The International Rugby Board has announced the panel of match officials to preside over the 100 matches at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow June 28-30. The world’s top 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams will showcase their credentials for Olympic qualification to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at the sixth Rugby World Cup Sevens. USA Rugby reports that Seven female and 10 male match officials from 14 different countries will also have a chance to prove themselves ahead of Rio, including the United States’ Leah Berard.
Berard has officiated in many upper level arenas including the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy in Salt Lake City, Utah, last June and the Hong Kong IRB Women’s Challenge Cup Final in March 2012, and served as an assistant referee in the HSBC Sevens World Series’ Nelson Mandela
Bay Sevens Third Place match. She told USA Rugby, “I’m ecstatic to have been selected as one of
seven female match officials worldwide to represent my country and women’s rugby,” Berard said. “I have benefited from much support and guidance through my refereeing journey to make it here. I will show appreciation to my entire global rugby family by giving nothing but my best performances at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.”
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The IRB Match Official Selection Committee, looked at performances at HSBC Sevens World Series and the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in its final selection for match officials. Berard will be working with female colleagues from South Africa, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and will be an added three from just the four from Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai. The selection is made up the the very best referees, IRB Match Official Selection Committee chair, John Jeffrey, says, “The seven female referees appointed to the tournament will take charge of matches in the Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens competition, which runs alongside the men’s. It is a great opportunity for referees who have proven themselves on the Women’s Series to showcase their talent on Rugby Sevens’ biggest global stage.”
This is a great step for Women's rugby to not only have an expanded pool and be recognized for the World Cup but also to have an American official among the pool shows the strength and growth for the sport here in the United States.