GET TO KNOW THE REF: Sara Cox

We caught up with Sara Cox to run through her time as a referee, and get to know her a bit better.

With a load of international’s already under her belt, in 2020 she made a breakthrough into the premiership as an assistant referee for the Bath v Wasps game and is making her mark on the sport in both the Men’s and Women’s games.

We caught up with Sara to find out a little more about her and her time in sport.

Name: Sara Cox 

Age: I think you might have to google this one – ha 😉

Fitness regime: six days a week in the gym ideally!

Hometown: Exeter

No of years refereeing: It was 2007 was when I qualified as a referee – so quite a few now!

First memory of rugby? Tavistock at a U14’s game I think it was. It was freezing cold and my mum had to come with me because I was under 18. 

No of games refereed: It must be hundreds in total if you take from society all the way through to international. In terms of internationals, I’m at around 25 games, I think.

First premiership game as a ref: My first game as an assistant ref in the premiership was at the Bath v Wasps game on the 31st of August, 2020. I haven’t refereed just yet. 

First international as a ref: was in 2014 with Ireland v Italy

Favourite stadium to ref in? The one that comes to mind is the baseball stadium they used for the Seven’s World Cup just gone. It was unreal, they made the stadium into a rugby pitch. I remember setting up for a kick off and one of the players says to me ‘the posts don’t line up with the middle of the pitch’ She was right they were off centre, it made me laugh. 

Who is your sporting hero? I don’t have one specific sporting hero, I just really admire sports people and their dedication to what they do.

What is your whistle of choice? I use the Black metal ACME whistle. I know what sound it makes, and I’ve always used the same type since I started. I recently spoke to the guys at ACME and got my mum and sisters initials engraved on one side and then my society emblem on the other – so I’ve got the important things with me.

Biggest moment in your career: There’s a couple recently. I think going to the Olympics is a good one; and then probably starting to break into the elite men’s game with the Premiership stuff and championship.

Who inspired you to pick up the whistle? To be honest it was my community referees that inspired me. I used to play a lot of community rugby so yeah community referees and I was like I’ll have a go at this as well looks like your fun

Which area of the game is the hardest to referee? Refereeing is pretty hard in general really but the scrums always make me think a bit. 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen on a rugby pitch? I once had a guy take his fake eyeball out and clean it on the pitch!

Who is the best player you’ve refereed? I’ve refereed some amazing international players without realising who they were! I just go out referee.

Who is the toughest player you’ve refereed? Gosh, there have been a few. It’s usually the 9’s that commentate as we go from ruck to ruck and tell me where I might possibly have got a law incorrect. 

What three things would you take to a desert island? I’m going to take things I need to survive. Go practical! Something to start a fire; a knife and a water bottle. I think that is what Bear Grylls would tell me. 

Do you have any hidden talents? What’s your party trick? It’s not really a specific party trick, but I’m not too bad at golf which tends to surprise people.  A long time ago I was even heading down the route of training to become a professional golfer. Other than that and being able to pull a wheelie on a bike, that’s about me really. I think I need to work on this hidden talent thing. 

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests, and why? I think Joe Marler’s got to be one – I think he’s hilarious and I’m listening to his podcast and think it’s absolutely brilliant. Then one of my closest mates Chris Bentley who’s an Exeter Chiefs player, you are guaranteed to hear him before you can see him and he’s great fun. And to make up the trio, and James Haskell! 

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? Right now, finishing my Masters is a focus, and then eventually when I retire I’d like to go back into the business world and see how high up I can get. That and work on some sort of hidden talent to make me slightly less boring. 

Which two teams would you love to referee? England v the Black ferns, they are the two powerhouses in the women’s game.

How do you prepare for a game? Do you have a pre-game ritual? No nothing unusual really. As long as there is a bag of sweets around I am usually pretty happy. 

Are any of your family also referees? Does it run in the family? I’m the first referee, but they’re all police officers!

Sara has certainly made her mark on the sport and we all look forward to seeing her career develop as there’s surely plenty more to come from here at club and international level.

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