Rugby Premiership’s first ever female referee Sara Cox,laughed off an awkward moment during the Harlequins v Worcester Warriors game on Saturday.
Sara Cox received widespread praise for the way she took charge of the contest, which Harlequins won 32-28, although not every player was able to get their head around being refereed by a woman.
After the match, Cox revealed a comical moment when a player accidentally called her ’sir’ during the game at The Stoop.
The term of course, is usually considered a respectful one when liaising with a referee in rugby.
“On the weekend, the players had decided between themselves they were going to call me ‘ref’, which negated everything,” Cox told reporters.
“More often than not it was just ‘ref’, then one of them said ‘sir’ and he corrected himself. ”
However, Cox not only saw the funny side, but insisted she’d happily be called ‘sir’ again in future as long as the players were treating her respectfully.
“I said ‘look I’m really not precious, you’re more than welcome to call me ‘sir’, it’s no problem at all. I’m really not precious about that, it’s just a line of communication, open it, it’s respectful, that’s all I care about.
“For me ‘sir’ is not about gender, it’s about opening a line of communication that’s respectful. That’s what I find is really important.
“I don’t want to force them to say something they’re not used to.”
As a youngster Cox represented Exeter and Saracens and had trials for England Under 21s. However, at just 17 she opted to retire from playing in order to focus on refereeing and has since officiated at the 2014 Women’s World Cup and in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
And after her historic debut in the Premiership, she now has her sights on a men’s Test match but only if she’s appointed on merit.
“I have never been told that there is a barrier to entry – but if I don’t pass the fitness tests, or if I don’t pass their experience test, if I don’t fall in line with everybody else, then there should be no reason why I should be put there,” she said.
“I would rather go through that entire process and know that I have gone through everything that they’ve asked me to be the same as everybody, than be there for the wrong reasons.”