‘The best part’s what we don’t know, take a little step into the unknown’ – Drax Project ‘Toto’.
So, something happened last Monday. Something that nobody in my household was expecting, including myself and it is a surprise I never saw coming and an opportunity I didn’t realise I wanted until it plopped itself on my lap as the gift it is. On Monday I got my most challenging appointment as a referee to date, but also one of my most exciting- yes, more exciting than the phone call sending me to Dubai….
Monday I woke up feeling like a thousand knives had stabbed at my throat, and an elephant had taken up residence within my skull. My head was clogged and my throat was sore, sending me to the doctor so I knew what form of death I was dealing with. On my way I got the text from the rugby union telling me that this week’s appointments were up, and at the time I didn’t give them the time of day because I was dealing with my ill-functioning system and buying everything under the sun to get me better for work (little did I know I was getting better for Saturday’s game also!). I went to the supermarket, ignored the text and went on about my business stock piling food until I got home and the computer called my name.
This wasn’t unusual, I like to know what I’m dealing with on the weekend before I get to it but usually my other half lets me know before I have a look (but not today). Scrolling through the appointments it took a while to find my name, until I stumbled upon it in a place where I never thought it would be. Let me be honest and tell you that I had no idea that this game was on and that my other half who usually let me know when these games were being played, had officially lost his job as chief information source for the day. The game I have been appointed to is a Super 8 game, yes the most impressive grade of 1st XV rugby in New Zealand. That Super 8. In all honesty I had never dreamed of doing one of these games as I saw all of the people ahead of me as people who could have been appointed to this. Man, was I wrong. My initial reaction was a little wild, my mouth hit the floor and I started laughing to myself like the crazy cat lady I’m not. I was so gobsmacked. I watched that appointment like a hawk all week, checking that it hadn’t been changed to someone else and when everyone else saw it too I finally decided that this opportunity was real and I should probably stop freaking the ‘f’ out and treat it like every other game.
There is no way that this game is going to be a walk in the park physically; my lungs are going to be hanging out of my butt by the end of the 70 minute game. In all other aspects of the game I reckon that my prep and growth throughout the season has put me in good stead to be a competent and confident #31 on game day. First things first I have to get over this blooming sickness!
Game day came and went like every event you are looking forward to, fast and full of excitement and emotion. My AR’s were ace and my team watching from the side-line were as supportive as ever, I cannot thank each of them enough. I started my day out as I would for any other game day, I had my breakfast, walked my overly energetic pooch and got my gears on and sorted, checking twice so I didn’t forget anything (because I am definitely known for this…).
I walked around the field pre-match, getting the feeling of the enormity of what was to come. I had ARed many times on this field for others and now it was my turn and I could feel the bubbling excitement boiling over and mixing with the nervousness I had within. It was time to begin my pre-match. I stood there, looking up to these man sized high school kids, trying to decide if they were really young enough to even attend high school, even the coach was impressed with their size. It’s fair to say that I felt extremely miniature at my pre-match talks and throughout the game. Going through my processes pre-match allowed me to step into the game like it was any other, being under 21’s to Division 1 or any other high school game. I had land-rover 1st 15 telling me that they were filming Hamilton Boys, I had live streaming camera’s on the game and as soon as my whistle blew for kick off all I saw was the game unfolding in front of me, so much so that the first time I looked at my watch first half it was already 31 minutes in. Half time the review was pretty simple, let the game breathe a little more with advantage and keep it up because I was keeping up, yuss!
The second half saw me having to work a lot harder positioning wise as the game changed slightly, meaning initially I was getting bumped by these large creatures called boys. I soon worked it out and my confidence remained all game. My calls were all with confidence and my talks and explanations were said with a confidence that reduced arguing. The only thing was that my scums were more average than I would have liked, however I was trying to manage boys who were trying to one up each other, trying to be the better scrummager which was causing more issues than it was solving (to my frustration).
The feedback from my support system and the people watching was more positive than I could have expected. I was proud as punch at my performance for a game that I thought I could never keep up with in a million years. I had many people come up to me post-match congratulating me, however the best part was an older couple who had seen me running water at the stadium watched me actually referee and expressed their excitement in seeing a female referee on the field. There is nothing better than a stranger taking interest in the sport and my little successes within it.
I began this week wondering if I would flounder in the shallow waters or swim through the rapids that met me head on. In my opinion, I had one of my better games of the season and I could not be more proud of my ability on game day. I know there are many work on’s I can take from it and learn from any things that may have been wrong or missed, however that’s for me to review another day. This game was an opportunity I was stoked to get and there aren’t a huge number of females that do get this opportunity so I was prepared to go out there and prove myself and I believe that I have to a point. Now it’s time to reflect and review the game so that I can take the learnings into next week’s game, as learning is growing and growing is bettering my game and giving me these opportunities. The thing is, if I had this same opportunity last year or any time before now I would have flopped under the pressure and nervousness – it just shows how far you can come if you persist and push through the tough shit.