Super W: Helping to inspire the next generation of female referees

Fri, 02/07/2021, 04:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Captains from the Waratahs and Brumbies share their thoughts on the match

When the Super W competition was launched for its fourth edition, it was quick to see the rise in opportunity for women wanting to get into the game.

Whilst all the focus has been on the introduction of the President XV's and their success, this has extended to the whistle-blowers as a new wave of female referees takes centre stage.

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Trailblazing referee and Women’s Referee Development Officer Amy Perrett admits the tournament has been integral for a blossoming group of referees making the push for further honours, particularly Rugby World Cup 2021.

“The tournament is really the pinnacle in their careers. It's the gateway to the professional side,” Perrett told Rugby.com.au

“It means a lot to all the referees. We’ve got quite a few of our female referees hoping to go to the World Cup next year along with the players.

“This competition is the best opportunity to put their name out and show what they’ve got.

“This is their opportunity to do it on TV and show World Rugby who are looking in and seeing how they are going."

Maya Stewart lights up the Brumbies to help the Waratahs win comfortably in round three

Victorian-based referee Amber McLachlan will take the Grand Final between the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds.

McLachlan hasn't missed a beat despite missing the majority of 2020 due to COVID-induced lockdowns, picking up from her test debut in 2019 and Six Nations appointment.

“(Amber) did her first Six Nations game before COVID and did a really good job. She’s from Victoria so last year got no rugby so this was a great opportunity for her to get back into the high level of rugby and hopefully if there are Tests available she’ll put here hand up,” she believes.

“She thoroughly deserves the final, she’s had that year off but it hasn’t affected her one bit. She’s back in and the Amber that’s done the Test matches so we’re really excited to give her this opportunity.

“It’s her first Super W Final but I think she would’ve done it last season if COVID didn’t stop that. I’m really happy that we’ve been able to put the tournament on and she’s able to do the final and gain so much more experience that will help her."

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In what's become standard over the past 12 months, COVID played havoc with referee appointments, restricting WA-based and those within the Eastern Suburbs from officiating in Coffs Harbour.

With adversity comes opportunities and no one has taken it more than 19-year-old Jessica Ling.

Ling, who was recognised as part of RA's Student Scholarships program for 2020, will take the Super Select XV v President's XV game on Saturday.

With her career only just beginning, Perrett was excited to see her development and how it showcases the current pathways for those wanting to take the next step.

“She’s only 19, she’s one of our up and coming referees coming through,” Perrett said on Ling. “Because of the lockdowns across Australia, we’ve had planned other referees so she now has the opportunity and I’m excited to see how she goes.

“She’s definitely one to watch for the future, especially on the Sevens circuit heading forward.

"If people can see what the pathways are and ref in Super W and follow that into Super Rugby or Internationals, it’s great for everyone to see female players and referees performing well at the highest level and inspiring the next generation.

“It will hopefully inspire the next group to make that jump and do it in the future."

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