12 Sep 2018
More and more, women referees are refereeing in the men's game. This time it is Rebecca Mahoney who is going higher in New Zealand's men's rugby than any other woman referee before her.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
The top provincial competition in New Zealand is the Mitre 10 Cup. The second highest is the Heartland Championship, and she has been appointed to a Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country, the province whose most famous player was Colin Meads.
Like some other women referees - Aimee Barrett-Theron of South Africa, Joy Neville of Ireland and Alhambra Nievas of Spain -, Rebecca played for her country. She played 16 times for the Black Ferns, twice in the winning team at the Women's Rugby World Cup, in 2006 and 2010.
After retiring from playing after the 2014 season Rebecca turned to refereeing. Her progress has been remarkable, for she has refereed a Test match, refereed Sevens at the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and has refereed to finals of the Farah Palmer Cup, the New Zealand women's provincial tournament.
Still an amateur referee, Rebecca manages a cattle farm near Eketahuna, in the south of North Island. She and her husband have two daughters, born when she was still playing.
This Saturday, Joy Neville of Ireland is the No.1 assistant referee in a PRO 14 match and Claire Daniel the No.1 assistant referee in an English Championship match while Amy Perrett is the TMO when Sydney play Brisbane.
There is, of course, no reason why women cannot become top referees. They don't have scrum or tackle or ruck or maul or jump in line-outs.