Female rugby referee Sara Cox. Photo: GRW Photography - Gareth Williams

Sara Cox has broken new ground as, at the age of 25, she becomes the first female match official to be given a contract to join the RFU Professional Game Match Officials Team.

On December 19th she will take charge of the Spain v Hong Kong women’s international and the aim is to officiate at the women’s sevens at the Rio Olympics next year.


She has been on an exciting journey since taking up the whistle as a teenager. “I grew up around rugby and started playing at Cullompton RFC, alongside the boys initially and then I found a girls’ side and moved to Exeter Saracens. I was playing out on the wing, got my county and regional honours and had two England trials before being injured, which was when I went on a refereeing course, got qualified and got stuck in,” says Sara.

“At 17, I had a year deciding whether to return to playing, but refereeing juniors and third teams I discovered I loved it. I was turning up as quite a young girl and it was essential to take people with me, to earn their respect. There would be 30 players looking at me, some of them thinking ‘I’ve been playing longer than you’ve been alive!’

Read more on Rugby Referee.