Scottish referee Hollie Davidson will take charge of Italy’s match against Portugal in the Men’s Rugby Six Nations Test match next month, making her the first woman in history to referee a Tier 1 Men’s side.
And it won’t be an isolated event. Davidson is set to also referee a match between Canada and Belgium on July 2.
The first game will be officiated by an all-female team, with Davidson assisted by English official Sara Cox, Claire Hodnett acting as the Television match official, and France’s Aurélie Groizeleau.
Davidson, a former Murrayfield Wanderers scrum-half, made history in 2017 when she became the country’s first full-time female professional rugby referee. She took charge of her first Men’s Test in 2019 in a match between Malta and Cyprus at the Rugby Europe Conference 1 South.
“To be the first woman to referee a men’s Six Nations team is a tremendous honour and an achievement I am proud of,” Davidson told Sky Sports.
“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.”
“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.”
“In the last year I have been fortunate to have refereed high-profile fixtures in both the men’s and women’s game, which will act as great preparation going into the summer for these two matches.”
Scottish Rugby performance director Jim Mallinder called Davidson a “pioneer”.
“To make history by becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s match including a Tier 1 country is an incredible achievement,” he said.
“She has refereed well this season, building up experiences of taking charge of high-profile matches. All of those will stand her in great stead as she marks another impressive milestone in her career.”
This season, Davidson has already refereed three United Rugby Championship games and matches in the Women’s Six Nations competitions between France and England.
In October, she will join a star lineup of officials at the delayed 2021 Rugby World Cup, in New Zealand.