Blowing the Whistle on Women in League

Headlines were made this week when rumours spread that Kasey Badger would be the secondary referee for round 26’s Tigers vs Warriors game. It was a heated topic and greatly discussed over media.

The rumours turned out to be false, or at least no longer true, but it’s still such an important possibility for women behind the scenes in Rugby League.

The full extent was put on hold after an apparent poor review from round 25, but she’s still the touch judge for the Newcastle vs Sharks game, showing that she’s still one of the top referees in the game. In a time where referees are constantly criticised, no or very little criticism on her shows even further just how talented she is.

Belinda Sleeman, left, and Kasey Badger, right. (Source: Herald Sun)

The fact that this was considered breaks a tradition of head referees being exclusively male, which has lasted over a century. It’s something we’ve never seen before, and while it hasn’t happened yet the fact that it is being considered is still a positive step.

The news got people talking about it. It spread awareness, even if it was just a little bit. People will now notice these girls more, and it gives a stronger chance that maybe they will finally get to be the top referee in an NRL match.

While Kasey Badger and Belinda Sleeman are the only two women to have officiated an NRL match, Australia has over 2000 female coaches, trainers and referees involved in rugby league. Last year, these two girls made up one tenth of the 20 match officials used in NRL games. While this sound small, it’s such a significant growth over past years

When nothing comes out of it, it seems like such small and insignificant news, but it’s a minor stepping stone in female referees becoming normal in the NRL.

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