Mhairi Makes Hay In Italy

Mhairi Hay will become the first ever Scottish woman referee to officiate a full international rugby match when England Women face Italy in Noceto. 

Hay will take charge a week on from officiating Scotland A Women’s defeat by the French A Women (3-26) last Saturday at Lasswade, and will be joined by fellow Scottish female referee Alex Pratt, who will run touch at the same match.

 

Mhairi Hay will become the first ever Scottish woman referee to officiate a full international rugby match when England Women face Italy in Noceto. 

Hay will take charge a week on from officiating Scotland A Women’s defeat by the French A Women (3-26) last Saturday at Lasswade, and will be joined by fellow Scottish female referee Alex Pratt, who will run touch at the same match.

Not only is this an historic occasion for Scottish Rugby but marks a great personal achievement for Mhairi who first picked up the whistle six years ago.

“I am very happy to take part in the game this weekend, and a little apprehensive too.  I know my two assistant referees, they will both do a great job and I’m sure they will help me out on Saturday.”

After an 11 year playing career with Kirkcaldy Ladies and also a stint in the Scotland A Women’s side she has progressed through the age groups as a referee.

This season has seen her become a regular in Scottish Hydro Premier Three men’s rugby, which is something she claims was never her intention, as she was focused on taking charge of women’s matches.

She said: “Most of the guys are surprised when they see me, but they forget about it as soon as the whistle goes and just concentrate on the game”.

She added: “There aren’t that many female referees in Scotland, but there’s nothing stopping us from progressing. There’s no barrier here and we’re treated by Scottish Rugby as referees.”

Talking about the referee fast track scheme and the National Referees Academy Mhairi only had good things to say. 

“The extra support I gained through talking with my mentors before and after games helped me develop as a referee.
 
“Being on the fast track allowed me to take charge of more games at a higher level and receive more coaching to help me improve and develop quicker as a referee” she explained.

The National Referees’ Academy offers recognised refereeing qualifications through a structured training programme while the new fast-track scheme provides additional support to those identified as being outstanding prospects. 

Just over two years ago Mhairi Hay and Alex Pratt were both nominated to go on the fast-track scheme to help them develop as referees. 

While on this two year scheme they were overseen by referee academy manager, Iain Heard, who ensured the development of their practical match officiating skills and knowledge as well as monitor the candidates’ refereeing and fitness progress. 

During the scheme they will receive:-
• monthly one to ones;
• video analysis of their performance
• tailored nutritional and fitness advice
• and usual training at district level.

Roy McCombe, Scottish Rugby’s Referee Manager, said : “I am delighted to see Mhairi take charge of her first women’s international in this years 6 Nations. It’s a well-deserved appointment and reward for her hard work and development within the Referee Academy fast track system”.

“I hope this achievement will encourage other women to take up the whistle and follow in Mhairi’s footsteps”.

Foundation level refereeing courses are available for anyone, men and women, above the age of 16, to apply for and will allow you to officiate matches at Primary School age level. From this stage, you can then move to the Level 1 course which will allow you to cover Secondary School level up to the District Leagues.  Progression from there to the Level 2 and 3 courses is usually done by invitation, and is based upon performances and a desire to progress your development as a referee. From there Level 4 is used for professional development.