I have watched Claire’s story unfold with interest, following a chance encounter quite a number of years ago (at least 8 I think) when we both attended a fitness test at a centre in Northampton, when the RFU were considering appointing their first female referees panel.
At the time, I was also a referee, and was not selected. I took that as the opportunity to look for a new path, and thus, triathlon was found. However Claire was selected, and for a while all went quiet, well at least on the public front.
Behind the scenes she was still working her socks off, and in 2011, she was appointed to the newly formed Women’s referees international panel. England have certainly paved the path for the progress of women in rugby at the highest levels. I remember writing about that then, and was incredibly proud of Claire for the huge advances she was making in a historically male sport.
Watch the interview she did then, and her ambitions that she states:
She says that she wants to make similar advances into the top echelons of the mens game. Fair play, no woman has ever managed that before, I remember thinking that is one ambitious goal that she has set herself.
Well, she has done it!! Claire has recently announced that she has been appointed to the National panel of referees, putting her in the top 130 elite RFU match officials in England and the first woman to have ever been appointed to the panel.
I am proud to say I have met Claire, have watched her journey and congratulate her wholeheartedly in the new exciting path that her career will now follow!