Hollie Davidson and Sam Grove-White selected to officiate HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17

World Rugby recently announced the panel of referees to officiate on the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 which included Hollie Davidson, who sits on Scottish Rugby’s women’s development panel, and Sam Grove-White, who is a contracted Scottish Rugby referee.

Following Rugby Sevens’ debut at Rio 2016 and several referees moving on after achieving their Olympic dream, there is an exciting injection of new talent to both the men’s and women’s panels, reflecting the strong competition for places.

A record 60 referees were nominated for inclusion on this series from 29 unions across the men’s and women’s panels – Davidson is one of 12 officiators for the women’s series, and Grove-White one of 21 for the men’s.

Anthony Buchanan (Wales) chairs both the 2016-17 men’s and women’s selection committees and said: “Following on from the success of the Olympic Games in Rio, the selectors were delighted with the interest shown by unions in nominating referees for the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Many of those who officiated over the last number of years have moved on to 15s or have retired and so now is the time to bring through the next generation of match officials that will bring us to the next Olympic Games.”

Davidson, 24, refereed the women’s Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Varsity Match at BT Murrayfield earlier this month, whilst Grove-White, 24, spent time refereeing in Japan before Christmas last year. 

When asked about her appointment, Davidson said: “It was a bit of a shock but I can’t wait for the challenge. I always aspired to referee at this level, but now it is actually happening I can’t quite believe it.”  

She also featured during Women's Sport Week last week as part of Scottish Rugby's showcase of women and girl's making a difference to rugby in Scotland.

Grove-White shared Davidson’s enthusiasm about his selection and is excited by the growth of the game following its popularity at the Rio Olympics.

When he took up refereeing at 18 to help out with his local club’s junior team, Grove-White did not foresee how far officiating could, and would, take him: “As I progressed up the levels I started to realise there was a potential to go far in refereeing. I worked hard on my fitness but also my skills on and off the field.”

This summer Grove-White became part of the PRO 12 Development panel and hopes to be selected to officiate in the PRO 12, with his long term goals being towards refereeing in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

Tappe Henning, Referee Commissioner at Scottish Rugby, said: “Hollie Davidson is a direct result of the Women and Girls Referee Development Strategy that was implemented at the start of the 2015/16 season.

From her playing background and vast experience and knowledge of the game she slotted seamlessly into the role of refereeing.”

Henning also spoke on Grove-White’s appointment: “The selection of Sam comes on the back of hard work in the high performance match official structure which was approved and initiated in June 2014 within Scottish Rugby.

Sam was identified as the ideal profile to officiate in the game of sevens and was developed through Rugby Europe Sevens and various other sevens events worldwide over the past two years.”

Overall Henning is pleased with the progress made by Scottish match officials and said he wouldn’t be surprised if there are more appointments for Scottish match officials coming from World Rugby and other international competitions in the near future, and claimed there is no better time than now to join Scottish referees.

Grove-White supports Henning’s claim, and said: “No two games that we referee are the same, so you are always presented with a different challenge.

I enjoy playing a small part in helping to make each match enjoyable for both players and spectators. There is a great camaraderie in the refereeing group both in Scotland and around the world and I have met some great people and formed great friendships along the way.”   

Elsewhere, Scottish match officials Lloyd Linton and Neil Paterson are to officiate during the November internationals - Linton will be refereeing Germany v Uruguay on Saturday 12 November and has been appointed assistant referee to the England v Fiji match on Saturday 19 November. Paterson will be the TMO referee for Barbarians v Fiji in Belfast and Romania v Uruguay in Romania.

For more information about Scottish refereeing, visit our website to find out how to become a match official