Scottish Rugby refs head down under for Commonwealth 7s

Two Scottish Rugby referees, Hollie Davidson and Sam Grove-White, are taking charge of the opening matches in this month’s rugby 7s at the Commonwealth Games.

As Scotland’s first female full-time rugby referee, Davidson officiated the first ever women’s 7s match to take place at the Commonwealth Games, a 29-0 victory for Canada over South Africa,  earlier today.

Grove-White will take charge of the corresponding men’s game between hosts Australia and Samoa on Saturday morning (kick-off 12.31am BST) having culminated his week of refereeing at the Hong Kong 7s in the bronze medal match on Sunday.

Sam Grove-White took time out of his preparations to keep us up-to-date with the life of an elite referee in the lead up to one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Pre-Games - Travel

Hollie Davidson left Scotland last Sunday to start her mammoth 25-hour journey to Gold Coast arriving on Monday evening whereas I travelled down from Hong Kong on Monday. 

The travel gave me the opportunity to complete all my reviews of the Hong Kong tournament so I can fully focus on the games in Australia. 

When I arrived I found that the referees are staying outwith the main village at an apartment hotel on the beach. Apart from being a beautiful place to stay it’s an ideal place to train and recover in the sea. 

Day 1 - Tuesday

Today the rest of the team, not flying in from Hong Kong, arrived from around the world. 

We found out who we were sharing an apartment with and had lunch together before heading out for a joint recovery and a technical session. 

The technical session is where all the referees and performance reviewers discuss current trends in the game and any major talking points ahead of the tournament. Most excitingly we found out our appointments for the weekend which is, of course, the reason we are all here. Hollie is to open the women’s tournament refereeing Canada v South Africa and I’m opening the Men’s competition when Australia play Samoa. 

Moving onto the recovery training session which is aimed to allow everyone to acclimatise to the local conditions. It’s currently 30 degrees in the Gold Coast which is, it’s fair to say, much hotter than home.  

The session also allowed us to get the travel out of our legs. The main body of the session was some light running that could be tailored depending on how demanding each person’s travel was. 

Day 2 - Wednesday

We were up early at 6.30am to head off and pick up our kit and accreditation. 

We also got our first look at the venue, the Robina Stadium, which is in amazing shape for what will be an exciting weekend. The pitch is like a bowling green and every session has been sold out. 

In the afternoon we had our toughest session of the week. This session is designed to maintain our high fitness levels without being too much in the week of the tournament. It consisted of some high-speed running mixed in with some distance work which was tough in the heat. It was great to get a dip in the sea after to cool down.  

As it was one of the referee’s birthday today we went out to a restaurant on the beach-front which was nice to get some time out of rugby in what has been a fairly intense week. 

Day 3 - Thursday

Thursday was our day off, giving us an opportunity to soak up some of the atmosphere in the local areas and catch some of the sporting action. 

Some of the group went to the athletics and others went to see Team Scotland in the squash.

On Thursday evening we met the Assistant Referees who are provided by Rugby Australia to chat about what the expectations of them and the full team are this weekend. 

Day 4 - Friday

Today is the day!

It’s the first day of competition for the Women’s teams and Hollie. The men’s tournament kicks off tomorrow with the final games being played on Sunday afternoon (kick-offs 5.42am and 6.04am BST).