Rebecca Mahoney, left, refereeing at the Hong Kong Sevens. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Rugby season may be finished for most New Zealanders, but the accolades keep rolling in for Wairarapa referee Rebecca Mahoney.

The former Eketahuna and Black Ferns first five-eighth has been named as a finalist in the New Zealand Rugby Referee of the Year category for the upcoming ASB Rugby Awards ceremony.

She will be up against Bay of Plenty’s Glen Jackson and Taranaki’s Richard Kelly.

Mahoney has ticked off several major milestones this year, including becoming the first woman to referee a men’s first class match in New Zealand, and taking charge of her third Farah Palmer Cup final.

She also refereed at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco earlier this year, before signing off from sevens to focus her time on the 15-a-side game.

Mahoney played 16 matches for the Black Ferns before turning her attention to refereeing, and said after officiating the Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country this season that 2018 had been an amazing year on her refereeing journey.

“It means I’m achieving the goals I’ve set out for myself – this year has been amazing with the opportunities with the sevens as well.

“I have a greater expectation on myself than anybody else can have on me, and if it does inspire young girls and ex-players and shows them the pathway is there, then I’m all for promoting it.”

Other features of the awards night will have back-to-back Rugby World Cup Sevens champions and Commonwealth Games gold medallists the Black Ferns Sevens and the All Blacks Sevens go up against the All Blacks for New Zealand Team of the Year, while the Crusaders, Auckland and Thames Valley are shortlisted for National Team of the Year.

The New Zealand Coach of the Year category will be fiercely contested between three leaders of national teams, with Allan Bunting [Black Ferns Sevens], Steve Hansen [All Blacks] and Clark Laidlaw [All Blacks Sevens] shortlisted for the award.

Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge, and All Blacks Richie Mo’unga, Brodie Retallick and Codie Taylor have all been nominated for the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year award.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said 2018 had been big year for rugby.

“It’s been another special year with several victories providing us moments of pride and cause for celebration, and some great rugby moments that inspire us to always strive to be our best.

“The All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens are the first teams to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup Sevens titles in addition to gold at the Commonwealth Games; the Black Ferns retained the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy, the Canterbury women’s team secured back-to-back wins, along with the Crusaders winning the Investec Super Rugby Championship for a second year, Auckland won the Mitre 10 Cup for the first time since 2007, and the All Blacks have secured every trophy they have contested this year.

“These achievements show that New Zealand teams have been in dominant form.”

A full list of the nominees can be found on the All Blacks website, and the winners will be announced at the ceremony at Sky City Convention Centre on Thursday, December 13.

The event will be broadcast on SKY Sport.