History was made in the Gallagher Premiership on Monday when Sara Cox became the first female official of a league match in England. Having also been the first woman to take charge of a Premiership Cup game in 2018, Cox was an assistant referee in Bath’s contest with Wasps at The Rec. 

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The appointment was very well received by rugby fans – and there has been a hugely positive reaction on social media regharding these strides towards greater inclusivity in the sport. 

While some have questioned why it has taken this long for this to happen, especially as Joy Neville has been refereeing in the Guinness PRO14 for quite some time, the next step is to see a female refereeing a Premiership match. 

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Cox’s debut in the Premiership came just days after yet more history was made in Australia where Amy Perrett became the first female Super Rugby referee when the Brumbies took on the Western Force on Friday. 

Meanwhile, it’s over two years since Neville also made history by becoming the first woman to referee a PRO14 match, a fixture between Ulster and the Southern Kings. 

While the Premiership is still seen as behind Super Rugby and PRO14 in some respects, the presence of Cox on the touchline was celebrated as a positive step nonetheless and one that many hope will become the norm eventually. 

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This was actually a match that was officiated superbly well, with referee Wayne Barnes commended for how he handled a contest which saw a spate of injuries. 

With five more rounds of the regular season still to be played in England, more groundbreaking appointments would be welcomed in the coming weeks. 

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