Australian rugby’s first female referee retires after 48 years of service


NSW Rugby’s longest serving employee, Robin Timmins OAM, has retired from rugby after serving the game for close to five decades.

During her 48 year career, Timmins broke a number of barriers within the sport, becoming Australia’s first ever female rugby referee and the first women in NSW Rugby’s 148 year history to receive an Honorary Life Membership.

In 2013, Timmins received both the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and an IRB Development Award for her contributions to the rugby community.

“Robin is one of rugby’s living legends, up there with (Ken) Catchpole and (Nick) Farr-Jones. Her passion for the game and the respect she commands from the Club Rugby community through to World Rugby is unique,” NSW Rugby Executive Director Bruce Worboys said.

“I have been honoured to work with Robin over the last 20 years and look forward to joining her in the stands as she supports her beloved Eastwood for many years to come.”

After marrying a rugby referee, Timmins joined the Eastwood District Rugby Referees Association shortly after it’s formation in 1963 and acted as its Honorary Secretary until 1982.

In 1968, she joined the Sydney Rugby Union as a secretary and although women were unable to sit the referees exam at this time, Timmins convinced the decision makers to give her a chance and soon became Australia’s very first female referee.

Most recently, Timmins held the position of Referees Assistant, co-ordinating the appointments of officials for every Premiership, Colts, Suburban, Women’s and First XV Schools games across Sydney.

Earlier this week, the NSW Waratahs acknowledged Timmins achievements during their 2016 Season Launch, while the NSW Rugby Union hosted a farewell lunch in her honour on Thursday, presenting her with three signed commemorative 2015 Jersey’s of her favourite teams – Eastwood, NSW Waratahs and Wallabies.

Asked what she will miss most about her time in NSW Rugby, Timmins said, “The people. There are so many good people in rugby and I will miss them all. But I will never, never ever miss the wet weather. And I am looking forward to being able to go to a game to just sit and watch it uninterrupted.”

Despite her considerable achievements in the sport, Timmins’ rated a Premiership win by her beloved side Eastwood as perhaps the most memorable event for her in her years in the sport.

“I know it sounds boring but the most exciting time for me in my years in rugby was the first time Eastwood won that grand final. That was really special.”

And what of her other achievements, such as becoming Australia’s first female referee? “Oh that! Yes well I always forget about that bit!”

It is perhaps testament to Robin Timmins’ legacy that she departs the sport at a time when female participation is at it’s highest and Australian women are continuing to garner praise for their efforts as both players and referees.

It is also fitting that in the week NSW Rugby farewells Robin Timmins, the Union welcomed another highly accomplished female referee and Eastwood alum – Miss Amy Perrett, winner of the 2014 Referee of the Year – who will take on a role in referee development.

The career of Robin Timmins OAM will be celebrated by the NSW Referees Association at Eastwood Rugby Club on the 5th March just prior to Eastwood’s game against Sydney University.