Hollie Davidson and all-female referee team to make history in men's rugby test

Scotland rugby referee Hollie Davidson is set to create a slice of history next month, when she leads an all-female match official team for the Portugal v Italy men’s test match.

The June 25 fixture at the Estadio do Restelo in Lisbon will be the first men’s international to have been controlled by an all-women’s team, with Davidson to be joined by assistant referees Sara Cox (England) and Aurelie Groizeleau (France), along with Claire Hodnett (England) as the TMO.

It will also be the first time a female ref has taken charge of a men’s Six Nations team in a test match.

Davidson described it as a “tremendous honour and an achievement I am proud of”.

“I have been happy with my progress in the last couple of years and working as a full-time professional referee with Scottish Rugby has really helped that,” she said in a statement.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the news as I didn’t think something like this would have happened so quickly in my career, but I’m really proud and looking forward to the summer.”

Davidson has already refereed a men’s international – Malta’s 37-10 win over Cyprus in 2019 – following in the footsteps of Spain’s Alhambra Nievas and Ireland’s Joy Neville.

She was last week named on an all-female on-field referees team for this year’s women’s World Cup in New Zealand, has also been appointed to control the Canada v Belgium men’s test in Halifax on July 2.

World Rugby chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, congratulated the four women on their historic appointment.

“Today’s announcement signifies the strength and depth that has been developed in female match officials globally and demonstrates the many pathways available to women and girls wanting to get involved in this great game,” he said in a statement.

World Rugby have also announced the match officials for the rest of the June-July men’s test window.

The All Blacks’ hotly anticipated series against Ireland will see Karl Dickson (England) take charge of the opener at Eden Park on July 2, Jaco Peyper (South Africa) be in the middle for the second test in Dunedin on July 9, and Wayne Barnes (England) control the final test in Wellington on July 16.

Barnes then Dickson will also take the whistle for Ireland’s games against the Māori All Blacks, in Hamilton (June 29) and Wellington (July 12).

There are several appointments for Kiwi officials, too, featuring James Doleman and Paul Williams each being appointed to control a Wallabies v England test, Ben O’Keeffe in the middle for one of the Pumas v Scotland clashes, and Brendon Pickerill taking charge of Tonga v Australia A in the Pacific Nations Cup.