Women off the sideline and onto the pitch with new refereeing course

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By Community Rugby

In many households, Rugby is an integral part of the weekend. If it’s not the kids playing school games or Club matches, then it’s the family cheering on their Super Rugby team, or planning how to wear the green and gold against the imminent British & Irish Lions tour. 

However, Rugby is no longer exclusively the domain of the male counterpart. With global participation rates for women recently topping the one million mark, the IRB has identified women as the key growth for the game.
 “The IRB is committed to the ongoing development of Women's Rugby. These are exciting times and the sport has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years and the IOC's decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympic programme has significantly boosted participation and interest worldwide,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
Not only is participation on the increase, but so too is contribution. And not from the sidelines. Refereeing and coaching offer opportunities for mothers, sisters and grandmothers to be more than just passive onlookers.
Sevens referee Amy Perrett, who refereed final of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series last year in Dubai, has recently been appointed to the IRB World Cup in Moscow in June, and is keen to encourage female involvement in the sport.
“I've had a number of women come up to me after games who want to get involved but worry about the male dominance of the sport. This is a chance for these women to get involved.
A lot of people probably don't see what refereeing can offer you. I've been fortunate enough to travel the world, have had the best seat in the house running beside some of the greatest players in the game and have an opportunity to go to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.”
A recent Ladies Forum run for the Newcastle Wanderers Rugby Club by the ARU elicited overwhelming support. Forty mothers, some with children new to the game, others regular to the weekly routine, attended the forum which aimed to give an understanding of what happens on the field. Talk of safety, the laws of the game and jargon tips washed down with a glass of bubbly resulted in a fun and informative evening.
One mother, whose husband is in the air force and often away for her son’s games, now feels confident to cheer from the sidelines. “I now know the terminology and can contribute appropriately from the sidelines. It was also a great way to get to know other mums. I am looking forward to learning more at the next forum,” she said.
Such is the demand for women’s involvement in the sport that the ARU is offering a Refereeing Kids Rugby course for females only, aimed at providing fundamentals for refereeing games for under 8s to under 12s. The first of its kind in Australia, if successful it will be replicated across the country in the future.
Community Operations Manager for New South Wales, Michael Doyle, is keen to have women on board.
“We are entering an incredibly thrilling time as we grow our game and increase the amount of females playing across all ages.
Of course as we grow our players, we need to grow our officials and we find that females make fantastic referees and assistant referees,” said Mr Doyle.
To register or find out more about this course, please visit the website.

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