When I interviewed Alhambra Nievas two weeks ago, she was in a relaxed mood and great company, as we discussed her rugby life to date.
Forty eight hours later, she received the World Rugby Referees Award for 2016, at a glittering ceremony in London, since then, it is fair to say her havaianas haven’t touched the ground.
“Marmot” has had to endure a siesta drought in order to get through the amazing days following the awards, as television, radio, online and governmental recognition continue to come thick and fast.
Alhambra does not seek the limelight, but talking to her I sense that she feels a responsibility to use her profile, to promote and extol the virtues of women’s rugby, and as someone who gives up her own time so generously, and so graciously, she has certainly achieved that.
The outpouring of genuine and heartfelt happiness, and the tidal wave of congratulations that are still pouring in, speak volumes for how she is regarded both as a person and as a referee.
If Alhambra was nominated for the Nobel peace prize at the moment, I reckon she would win it .
Lately she is spending more time in airport terminals than Tom Hanks, and our paths crossed, at the Pumas team hotel, on the eve of her latest assignment, refereeing England women v Canada at Twickenham.
Even after her Twickenham assignment , there was no time for the luxury of relaxation and recovery for Alhambra, as the day after the game she boarded an early morning flight to Dubai, for the first leg of the women’s world sevens series, her hectic schedule is certainly showing no sign of easing.
After Dubai there are assignments in Australia, Japan and Canada, interspersed with XVs matches in Spain, plus an inevitable call up for RBS 6 Nations duty, once the refereeing appointments have been announced.
Fame hasn’t changed her, and I’m sure it never will, her love of rugby is her motivation, her joy, and her passion, and not the awards and personal recognition.
There is of course wonderful by-product to all her popularity and success, and that is the fantastic example and role model she has become to other girls and women, who are either involved in rugby, or thinking of doing so.
I know she is looking forward to spending Christmas, in Spain, with her family, where hopefully she can unwind, recharge and catch up on all those missing siestas, maybe even sit down for an afternoon, put her feet up and watch a relaxing film, let’s just hope it’s not that one starring Tom Hanks.