As preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are well under way and the world watches on at athletes prepare for some of their biggest moments, its two of WA’s very own Rugby WA referee’s that will make their debut for their first time.
Tyler Miller and Madeline Putz, two of WA’s referees have been selected to represent Australia in the games this coming July. A phenomenal achievement for the two women after making their way through the Rugby WA pathway and making their mark in the rugby community.
We asked the girls a few questions as they prepare for their time on field. Check out their answers below.
What made you first interested in Rugby?
Tyler: Rugby has always been a family past time for me, so I grew up around my parents and brother always supporting, playing and refereeing it.
Madeline: I first got into rugby after my younger sister, Sadie started playing U12s mixed rugby. My older sister and I would go down and watch and eventually found a women's team and both signed up. By the time Sade was 18 all 3 of us were playing on the same team together.
What does it feel like to be chosen to head to the Olympics?
Tyler: It’s a bit surreal still. It’s been a goal of mine for a number of years and selection is the first piece to achieving that.
Madeline: It is a massive honour to be heading to the Olympics and I am extremely gratefully to be given this opportunity. I think most people grow up watching the Olympics and dream of being a part of it. To actually achieve it is so exciting.
Do you think it’s a win for females in the sport of rugby?
Tyler: The space of sevens has been very dynamic in its growth, and I think it’s a testament to the support we’ve received to facilitate the growth. I think it’s a win for females in the sevens space and is reflective of the effort that has been put in focusing specifically on sevens.
Madeline: I think it's great that women's rugby is on such a big world stage. Hopefully it will encourage a lot of girls to get involved in rugby, whether that be through playing or refereeing.
How did the Rugby WA pathway help you in achieving this accomplishment?
Tyler: The local competition provided the platform for us to have access to quality competition that we can use to better ourselves as officials. It also allowed us to be selected for other opportunities that led to national exposure.
Madeline: The Rugby WA and Refs association opportunities to transition from playing to reffing got me performing to a reasonable level that aligned with how Rugby Australia looked at the game. This got me on Rugby Australia's radar, and access to their national and international coaching is fantastic, working with some of the top ranked female and male officials.
What would you say to young boys or girls coming up in the pathway that hope to achieve something like this? How did you get yourself in the position to be chosen?
Tyler: I would say just give it a crack. The pathway as a referee is very viable, and in many scenarios, can open doors to national and international travel and experiences that you wouldn’t have the opportunity for if it wasn’t for picking up the whistle.
Madeline: Take on every opportunity you can get and always give it your best. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable, and when you feel overwhelmed trust in the process and the people who gave you those opportunities.
How have you been preparing for the Games?
Tyler: Preparation certainly hasn’t been what I envisioned it might be when I first set selection as a goal. We’ve had much less 7s game time than we would’ve liked, but everyone is in the same boat, so I’ve really just been focusing on making the best of the situation. I’ve been training and testing and trying to stay as connected to the game as I can so I can hit the ground running when I need to.
Madeline: Training hard to stay in top physical condition. Preparation has been a bit different to what it would have been pre-Covid, but refereeing community 15s in faster-paced games / levels to align with 7s environment. Hopefully head to the last 2 rounds of the AON 7s.
Rugby WA commemorate the two referees on their achievement and wish them all the best on their journey to the games as they show their skills and techniques learnt through the pathway.