Rugby Africa, World Rugby team up in online training for women match officials

Rugby Africa, World Rugby team up in online training for women match officials


Rugby Africa and World Rugby will conduct an only course for second tier match officials, with the focus on women referee development as the sport gains ground in Africa.

The eight-week training will be conducted online and will be theoretical sessions that will later be followed up with in-country practical sessions with local educators and trainers. Three Rugby Africa and World Rugby development officials took time their busy schedules to shed light on the planned online course. Below are excerpts from the interviews.

Questions for Mudiwa Mundawarara:  Referee manager at Rugby Africa. Kindly elaborate on what the planned online course will touch base on?

This is a World Rugby Level Two course for match officiating. As such it will follow the course outline as prescribed by World Rugby which includes game management, planning, technical aspects of the game and fitness. It involves eight weeks of online theoretical sessions followed by in-country practical sessions with local Educators and Trainers.

The course is staffed by Alhambra Nievas, the World Rugby referee talent development manager, supported by six accredited match officiating educators from across Africa – all women. At the end of the course, the successful candidates will be accredited by World Rugby as having attained Level Two match officiating. This is a standard worldwide qualification.

Who is the target audience for this course?

This course is aimed at women and girls across the continent with a World Rugby Level One match officiating certificate. We received nominees from Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. We would have welcomed referees from further afield, but these are the countries from which we received nominations this time.

What are you hoping to achieve from the course?

One of our objectives in the referee department of Rugby Africa is to advance World Rugby’s stated objective of accelerating the global development of women in rugby. Match officiating is an essential pillar of the game. Our intention is to increase the pool of women eligible to be considered for inclusion in the Rugby Africa referee panels. We have two panels at present: the elite panel, which includes two women out of the nine referees and the Upcoming (Development) Panel, which has four women out of the seven referees. Our aim is to create a third, women’s, panel to complement the development of the women’s game in Africa. An essential component of this will be working with member unions to have strategies in place to grow the number of women match officials.

Questions for Peris Mukoko: member of Rugby Africa referee committee. Please take us through step by step on how the course has been going?

The course kicked off on Wednesday May 12, 2021. The course is tailored to run for a period of eight weeks that focuses on the theory aspect of a Level Two Match Officiating course as required by World Rugby. The online theory session has brought together a mixed pot of what Africa has to offer for women on match-officiating front that we aim to increase within the continent.

So far, the course has covered a series of key areas of match officiating from preparation, technical aspect, teamwork and the importance of involvement of everyone in the game of rugby. The course continues to bring out the overall objective of the Women and girls’ involvement in rugby from the match officiating front in their home countries and the pathway it creates to Rugby Africa and eventually to World Rugby as we focus closely on implementing the World Rugby Women’s strategic plan.

What are your thoughts on having initiatives like this that are primarily focused on women empowerment?

Let us continue to nurture the young girls and women to embrace sports and understand that it is a doorway to immense opportunities. It is a cornerstone of building confidence and long-lasting relationships that cultivate into life-long bonds. The core values of the game build character, team spirit and we can utilize this in our day-to-day interactions. These initiatives continue to shape the involvement of young girls and women in being involved in the sport from different aspects. It creates room for former players and non-players to get involved in the sport and growing it. From the female empowerment aspect, having more of these initiatives is a start of what we envision in Africa.

As a member of the Rugby Africa referee committee, how does this align with the goals set?

This touches on the gender agenda of getting more girls and women match officials more involved at the centre stage of the game. It builds a workforce of qualified women match officials to be involved in the growing number of games across the African continent. Which could possibly open to global officiating opportunities.

Interview with Nievas Alhambra: World Rugby referee talent development manager. Please take us through your perspective on the future of female refereeing?

I think the future is bright and exciting. We are seeing more and more examples of female match officials taking the opportunities on big stages, not only in the female game, but in top men´s competitions around the world as well. This is inspiring for next generations who see a real option to make a career in rugby refereeing.

Of course, to get at high performance level is not easy, in any role: playing, coaching or refereeing. Everyone high ranking has work hard to put themselves in these positions and this is the most important message for any women: skills with hard work, good coaching, and opportunities, can drive you to the top.

Please take us through your perspective of refereeing on African match officials, and where you feel improvements could be made to enhance the pros and lower the cons?

I have been working with African match officials, both elite and development panel, for more than one year now, and I have seen a lot of positives although the challenging times that we all experienced due to the pandemic. I think it is important to keep running educational programmes across all unions in Africa, growing the competitions and investing more in the refereeing structure to make sure match officials have a strong team to accelerate their development and support them.

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