What was it that got you into refereeing?
I was always curious about refereeing but always thought I wasn’t knowledgeable enough – the only dealings I had with a referee was when my knock-on ended an advantage…
However, when I moved back to Newcastle for a new job I struggled to fully commit to training yet I wanted to remain part of the rugby community. It was 2015 and inspired by the Red Roses’ 2014 World Cup win, the numbers of female players was noticeably increasing, yet I had not noticed any increase of female referees. So, thought ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ and signed up for the next local ERRA course. It transpired to be one of the best decisions I’ve made!
What’s the most rewarding thing about refereeing?
I do love the mental challenge that refereeing brings, every match is different and teaches something new about the game at whatever level. For me, the camaraderie between referees is the most rewarding thing about refereeing, perhaps because I didn’t expect it!
I have been fortunate enough to referee throughout the UK and even Andalusia where I have met some brilliant referees and made some great friends. Although you may seem alone on the pitch, it certainly doesn’t feel that way knowing that other referees are there to call after the match to provide encouragement and support.
Tell us about your favourite photo
This was tricky! I have photos of matches which marked certain milestones which I’m incredibly proud about, as well as those in which I simply enjoyed officiating for personal reasons.
I’ve chosen one of the Referee Team at the annual StayStrongStu 7s at Tynedale RFC a couple of years back – this is one of the most anticipated tournaments of the season, attracting most of the local rugby community and always is a great laugh.
Tell us about your local referee society
Since qualifying I have been a proud member of Northumberland Referee Society (NRURS), which is responsible for officiating clubs north of the Tyne to those on the Scottish border (notably Berwick and the most rural club in England – Border Park).
Being part of the North Federation, NRURS works closely with both the Durham and Cumbria societies for joint training sessions in addition to providing opportunities for referees who wish to venture out of county for a different challenge. NRURS is an incredibly social society demonstrated by the fact that every Saturday we meet up at a different club post-match to discuss games, life and support our local clubs.
As a referee how do you manage the work / life balance?
Balancing full time work and refereeing has its challenges but I have found that it ultimately comes down to communication on availability. My employer is supportive of my refereeing development and NRURS provide the flexibility to referee as much as I can manage. Of course there are occasions when I have had to re-prioritise but I’ll continue balancing for as long as I enjoy it!.