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'A tremendous honour': Hollie Davidson set to make history in June

By Josh Raisey
Match referee Hollie Davidson is seen during the friendly match between Glasgow Warriors and Newcastle Falcons. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Referee Hollie Davidson is set to make history next month when she referee’s Italy’s contest with Portugal, becoming the first female to referee a match involving a men’s Six Nations team in a Test match.

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This will be the second time the Scot has refereed a men’s Test match, having taken charge of Malta versus Cyprus in 2019, and will now referee Portugal versus Italy in Lisbon on June 25, as well as Canada versus Belgium in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 2.

The match in Portugal will also feature an all-female officiating team of Sara Cox (England) and Aurélie Groizeleau (France) as assistant referees and Claire Hodnett (England) as the Television Match Official (TMO), which will also be a first in a men’s Test match.

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Only last week Davidson was named as one of the referees for the upcoming 2021 World Cup in New Zealand, set to start in October.

“To be the first woman to referee a men’s Six Nations team is a tremendous honour and an achievement I am proud of,” Davidson said after the announcement was made.

“I have been happy with my progress in the last couple of years and working as a full-time professional referee with Scottish Rugby has really helped that.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news as I didn’t think something like this would have happened so quickly in my career but I’m really proud and looking forward to the summer.

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“In the last year I have been fortunate to have been refereed high profile fixtures in both the men’s and women’s game which will act as great preparation going into the summer for these two matches.”

Scottish Rugby performance director Jim Mallinder said: “Hollie is a pioneer for female refereeing in Scotland and to make history by becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s match including a Tier 1 country is an incredible achievement.

“Hollie’s two appointments this summer are a testament to the effort she has put in so far in her refereeing career.

“She has refereed well this season building up experiences of taking charge of high profile matches such as the 1872 derby match recently. All of those matches will stand her in great stead as she marks another impressive milestone in her career.”

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Flankly 8 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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