#45 Holly Wood - Ruck

#45 Holly Wood

#inspire – celebrating female referees in rugby

Holly Wood has been officiating for 2 years.

Her mum was a rugby player and provided all the motivation Holly needed to get involved herself.

In collaboration with our partners at ACME Whistles, we met up with Holly to chat about her route into refereeing, what motivates her and why female representation in rugby is so important.

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

Rugby has shaped my life. I started playing at 14 because my mum did, and I always aspired to be like her. Playing rugby has taken me around the world and I’ve made best friends for life. The values it instils are integral and transferable to all aspects of life, no matter what level you play.

What was your first experience as a Match Official like?

I refereed a senior men’s game and I was super nervous because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be any good, but as soon as I blew my whistle for the first infringements I realised that all was going to be okay!

Tell us about your most memorable officiating moment to date.

Taking part in 7s has probably provided my favourite moments in refereeing. I thrive off high pressure environments, especially the external pressures of being performance reviewed by lots of supporters – especially if they’re animated!

So, my two favourite moments have been refereeing at the Commonwealth Games in front of 20k people and then refereeing the Elite Men’s Semi Final at Amsterdam 7s in front of 3k people who were all very lively and loud after a few beers!

Who inspired you to take up the whistle?

When I was playing at Toulouse, I had decided that it was going to be my last season and I wanted to get stuck back into playing netball and running again.

My husband (boyfriend at the time) did his refereeing course in the UK and started refereeing and he didn’t stop going on about it.

I never had any desire to stay in the game post playing, never mind picking up the whistle. I was coming back to the UK to visit him on a break weekend and he sent me off on a refereeing course much to my dismay! He’s my biggest supporter, fan and critic – he keeps me going and we love analysing games together.

What motivates you to referee?

The chance to get to the top. I’ve never been a glass half full person when it comes to sport and competition, so I’m either all in, aiming to be to the best I can be or it’s nothing at all.

I’m enjoying refereeing – the journey I’m on, the challenges I face, and I like the competition I’m having with myself to see how far I can take it.

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

The old cliché that if people don’t see it, they don’t believe it, is genuinely true, and I know that because I only started playing rugby because my mum did. I recently refereed a men’s senior match – the club was pretty packed and it was a good game.

A young girl came up to me in the bar after and asked to shake my hand and said thank you for refereeing.

She went back to her parents and I remembered I had a brand new, packaged whistle in my bag, so I went up to her, asked if she played rugby. She did so I asked if she would ever want to become a referee and she said ‘maybe’. I asked her if she wanted a whistle like mine and her face lit up and she didn’t stop staring and smiling at the whistle for about 10 minutes! That’s what it’s all about.

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/