#Inspire – Celebrating Female Referee’s in Rugby
Jackie Chan has been a rugby union referee for the last three years.
When injuries from playing led her to feel jaded with the game, her wife saw her potential as a referee and encouraged her to take up the whistle.
Jackie has never looked back and through rugby she has built a great network of friends across the UK.
In collaboration with our partners at ACME Whistles, we met up with Jackie to chat about her experiences as a referee, what motivates her and why more women and girls should consider picking up the whistle.
Can you tell us a little about your relationship with rugby?
I’ve always been a sporty person, but I grew up in a very traditional family that believed girls shouldn’t play sports so I only started playing rugby when I graduated from university.
I took up refereeing three years ago after an injury took me out of the game.
I more recently moved to London with my wife and we didn’t have any friends there, so I started reffing again and playing tag rugby.
I’ve never been happier. Rugby not only gave me the opportunity to play sports, it also gave me a sense of community, friendship and a sense of belonging no matter where I go.
What was your first experience as a Match Official like?
It was like the feeling before you go on a roller coaster – you’re excited and a little bit scared.
Holding that whistle in-hand, blowing it and putting my arm up for signals is one of the best feelings in the world.
I’m still part of the game and very much involved, even though I’m not playing.
Tell us about your most memorable officiating moment to date.
My most memorable officiating moment is the last game I reffed in Old Alleynians RFC in London.
It was an U16, 15-a-side friendly match. After the game ended, every player, coach and parent came to me and thanked me for my reffing ability. They also loved seeing a female referee in the middle of the action!
This game provided additional motivation for me to keep going on my refereeing journey.
Who inspired you to take up the whistle?
My rugby coach inspired me to get started. She always said I wasn’t good enough as a starting player, but I believed I could improve my fitness and the knowledge of the laws by becoming a referee.
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
I want other women and girls to know that they can do it too. No matter how hard it is, how many obstacles are in front of you, and how many people tell you that you can’t do it, we can rub it in their faces and say we did it!
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/