The thing that unites all great sports men and women is their ability to make the difficult look easy, to create an impression that they have all the time in the the world as they display their talents at the top end of the pressurised world of competitive sport.
When I first saw Alhambra referee, I noticed very quickly that she possessed an effortless grace, an ability to be in the the right place at the right time on the field, and at the crucial game changing moments in the red hot cauldron of a match the ability and clarity of mind to make the right decision under pressure.
I could never quite work out, and could never define how she did it, and in fact I still can’t.
Even in ninety degree heat on the World Sevens circuit, she looks as cool as the snow capped slopes of the Sierra Nevada back home, and whilst those around her wilt and gasp for breath in the blistering heat,the lady from Malaga barely appears to gasp or break into a sweat.
It has been a huge thrill for me to witness Ali’s success, she has reached the pinnacle of refereeing without compromising her sporting and personal values, and that is the greatest achievement of all.
I am honoured and grateful that she is a part of the sport I love, and that she cherishes protects and nurtures the values of rugby, I am even more honoured that she is my friend.
There are still challenges ahead, but whatever happens in the future she has already left her indelible mark on the world of rugby, her name and her deeds will forever be part of rugby history.