#12 Emma Sly - Ruck

#12 Emma Sly

#inspire – celebrating female referee’s in rugby

Emma Sly has been a rugby union referee for over a decade.

Injury led her to start coaching rugby and she was later encouraged to become a ref. 

She is supported by her husband, Martyn, who is a huge ally for women in sport, particularly rugby.

In collaboration with our partners at ACME Whistles, we met up with Emma to chat about how rugby is a family affair, what motivates her and why refereeing is so exciting.

Can you tell us a little about your relationship with rugby?

I fell in love with rugby at Uni as a player. Then due to injury was not able to play anymore so I went down the coaching route.

After some interesting discussions with referees after games it was suggested that I give it a go and I haven’t looked back since. I continue to watch, coach and officiate on a regular basis.

Both my lads now play and my husband is an AR so our whole season is rugby focused! I think we only get a Monday free!

What was your first experience as a Match Official like?

It was at my home club, Spartans. I was nervous, but excited. I made loads of errors but both teams were really supportive. I really enjoyed it and have not looked back. I’m always looking to learn and develop

Tell us about your most memorable officiating moment to date.

I have had a couple and it’s difficult to choose between AR at Twickenham for the NatWest Grass roots game and the the Oxford v Cambridge Varsity as No 4.

Who inspired you to take up the whistle?

Seeing other referees and the exciting opportunities they were having inspired me. My husband was a member of our local society so I went to a meeting and it continued from there.

What motivates you to referee?

Being part of the game I love! I am motivated to improve and be the best official I can be. I love going to different grounds and at different levels.

In a few words, please tell us what it means to you to be a positive role model and INSPIRE other women and girls to get in to refereeing

As a coach of a female rugby team, I am an advocate for women in sport. In terms of my refereeing, it is important for females to see other females in roles and know that they can do it too! It’s about refereeing being accessible and realising that if a middle-aged mom of two, with a full time job can do it, anyone can!

If you’re feeling inspired to take up the whistle, find out more about becoming a Match Official here: keepyourbootson.co.uk/referee-toolkit/supporting-match-officials-female/