Tokyo rugby final referee Sara Cox makes more history in English game

The 31-year-old has become the first woman to referee a men's Premiership rugby fixture, blazing another trail for female officials at the start of the 2021/22 season in England's top professional league.

By James Pratt
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Sara Cox has made more history by becoming the first female to referee a top-flight men's rugby match in the English league.

The 31-year-old, who officiated the Tokyo 2020 rugby sevens women's final and became the world's first female professional referee, took charge of the Premiership game between defending champions Harlequins and Worcester Warriors on Saturday (25 September 2021).

Cox received cheers and applause from the full capacity crowd at the Stoop stadium in Twickenham, South West London, when her name was announced before kick-off. Harlequins won the game 35-29 to maintain their perfect record after two games of the 2021/22 season.

Cox had previously been appointed assistant referee in the top flight of English rugby, and became the first woman to referee a match between two Premiership men's teams when she officiated a Premiership Rugby Cup fixture between Northampton Saints and Wasps. She has also taken charge of multiple games at lower levels of the sport in Great Britain and Europe.