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Our Leading Lady

By Daniel Woods

Following on from our recent Vlog interview, we catch up with South Yorkshires Nia Parsonage and find out about some of her recent escapades.

“It was a big day, not only for me, but, also, for Yorkshire and female refs in the North in general” Nia Parsonage on refereeing in Yorkshire One

Tell us a bit about the games you’ve been involved in recently?

It’s been a whirlwind of a second-half of the season for me so far. I’ve been putting a lot of work in off the pitch, with the help and support of my personal trainers, to improve and keep progressing up through the ranks. My efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.

I was lucky enough to be thought of to fill the role of 5th Official on the England v Wales Women’s Six Nations match during Round 2 at the Twickenham Stoop. I’ve had a couple of national panel appointments to AR in the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s Women’s league which unfortunately, due to being on holiday and having a Yorkshire 1 appointment, I wasn’t able to fulfil. I’ve also had invitations to referee at various European 7s tournaments this upcoming summer.

What did your role as a 5th official during the 6 Nations entail?

In a nutshell my match day duties included:

• ensuring management of touchline protocol (including medical staff, team water carriers, and substitutions’ warm-ups during the match)
• ensuring team substitutions followed set guidelines
• managing head injury assessments, blood bins, and sin bins
• keeping record of the match scoring times, players, and kick success rates
• working with the fourth official to communicate to the referee during the match, in-stadium match graphics team on the scoreboard, Sky Sports broadcasting liaison officer, and match day doctor

What was the match day experience like?

The 6 Nations match was a lot more enjoyable than my first international back in November, because it wasn’t the first time! I was able to relax a bit more and really take it all in. Waking up in the hotel and having breakfast with the entire ref team was a great way to start the day. Aimee Barrett-Theron had a nice calm and friendly manner, and being able to share the experience with my friends Katie Ritchie and Sarah Toll made it even better. This time around I got to stand out with the teams for the anthems which was a surreal experience; looking up at Prince Harry in the stands as he sang God Save The Queen (as we’re not allowed to sing). It was a cold, wet and windy day but I don’t think England ever gets warm sunny weather for their international test matches! Best just get used to it!

We hear you might have been rubbing shoulders with royalty?

Our stadium safety briefing was a bit funny as two of Prince Harry’s guards were there as well so whenever we saw them during the day (generally standing outside of a door), we were like “well we know where the Prince is!” As the Patron of English Rugby, Prince Harry was scheduled to meet some of the England and Wales players after the match; Sioned Harries for Wales earned her 50th cap in that match. We, the referees, weren’t supposed to officially meet him but Sarah wasn’t about to let him leave without saying hello! He was reluctant because they wouldn’t serve the post-match lunch until after he left and he had already stayed longer than was scheduled, but he stopped and had a quick chat with us regardless. He was very nice.

Congratulations on becoming Yorkshire’s first female appointed to referee in a Yorkshire One game, a great achievement, what other fixtures do you have coming up as the season comes to the business end?

Thank you. It was a big day, not only for me in my development (I’ve had my eye on a Yorkshire 1 match all season) but, also, I think for Yorkshire and female refs in the North in general. It was a tough test and I’m happy to say I came out alive! As expected, there were a few things identified by my assessor that I need to polish up on but my performance has helped me secure some more level 7 matches in Yorkshire and on exchange so I’m hopeful for confirmed promotion before the end of the season. I’ve also been appointed to referee the Area 6 U-18 Women’s National Cup Final and the U-18 Women’s Yorkshire Cup Final (both between West Park Leeds and Castleford) in March, and Sheffield Women’s Varsity in April. The end of the season has an increase of cup games and the return of county fixtures, so fingers crossed there are still some more exciting appointments

Updated 21:52 - 26 Feb 2018 by Daniel Woods

Where next?

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