New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has launched a new scholarship initiative aimed at encouraging current and former women’s rugby players to take up refereeing.
The two-year scholarship programme is supported by the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and will see successful applicants join NZR’s National Referee Squad for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
NZR’s Head of Training and Education Bryce Lawrence said the scholarships were about looking for innovative ways to capitalise on the growth of the women’s game.
“We’re seeing increasing opportunities for women to referee sevens and fifteens both domestically and internationally, particularly with the additions of Super Rugby Aupiki and the new global three-tier WXV competition. There’s never been a better time to get involved in refereeing.”
Lawrence said that the two recipients would be involved with the programme in a part-time capacity, allowing them to continue to meet their playing commitments.
“This is an opportunity for women’s rugby players at all levels and we don’t expect anyone to have refereeing experience, you’ll learn as you go. What we’re looking for is people who are passionate about the game, have a willingness to learn and love being part of a team.”
Scholarship referees will be provided with one-on-one coaching and renumeration, as well as strength and conditioning, mental skills, and nutrition support.
Lawrence recognised current Manawatū Cyclones and Hurricanes Poua star Selica Winiata as a player who is balancing playing with refereeing.
Winiata has made a successful transition into refereeing and recently refereed at both the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022.
“Selica is showing other women’s rugby players that it’s possible to play and referee at a high level. We’re hoping others follow Selica’s example and get involved in refereeing so they can remain part of the game long after they’ve finished playing.”
Applications can be sent to Bryce.Lawrence@nzrugby.co.nz or Ashley.Stanley@nzrpa.co.nz by Tuesday 15 November 2022.