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Sir? Do I call you Ma'am? Thoughts of a female rugby referee's first competitive match in charge.

Newbie Referee Sara Rosenthal officiates her first matrix match
Newbie Referee Sara Rosenthal officiates her first matrix match
Hilton head Rugby

Sir! Sir! Do I call you Ma'am?

Being the guy with a whistle in his mouth and throwing his arms in the air -- when not fist pumping in the club -- is really a thankless job. Even if you do get to play with those pretty colored cards -- or dangling them like the sword hanging over Damocles -- being the official for amateur rugby is not the most glamorous of hobbies.

So why would a former Women's rugby player want to step into those shoes and battle 30 guys or girls on a Saturday?

For one, it's simple. "Because I love rugby. I can't play anymore and I'm not done with the sport"

Sara Rosenthal is a former Georgia Southern and Savannah Shamrocks rugby player who is well known and well liked in the Southeastern US rugby community.

Saturday she refereed her first competitive matrix match, officiating a tight contest between Division 3 powerhouse Hilton Head RFC and a resurgent Golden Isles club. Hilton head took the match 20-12.

She admitted being nervous before the game, as she was when she was a player, and more so because it was a matrix match.

"I was more nervous," she said. "To be honest, through the years Hilton Head has been the top competitor in D3 and Golden Isles is fairly new. So I thought you know - Hilton Head was going to win hands down. It didn't happen like that. At the end of the first half the game was tied 12 - 12."

A one-sided blowout might have been an easier first assignment, but Rosenthal says she enjoyed the pressure.

"When you know it's going to be a close game people are more sensitive to close calls or calls that could have resulted in a try," she explained. "You start thinking back on things and wondering how you can do better or what you would have maybe done differently. In all honesty I think I called a fair game."

Rosenthal purposely set a friendly tone with the captains pre-game, but didn't hesitate to assert her authority.

"When I called the captains together, I assured them that I do not currently have PMS," she said. "I think they could have been a little apprehensive about having a female ref so I just wanted to make light of it.

"I threw my first yellow card," she added. "The guy deserved it, so that was good. I have always worried about throwing my first card."

So, what is next for one of the newest Ma'ams in rugby?

"There's a feeling that I want to be better than I was last match," she said."I know that there are people that thought I did a bad job and some that thought I did a good one. That's the name of the reffing game!! Can't please everyone."


  • Wendy 5 years ago

    Love this article! I too have recently become certified (well I guess it been a year) and love reffing men's games. They are quick and fast but particularly messy around the breakdowns.

    Good luck and keep it up!


    scrumhalfconnection . com

  • SC Rugby Examiner 5 years ago

    Thanks Wendy,
    I'm glad you liked it. We minor rugby bloggers humble ourselves to the mighty YSC!

    SC Rugby Examiner

  • Mixlissa 5 years ago

    Way to go Sara! Nicely done. I am glad you weren't PMSing that could have hindered your judgement!

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