Internationals Rugby league first




Undercliffe official Sarah Bennison is ready to create history.
The 22-year-old will become the first female to referee a men’s full international fixture in rugby league on Saturday.
Bennison jets out to Lillestrom tomorrow after being appointed to take charge of the European Shield clash between Norway and Germany.
It represents a major landmark for the sport but also for Bennison, who has never even travelled abroad on her own before.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I got a call asking if I fancied going to Europe to referee a game and I wasn’t going to refuse that.
“When I found out more about it and realised it was a full international game, I was quite surprised but really pleased.
“I’m nervous but more because I’m flying abroad. I’ve never done that on my own so it’s a bit daunting.
“Hopefully I’ll do well and get more fixtures like this in the future.”
It has been a busy week for Bennison, who enjoyed another significant first last Sunday. Selected as reserve referee for the Championship One game between Workington Town and Swinton, she was unexpectedly thrust centre stage when Jamie Leahy became ill at half-time.
Stepping into the breach, Bennison impressed and now holds the honour of refereeing at a higher level than any other female official in this country.
“That was another big step for me so it’s all happening at the moment,” she said.
“I was the reserve ref and there was another touch judge the same level as me but he told me to go for it.
“I had a few nerves but I just had to switch on and prove myself. I’ve had a lot of good feedback since, so I’m happy with how it went.”
Initially, Bennison had intended to qualify as a football referee. But, after becoming frustrated with the opportunities available in the round ball game, turned her attention to rugby league.
She said: “I just saw an advert on the Rugby Football League website and being a Bradford Bulls fan, thought I’d give it a go.
“It’s gone well and I get a lot of support from the RFL to help my development.
“My ultimate goal would be to get to Super League level but I’ll have to bide my time and keep working on my fitness levels.”
* Otley’s four Keinhorst brothers – Kristian, Nick, Jimmy and Markus – have been named in Germany’s 25-man squad for Saturday’s European Shield clash.