Rugby: Australian league starts refereeing after 111 years
Rugby referee Belinda Sharpe is creating a novelty in Australia: for the first time, a woman will lead a National Rugby League [NRL] game on Thursday at the Brisbane Broncos encounter with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. Leagues in Australian rugby have been in existence since 1908.
"It's a historic moment in the history of our sport," said NRL sports director Graham Annesley. "She has worked extremely hard for it and earned the nomination through her achievements."
Sharpe herself sees her role as a motivator for other referees: "The opportunities for women are there and also for any referee to make it to this level, if my debut shows other women that it's possible, that's a good thing." she said ahead of the game.
The NRL can make good use of positive headlines. Recently, the league had to deal with allegations against several stars - they were accused of sexual harassment and violence against women.