It only takes a moment to look back on how far you have come, and who you once were as a referee. Lucky for me, I have had opportunities walk through my front door, and many of these have thrown a lot of learning’s at me, allowing me to grow into the referee I am today. Sometimes, all it takes is one window, one door or one moment to open up your eyes to the places you could go or the things you could do.
For me it all starts with a phone call. It’s that cliché line that is either the start of something amazing or the voice of devastation right? Luckily for me this was a call of the best kind and one that I am grateful to have been on the receiving end of. This was my opportunity as a referee to travel the world, ref different rugby, learn new tricks of our trade and experience the World 7’s Series as a spectator. This was my ticket to Dubai and one day could be yours too. All I’m saying is that if the phone of opportunity rings you, pick the hell up!
I was only a youngin at the time (like 18), studying as a nurse and super lucky to have almost finished for the semester when our local New Zealand Women’s referee rung me to ask if I wanted to jet off to Dubai for their invitational 7’s tournament that runs alongside the World tournament. My eyebrows hit the roof, and my eyes bugged way too far out of my head! I honestly thought that she was ripping the piss when asking me, I guess she wasn’t, ha! I’ve come to figure that there’s always a catch though, when you get these calls. So, background details… the woman from New Zealand who was supposed to go was injured a week out from the tournament, leaving a spot for somebody from New Zealand to fill. Since the now retired New Zealand referee (and my now coach) had been before, the organiser rung her for her to choose someone to go (two thumbs up to her for picking me!). The catch meant that it left me (a poor as hell student) to find money for flights within the week, to be out of there by the Sunday (I think this was on like a Tuesday). I also had to do my last exam hopped up on excitement, and who knows if that helped or hindered my success but at the time I had no worries, I was going to Dubai!
My parents (the good buggers) gave me a hand up with the money and sent me on my way to the other side of the world, never having had traveled alone before I was sweet though), and wished me luck. I will tell you more about what Dubai was like and the experiences I had while there another day though (too many stories to tell in one blog!). This is because I’m here to tell you what I figured out about going to Dubai, and it is that there are seriously huge opportunities out there for referees (women or men) as the sport in 15’s and the ever growing 7’s is becoming more prominent throughout the world. The crazy thing is that these opportunities often have a chain effect as the people you meet and the opportunities they have in their back yard become available to you also, which is pretty neat. My room-mate from Dubai, an American from Nevada, invited me to the invitational tournament in Las Vegas surrounding that World 7’s tournament, and I’ve taken up that opportunity twice since then. Also the guys I made friends with over in England have provided me with an invitation to head there for rugby if I can get there, which gives me endless opportunities to grow and improve my refereeing skills and experience new ways in which the game is played all over the world,
This ranting on about myself does have a point, I promise. It’s that there is no limit to growing your refereeing capabilities. There are opportunities everywhere, you have no idea who will see you, or who will be on the other side of that phone call one day. Each of these opportunities have allowed me to grow my identity as a referee and hone in my skills to the game we all love to be a part of. My last advice? Ignore that glass ceiling, take those opportunities and own that whistle.