First pro female rugby referee Davidson targets Tokyo Olympics

Scotland Women 7s triumph in Czech Republic

FORMER Murrayfield Wanderers and Scotland Under-20 player Hollie Davidson has named as Scotland’s first contracted female rugby referee.

The 24-year-old is on the path to becoming a test-match referee through the Scottish Referees High Performance structure which will provide professional support.

She made her international refereeing debut on the World Rugby HSBC Sevens circuit earlier this year where she took charge of  four of this season’s World Rugby HSBC Women’s Sevens Series tournaments.

She is currently appointed to several Rugby Europe Sevens tournaments this summer and will continue to officiate international sevens with her goal being selection for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

She said: “I am delighted to join Scottish Rugby as a contracted referee, having made the transition from player to match official and enjoyed refereeing from the moment I picked up the whistle.

“My focus next season will be on securing my position on the sevens circuit, and putting myself in contention for the top matches, while also developing within the 15-a-side game on a domestic level.

“Refereeing rugby is completely different to playing, it is the type of involvement where you have to stay mentally sharp and on the button for 80 minutes.

“It keeps you involved in the game and match officials are often found in the clubhouse having conversations with teams after matches, as part of the rugby family.

“Although you are out on the park solo, there is a real team ethos among match officials, whether you are part of a referee society or go up through the ranks and become an elite referee, the support to succeed is available.”

Hollie played for her school team in Aboyne and represented Edinburgh University while studying economic history before playing for Murrayfield Wanderers and Scotland Under-20s from 2010-2012.

Davidson turned to refereeing after dislocating her shoulder and after attending a Scottish Rugby women-only refereeing course she went on to pass the Level 2 course before refereeing at Scottish tournaments and Rugby Europe competitions. As she progress she was picked to ref at the Women’s Sevens Series tournaments.

Scottish Rugby Referee Commissioner, Tappe Henning, said: “As a result of our Women and Girls’ Referee Development Strategy, implemented at the start of the 2015/16 season, Hollie has developed her officiating on a number of national and international stages. Hollie’s playing background and knowledge of the game has seen her rise through the ranks while making an effective transition from player to referee.

“This appointment demonstrates our commitment to developing female referees and ensuring the growth of home-grown talent, as we strive to compete for more appointments at World Rugby tournaments and international competitions.”

Hollie added: “Male players almost feel a bit like, there’s a woman on the park, they have to be a bit more courteous. I guess it’s good for the game that they’re being courteous, but it should be no different to if it was a guy refereeing.

“Instead of comments being made, you turn up, do the exact same thing as a guy, and leave. There’s no extra limelight on you just because you’re a female.”

Meanwhile Scotland Women 7s Head Coach Scott Wight has been delighted with the progress his side made on the way to winning the first round of the Rugby Europe Sevens Women’s Trophy.

The Scots brought home the trophy from Ostrava, in the Czech Republic after six wins, including a 46-0 victory against Germany in the final, scoring 42 tries with the loss of just one.

Wight said: “We asked teams to hold onto ball for phases against us and teams struggled to do that because we were so well organised. Off the back of that, our transition attack was also really pleasing. When we turned over ball we scored off the possession in most instances.

“I thought the way we passed the ball about the pitch was really good. Their accuracy and width of pass made us sharp in attack.”

Wight, who skippered Scotland 7s this season before moving into coaching added: “The progress they’ve shown as a group is through the roof. They want to come, they want to learn and they want to get better.”

The Scots beat Moldova, Israel and Germany to top their pool on Day One, before defeating Hungary and Ukraine in the knock-out stages to make it to the final.

All three debutants – Elizabeth Musgrove, Hannah Smith and Rhona Lloyd – scored in the opening match with Lloyd top try scorer with 12.

Wight added: “We learned from all six matches by analysing every game and we definitely got stronger as the tournament went on. But there’s still plenty to work on and room for improvement before we head back to Europe for the second round in Hungary next month.”

Scotland Women 7s will compete in the second and final round of the Sevens Women’s Trophy on July 22-23.