“When I started refereeing I never thought I would get to this point…or even when I started playing. You never think that what you are doing is going to take you down this amazing road of challenges but awesome occurrences in your life.”
For the third episode of the Inspiring Women Series, I had a conversation with Rose LaBrèche, a former rugby teammate of mine at Queen’s University, who has been named as Canada’s only official for the début of Rugby Sevens at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. At 27-years old, Rose feels honoured to be part of the Games so early in her refereeing career, an event she describes as being much bigger than herself, and much bigger than rugby.
“It’s the pinnacle of sport. It’s what everybody strives for.”
Rose started refereeing as a result of the encouragement of her coaches, particularly Beth Barz, at Queen’s University. After a series of concussions kept her off the pitch as a player, Rose began by refereeing high school and junior club rugby, and eventually progressed to both men’s and women’s matches at the top level.
Rose was initially attracted to the analytical and reflective nature of officiating, and loves how refereeing has enabled her to stay in the sport, despite her injuries.
“I am absolutely enthralled…and have this love affair with rugby.”
This past September, Rose was named to the international panel of officials for World Rugby. Since then she has officiated “World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series” stops in Dubai, Sao Paulo, and in Langford, BC, as well as Six Nations games.
In order to make split-second calls during the fast-paced action of sevens play: a 14-minute game involving constant sprinting, Rose has to maintain an incredible level of physical fitness. Rose has been described as one of the “fittest and fastest female referees out there,” which she attributes to her disciplined running regime and CrossFit workouts.
“It’s really tough once you’ve made an eighty meter break or something on the field and then you get to the next breakdown and you have to make a 50/50 decision….In order to make it easier for yourself you have to train by putting yourself under that sort of stress.”
Rose currently works for the Federal Government in Ottawa and has set high standards for herself in her “daytime” career. After graduating from Queen’s with a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Environmental Science and a minor in French, Rose worked for two years in Toronto at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Next, a short internship in Brussels, Belgium inspired her to complete a Master’s Degree at the University of Ottawa in International Affairs and Environmental Sustainability. Rose feels that what she has learned through refereeing has positively impacted her confidence and assertiveness in the workplace.
In this episode of the Inspiring Women Series, Rose talks about how overcoming her struggles with self-confidence has helped her to gain the respect of top-players and coaches in the international arena, as well as become better in all aspects of her life.
“When you have failure in your life you always second-guess yourself and you always doubt yourself. It’s about being able to come back from that minor failure, or even major failure to overcome your fears…
I have messed up. I have made bad calls on the international stage that have been on TV and that so many thousands of people have been watching and it’s kind of like, ‘How could I have done that? How do I ever come back from this?’
It’s all about looking within yourself and knowing that this is a temporary feeling and that you’ll get over it and time moves on, and you’ll get out of this in a better spot than when you came in.”
The Inspiring Women Series is a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories of the many women who have inspired me in my life. You can subscribe to the Inspiring Women Series podcast in the iTunes Store and can listen to my conversation with Rose below.