Sydney Catholic Schools’ Tasmyn Haynes has a remarkable tale of unexpected entry into the world of wheelchair rugby officiating and discovering her calling in the thrilling realm of adaptive sports – sports that are modified to allow people with physical and sometimes mental disabilities to participate.

A St Christopher’s Catholic Primary School Panania alumni and hailing from a basketball background, Ms Haynes set off on the 31 August 2023 to referee the New Zealand Nationals in Christchurch. 

There she was awarded her international badge, a step closer to her dream of refereeing at the Paralympics.

Presently serving as the Digital and Social Content Officer for Sydney Catholic Schools, Ms Haynes’ role encompasses the daily coverage and promotion of a multitude of sports across all skill levels. 

She takes pride in her involvement within a vast system of 147 schools, which offers individuals with disabilities the chance to cultivate a passion for sports – an opportunity that often eludes many of their peers until well after their school years.

Ms Haynes initially assisted in basketball officiating and bench duties, where she met a colleague who was involved in wheelchair rugby. 

It was 2018 and the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship in Australia was fast approaching, and Ms Haynes was asked to assist with the bench at the upcoming championships. 

“As I watched my first game, I was completely captivated and quickly fell in love with the sport,” Ms Tasmyn Haynes said.

The chance to officiate at the 2018 World Championship marked the start of an extraordinary journey that has led Ms Haynes to become an advocate for fairness, inclusivity, and the sheer power of determination within the sports community. 

A source of immense pride, Ms Hayne’s journey is intertwined with her mother’s involvement in the sport, leading to the creation of the first mother-daughter refereeing duo in wheelchair rugby history. 

Ms Hayne’s mother, Peta, is also closely affiliated with the Sydney Catholic Schools’ sporting community in her current role as Conference 4 Sports Coordinator for K-6.

Wheelchair rugby, often referred to as ‘murderball’, is an exhilarating blend of speed, strategy and fierce competition.

Emphasising the importance of understanding wheelchair rugby’s nuances and tactics, which at times can be quite complex, Ms Haynes highlights the unique challenges of mastering the point system that categorises players based on their abilities.

“The difference between conventional rugby and wheelchair rugby extends beyond the playing field.

“Played on an indoor court, the game introduces distinctive rules that underscore its inclusivity. The players, often individuals who have experienced life-altering accidents, exhibit unparalleled determination and resilience.” 

“The sport’s impact transcends the court, serving as a beacon of hope for those facing adversity and their families, proving that life continues to offer opportunities for achievement and excellence no matter the challenges. The sky’s the limit,” Ms Tasmyn Haynes said.

She has officiated at prestigious events including the 2018 Invictus Games in Australia, the 2023 Japan Para Championships and the 2022 Japan Shibuya Cup, the latter being her first international assignment.

Ms Haynes encourages those interested in getting involved in wheelchair rugby umpiring to first start as volunteers and immerse themselves in the game’s unique dynamics. 

“I firmly believe wheelchair rugby has the power to uplift and inspire, making a lasting impact on players, spectators and the broader sports community,” Ms Haynes said.