Referee continues as assistant referee until 6 months pregnant with a pregnancy policy being adopted by the RFU - Ruck

Referee continues as assistant referee until 6 months pregnant with a pregnancy policy being adopted by the RFU

Holly Wood says attitudes at the RFU are changing as the rugby referee continued to officiate at six months’ pregnant.

The assistant official, who running up and down the Twickenham touchline during Harlequins’ Women’s Big Game fixture looked nothing out of the ordinary to the casual fan inside the stadium at the weekend.

However, speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Wood has now revealed she six and a half months pregnant and will be putting her refereeing career on hold.

Wood said: “I’d never refereed at Twickenham, so it was a great game to sign off on,

“My abs have started to strain a bit when I’m sprinting, so I won’t be able to do my job properly for much longer.”

Revealing why she kept his pregnancy a secret, Wood said: “They probably would have s— themselves, because this hasn’t been done before,

“They probably would have said no (continuing to referee). If I wanted to continue, I knew I had to keep my pregnancy a secret.”

Wood has taken charge of 25 rugby matches while pregnant, with a further 21 as an assistant.

She also recalled a particular comical moment during a referee training day with some of English rugby’s top officials.

She said: “I was in the gym and starting to show, and the guys were all looking at me – Wayne Barnes and Luke Pearce were there – and Tom Foley was trying to work out how far gone I was.”


The strange and wonderful day jobs of the 2023 Six Nations referee’s revealed

However, behind the glitz and glamour of the Six Nations, many world-class referees have had to work around the clock to fulfill their rugby dream.

Day jobs of the 2023 Six Nations:

#1. Ben O’Keeffe

Manu Tuilagi of England is shown a red card and sent off by Referee, Ben O’Keeffe during the Guinness Six Nations Match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 7 2020. – PHOTO: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Age: 34

Nationality: New Zealand

Occupation: Eye Doctor

Six Nations games: England v France

One of New Zealand’s six full-time referees, O’Keeffe is also a qualified doctor specialising in ophthalmology, which deals with eye health and disease. 

Ben O’Keeffe facts:

O’Keeffe became an amateur referee for the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) in 2013 having started officiating in 2008 at the age of 19

He grew up in Blenheim, New Zealand and attended Marlborough Boys’ College where he was head boy in 2006.

O’Keeffe’s brother, Michael O’Keeffe, represented New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics in football

Ben O’Keeffe toughest player to referee: Ma’a Nonu

O’Keeffe said: “I think like Ma’a Nonu, yeah he was pretty tough. I’ve noticed over the last few years that players are just a lot bigger, a lot faster and a lot stronger. 

“I trained with the Highlanders pre-season one year and you get a real appreciation of how big, fit and hard they hit. That just remind me why I just I love refereeing – so I don’t have to take those big hits.”