Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney and Natarsha Ganley have become the first women selected into New Zealand Rugby's high performance referees' national squad.
Young referees Lauren Jenner, Maggie Cogger–Orr, Brittany Andrew and Louise Moore have been selected in the wider training group alongside eight other match officials that will work towards the Jock Hobbs national under 19 tournament in Taupo in September 2018.
New Zealand Rugby's high performance referee manager Bryce Lawrence welcomed the inclusion of Mahoney and Ganley as a positive statement about women in refereeing.
"This is a fantastic day for refereeing and for women in refereeing. Rebecca and Natarsha are quality referees and will no doubt continue to improve in the high performance environment.
"We are determined to have the best match officials in the world who control elite level games. Having Rebecca and Natarsha in the National Squad will see us developing our top men and women officials together to achieve that goal," Lawrence said.
"The growth of the women's game around the world has meant that rugby unions around the world are thinking about how we can encourage and support women and girls, into refereeing.
"Bringing the best of our male and female referees into one programme, gives others something to aim for, and it ensures that we stay relevant to our rugby communities and audience.
The New Zealand national squad officiate at the Mitre 10 Cup, Heartland Championship and Farah Palmer Cup.
"Seeing the talent across our wider training group shows the pathway that is available for young referees in this country and we look forward to seeing what they achieve in 2018 and years to come," Lawrence said.
A Heartland union has produced the only other new face in the squad with Damian McPherson from Poverty Bay also joining the ranks.
The former Poverty Bay forward took up the whistle in 2015 and last year refereed at the Jock Hobbs Memorial under 19 Final in Taupo.
McPherson is one of five referees from Heartland unions to be selected across the three squads.
"This goes to show it doesn't matter where it is you are refereeing, these are all opportunities to be seen.
Nick Briant (Bay of Plenty)
Mike Fraser (Wellington)
Glen Jackson (Bay of Plenty)
Jamie Nutbrown (Canterbury)
Brendon Pickerill (North Harbour)
Ben O'Keeffe (Wellington)
Paul Williams (Taranaki)
National Squad (new appointments denoted by *)
Tipene Cottrell (Hawke's Bay)
James Doleman (Otago)
Natarsha Ganley (North Harbour)*
Tim Griffiths (Manawatu)
Nick Hogan (Wellington)
Richard Kelly (Taranaki)
Mike Lash (Tasman)
Damian McPherson (Poverty Bay)*
Rebecca Mahoney (Wairarapa Bush)*
Angus Mabey (Auckland)
James Munro (Canterbury)
Hugh Reed (Hawke's Bay)
Cam Stone (Taranaki)
Michael Winter (Waikato)
Nick Webster (North Otago)
Wider Training Group:
Brittany Andrew (Manawatu)
Jamie Bell (Bay of Plenty)
Jono Bredin (Otago)
Maggie Cogger–Orr (Auckland)
Stuart Curran (Otago)
Sam Fellows (Bay of Plenty)
Karl Hancox (Canterbury)
Lauren Jenner (Counties Manukau)
William Johnston (Taranaki)
Louise Moore (Southland)
Chris Paul (South Canterbury)
Marcus Playle (Auckland)