NSW Rugby Life Member and OAM recipient Robin Timmins sadly passed away earlier this week.
Robin’s rugby involvement commenced with her husband Geoff in the Eastwood District Rugby Referees Association after its formation in 1963. By the mid 1960s, Robin was the Honorary Secretary of the Association, a voluntary position she held until 1982.
In 1968, Robin was employed as a Secretary by the Sydney Rugby Union, and not long after showed interest in sitting the referees exams being held at the offices.
She was told she could not sit for the exam, but after investigating the constitution and finding no mention of gender, she convinced the Chairman to let her sit the exam, which she passed, and as a result became the first active female referee in Australia. Robin then refereed for many years at different levels of the game.
Robin retired in 2016 after 48 years of employment by the Sydney Rugby Union and subsequently the NSW Rugby Union when the two entities merged in 1991, she has filled numerous roles during this time.
An article in Rugby News in 1998, celebrating her 30 years of work, suggested she had done every job possible except coach the Waratahs and be the CEO!
For many of those 48 years Robin served as Referees Assistant, which is appropriate given her lifelong devotion to referees. She was universally known to all Rugby referees across NSW as one of the great characters of rugby.
Robin is famous for her love of the Eastwood Rugby Club (her beloved ‘Woodies’) whom she has religiously and tirelessly supported by attending games from 4th grade to 1st grade. Her car seats decorated with Eastwood Rugby Club jerseys.
She even chants a woodies jingle on her home message bank. She never missed a Waratah or Wallaby fixture and would look forward to her pilgrimages to Rugby World Cups.
Every second Saturday afternoon, Robin can be found in the grand stand of T. G. Millner Field, surrounded by her loyal blue and white-garbed band of friends, in what has become known as ‘Tim-Tam Corner’ for the biscuits that accompany the coffee and tea breaks during the various games. Occasionally something a little bit stronger snuck in in a hip flask.
From 1982 until 2002, Robin remained an active volunteer with the Eastwood District Rugby Referees Association at Committee level.
By this stage, Robin was awarded a Life Membership of their Association for her outstanding service to the game. This award was subsequently recognised by Sydney West Rugby Referees Association following a restructure in 2009.
In 2002, Robin was also awarded a Life Membership by the NSW Rugby Union Referees Association for her outstanding contribution to the refereeing fraternity. The first female to receive such an award
In 2013 Robin received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her Services to Rugby (and the Liberal Party). She was flown over to Dublin in 2013 to receive the IRB (now World Rugby) Development Award for her service to the game.
She shared the stage that night with players such as Catchpole, Campese, Ella and Gregan who were inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. In that same year Robin became an Honorary Life Member of NSW Rugby Union the first female to do so in the Union’s 139 year history.
Robin was a pioneer for women in rugby and sport in general and a wonderful and loyal servant of the game. She will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.