First female match official named for Super Rugby game

By Iain Payten

Amy Perrett. Photo / Getty
Amy Perrett. Photo / Getty

Amy Perrett says she will get a huge buzz when she patrols AAMI Park as the first female match official in Super Rugby history on Saturday night.

But one thing would top it: if a young girl was inspired to follow in her footsteps.

"Growing up there weren't too many female role models for myself, to look up to," Perrett said.

"If I can create something there and get more females involved in the game and up through the ranks, that would be more amazing than running out of the stadium on Saturday to be honest with you."

Perrett will make history in the Rebels v Stormers clash in Melbourne after she was appointed to serve as an assistant referee, or in the old language, a touch judge. She will have the role for the Rebels-Reds game a week later, too.

Only one other female referee in the world has officiated at such an elite level in the mens game; Irish referee Helen O'Reilly ran a sideline in Pro12 fixtures last year.

"It is something you never thought you would achieve because there has been no female involved before. I am bit nervous but extremely proud as well," Perrett said.

"It was down to hard work and consistency, I suppose. There has been a discussion for the last couple of years and then a few weeks ago my referee manager Scott Young gave me a phone call saying "you're in"."

The milestone appointment for Perrett - made by the ARU and approved by SANZAAR - continues the Sydneysider's rapid climb in the refereeing world.

The 25-year-old referee has controlled nine female Test matches and next month Perrett will be Australia's only referee at the Rio Olympics for rugby sevens.

Perrett is quietly spoken but she can hold her own among the blokes. She sits on the A-panel of Sydney referees and is now regularly a lead referee in Shute Shield games.

"It's fairly normal for me now. I only referee women's rugby when I do international stuff, everything else is mens rugby. So I am fairly used to it," Perrett said.

Perrett says male players are respectful when she referees them, and little wonder: club observers say Perrett's mild manner off-field belies her ability to project authority on it.
"I have found the higher I go up there is a greater respect," Perrett said.

"Players, they just get on with the game at a high level, because they are fighting for their positions and they are far more professional."

Perrett believes years of doing video review of Super Rugby matches has put in her in a good place to step up and help the main referee Angus Gardiner make calls in the Rebels-Stormers clash. Assistant referees are often asked to adjudicate the side of the scrum hidden from the referee.

"We do a lot of video work from Super Rugby, but obviously scrums is something you always have to keep working on," Perrett said.

"I am fairly confident the work we have put in for the last few years will help. Mistakes will get made but you always learn from those."

Perrett is unsure what the future holds as far as becoming the first female referee to take the whistle in a Super Rugby game, but running a line will help her get a gauge of where she stands.

"Definitely to be that close, and to be involved in decision making, it will definitely help to see how I could fare potentially in the next few years and see if I could make it in the middle," Perrett said.

"To be honest, I am not really sure (how high I could go). Even though we had been talking about the AR gig for a while, it still came as a bit of a surprise to me.

"This year had all been about sevens for me, and preparing for Rio, so anything added to that is a bonus. A very nice bonus."

- news.com.au

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