FOR TEENAGER Caitlin Beevers, making history is becoming second-nature.
The 16-year-old was a member of the Leeds Rhinos team which won the Women’s Challenge Cup in their first season earlier this month.
Just three weeks later she became the first female to referee at Wembley when she took charge of the Steven Mullaney Memorial game, the Year Seven boys’ Champion Schools final between Widnes’ Wade Deacon and St John Fisher of Wigan.
Beevers described refereeing last Saturday’s Challenge Cup final curtain-raiser, which Wade Deacon won 18-10, as “absolutely amazing”.
She said: “It felt unreal. We’ve done our research and it looks like, from all the finals Wembley has held, I am the first female to referee there.
“It has been great to see so many people taking an interest. I have had so many people messaging me, young girls to say I have inspired them to take the next level. I didn’t think it would be like that at all.”
Beevers is a former Champion Schools winner as a player with Dewsbury’s St John Fisher and was one of Rhinos’ try scorers in their 20-14 Challenge Cup victory over Castleford Tigers. The Cup was re-presented to Rhinos at Wembley before Catalans Dragons beat Warrington Wolves to collect the men’s version. Beevers, who has been playing since she was seven and is in her third year as a referee, said: “When all the schools walked around the pitch [on a lap of honour] I walked around with the match officials, then I had to run up to the Rhinos to go and collect the trophy. It was quite a busy afternoon.”
Beevers insisted she enjoys playing and refereeing equally, but her long-term ambitions are to make the grade as a match official.
“Playing won’t last very long because I will have to retire eventually and that comes sooner rather than later,” she said. “Refereeing can be a full-time thing. I love them both and I don’t know where I’d be without them, but I can see myself staying in rugby league all my life and I think refereeing is the way to do it.
“Tara Jones plays [for St Helens] and has also been a touch judge at a Super League game. That’s the level I want to be at, it’s where I can see myself in the future.”