Former Black Fern Rebecca Mahoney to make history in New Zealand

Rebecca Mahoney -- a former Black Fern who moved into refereeing after her playing career ended -- has been selected to referee a Heartland Championship match. Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

New Zealand international Rebecca Mahoney is set to make history when she becomes the first woman to referee a first class men's rugby fixture in her homeland.

The former Black Fern has been selected to officiate the Heartland Championship match between Thames Valley and King Country on Saturday in the first of three fixtures she will oversee this season.

Mahoney, 35, was one of two women chosen for New Zealand's High Performance Referee National Squad earlier in 2018 after making quick progress through the refereeing ranks.

"This appointment comes down to the hard work and commitment that Rebecca has shown to her refereeing," said New Zealand Rugby's National Referee Manager Bryce Lawrence.

"Being involved in a high performance environment has really accelerated her development and this appointment is a great achievement. We hope it inspires other female referees, or people thinking about taking up refereeing to see what you can achieve.

"We are committed to having New Zealanders represented among the best match officials in the world controlling elite games. Rebecca's appointment confirms that she is among the best and we congratulate her..."

Mahoney played 16 times for the Black Ferns and was part of two World Cup winning squads in 2006 and 2010.

Since 2015 the former fly-half has been in charge of matches at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Rugby World Cup sevens, one Test match and two Farah Palmer Cup finals.