Beatriz has just the right material for refereeing

bea casares
If the Women’s Summer Series is a finishing school for young rugby players, then it’s providing the same function for referees.

Beatriz Casares hails from the city of Vigo in Galicia, an area of Spain which has its own language. The region also has strong Celtic ties, which is apt when you consider that Beatriz is actually a Scottish Rugby Union referee.

Learning the minutiae of officiating is presumably light work for her, given her day job as a materials researcher in Glasgow. “It’s very focused on sustainability. I’m currently working on a project based around polymers, while before that it was natural fibres for composites.” When asked to explain that in simple terms, she replies with: “We’re looking at ways to make the world we live in better, basically!”

Fortunately, her boss plays rugby himself, which made maxing out her annual leave prior to the invitation to Parma less of a problem. “When I told him about this tournament he said, ‘You can’t say no to this - we’ll figure that out later’.”

Rugby in Vigo is very much a minority sport. She picked it up while at university in Madrid, before a dislocated shoulder suffered during a basketball game ended her playing days. Coming to Glasgow to study for her master’s degree at the University of Strathclyde – where she now works - she knew that refereeing was her best way of staying in the game she loved.

Finding herself at the inaugural Women’s Summer Series in Parma, Italy, is another interesting stamp in Beatriz’s life passport, one which also includes an Erasmus in Turkey and a year of voluntary work in Bulgaria.

Having been touch judge on game day one for France v Wales, she will take the main role on Tuesday for Ireland v Italy. “The first game is always challenging, setting the standards for the tournament, and working with a referee you haven’t worked with before,” explains Beatriz, who is a member of the West of Scotland Rugby Referee Society. “You have to adapt very quickly. I was very nervous, but the moment the whistle blows it’s another game and it was great.”

Already, Beatriz has formed a tight bond with the five other referees nominated for the competition by the six competing teams. “What I like about working with other refs is learning from them. We all have different styles and ways of doing the same thing.”

Three intense matches on game day one summed up why this competition was created, believes Beatriz; such was the physicality, skill level and desire to play positive rugby. “The last game between Italy and Scotland especially was so close that the intensity went up another level,” she says. “We’re seeing women’s rugby shining on this platform. The physicality and the technical knowledge, wanting to play. As referees, we are here to facilitate that. This is about the players.”

How does she feel about taking on the biggest game of her rugby career so far? “I’m always nervous before a game, but it doesn’t faze me – it keeps me going,” replies Beatriz, who finds mindfulness in embroidery. “I know it’s going to be challenging, but my coach always says nerves are good because they mean you care. You want to do your role well, you want to perform, you want to enjoy it.”

See all the fixtures for the Women’s Summer Series here.