Rebecca Mahoney receiving her Black Ferns cap from former teammate and NZR board member Farah Palmer. PHOTO/CINDI KWOCKSUN

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Friday night turned out to be a special night for Wairarapa-Bush’s international rugby referee Rebecca Mahoney at the Tararua Sports Awards.

Not only was the former Black Ferns international awarded the district’s Official of the Year award for the second time, and the Supreme Award for the fourth time, it was the surprise, organised by her mother, Shirley, for awarding her a Black Ferns’ cap that left her speechless.

Former Black Ferns captain and New Zealand Rugby board member Farah Palmer was on hand to “cap” her former team mate.

“Farah is a very good friend. She was the first person to get me drunk when I was 18 years old after a representative match for Manawatu,” Mahoney said.

“It was amazing. I’m still in the middle of my rugby career, but to see the box and the cap, you realise just how much the black jersey means to the girls.”

Mahoney, nee Hull, played 16 tests for the Black Ferns, from her debut against Canada in 2004 until her final test against England in 2011. She was also part of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup winning teams.

“To see those two World Cup medals on the wall and I played such a small part in those teams, and now to get this cap, it finishes that part of my career.”

Mahoney praised the organisation behind Friday’s award ceremony at the Eketahuna Community Centre.

“It was such a good night, a really well-run awards ceremony. There was kapa haka, and the local head boy was MC for the event. It showed what we can do in Tararua.

“To think I turned down going to Eden Park to get my cap so I could referee rugby here. To get my cap in Eketahuna, my home town, and organised by my mum, who kept it quiet – it was awesome.”

Life doesn’t get any quieter for Mahony, who last year became the first woman to referee a Mitre 10 Cup match.

On Saturday, she was back on the field refereeing a match at the Hurricanes Festival of Rugby at Rathkeale College.

Later this month, the Eketahuna sheep farmer is off to Fiji to referee the women’s test match between Fiji and Hong Kong.