My Ride Through and Guide To Being A Female Rugby Referee.

Well, this is me.

My name is Larissa Collingwood and I’m in my early twenties. I’m a new Registered Nurse in the Waikato and one of the few female rugby referee’s within New Zealand.

One of the most obvious things about me is that I’m talkative and loud until ¾ of the way through a 7’s tournament and then I become a grumpy ol’ git. There’s really nothing else to me. I wake up, go to work, train, eat (maybe too much haha) and repeat, often forgetting to do my washing in-between that too (gross!).

I began refereeing in 2013 in the Naki, after playing alongside my brother and his mates through intermediate, and playing alongside my own mates at high school. This was after failing to be co-ordinated or cool enough for every other sport on the planet. The best part about rugby was that I could run touch for my brother’s game on a Saturday and play myself on a Sunday. Knowing I could do more than just jog down the side-line with no authority what-so-ever, I sought out our South Taranaki Rugby Referee’s go to guy, Lionel Shaw, and he signed me right up. Little did I know I was going to be the only female referee active and at meetings, and I had no idea that referee’s even had meetings in the first place.

Female referee’s in rugby aren’t as hard to find floating out in the community or on your TV as they used to be, but with only  having between 1 and 4 active female referee’s present in the Waikato alone, I think we can all come to the conclusion that there are stuff all of us in the sport. The male dominated sport is huge within NZ and now there are way more women signing up to play since the success of our women’s teams, yet the amount of female referee’s in the community isn’t growing as fast as the women’s game itself. Yeah, the women’s teams can still be under some serious development in some places but the motivation to play is there, so if we don’t want guy’s refereeing their games as much, how do we find the women to referee? Who the hell knows, but that isn’t what I’m here to yarn about anyway.

So here goes. I chose refereeing because I wanted to be a part of something bigger in the sport, to become the best person that I can be. As a player I became an asshole on the field after I took up the whistle, and what referee isn’t?! But I found that if I wanted to be the best me and commit and contribute to that bigger picture then refereeing was the way to go. I am now refereeing Under 21’s comfortably in the Waikato and had my debut and nailed it in Division 1 in 2017, I also referee club women’s games and 7’s as well. I’ve had the opportunity to referee at our Regional 7’s in 2016, and travel world to better myself as a referee. So far, in 2018 i have had the opportunity to assistant referee the women’s final at the National 7’s, and run water for the referees at the World 7’s Series in Hamilton.

So this blog is pretty much my ride through and guide to refereeing as a female in NZ, in the hopes that more woman will pick up the whistle like I have.


Peace Out,



  1. Great first column Rissi.Good luck with it.You have had some wonderful experiences in refereeing to date with many more to come.Really proud of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to learn a bit more of your background and how you got into refereeing. I look forward to the interesting discussions ahead on your blog. Have a great season coming up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes young lady I have watched you referee on many occasions at High School level. I have walked onto the field after a game on several occasions to congratulate you because you are without a doubt one of best referees in the business. That you come from Hawera is just a bonus. Regards Allan Wilson.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s