It may only be January, but it’s already been a significant year in terms of progress and profile of female referees – an important issue for the continued development not only of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League, but of women and girls in the sport as a whole.
Caitlin Beevers, the Leeds Rhinos and England full-back, kicked things off with a busy weekend, as she attended England’s first squad session of the year on Saturday, then refereed the Betfred Challenge Cup tie between Bentley and Stanningley the following day.
This weekend, the focus is on the Barla Yorkshire Youth and Junior Cup Finals in Featherstone, as an all-female officiating team will take charge of the Under-12s Final between West Hull and Lock Lane on Saturday morning.
Rhiannon Horsman will referee the game, with Annabelle Jackson and Megan Mills the touch judges, and Beth Neilson the reserve referee.
Horsman and Jackson are from the Leeds Referees Society, Mills is from the Hull Referees Society and Neilson is from the Huddersfield Referees Society.
Sue Taylor, the Chair of Barla who will become the RFL Vice President later this year, said:
“I would like to congratulate all the girls match officials team who will be in charge of the opening game of the BARLA Yorkshire Youth and Junior Cup Finals.
“It’s an honour for them, their families and their respective referees societies for all the hard work they have all put in to get to this stage of their refereeing careers.
“In years to come it will become the norm for all girls match officials teams taking charge of games of any genders. Girls taking up the programme will now be aware of the pathway open to them.”
Steve Race, the Yorkshire Match Officials Manager, added:
“It just shows how the game is growing and how many females are wanting to take up the whistle. It’s great to see an all female match officials team take charge of a final. Female involvement is getting stronger and stronger each year.”
Liam Moore, a member of the RFL’s full-time match officials panel who is also the Match Officials Recruitment and Development Manager, said: “Three of these four officials have been recruited in the last 18 months, which is so encouraging in terms of new officials coming into the game and making so much progress.
“They’ve got great role models in the likes of Caitlin Beevers and Tara Jones, who have worked so hard to get to their current positions in the match officials team.”
Upcoming Match Officials course 🗣
📍Ince Rose Bridge, Wigan
📆 Saturday 26th February
— RFL Referees (@RFLReferees) January 11, 2022
A word, too, for the male referees who will also play a key part in a busy day of Rugby League at the Millennium Stadium.
Jack Woolass will referee the under-12s supplementary final between Stanningley and Kippax, with James Oakes and Marcus Aldred-Young the touch judges and Ryan Holmes the reserve.
Ryan Holmes will then referee the under-13s supplementary final between West Hull and Skirlaugh, with Archie Ambler and Oli Starkey as touch judges, and Harry Forster the reserve.
Fergus Brown will take charge of the main under-13s final between Lock Lane and Greetland, with Logan Miles and Liam Grundy touch judges, and Louie Jones the reserve.
Brandon Worsley will referee the main under-14s final between East Hull and Siddal, with Ben Brocklehurst and Harry Truscott touch judges, and Oliver Bowie the reserve.
Ryan Mitchell will referee the under-14s supplementary final between Kippax and Oulton, with Josh Oldroyd and Jack Woolass the touch judges, and James Higgins the reserve.
Daniel Frederick will referee the under-15s supplementary final – between Farnley Falcons and Queensbury – with Macauley Cromack and Logan Miles the touch judges, and Harry Truscott the reserve.
Milo McKelvey will referee the main under-15s final between Hull Wyke and Lock Lane or West Bowling, with Harry Forster and Fergus Brown the touch judges, and Henry Grierson the reserve.
Ben Brocklehurst will referee the under-16s supplementary final between Siddal and Hunslet or Thornhill, with Simeon Quarmby and Liam Grundy the touch judges, and Oliver Starkey the reserve.
Finally, Oliver Salmon will referee the main under-16s final between Lock Lane and East Leeds, with Louie Jones and Oliver Bowie the touch judges, and Brandon Worsley the reserve.