Referees Corner – Issue 3 – Scarlets – 2023/24

November 20, 2023 in News

A warm welcome to another referee’s corner. Today’s match referee is Hollie Davidson from the Scottish Rugby Union. She is assisted by Eoghan Cross and Stuart Douglas, with Andrew McMenemy in the TMO box. On the sidelines the dynamic duo of Katie Byrne and Hayley Whyte are the fourth and fifth officials. In 2015 Hollie Davidson joined the SRU’s refereeing course, when a new course was held on Saturdays. Prior to this time the refereeing courses were held on Sunday, the same day as women’s professional rugby matches, thus making it impossible for women to train as referees. Davidson became Scottish Rugby Union’s first full time professional women’s referee in 2017.

In 2018, Davidson was Assistant Referee for the Glasgow Warriors v Zebre match in the Pro14 an in 2019 she became the first woman to referee in the Melrose Sevens. She refereed her first Pro14 fixture on 19 March 2021; a Munster v Benetton match, winning plaudits from the Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan. 

From 2017 Davidson has refereed in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens.In 2018 she refereed in the Rugby Europe, the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup Sevens

Davidson has refereed in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations Championship and in 2021 Davidson was chosen as one of the referees for the rugby 7’s tournament at the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics.

In 2023 Davidson was the only female member of the panel of referees for the 2023 World Rugby U20 Championship. She was also appointed to be an assistant referee in 3 full international warm-up matches for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. She is a trailblazer and excellent referee and we’re looking forward to seeing her in action today.

The IRFU Union Committee formally voted to opt into World Rugby’s global trial to lower the tackle height in the community game to below the line of the sternum on June 1st 2023. This is now in place in Domestic rugby games in Ireland.

The trial will apply to all amateur IRFU and provincial competitions at age-grade and adult levels in clubs and schools for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.

You will find an overview of the trial, resources and information, a summary of the consultation process and other useful information at

New World Rugby and laboratory studies have shown that head injury risk is at its highest when tackles are made to the head and shoulder and lowest when tackles are made to the belly area. The purpose of this trial will be to incentivise greater use of the belly tackle and ultimately reduce incidents of head-on-head impact in the tackle.

For the purposes of the trial World Rugby Union Law 9.13 will read as follows:

“Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the sternum* even if the tackle starts below the line of the sternum.”

*Previously: Shoulder (a horizontal line drawn from top of one armpit to the other)

Rucks and Mauls will not be affected by this law trial as they are covered under Law 9.20 (Dangerous Play In A Ruck Or Maul).

Nearly half of all tackles involve more than one tackler and so for the purpose of clarity, the legal tackle height of below the sternum would apply to all tacklers.

A law trial would not change the ability for an attacking team to carry out a “pick-and-go” play, but law application guidelines may apply where any player has initiated shoulder-to-head/neck or head-to-head/neck contact.

Rugby Union Law 9.11 currently states that: “Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others including leading with the elbow or forearm, or jumping into, or over, a tackler.” As always, a strict approach will be applied to reckless or dangerous play by a ball carrier.

This will include a ball carrier leading with their head or initiating contact with their head.

Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at  If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook, our website or through twitter @leinsterreferee.