Refereeing: the best seat in the house

Lee Bryant explains why refereeing is a great way to stay involved in the game, challenge yourself and grow your rugby family.

After playing rugby in college, Lee Bryant was looking for a way to remain involved with the sport she loved. At the time, there were no women's rugby clubs in her area, and she sustained a few career-ending injuries. Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, Bryant found a meaningful way to stay involved - she became a referee.

"At first, I wasn't sure I would stick it out since it was a lot harder than I imagined" Bryant explained. However, that didn't stop Bryant from continuing to develop her skills as a referee. Soon after, she began to receive assignments from all over the country and around the globe.

"I enjoyed the opportunity to travel and see the sport I love from many different perspectives," said Bryant, "It can feel like a pressure cooker at times, but I would much rather be on the field for a match then in the stands."

Bryant believes that being a referee is the best seat in the house. "It is rewarding when you can give teams a good platform to play; it makes it all worth it when people shake your hand at the end of a match and applaud your efforts" she added.

"The amount of time Lee has put into her practice is evident in her refereeing," says Kurt Weaver, USA Rugby Referee Director. "We deeply value her contribution to her craft and USA Rugby as a whole."

One of the reasons why Bryant kept with refereeing was her experience working with USA Rugby. "All of the USA Rugby staff I have worked with have been extremely supportive, especially in the referee department of which I deal with the most. Being a referee is not easy, but I feel as though I can find the encouragement or the resources I need to continue."

Weaver adds that Lee has a contagious enthusiasm for being a referee, "People like Lee make others want to try refereeing - and they should. There are so many benefits that come out of the experience" he said.

Bryant echo's Weaver's comment, "For anyone who has been a competitive athlete like myself, refereeing is a great way to stay involved in the game, challenge yourself and grow your rugby family" she concluded.

A referee's role is highly significant to the game, "Referees play an important role in making a great match for all the players involved - it means so much more than just being the person in the middle." says Weaver. 

There are countless opportunities to be involved from being an assistant referee with the flag on the sideline to being a score recorder or to being a time timekeeper. "Whether on the field or the sideline, refereeing has a place for everyone" Weaver concluded.

If you would like to learn more about how you can be involved or becoming a certified referee, visit