Almanac Rugby League: Whistle blows for female refs


It looks like 2022 might just be the year when, for the first time, an NRL minor round match will be refereed by a female whistleblower as the single on-field referee. This follows the appointment of Belinda Sharpe and Kasey Badger as referees for two NRL trial matches this weekend. Being allocated a competition NRL match is their next step.


Neither Sharpe nor Badger is a newcomer to NRL refereeing ranks. Sharpe made her NRL refereeing debut running the line in the last round of the 2014 season. In 2019 she and Badger became the first women to be handed full-time NRL referee contracts. Sharpe was assistant referee to Ben Cummins in Round 18 of 2019 for the clash between Brisbane and Canterbury in the short era of two on-field referees. She has also refereed at women’s State of Origin level and has run the line for men’s international matches. Badger made her NRL debut running the line in 2015 and has been a regular touch judge ever since.


Come tomorrow night, Badger will officiate in the Canberra v Roosters trial while Sharpe will blow the whistle for the Manly v Wests Tigers game, both to be played at Leichhardt Oval. Great stuff!


The 2022 editions of the All Stars matches were player last weekend with wins for The Australian Indigenous Women and the Maori men. The women’s match was highlighted by the clash of the respective fullbacks, Tamika Upton and Bo Vette-Welsh, both skilful players, electric runners of the ball and gifted with spatial awareness on the field. We can look forward to more clashes between the two when the NRLW season gets underway next week. Read Chris Kennedy’s appreciation of their play on here.


The men’s match was soured by a couple of unsightly push-and-shove melees, sin-binnings and the subsequent suspension of Jordan Rapana for two matches. Won’t Ricky Stuart be pleased with that – NOT! Some off-field shenanigans after the match didn’t help the overall image either. Possibly the best thing to come out of the game is that next year’s match may well be played in New Zealand.


The NRLW kicks off next weekend with a triple header in Newcastle on Sunday 27th. We’ll have more on that next weekend.


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A loyal Queenslander, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. Enjoys travel, coffee and cake, reading, and has been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. One of Footy Almanac's online editors who enjoys the occasional editing opportunity to assist aspiring writers.

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