Blowing the whistle at the NRL Nines
Imagine having to boss around Shaun Johnson, Manu Vatuvei, Dave Taylor or Issac Luke.
For Rochelle Tamarua that was the task at hand, when she was handed the whistle at this year’s Auckland NRL Nines.
‘‘The atmosphere was electric,’’ she says.
‘‘Walking out in front of all those people was crazy.’’
But of course with great power comes great responsibility.
‘‘Being the first female in New Zealand to referee an NRL fixture was an awesome feeling and I didn’t want to muck it up.’’
‘‘I wanted to showcase to Aotearoa that women can referee a male dominated sport.’’
The 20-year-old Mt Albert resident put her nerves aside and set about refereeing some of the biggest names in the game in front of a massive audience.
‘‘I was star-struck by a lot of the players, to see them all right there in front of me was an eye-opener.’’
‘‘In the Jillaroos versus the Kiwis I was very very nervous, I was pacing back and forth and I was very aware that I could make a mistake.’’
The former Auckland Girls Grammar student started refereeing touch rugby when she was 10 years old.
‘‘When I got a bit older I was trying to think of an individual sport to play in winter.
‘‘My brother referees, so it runs in the family. He asked if I wanted to become a rugby league referee.’’
She signed up at 18 and hasn’t looked back since.
Tamarua has big dreams, and following on from her success at the Nines, 2015 is shaping up to be a year of firsts.
She has just been given the opportunity to travel to Australia in May, to be part of the match officials in control of the Anzac Day test between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos.
‘‘It’s so massive, I’m so excited.’’
‘‘Refereeing is part of me now and this means so much.’’
Tamarua hopes to run the lines of some Toyota Cup and New South Wales Cup games this year, and has set herself some lofty goals.
‘‘In New Zealand I would like to become the first female to referee at Fox Memorial level.’’
‘‘My big goal is to be the first female ever to referee in the NRL Premiership.’’
Watchful eye: Jared Croker of the Canberra Raiders wouldn’t dare put a foot out of line when Rochelle Tamarua has the whistle.
Try time: Rochelle Tamarua is on the spot as she referees the Women’s National Rugby League final.
The bosses: Rochelle Tamarua in the Eden Park tunnels with her fellow referees at the Auckland NRL Nines.