#Inspire – Celebrating Female Referee’s in Rugby
Katharine Gent has been officiating rugby matches for the last two years.
Her passion for the game was ignited as a child when she would help her dad at county youth games and mini festivals before becoming a player.
He is her biggest supporter, as well as a “critical friend” and has encouraged her to push herself on her journey as a rugby referee.
In collaboration with our partners at ACME Whistles, we met up with Katharine to chat about her life as a ref, what motivates her and why more women and girls should consider a refereeing career.
Please tell us about you as a person and your relationship with rugby
Rugby is my passion. Being part of a team has helped me through some difficult times and brought me so much joy. It is an environment for all walks of life without judgement and has surrounded me with the most amazing and inspirational women from grassroots to prem. This empowers me to try to be the best I can be. I am proud to be part of the growing women’s game, both playing and officiating.
Please tell us about your first experience as a Match Official
My first society fixture was a grassroots women’s fixture and I was very nervous. My society sent along an advisor to come and support me which was really beneficial. I don’t recall much from the game other than my enjoyment of officiating!
Please tell us about your most memorable officiating moment to date
To be selected as the official from the society to referee Norway v Dartford Valley was an absolute privilege. In addition, I was asked to have two of our Young Match Officials as my ARs to introduce them to higher level adult fixtures and they were brilliant!
Who inspired you to take up the whistle? How did you get started?
I took up the whistle because I wanted to feel confident coaching the boys at work and taking their Saturday fixtures. Tracy Pettingale from Kent has known me for a while. She was the instructor on my course and encouraged me to join the society.
What motivates you to referee?
I enjoy refereeing and being able to facilitate the game being played. Currently I like the challenge that it gives me and I am motivated to see how far I can go with my whistle.
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 into refereeing
Over the last season I have particularly enjoyed the positive response I’ve had at women’s games and how players have approached me to find out how to get involved in refereeing. It has been so encouraging to find out that they have then completed the course and joined the society. I want to work to support women into refereeing and I’m working closely with the society to be able to do that. To me it is important that I am also present at boys and men’s fixtures to start to influence attitudes towards female officials by players and supporters too.
It is important to me to show younger girls that rugby is a sport for all and that includes refereeing. At county fixtures, I’ve had some girls say I am the first female referee they’ve had and it is so important that they see that there are so many different pathways in rugby available to them.
Being part of the change and growth is something I am incredibly proud of and want to continue to be involved in!
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/