Rugby-mad Hannah Spencer takes on refereeing role for first time
Former market Harborough and Lutterworth player takes up the whistle
Former Market Harborough and Lutterworth junior rugby player Hannah Spencer is no stranger to the game - but on Sunday she got her first taste of refereeing.
The 16-year-old - who first took up the sport playing in Melton Mowbray's under eights side - returned to her former club to officiate an under 13s game at the weekend.
"I really enjoyed putting what I learned from the RFU Referee course into practice," said Hannah, following the Melton youngsters' victory over Oadby Wigston.
"It was also great to show some of the girls who were training that there are opportunities within the game for girls to do more than just play."
Hannah is currently playing academy rugby at Loughborough College, where she is studying for an advanced sports science qualification.
But keen to make a career out of sport, Hannah is looking at all the options available to her, which is how she enlisted on an RFU refereeing course.
"Hannah wants to be involved in rugby any way she can, which is how she started her refereeing journey," said dad John, who is not surprised by his daughter's move into officiating.
"She's always had a really keen eye for the game and when we watch it on TV she's often making calls before the officials."
Hannah played rugby at Melton until under 12s level, the age where boy and girl players split into single sex teams.
With no girls' side available at that time, Hannah joined Market Harborough for two seasons before switching to Lutterworth.
But when her teammates stepped up to under 18s level, Hannah was the only under 15 player left and she returned to Market Harborough before Covid brought a halt to action.
As an official, Hannah is eligible to referee matches involving youngsters up to two years her junior.