Catching Lyndon McKendry at home on a winter’s night or on a Saturday afternoon is nigh on impossible, just ask her husband Mike or anyone in her family for that matter.
She’s been married to Mike for nearly 33 years, just as long as she’s been married to the Canterbury Rugby Referees Association. “Princess Di said there were 3 people in her marriage, well, at any given time I’ve got about 180 that I need to look after,” Ms McKendry joked.
So, it comes as no surprise that after 40 years of service to rugby, including 8 to her home province West Coast, that McKendry became the first female referee to be made a life member of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union. “It’s pretty humbling, especially in a province like Canterbury where rugby is an important part, and it’s an honour to have been elected as a Life Member by my peers in the Canterbury Rugby Referees Association.
‘It’s very humbling to know that people think that I have done enough to join a group of people who are already life members and contributed such a tremendous amount.”
True to form, she wasn’t overly fussed about talking about her own accolades when we caught up, instead telling us about her dad, a referee too, who introduced her to the game, ‘’rugby was huge, we would get up in the middle of the night to watch the tests overseas, or the midweek games. When they weren’t televised, we’d get up and listen to them on the radio, so it was always dad and I,‘’ and the many others who chose to give up their time to make the game what it is today, “that’s the real buzz for me, having the young people come in to refereeing and seeing them go through and get to higher honours and you see them develop as people.”
Just like her whistle, she plans to stick around a fair bit longer. “I still use the whistle that dad refereed with, from the 1950’s,” ensuring the part of the game that has twelve and a half thousand times more volunteers than professionals is well supported and ready for the scrutiny that comes with the job, ‘’you could be referring an under-12 game at Hagley Park and there’s plenty of people on the side line giving you advice, so helping people develop the skills to cope with the pressure is a big part of what I do. It’s no different to that player having to make that kick to win the World Cup or the captain making a decision of will we take the scrum or take the penalty so there’s pressure there. At each level of the game there’s different types of pressure and each referee needs to know how to deal with that pressure.”