Top year for rugby ref­eree Ma­honey

Bush Telegraph - - News - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

From a very early age Re­becca Ma­honey has been pas­sion­ate about sport.

Raised in the Al­fred­ton District on a sheep/beef farm, Re­becca ex­celled in age-grade sport, par­tic­u­larly in foot­ball be­fore en­coun­ter­ing the Bush Women’s rugby union team at the age of 15 and de­cid­ing this sport was for her.

She joined that team, quickly ris­ing through the ranks, play­ing for Wairarapa/Bush and Welling­ton be­fore be­com­ing a Black Fern and play­ing as first five-eight in the win­ning World Cup teams of 2006 and 2010. She played 16 games for the Black Ferns be­fore de­cid­ing in 2014 while tri­alling for an­other Black Fern cap, as she had a young fam­ily, she had gone far enough.

In 2015 she went to a rugby ref­er­ees meet­ing, see­ing ref­er­ee­ing as an op­por­tu­nity for women to make their mark. “I had a young fam­ily, two young girls, and I just wanted to stay in the game. I wanted an­other chal­lenge for my­self,” she said.

Since then Re­becca has of­fi­ci­ated sev­ens at the Com­mon­wealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sev­ens, taken charge of one test match and two Farah Palmer Cup fi­nals.

Ref­er­ee­ing took its phys­i­cal toll, Re­becca suf­fer­ing 13 calf mus­cle tears in three years and forc­ing her to re­assess her fu­ture at the start of 2018. She de­cided to push on with her dream, build­ing up her fit­ness and adopt­ing a strict health diet. The re­sult has been a stel­lar year.

In Jan­uary Re­becca of­fi­ci­ated in the Syd­ney Sev­ens, ref­er­ee­ing the play­off for fifth and sixth.

In Fe­bru­ary she be­came one of two women se­lected for the elite New Zealand Rugby’s high per­for­mance ref­er­ees’ na­tional squad.

She has also ref­er­eed in­ter­na­tion­ally in Van­cou­ver, Canada and Ja­pan and of­fi­ci­ated at the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast in Aus­tralia.

In July Re­becca ref­er­eed at the World Rugby Sev­ens in San Francisco.

In Septem­ber Re­becca be­came the first New Zealand fe­male ref­eree to of­fi­ci­ate a first class men’s fix­ture when she con­trolled the Mitre 10 Heart­land Cham­pi­onship match be­tween Thames Val­ley and King Coun­try.

In Novem­ber she ref­er­eed two in­ter­na­tional women’s matches — Ire­land V USA in Dublin and Canada v Wales in Cardiff.

In De­cem­ber she has been nom­i­nated for Ref­eree of the Year at the NZ Rugby Awards.

Re­becca ad­mits she is one who “likes to tick boxes”. She ad­mits her mum and dad have been huge in her ef­forts to achieve.

“Ev­ery­one needs help to achieve — other­wise it is just so much harder,” she said at the Get The Girls Out cel­e­bra­tion on Thurs­day evening at Farm Source in Dan­nevirke.

Her hus­band is also very sup­port­ive. To­gether they raise 22,000 lambs for milk­ing and she says her ref­er­ee­ing in­ter­est is “head-space medicine”.

Re­becca has been part of so many devel­op­ments in women’s rugby both as a player and ref­eree. She was nom­i­nated in 2006 as New Zealand Women’s Rugby Player of the Year. It is fit­ting in Women’s Suf­frage Year that she should be nom­i­nated for Ref­eree of the Year.

‘Ev­ery­one needs help to achieve — other­wise it is just so much ’ harder. — Re­becca Ma­honey

Re­becca Ma­honey speak­ing at the Get The Girls Out cel­e­bra­tion on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 6.

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