Get to know more about one of the sport’s history-making match officials
Hollie Davidson has been refereeing since 2015 and has continually made history as a female official, and has made history in the Six Nations this year by being the first female on-field official in the men’s competition.
Not only was she named on Rugby World’s 50 Most Influential People in Rugby list back in 2022, but she became the first woman to referee a men’s Six Nations team when she took charge of Portugal v Italy in the summer of that same year. Now she has gone one step further, being an assistant referee for England veruss Wales, at Twickenham.
Back in 2022 she said of the achievement, calling the match in Portugal: “It’s pretty cool, and I’ve been blown away by the responses. It was special to do it with those three (Sara Cox, Aurélie Groizeleau and Claire Hodnett) but it was also for everyone who had been grafting for years before us.”
She also took charge of the Sevens World Cup final in Cape Town and was then appointed to officiate the 15s World Cup final at Eden Park just 62 days later, becoming the first woman to referee a World Cup final in both codes.
Before training to become a referee, Hollie Davidson played at scrum-half and was set to make her Scotland Test debut aged 19 only to be ruled out five days before by injury. She never did win a cap. “I had shoulder surgery and it was never the same,” she says. “There was a time when I had regrets, but now I’m comfortable it was part of my journey.”
She had become engaged in the sport because her high school would travel by bus to Scotland Tests from Aberdeenshire, saying: “It was four hours each way, but the bus journeys were as fun as the game itself! We decided to put together a girls’ team and that’s where my passion for the game grew.”
Before going pro as a referee in 2017, she worked at JP Morgan for two years after graduating from Edinburgh University.
When asked for the best advice she’s been given, Hollie Davidson says: “You’re not going to be perfect and accepting that you’ll make mistakes makes your performance better. Learn from those mistakes.”
Growing up she looked up to Kelly Sotherton, the heptathlete, and of all the countries she has been to, Japan is her favourite. “Culturally, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, something totally different to what I was used to.”
So how would she describe herself: “I’d say I’m hard-working, sarcastic and warm. I’d like to think I’m a warm character. As a ref, I’m tough but empathetic and I try to go with the flow.”
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