Year in Review: This interview with Wairarapa farmer Rebecca Mahoney about becoming the first woman in New Zealand to referee a first class rugby fixture was very popular on The Country in 2018.

Wairarapa farmer Rebecca Mahoney made history last month when she became the first woman in New Zealand to referee a first class rugby fixture (Thames Valley v King Country on September 15).

Mahoney has a strong background in rugby, having represented Wellington, Manawatu and Hawke's Bay as well as being a former Black Fern, a grounding which she told The Country's Jamie Mackay, gives her, "a better understanding and a better knowledge of the game."

Listen below:

Mackay asks if Mahoney has experienced any difficulties from players, as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated space.


"I think the biggest challenge for the boys is what to call me. For some reason they all get stuck with 'Miss' and 'Ma'am'. I'm not really sure where that comes from."

"The boys are generally fantastic to referee, as are the women, says Mahoney, "I've been fortunate enough to do some Farah Palmer Cup games this year as well"

"I don't really think it matters who you're reffing. Players just want the outcome to be fair and want the job done properly."

Mahoney and her husband Luke lease 1300 acres of Hill Country near Eketahuna which keeps she says her busy with "general day to day farm work," along with rearing calves and contract-rearing lambs.

As well as this Luke runs a large crutching business "so he gets through a fair few ewes a year, that keeps him busy."

Juggling farming life with a rugby refereeing career is "definitely challenging," says Mahoney, but she and her husband have support.

"[We have] a lot of good people around us. Good family, good parents, you know - all the general things that us farmers need to try and build our businesses and hopefully one day be in the position to buy a farm."