Two-time Women’s Rugby World Cup referee and one of the most celebrated female referees in world rugby, Canada’s Joyce Henry has blown her whistle for the final time.
Henry, who was on the panel for both Women’s Rugby World Cup 2006 in her home country and the 2010 tournament in London, bowed out after refereeing the McCormick Cup men’s match between Ajax and Brantford over the weekend.
A member of the inaugural IRB Elite Women’s Referees Panel in 2011, Henry has also taken charge of matches at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, the RBS Women’s 6 Nations and men’s and women’s internationals.
“It is really difficult to narrow down (to a career highlight),” admitted Henry. “I have had a million amazing experiences – on the field and off.
“A few that stand out include when I found out I’d made the Rugby Canada referee panel for the first time, and then the announcement of making the inaugural IRB women’s referee panel in 2011.
“I remember it was the best feeling, having achieved a major goal.
“Another great moment was reffing my first full international – Australia v France at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2006. I also had the amazing opportunity there to work closely with Paddy O’Brien, Steve Hilditch and Lyndon Bray.”
Henry believes the IRB Women’s Referee Panel has been an important step for female match officials around the world “because it gives us a pathway to the highest levels of the sport.
“That’s really important for the continued development of officials in the Game and to attract new talent. The other big thing it does is provide more opportunities to ref international matches and to get structured performance review and development around those opportunities.
"With the women's panel, the structure mirrors that of the men's game.”