Freeman Catlogues Female First

Canadian exchange referee Breanne Freeman achieves a first in tomorrow’s Scottish Hydro Electric Premier Division. She will be in charge of the Premier 3 meeting at The Meadows between Ellon and Perthshire – the first time a match in the Premier Divisions has been handled by a woman referee.Canadian exchange referee Breanne Freeman achieves a first in tomorrow’s Scottish Hydro Electric Premier Division.

She will be in charge of the Premier 3 meeting at The Meadows between Ellon and Perthshire – the first time a match in the Premier Divisions has been handled by a woman referee.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I hope I can perform well. I try to let players play an open game,” she said today.

Freeman, 27, took up the whistle eight years ago having first played the game at high school in Toronto, Canada. “I started playing at 16 as a prop and then moved to flank. I was injured and just felt I still wanted to be involved in the game and that there might be more opportunities as a referee,” she explained.

A member of Toronto & District Rugby Referees, Freeman, a project manager with Scotia Bank, is not the lone woman whistler in Canada.

“Players know me in Canada, which makes it a bit easier. Back home it’s not really regarded as anything different (having a woman referee a men’s game) as there are a couple of other female refs.

“I’ve been hosting Scottish referees in Canada for the past four or five years as part of an exchange programme. One of the first to come over was Peter Allan (now one of Scotland’s top referees) and when you see how much can be gained from exchanges it just makes your own chance to go on an exchange so much better.”

Freeman arrived in Scotland earlier this week and 24 hours after touching down she handled her first match – Abertay University v Aberdeen University 2nds. “It was a good game (won 55-0 by the visitors). I’m not sure they had seen a female referee before but they were very respectful which was great,” she recalled.

After tomorrow’s match, Freeman will be on duty again on Sunday when she takes charge of the women’s premier match between Murrayfield Wanderers and Hillhead-Jordanhill in Edinburgh. She’s scheduled to be in charge of two more games next week.

Bob Easton, Scottish Rugby’s Referee Development Manager for Caledonia, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Breanne to Scotland. She certainly did well in the university match during the week.

“We have female referees also making their mark in Scotland. Mhairi Hay from the Kirkcaldy club, a member of the Midlands Referees’ Society, took charge of the men’s Scottish Hydro Electric National League Division 1 match between Hillfoots/Alloa and Annan last week and I know that Alex Pratt (Watsonians) is playing on the wing or at full-back for her team on a Sunday but making an impact as a referee in Edinburgh District on a Saturday.”