Rebecca Mahoney getting a run at the Hong Kong Sevens in July. PHOTOS/FILE

RUGBY

Rebecca Mahoney’s ground-breaking year has just got better.

The Wairarapa whistle blower has been appointed to run two games in the women’s Six Nations championship – Scotland v Wales and Italy v France, in March next year.

Mahoney has been clocking up her frequent flyer kilometres this year – and recording milestone along the way.

In 2018, Mahoney became the first New Zealand female to officiate a first class men’s fixture in the Heartland Championship [Thames Valley v King Country], officiated sevens at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, took charge of the Farah Palmer Cup final and two test matches in Europe in November.

She was one of three nominees for Referee of the Year at the national rugby awards.

On Thursday, New Zealand Rugby’s national referee manager Bryce Lawrence congratulated Mahoney, a former Black Fern, on her Six Nations appointment.

“These appointments are thoroughly deserved and top off what has been a fantastic year for Rebecca.

“Being able to witness her development as a referee has been special, she is a hard-working, commited member of our national squad. It does not surprise us to see her named among the best female referees in the world.

“Rebecca is a trail blazer; she demonstrates the pathways and incredible opportunities on offer not only for former players who pick up the whistle but anyone who gets involved in refereeing,” said Lawrence.

World Rugby match officials selection committee chairman Anthony Buchanan said the team of match officials appointed for the Women’s Six Nations Championship 2019 had a good blend of experience combined with six referees making their debuts in this competition.

“With the recent selection of New Zealand as hosts for the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021, we are already hard at work developing the pathway to ensure we have the most highly-competitive and experienced squad of match officials possible in 2021, and the Women’s Six Nations Championship forms a key part of this preparation,” Buchanan said. – allblacks.com

‘Great way to cap off the year’, says Eke farmer

RUGBY

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Mahoney became the first woman to referee a men’s first class match in New Zealand when she ran the Thames Valley-King Country Heartland match at Te Aroha in September.

Being told she was going to officiate two Women’s Six Nation matches next year was a great way to cap off an awesome year, Wairarapa referee Rebecca Mahoney says.

“I did a couple of international matches in November – one in Cardiff and one in Dublin – and selection for the Six Nations was based on how I performed so I must’ve done all right,” Mahoney told the Times-Age on Thursday.

“It’s a great thing, a really awesome opportunity, I’m really grateful.”

The 35-year-old former Black Fern, who farms with her husband near Eketahuna, said she was glad to have her Wairarapa roots.

“I love the fact that this is where I still live and come back to and it’s nice to prove to the youngsters that there are opportunities to do these things here.

“Life is about the opportunities, you have to have a go for it and just give these things a try.”

In preparation for her refereeing duties Mahoney said she was on a strict training programme that was sent to her daily via an app.

“I have to do around an hour-and-a-half, and that’s in addition to working the whole day on the farm.

“As you get older, it’s a lot harder to stay in good physical condition and keep up with the fast pace of the game.”

Mahoney said she would not have got to the such high-level matches if it wasn’t for the people around her, particularly referee Harry Quinn, who was her mentor.

“You know, success is not just one person, you need to have a good group of people to surround you I’m just grateful for the support I’ve had from my family and everyone who’s helped me on this journey.”

Wairarapa Rugby Referees Association chairman Graeme Reisima said Mahoney had gone from strength to strength.

“We’re pretty proud of what she’s achieved, she represents Wairarapa well on the world stage. Hopefully this is a stepping stone for a long career in refereeing.

“She’s wonderfully grounded, always humble, doesn’t have an ego and you can see that she thinks the game is for the players.”

Mahoney took no nonsense while running men’s matches and was quick to remind players of their place, he said.

However Reisima did have a piece of advice for Mahoney.

“I don’t know how much French or Italian they speak out in Eketahuna, but I think she’d better brush up a bit for those matches.

“Although I’ve heard they speak a bit of ‘French’ in Alfredton.”