When the IRB announced the Women's Referee Panels for 2012-2013, Canada found itself represented by one of the country's finest officials. Sherry Trumbull, a member of Rugby Canada's National Panel of Referees since 2010, has found herself again appointed to the IRB Women's Referee Panels, serving on both the IRB High Performance Referee Panel as well as the IRB Sevens Female Referee Panel.
On top of her appointment to the Referees panels, Trumbull has also been appointed to referee England vs. New Zealand Womenís International at Twickenham Stadium in London, England on Saturday, December 1st; a game that will be televised live in the United Kingdom.
Trumbull, originally from Lindsay, ON and now living in North Vancouver, BC, is no stranger to working on the world's highest stage for rugby refereeing. She was appointed to referee at the 2010 Women's World Cup, as well as worked Six Nations matches, the Women's European Trophy, FIRA European Championship and the Nations Cup internationals. Domestically, she has also worked Canadian Rugby Championships matches, and in 2012 she refereed an Under 20 Men's International between Canada and Romania.
Trumbull was invited to attend the IRB's Referee Talent Identification Program, an international high performance workshop held at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, that until that point had been exclusive to Men's coaches and referees. She was also voted by the British Columbia Rugby Union as the 2009-2010 British Columbia Match Official of the Year.
With her appointment to the Female Referee Panels for the 2012-2013 season, Sherry took the time to sit down and speak about the panels and her career in refereeing.
What does having a panel specifically for the Women's game mean for the sport?
Sherry Trumbull: It means growth, opportunity and recognition. Internationally, the womenís game is growing each and every year, getting faster, stronger and more skilled. Opportunities are opening up worldwide for players and coaches in both 15s and 7s rugby and now referees with the womenís panels. The panels offer female referees a target to shoot for, an attainable goal and an actual pathway to get there. With the full support of the IRB, female referees are now offered high level coaching, international exposure, provided with educational resources and are being held to the same level of accountability and demands as our male counterparts. These are very exciting years for the sport of rugby and I can only imagine how much bigger itís going to get as we draw closer to 2016 [and rugby 7s inclusion into the Summer Olympics].
How did you get into refereeing?
Sherry Trumbull: I have been asked this a number of time and I donít exactly remember when or why. It just seemed like a natural progression once I felt my playing days were over. I had refereed a number of sports before and with being a fitness instructor for years, being front and centre came naturally. I still wanted an athletic physical challenge within the sport and refereeing was the only way to get that; I also like pressure situations.
What is the most challenging part of being a referee and what is the most satisfying part about being a referee?
Sherry Trumbull:The most challenging part is definitely dealing with the negativity that unfortunately goes with being an official of any sport. The players, coaches and spectators can be harsh at times without remembering that referees are human as well. Refereeing is a solo role and it can feel like that at times. Not having 14 other teammates to depend on, you have to be pretty in tune with yourself. I canít think of a greater challenge physically, mentally and emotionally; which is also its biggest reward and most satisfying part of refereeing when you get it right. I canít tell you how great a feeling it is when a complete stranger comes up to you after refereeing a big game and sayís how impressed they are and thanks you for being there on the day!
What has been the most memorable moment in your referee career so far?
Sherry Trumbull: That is just impossible to answer. I have had so many key and memorable moments that were monumental for me at the time. A Nations Cup game in Oakville comes to mind. That single game changed the course of my refereeing career and landed me at the Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 in England. Another major highlight was the London 7ís Cup Final this year, which I am sure will be topped by an upcoming experience Dec 1st that I am thrilled to have.
What advice would you have for young people, young women specifically, looking to get into refereeing?
Sherry Trumbull: Donít wait. The opportunities and rewards are beyond what you could ever imagine. The support for female referees in Canada is fantastic and you will learn more about yourself then you ever thought possible. I had a number of male referees tell me what heights I could reach and they enjoy saying ďI told you soĒ. Join your local referee society, get a mentor to work with for support and be patient. Oh and definitely stay coachable, youíre never bigger than the game. The refereeing community is a unique group to be a part of; I am so pleased to have made international friends for life.