Canadian Maggie Cogger-Orr to referee Rugby World Cup opener in New Zealand


When South Africa and France kick off the Ladies’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand on Saturday, a Canadian will blow the whistle to get the social gathering began.

Transplanted Canuck Maggie Cogger-Orr will referee the opening sport at Eden Park in her adopted Auckland dwelling. The 12-country competitors was initially slated to start out in September 2021 however was postponed because of the pandemic.

“I believe it is a actually cool alternative to kind of kick off a event that is been a very long time coming, with COVID and all these issues like that,” Cogger-Orr mentioned. “I really feel actually lucky to get to be the individual to blow the primary whistle to kick all of it off.”

Like Cogger-Orr, the whistle in query has been on the transfer.

Adventurers Ron Rutland and Adam Nunn have cycled 16,500 kilometres from Tokyo to Auckland to ship the whistle for the opening match. Their 210-day, 14-country journey, dubbed Race to Rugby World Cup, is elevating cash for charity.

It has been an enormous yr on the sector for the 30-year-old Cogger-Orr. She made her check debut as a referee within the Ladies’s Six Nations in Europe in April and has additionally officiated check matches in Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

Saturday marks her eighth check match. Cogger-Orr will even referee the Japan-Italy sport and work the U.S.-Japan match as an assistant referee in opening-round video games.

Her mother and father are flying in from Canada to soak up a part of the event.

Extra Canadians serving as officers

Canadians Julianne Zussman and Chris Assmus are additionally serving as event officers — Zussman, a former Canadian worldwide, as an assistant referee and Assmus as a tv match official (TMO). Each Canadians had been additionally a part of the Ladies’s Six Nations earlier this yr.

The event officiating panel options 14 girls — 9 referees and 5 assistant referees — with 4 male TMOs.

Officers for the World Cup’s eight knockout-round matches can be chosen on benefit by World Rugby.

Cogger-Orr isn’t any stranger to Eden Park, having refereed a latest girls’s check match there between New Zealand and Japan as a part of a doubleheader with the boys’s Bledisloe Cup sport between the All Blacks and Australia. The 50,000-capacity stadium is the most important in New Zealand.

Cogger-Orr grew up in Markham, Ont., earlier than shifting to Ottawa the place she attended Ashbury Faculty. She did her undergraduate diploma in commerce at McMaster, enjoying rugby with the Marauders for 4 years.

A yr later, in 2014, she moved to New Zealand “in all probability just a little bit [because] of rugby and just a little bit of faculty,” she defined.

Cogger-Orr wished to grow to be a trainer and pursue rugby. On the time, Christchurch was recruiting folks to return again after the area was hit by earthquakes, and the College of Canterbury beckoned.

“For those who play rugby, the power to return to New Zealand and see the way you stack up over right here was a extremely nice alternative,” mentioned Cogger-Orr, who represented Ontario and Canada at age-grade degree whereas enjoying membership rugby for the Toronto Scottish.

She hadn’t deliberate to remain in New Zealand. However not like Canada, there was a scarcity of lecturers and she or he received a job after commencement.

“The extra I received concerned in rugby right here and the extra I began to arrange my life right here, the extra everlasting it is grow to be,” she mentioned.

As we speak Cogger-Orr is an accounting and economics trainer at Westlake Ladies’ Excessive Faculty. She is taking 5 weeks off for the World Cup, with one other two weeks lined by the Kiwi model of March break.

She enjoys life in New Zealand, calling it a “travel-sized model of Canada.”

“We have each received mountains. We have each received oceans. We have each received seashores. We have each received lakes,” she mentioned. “Geographically typically there are locations that really feel very a lot alike, significantly the West Coast of Canada. And I believe culturally as properly — two nations that love sport, that basically, actually love sport and love individuals who get behind it. Two nations which can be very pleasant, very open to new folks.”

Residence away from dwelling

The Australia-New Zealand dynamic can be paying homage to the Canada-U. S. relationship, she added.

“It is a straightforward shift to maneuver down right here and it is actually grow to be a spot that is positively grow to be a house to me right here,” mentioned Cogger-Orr who lives together with her English associate Chris in addition to a cat.

Cogger-Orr performed for her college membership group the yr she lived in Canterbury earlier than becoming a member of the storied Faculty Rifles membership aspect in Auckland.

She had performed some refereeing again dwelling, after struggling a knee damage in her third season with McMaster. She picked up the whistle when cleared to run, however not for contact.

It turned out to be step one to being on the centre of a World Cup opener.

On the time, Cogger-Orr noticed refereeing as one thing she might take up if her enjoying profession didn’t result in a World Cup. Her final yr enjoying was in 2016 when the Faculty Rifles received the New Zealand girls’s membership championship.

“I used to be like ‘This looks like a very good place to get off the bus and switch to refereeing and provides it a correct go,”‘ mentioned Cogger-Orr, who’s now a everlasting resident of New Zealand.

Cogger-Orr moved up the officiating ladder, working the highest degree of girls’s membership rugby in addition to males’s rugby within the area. She hopes to subsequent officiate Nationwide Provincial Championship play, the extent under the boys’s top-flight Tremendous Rugby competitors.

She reckons the cut up between working males’s and girls’s video games is fairly equal through the yr.

How Cogger-Orr received into rugby is one other story.

At 13, she determined she wished to play boys’ gridiron soccer at Ashbury Faculty. It was a small college so volunteers had been welcome with Cogger-Orr enjoying defensive again.

“The sweetness was in Grade 9 and 10 I used to be nearly the identical measurement as I’m now,” mentioned the five-foot-five Cogger-Orr. “So I used to be already absolutely grown and as large as many of the boys.”

Because the boys grew, she largely performed particular groups because of the measurement discrepancy.

After observe at some point, the rugby coach approached her and invited her to affix her group. The coach was former Canadian worldwide Jen Boyd, now head coach of the Ottawa Gee-Gees’ girls’s group.

Cogger-Orr performed each sports activities by way of highschool, additionally collaborating in boys ice hockey given there was no ladies aspect.


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