Clare Daniels took up refereeing in 2001 and has officiated at 16 women’s test games in that time. She also referees in the men’s game at National Three in the UK. She writes a regular blog for www.scrumqueens.com
By Clare Daniels.
This season is without doubt a significant one for womens rugby, with the Womens World Cup taking place next here in England next August.
And while many international players will be building towards their goals for the season with the World Cup in mind, the same can be said of referees.
Just like players, officials have to go through a selection process too, and of course one of my goals for the 2009-10 season is to hopefully make the cut for the officials team next year at the showpiece event.
But while the final decision is in the hands of the IRB, there is plenty of hard work to be done along the way.
The onset of Autumn in England has meant focus on the womens international scene being switched to the Black Ferns two-Test series against England in London, with the reigning world champions arriving on our soil very soon.
Naturally, when the announcement was made some time ago, I hoped that in some way I would be involved the clash of the two best teams in womens rugby is an event not to be missed and when it came out that the second test would be a Twickenham, its safe to say I crossed everything in the hope of some involvement.
An England versus New Zealand clash at any level is one not to be missed and with both sides having not faced one another since the final in 2006, to say it is much anticipated is probably the biggest understatement going.
Being English, I always knew that it was highly unlikely I would take up the whistling role, but just to be involved in any capacity with the meeting of these two nations would be a great honour, so I was thrilled to learn of my appointment as an assistant referee to the second test at TW1 on November 21.
The IRBs appointed man in the middle for that Test will be Irish referee David Keane, who I had the pleasure of working alongside in Dubai at the 7s World Cup.
One of the great things about rugby is the people you meet and the places you travel to, so it will be good to catch up with Keano again and no doubt share a few stories over a Guinness or two after the match of course!
But the good news didnt stop there as I then had a phone call from the RFU asking if I was available on November 17th so I just said yes.
Regardless of what it was for (although I secretly hoped), my philosophy has always been to grab whatever opportunities you can and then make them happen.
Windows of opportunity can be slammed shut before you know it, and if you dont take them when offered, someone else will - and you can never look back.
The reason I knew the date was that it was England A v New Zealand at Esher RFC, and while the full Test matches would be IRB appointments, I had always hoped the A game wouldnt be, and therefore I would be in with a shout.
So the date is in my diary and it will be a huge honour to be in the middle for the A game and of course on the line for the second Test match.
I understand the first Test, to be played at Esher RFC on November 14th, will see a Scottish referee in the middle, but at present I dont know who it will be.
So Novembers diary is filling up pretty rapidly, but before then I have an under-9s game at my local club (they are so cute at this age, ie before they learn to cheat!), a County Cup match in deepest Bristol, a BUSA game at Exeters Sandy Park, a league derby clash in Oxford and then a league game one grade above my current level in the nations capital.
Needless to say I know Id better get some more training in and lay-off the vin rouge for while longer yet!
Image: Getty - The Black Ferns and England square off before the Women's Rugby World Cup Final in 2006