- Bulls mentor Jake White was encouraged by Aimee Barrett-Theron's officiating after she became the first woman to referee a top-level match in South African rugby.
- The former Springbok coach was impressed by her willingness to embrace the pressure of a game featuring many internationals.
- He hopes this is a major step towards a fruitful career for her.
Jake White lauded the composure shown by Aimee Barrett-Theron following her performance with the whistle in the Super Rugby Unlocked meeting between the Bulls and Pumas on Saturday.
The 33-year-old notably became the first woman referee to officiate a senior 15-man match in South African rugby.
The Bulls' director of rugby remarked tongue-in-cheek that she was "outstanding" in the first half, a clear reference to his team's dominance in that period as they established a 21-0 lead.
But White was quick to note the significance of her achievement.
"This was arguably the biggest game she's blown in her career to date, she admitted that herself," he said.
"She was officiating World Cup players in this game and several other internationals too. All credit to her, everyone's got to start somewhere."
Barrett-Theron perhaps wasn't as vocal as some of her counterparts, but still made her presence count, notably telling the two front rows sternly after several reset scrums that "this isn't how we scrum, sort it out", while also lecturing young Bulls fullback David Kriel for an off-the-ball incident.
"Part of what we're doing in South African rugby is to develop new referees. Aimee's got to gain experience somewhere," said White.
"We've produced some of the best referees in the world and if this is one of her steps to becoming a great international referee, then fantastic."
The former Springbok coach also noted that she would've been under immense scrutiny.
"It must've been tough for her, particularly at the start. Forget what it's like to have been a young player make his debut, imagine being a woman referee going into a game where she's reffing some of the best players in the world.
"Some would've scrutinised her more than they do other referees. It was an interesting experience and credit to her."