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Role model Jones thanks Oldham on ITV

History-making match official Tara Jones has told ITV of the “special” moment she was handed the match ball by a young Oldham fan on a ground-breaking day at Boundary Park.

Jones, who is also a player with St Helens and England, became the first woman to referee a professional domestic game in the northern hemisphere when she took charge of the Roughyeds’ win over Cornwall on Sunday.

Presenting her with the match ball on the day was young Oldham fan Isla, who proudly proclaimed “when I grow up I want to play rugby at Oldham”. It was a moment that Jones shared with viewers this week on ITV’s Granada news.

“Little Isla coming out and presenting me with the match ball was special,” said Jones.

“I just thought she is so sweet, so small, so young, she had this big smile on her face and I just thought I really hope she looks up to someone like myself and that she will be involved in the sport in the future.

“Sometimes you sit here and think about being a role model and I really hope that I am as a player or match official.

“Thank you to everyone at Oldham, it is something I am really proud of and that I have worked hard for. Everything in my life revolves around rugby so I am really proud of what I have done and where I have come from. I started refereeing at 12 so to take the next step in my career is massive for me.”

Jones has urged any young girls to get into rugby league, either playing or refereeing, and says that she had no choice but to pursue the latter because of a lack of opportunities for young girls in the sport. Something that has now changed dramatically.

“I used to play for a boys team in Warrington called Crossfields and was the only girl. I had to quit at under-12s. Playing opportunities for girls back then were few and far between. My dad mentioned there was a referees course coming up. I waited for my 12th bday, went on it and never looked back.

“There is a higher profile and a pathway for the women’s game now. You can succeed in it, you can progress and you can be successful.”



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