Beyond the scintillating rugby, the recently completed Women's Rugby World Cup also ushered in a new wave of referees that will benefit Victorian rugby for years to come.
Local whistleblower Sarah Porter enjoyed a VIP rugby experience in New Zealand, following a World Rugby initiative aimed at championing female representation across the globe.
We chatted with Sarah to hear all about her unique World Cup experience.
Rugby Victoria (RV): Tell us about the Grassroots to Global (G2G) campaign and child fund rugby? What is the program about and how did you get involved?
Sarah Porter (SP): I got involved when Mel (Kawa) sent me an email, asking me to come to a zoom session & then an in-person session in November, and was fortunate enough to attend the global forum in NZ.
The G2G Campaign is an initiative which was run by the chief charity of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. The main idea behind the campaign is to bring together women from around the world to discuss barriers, opportunities and obtainable outcomes that would help us change the game.
RV: Why is increasing women's representation in rugby so important?
SP: I think increasing representation through greater participation by females on all levels (being coaches, referees & players) is extremely important to our game.
Ultimately, by having positive female role models in the game, women are more likely to stay and enjoy rugby.
I know in my case this is true, as although I’ve had so much support from the entire community, watching Amber & Rachel referee at Dewar Shield was an inspiration for me, and are just two individuals who have motivated me.
RV: Tell us about your experience in NZ - what did your itinerary look like?
SP: The experience in NZ was so much fun! We were super busy and everyday was jam packed with different conferences, forums, and leadership sessions.
It was so amazing to meet the other participants, as we each had different experiences of rugby at the grassroots level, from our separate countries.
I had a few favourite parts of the trip; I think seeing & experiencing the passion of the other delegates was an amazing empowering experience. However, I loved having the opportunity to watch the Rugby World Cup Final, live at Eden Park and also The Women in Rugby Summit, where we looked at the 10-year strategic plan for World Rugby and Women in Rugby.
RV: We saw you got to do the coin toss for the bronze medal game - how thrilling! Surely that must be a goal for your future as a referee?
SP: The coin toss was amazing! I had the opportunity to meet some referees, like Sara Cox and to also see Amber, which was great.
Refereeing, like many things is a marathon not a sprint, although it may be a future dream, currently I am continuing to work on the things I can control, such as staying fit, keeping up to date with laws and enjoying all the games and opportunities I have been given thus far.
RV: You've been involved in plenty of tournaments since the Victorian rugby season finished. What does the next 12 months look like for you?
SP: I am really excited for the next 12 months. It is always hard to tell what games and tournaments you’ll get to be apart of, however I will just continue to try my best and hopefully be given more challenging and competitive games, within the Victorian Rugby Season.