Vancouver, BC: The world's top ranked women's national sevens team aren't the only Canadians making a name for themselves in International rugby. Quickly rising through the ranks and establishing herself as an elite rugby referee is Vancouver-based official Sherry Trumbull.
A former rugby player who lifted a national championship with Ontario's provincial team in 2002, Trumbull has made a name for herself in British Columbia as one of the top officials in the BC Rugby Referee's Society.
Recognized for her officiating skills, Trumbull has refereed a number of international Test matches over the last few years. In 2010, Trumbull refereed at the Women's Rugby World Cup in England, officiating the USA versus Kazakhstan and Sweden versus Wales fixtures. Trumbull was also the lead official for two games during the 2012 Women's Six Nations, at the helm for Scotland versus England and France versus Ireland. Trumbull was also a lead official at the recent 2011 Women's European Rugby Trophy championship in Spain. Next up, Trumbull is headed to England in May for the London Rugby Sevens event.
Last March, Trumbull was named to the IRB Women's Referee Panel. The program is designed to mirror the system used for the men's IRB High Performance Referee Panel, where referees have access to centralized IRB fitness, performance analysis and mentoring programs that promote consistency and best practice. The program is managed by IRB Referee Development Consultant Bernd Gabbei who works closely with IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien to develop and implement structured performance programs specifically targeted at raising women's officiating standards globally.
We caught up with BC Rugby's 2009-2010 'Official of the Year' as she recovers from a busy week of officiating and assistant refereeing at the U20 Canada versus Romania series in Langford, BC…
When did you first become interested in rugby?
ST: I first started playing in High School. The first women's team I played on was the Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) team, based in Ontario which had a women's club side.
Where have you played before? What positions did you play?
ST: Most of my playing experience was in Ontario where I played in Lindsay, Brampton, and for Brock University in St. Catherine's. When I moved out to BC I played for a year at Capilano RFC. I've always been in the backs and usually played scrum half.
When did you first start refereeing? What made you want to be a ref?
ST: That's a question I get asked a lot! I took my course back in 2003 and it just seemed like a very natural transition. I was already teaching large fitness classes where I was used to being in charge of a large group. I enjoyed the sport and it seemed like a natural thing to do.
What was the first game you refereed?
ST: My first memory of refereeing was a high school girls game. The first time I refereed, I actually shadowed a ref on the field where I was able to learn about positioning. I then refereed the second half by myself.
What is your favourite memory from playing or refereeing?
ST: My favourite playing memory was with the Ontario senior women's provincial team when we won the National Championship in '02. As a referee, the most memorable experience would have to be when I was an assistant referee at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2008. It was such a rush to run out from the tunnel in front of thousands and thousand of people and that experience really made me hungry for more.
What is your most embarrassing moment of refereeing?
ST: For the most part I have just blocked the embarrassing moments out. But the most embarrassing is probably being flattened in a men's game and being taken into the bottom of the ruck. I had mud in my whistle and guys yelling 'stop the game!' as they all cleared out. It was a good experience to learn about positioning around the field.
What is the best aspect of refereeing?
ST: For me, I like to be challenged and that's always been the good and bad for me. It's a real challenge to keep things in check; physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are on your own and it's sink or swim.
What is your least favourite part about refereeing?
ST: This doesn't always happen, but sometimes there is a general lack of appreciation and a disrespect to referees from players, coaches and spectators. I don't think people realize the hours that refs put in with the review, prep and what goes into 80 minutes every week. Not everyone realizes that referees are actually much harder on themselves and sideline abuse can make things tough.
What is your occupation and how does it work with your busy refereeing schedule?
ST: I work at LifeWorks Health Solutions as a Fitness Coordinator/Personal Trainer where my schedule is really flexible. My individual contracts allow me to have flexible hours so I can catch up on the extra hours when I get back from a busy week.
What certifications do you currently have?
ST: I have my Level Three and I'm currently on the IRB Women's Referee Panel.
What are your goals as a referee?
ST: I have some tournaments I would like to make it to. I'm motivated to make it to the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup.
I would like to be apart of the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in Paris and if I can hang on, there is the Olympics in 2016 where Sevens will make its debut. Other than that, in terms of goals and breaking more barriers, I want to possibly referee at some international men's events like the Junior World Rugby Trophy and the Men's Sevens circuit.
Is there an international referee you want to emulate?
ST: I suppose there's two people who come to mind; Craig Joubert for his calmness and accuracy, Nigel Owens as I like his assertiveness.
Anything you would like to add?
ST: I wish I had started refereeing earlier as the opportunities are incredible. The BC Rugby Refs' Society and Rugby Canada have been extremely supportive and guided my development. The BC Refs society is a fun, quirky group and is like my BC family. I hope more players move into refereeing earlier and especially females. The opportunities are endless and it's not just an old boys club. Refereeing is not always easy, but it is extremely rewarding.
Thanks Sherry for taking the time!