Nolan Creates CRL History

Updated: September 13, 2018

24-year-old Karra-Lee Nolan will make history this weekend when she becomes the first-ever female to referee a Country Rugby League First Grade Group Grand Final when she officiates the Group 7 clash between the Shellharbour Sharks and Kiama Knights.

After becoming the first female to referee a first grade fixture in the group back in 2015, Nolan admits she is thrilled to have the opportunity to create history this Sunday.

“I honestly can’t wait,” Nolan said.

“To referee a first grade game is big achievement, let alone a first grade Grand Final.

“Being a female I never thought that it could be possible, but times have changed and here I am about to run out on Sunday.”

The Shellharbour local admitted it was a special moment for both her and her parents to receive the call that she would be officiating in the centre for the biggest game of the year.

“I was lucky enough that when the phone call came through, my parents were at home and I could share it with them… it was surreal to be able to share that with Mum and Dad.”

Having begun her career eight years ago in the hope of following in her father’s footsteps, who officiated for 20 years, Nolan quickly came to realise that her new passion wasn’t just about receiving pocket money.

“I already had a love of the game to start with from playing, but my competitive nature overtook and that’s when things started to become a little more serious.

“I started to think ‘maybe I could get a career out of this if I put my mind to it and give it 100 percent?’”

“A lot of people play and not a lot of people put their hands up to be in a position where they have to make a decision, whether they’re right or wrong, you’ve got make them at the end of the day.

“Just that split-second decision making under fatigue would be my favourite element.

“Knowing that your heart rates is really high, you’ve just run for a fair bit of time and you’ve got to make a decision that’s accurate off the back of that; I think that’s a skill not very many people would be able to handle.”

After a year where she has officiated NSW and CRL Junior Representative matches and Men’s Under-23’s and Ladies League Tag Country Championship matches on top of her usual group games, Nolan admits despite it being her toughest season, the hard work has paid off.

“There were tough weekends where I was running up to 30 kilometres between a Saturday and Sunday,”

“To be honest, this year has been the hardest both physically and mentally but it’s been my most successful.

“I’ve learnt a lot from being exposed to those different games and the higher quality games are where I’ve been able to take bits and pieces from and now be lucky enough to be running out this weekend.”

Despite her achievement’, Nolan remains focussed on improving her skills and admits she has her sights set on making it to the National Rugby League.

“My goals are based around developing my strengths and weaknesses to make sure they’re relatively even; I want to keep working on the minor things in my game that I need to work on, to make sure that as I go up the levels, the transition is a lot smoother and I’m not being exposed to something new,”

“Obviously, the ultimate goal is making the NRL but it’s also about just taking each game as it comes and taking the journey for what it is.”

The Shellharbour Sharks v Kiama Knights Grand Final match will be played at Collegians Sporting Complex, Figtree on Sunday, 16th September and will kick-off at 4:00pm.