20 Nov 2019

Winiata too quick to be a ref!

5:40 am on 20 November 2019

Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata has recently taken up refereeing sevens. The only problem is, she's outpacing the players.

New Zealand's full-back Selica Winiata.

Selica Winiata's hasn't slowed down - even now that she is the referee. Photo: AFP

Winiata made her international refereeing debut at the Oceania Sevens tournament in Fiji last week, where officials said she was running too fast.

"I actually got told that I could afford to slow down while over at the Oceania tournament, they say they don't normally tend to tell people that, but they said that I could slow down and stay behind the ball," the 40-test fullback said.

Winiata was surprised at how quickly she had risen up the refereeing ranks.

After refereeing in two local tournaments, Winiata was thrust into the Oceania Sevens tournament.

On the back of that performance, Winiata has now been appointed to officiate two rounds of this season's sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town.

"It's not a huge reffing CV, but I'm loving every moment of it. Just being out in the middle in a different capacity, I'm still enjoying it," the 33-year-old said.

"Opportunities have come up so quickly, I didn't expect things to move as quick as they have but I guess for me it is a positive thing and I am looking forward to the new challenges that I'll have as a ref in comparison to being a player on the field."

Winiata said the transition from sevens player to referee had some challenges.

"At the start I did find it very challenging, running players lines instead of refs lines and along the way I've been able to make those adjustments and start to find my feet as a referee," she said.

"We all know that sevens is a fast game and you don't have very long to make those decisions, as a ref it can have such a huge impact on the game and even the outcome, so I think it's beneficial being a player who is still involved in the game now taking up reffing, just having that understanding of as a player what you want but now as a ref what it is you've got to be looking out for so that we do have a good game of rugby."

Despite her successful move into refereeing, Winiata has not stopped playing entirely.

Winiata hoped to make the Black Ferns team for the Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2021.