Rebecca Mahoney, left, refereeing at the Hong Kong Sevens. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Nobody does sport quite like the Americans.
The Rugby Sevens World Cup at San Francisco’s AT&T Park left a lasting impression on the players, but the officials also got to experience what happens when America throws its considerable weight behind a sporting event.
Wairarapa’s Rebecca Mahoney was there to referee four of the women’s matches, and got to watch as both New Zealand teams retained their World Cup titles.
She said the venue – situated right by the ocean and with the Oakland Bay Bridge in the background – was “absolutely incredible”.
“You could not get a better facility.
“America knows how to do sport – they know how to put it on.”
Mahoney enjoyed a successful career with the Black Ferns in 15s, and was thrilled to see the Kiwi teams go back to back.
She played in her first World Cup in 2006, and 12 years on she never thought she would be going to another one.
She even got share a special moment with Shakira Baker – another Wairarapa product who was part of the winning New Zealand women’s team.
“To have Kira and the New Zealand girls there go back to back was special – I reffed their trials in Mt Maunganui the week before and knew they were going to produce something special,” Mahoney said.
“I spent a lot of time with the girls so was pretty special to share it with them.”
Earlier this season, Mahoney became one of two women to become the first to be selected for the elite New Zealand Rugby high performance referees’ national squad.
She has decided the World Cup was the perfect time to sign off from sevens, and she will now be focusing on the 15-a-side game and spending more time with her family.
She said she was “really grateful” for the opportunities she had been given with sevens.
“After a World Cup and a Commonwealth Games and a couple of years on the series, I kind of feel like I’ve achieved a massive chunk of what I set out to do.
“We have two young girls and our crutching business is going really well, so that makes my life extremely busy even without being a referee.”
There is limited down time for a referee who is working in the top levels of both forms of the game, and the opportunity to spend more time with family was something that was appealing to Mahoney.
She is looking forward to the provincial competition – which has more women’s teams than ever competing – and has her own goals to work towards.
She may be stepping away from the sevens spotlight, but there is no doubt we will be seeing plenty more of Mahoney in seasons to come.