Sara Cox has made history by becoming the first female referee to oversee a men’s rugby match in the National League One, the equivalent of the third division. The 26-year-old from Exeter took charge in the close game which saw Plymouth Albion beat Loughborough Students by 20-18. Afterwards she posted on Twitter to thank everyone for all the kind words of support and to say it was a fantastic experience.

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Breaking down barriers

Sara started out as a player but turned to refereeing when at just 16, through injury, her career was curtailed. She is used to breaking down barriers as Sara was the only English referee at the Sevens tournament during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She is also centrally contracted as a match official by the Rugby Football Union, the only female to be so. She explained that she took part in the England Under-20s trials but picked up a knock, which meant she stopped playing. She felt coaching was not right and turned to refereeing.

Sara told Radio 1’s Newsbeat that she does not see herself as any different to the men who referee but revealed that some players do not know how to address her. She explained that often they call her ‘Sir’ because it’s easier for them – http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39008812/this-female-rugby-referee-is-making-history-this-weekend.

Taking up rugby

Sara’s remarkable story shows there are no limits to where women can go in the world of rugby. Rugby is a physical game but anyone can play, whether at a competitive level or for fun. It will help you keep in great physical shape, build character, is great for team bonding and boosts confidence. It doesn’t matter what size you are, you will find a role to play in rugby union where 20-stone giants are valued just as highly as small, fast runners. As well as taking part in actual games, you can keep fit during coaching sessions where you can practice various moves or watch a rugby drill video, like these at https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/.

After training for a while you should find you are more flexible through sudden changes of direction and constant twisting or dodging and your upper body, arms and legs are stronger. The constant running will give you a great cardio workout and the release of endorphins when you play should lift your mood and reduce stress.