MBE for former Clyst Vale Student

Sara Cox, the world’s first professional female rugby referee, has received her MBE medal for services to rugby union.

The Princess Royal handed her the royal order at Windsor Castle a day after the news of the King’s cancer diagnosis.

Ms Cox, from Exeter, said she hoped she had “paved the way for other referees”.

She said she spoke with Princess Anne, who is a patron of the Scottish Rugby Union, about technology in the sport and rugby in general.

Princess Ann handed Sara Cox MBE her royal order at Windsor Castle on Tuesday 6th February

Ms Cox earned her first contract with the Rugby Football Union in 2016 and has since achieved a number of sporting firsts, including refereeing a match between two men’s Premiership Rugby teams.

She said when she started refereeing there were two women ahead of her, but that once she had overtaken them, “that was where it ran out, really”.

“So hopefully now I’ve paved the way for other referees to come through,” she said, “and that doesn’t just have to be females, that can be male as well”.

Ms Cox said she did encounter some difficulties in reaching the highest level of refereeing in a typically male-dominated role, but overcame them with “a bit of determination and grit”.

Congratulations from everyone at Clyst Vale – we are extremely proud of your achievement!