Woman referee makes rugby history

2015-09-20 13:08
Rugby ball (File)

Perpignan - Referee Christine Hanizet made history by becoming the first woman to referee a men's professional rugby match as former French champions Perpignan hosted Dax in the French second division.

"Beginning with a first match at Aime-Giral (Perpignan's stadium) was fantastic, I'm delighted," said Hanizet following Saturday's Pro D2 match, won 36-28 by seven-time French champions Perpignan.

"I've been refereeing for 15 years, so I banned myself from putting pressure on myself."

Hanizet, 43, who works for the French police, had been refereeing in the French third division, Federale 1, last season.

"The players were totally respectful, as was the case during my years in Federale," she added.

Hanizet, who used to play handball when she was young, said it was her reaction to referees while watching rugby that peaked her interest in taking up a whistle herself.

"I love rugby, I did like the majority of fans, I criticised the referee without knowing the rules," she added.

"That provoked a reaction in me, I said to myself: 'would you be able to do that, to referee a match?'"

After years of refereeing at amateur level, she finally made her debut in the professional ranks, although she believes refereeing in the first division Top 14 may be beyond her.

"I don't think about it at all. The Pro D2, that was the cherry on the cake," said Hanizet.

"I've only got two years left as a referee (the age limit is 45), I'll try to be as correct as possible and we'll see at the end of the season."

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