since he anticipates having to hit the ground running when the rugby season resumes.
“It is amazing how one adapts when you are forced to do without the things you are used to,” said Van der Westhuizen.
“I usually train at the gym and have a lot of space in general for my workouts, but the programme we have now, which literally requires an area of 10 metres by 10 metres, has been just as tough.
“We have essentially received a training programme that allows us to emulate what we do in a match within a small area, and this is going to be very beneficial when we return to the field.”
Van der Westhuizen added: “One of the training sessions involves a circuit of skipping and exercises such as push-ups and lunges, and within that hour we have to skip 1600 times, so skipping is certainly one of the skills I have learned again.”
Large chunks of the experienced referee’s days are also spent liaising with his colleagues on rugby matters through video conferences.
“The National Referees Panel is online between four and six hours a day on Microsoft Teams where we participate in refresher courses, share match experiences and discuss matters of best practice to ensure that we are all on the same page when we return to the field,” he said.
“In the process some of the young and upcoming referees have been able to learn from us, and vice-versa, so lockdown has certainly been very productive for the referees.”
After tying the knot with Isel-Marie in December, Van der Westhuizen’s first few months of marriage have undoubtedly been the complete of opposite of what he anticipated with rugby and travelling on hold temporarily.
“As referees we are not used to being home much, so this is vastly different to what life is usually like,” said Van der Westhuizen.
“One thing lockdown has reaffirmed for me is that I married my soul mate, and it has been good to spend time at home doing bits and bobs around the house and a few things that we planned to do at home.”
Van der Westhuizen lauded the South African government for the swift action to reduce the rate of infection by enforcing a nationwide lockdown so soon.
“It was great to see how proactive the country acted in trying to contain the virus from the outset, and as citizens it is important that we all adhere the measures being put in place by government to flatten the COVID-19 curve,” he said.
"As individuals we need to realise that the measures taken are for our own protection and good, and it is important that we all do what we can to limit the spread of the virus, so stay home, and wash and sanitize your hands regularly.”