Rugby: Hanizet becomes first woman to referee a men's professional match

PERPIGNAN (AFP) - Referee Christine Hanizet made history by becoming the first woman to referee a men's professional rugby match as former French champions Perpignan hosted Dax in the French second division.

"Beginning with a first match at Aime-Giral (Perpignan's stadium) was fantastic, I'm delighted," said Hanizet following Saturday's Pro D2 match, won 36-28 by seven-time French champions Perpignan.

"I've been refereeing for 15 years, so I banned myself from putting pressure on myself."

Hanizet, 43, who works for the French police, had been refereeing in the French third division, Federale 1, last season.

"The players were totally respectful, as was the case during my years in Federale," she added.