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Amy Perrett

A Debut For The Ages

Brumbies v Western Force 

(at GIO Stadium, Canberra)

Friday 28 August, 19:05 local

Referee: Amy Perrett

ARs: Angus Gardner & Reuben Keane

TMO: Graham Cooper

We have all seen, come to know & have been coached by Amy over the years. Last Friday many of us tuned in to witness Amy Perret a humble referee, mother and wife become the 1st female to referee the Super Rugby franchise.


Amy has trail blazed the rugby refereeing landscape for a decade & she was more than happy to give up her time as she sat down & gave us a candid 40min interview of her take on the achievement, the game & some takeaways for those of us aspiring to reach such heights.

Amy would have been in Tokyo at her 2nd Olympics officiating instead she was in the Covid Bubble in the Aust Super Rugby tournament.


Amy joked about how she missed the phone call of the news on the Monday night and was filled with excitement as it was eluded to that there may be a possibility throughout the tournament that she may get the chance in the middle, nothing was set in stone. However to eventually receive the phone call was so exciting for all involved.


The experience as a whole and feedback from rugby people was “overwhelmingly positive and not something you usually get as a referee. The experience of being on the field, getting booed for not awarding try’s & being able to run around with super rugby players was pretty cool”


Amy made the decision early in the piece to not have the hype around the appointment and to have it as a media release as it would be the case for any other referee making their debut, “in hindsight it was probably fortunate that I did this “as it allowed me to keep it as normal as possible and not get swept up in the 1st female ref thing.”


Covid 19 and the restructure of the tournament paved the way for RA to take control over the appointment structure and Amy believes this attributed to the performance of the refereeing group “Being in the Bubble working together as a group with Angus, Reuben and Copp’s for weeks now has certainly improved us all”

Amy spoke about the importance of the trust with the coaching group and drew confidence that they would not appoint her to something she couldn’t handle. Her preparation was unhindered by her decision not to have the hype around the appointment & as per any other week, do the team reviews & a zoom with her coach Mitch Chapman and share some clips about what they thought could be key focus areas.


Amy says identifying your strengths and weaknesses and addressing these assisted her in her prep. “at the end of the day it’s your 1st one no one expects you to be perfect.” “If I nail these key elements of the game it will go a long way to getting the outcome I’m after”as well as “Taking the pressure off yourself because you have been given this opportunity and backing and trusting where you are at” and trust within the group was key.


“Being on the side line hearing & seeing the way Angus & Reuben prepare assisted me in the shaping my preparation pregame”. “They laid the foundation and expectations of the laws earlier in the tournament & I just had to ensure I reinforced them.”


I asked Amy about pregame nerves and she spoke about the moment she felt most nervous. It was the chat to the front row in the rooms. “Once I had the chat Gus spoke to me about the fact that it was the quietest he’d ever seen the room where the players were all Yep Yep Yep.”


Amy spoke about how she was surprisingly calm during the warm and how that gave her confidence leading into the match.


Now to Amy’s favourite part of the game the feeling of running out onto a big stage, “I hear the crowd the big stage atmosphere and I get a rush of adrenalin” “I get addicted to that feeling and that’s what drives me to want to get those big games to get that rush and experience those feelings again” “I get that fire in the belly” from channelling the buzz in the stadium.


I asked Amy what was going through her mind just as she was about to blow time on she touched on the fact that she had soaked up the atmosphere, had a look around the stadium, waiting for the cue to go and was “ok it’s pretty cold I will need to get warm”.

“I was a little nervous in the first 10min as it had been a while since I’d done a 15’s game as my prep was building towards 7’s & the Olympics”. ““Once I got the 1st penalty out of the way it hit me like this is no different to what I’d already done before it just felt comfortable”“I got into my grove it felt normal & I didn’t feel out of place.”


1st scrum

“it was an area I wanted to be proactive in” an area identified that needed work on throughout the tournament. “I knew the pictures I was looking for when the guys were under pressure and I wanted to get the communication across about getting the height up”.


1st Line out

&

using the team of three –

As they have been together the whole tournament everyone knew their role.“Having done the prep knowing what too and what not to expect. I didn’t have to change how we had been operating and what we were looking for. I had complete faith in that they knew what their role was in line out to maul & what my role was in Line out to maul”


Amy spoke about the transition from 7’s where you don’t communicate a lot to the players and the importance of “using simple communication, getting straight to the point with them” Amy’s focus in her prematch strategy was “not to justify my position and over communicate and be straight to the point with my messages”. “But It’s important to be yourself when having the chat”.


The halftime chat was all business & lasted a few minutes. “We focused on the things that needed to be acted upon for instance we didn’t mention space if space was good”. “Hone in on the 1 or 2 things that needed to be addressed for the 2nd half and that’s what we did.”

“Walking out for the second half was different it was game on at that point. “We knew that the turning point could be when the subs came on and it was” “All the hard work was done early on and it was a focus on remaining sharp and building towards that last 20. Keeping them accountable but also letting the game open up and for the players to dictate what happens.”


Full time was met with mixed emotions “there was a feeling of exhaustion, Shane Barr came out to me with the water at that last try and said to me “you look like you just switched off just then” then it was like ahh check check back on as we got an extra couple of minutes of rugby in.” “Then there was this feeling yeh it’s done so on to the next thing. We had to head to Sydney for the next game so we kept things quiet.”

“It wasn’t until I was in Sydney the next day at the game, I was doing my warm up and all these people wanted to talk to me from the side line and I was ok so this has kind of had a bigger impact on the broader Rugby community” “this was the moment I realised it was a big thing to others other than myself”.


“On reflection of my game I’m always really hard on myself and I get nervous watching the reply.” “Due to the circumstances around this game it was difficult at first to decipher the feedback I was getting I felt from the prep I had done I was actually quiet happy with how things turned out.”


“I was most pleased with my tackle accuracy.”


“My personal high light from the week was that fact that I never had this as a goal and hopefully I have changed the attitudes for any young aspiring referees. I’m a woman, I’m from western Sydney, I went to public schools and not from your typical referee stereo type.”


Amy’s key takeaways for the game to aspiring referees


-      Attitude going into the match

-      Not putting the pressure on herself

-      Accepting mistakes will be made

-      Getting the 1 or 2 things you’re working on right

-      Enjoying the opportunity

-      Trusting that no one will put you in a position you are

not capable of handling.


To all the aspiring referees & those just starting out in the pathway programmes-

“This is a journey that will take time, yes there is the exception but be really patient, do the work behind the scenes, the ones who are making it are the ones doing the most work whether that be pregame, game review, mental prep or physical prep. They are the ones advancing and staying at the top. You have to put in the hard work, you have to be patient. I probably did a thousand 3rd & 4th grade games before getting my opportunity to do 1st grade Shute Shield. If you feel like you’re stuck there, be patient, be positive, be proactive about looking for help, you have to go out and seek it.”

Author - Arron Dehlsen.