#inspire – celebrating female referees in rugby
Emma Abbate has been officiating for a year.
Her dad, Sébastien, is a rugby referee and encouraged her to take up the whistle in November 2021. Her French heritage has cemented her love of rugby and it runs in the family, with her two younger brothers also playing rugby.
In collaboration with our partners at ACME Whistles, we met up with Emma to chat about her passion for rugby, what motivates her and why more people should take up the whistle.
Can you tell us a little about your relationship with rugby?
Coming from a French background, and with two younger brothers also playing rugby at young ages, rugby flows in our blood.
I’ve never played, purely due to being scared of getting my face crumpled up, but when my dad spoke to me about joining the LSRFUR, I thought why not?
I’ve got two younger brothers so can be affirmative on the pitch and it gives me a reason to meet other refs and people from different regions/backgrounds which has been such a pleasure!
What was your first experience as a Match Official like?
My first game was a ladies development game – it was so good knowing we were all on the same playing field and gave me some bases to start working on.
Tell us about your most memorable officiating moment to date.
Most memorable has got to be the Woody’s 7s festival in April 2022. It’s a girls’ only festival and it was great seeing so many young female players and refs!
Who inspired you to take up the whistle?
My dad. He told me we needed more young female refs and I didn’t think twice!
What motivates you to referee?
Knowing that I have a duty to fulfill for the coaches and players. I can’t let them down and I know that when I’ve reffed a game, I come out way more confident and with more experience under my belt. Plus – I have a lot of fun!
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
It’s a great feeling going onto a pitch for a women’s game and hearing “it’s so nice have a female ref”! As much as it fills me with joy, I hope we can get to a point where it’s the norm and we don’t hear those sorts of phrases. Being part of the INSPIRE programme just means I am part of the movement!
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/