Blow­ing the whis­tle at the NRL Nines

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By BEN ROGERS

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.

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