Already a ‘groundbreaker’ in her chosen industry, Premiership referee Sara Cox now seals her place with the appointment as head referee for this weekend’s Harlequins v Worcester Warriors fixture.
To be the very first female Premiership Rugby referee is an incredible achievement. yet for Sara Cox, it is not the first time this professional official has broken new ground. In 2018, she oversaw proceedings for Wasps against Northampton in the Premiership Rugby Cup, the first time a woman had done that and will write her name in the record books again on Saturday.
In a statement from Premiership Rugby, it said that Cox will make history when she becomes the first female to referee a Gallagher Premiership Rugby match this weekend. That accomplishment is being celebrated for all the right reasons, and her abilities on the pitch are recognized widely.
‘Huge congratulations to Sara Cox,’ Premiership Rugby tweeted. ‘She’ll become the first woman to referee a #GallagherPrem league game on Saturday. Continually making history.’
Sara Cox will make history this weekend as the first woman to referee a Gallagher Premiership game 👏
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) September 21, 2021
Groundbreaker: Premiership referee Sara Cox
Many will recall that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) made Cox the world’s first female professional rugby referee in March 2016. In a number of inaugural steps in refereeing, Cox has pathed a way for female officials in the professional leagues, including being the first female to referee a Greene King IPA Championship match.
England Rugby recounted the stages of Sara Cox’s career to date. From her days playing for the Exeter Saracens, Sara took up refereeing and her CV now includes: assistant referee at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup and refereeing at the 2017 tournament – in fact, Tokyo was her second Olympics and Cox refereed the gold medal match.
Other career achievements include; being the only English referee for rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; refereeing the women’s final in the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco and at the 2018 Commonwealth Games sevens event in Australia and being an assistant referee for 2018 men’s internationals between Germany and Hong Kong and Kenya v Germany, then in the same month, officiating France Women v New Zealand Women.
All of these stages of the rugby official’s development now point to a great occasion. Herself, Cox was quoted by the RFU as saying, “I’ve always wanted to cover a Premiership match with some of the best players in the world on the pitch. Now it’s happening and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the opportunities the game of rugby has given me.”
She added: “I will love this opportunity as a first but what I would really love is for women referees to become the norm. With the number now involved, it can only inspire others. I want to grow interest, motivate others, while doing my [own] job, which is to be out there in the middle of a rugby pitch.”
When the achievement is met, however, do not let this be individual. Let it become consistent. In the way that an official is not seen as being of a sex – that they are seen for their approach and interpretation. All good factors which Premiership referee Sara Cox is now more than ready to match, and maybe better.
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