THE first woman to referee a Premiership rugby match – Worcester's trip to Harlequins on Saturday – hopes others will embrace the sport's “no barrier to entry” mantra.

Cox, 31, became the first woman to referee a Premiership game when she took charge the Warriors away day at the weekend.

She was the first first female referee to be centrally contracted by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in 2016 and last year became the first female assistant referee in English rugby’s top flight.

Cox had previously refereed 23 women’s test matches, run the line in 11 Premiership fixtures and twice been a television match official (TMO).

She is now firmly in the sport’s spotlight, and understands the importance of more people being attracted to taking up refereeing.

“How do we get more people involved in refereeing, full stop?” Cox said.

“Having been involved as the president of my referees’ society a couple of years ago, there is a little bit of a shortage of people wanting to be involved. How do we get them involved? And out of that, I think naturally we will get more females involved as well.

“It’s about that exposure. If you can’t see what I am doing at the top level and know it is a possibility, then how can you expect anybody else to be involved and understand that?

“It’s about that awareness, that engagement with people and showing people that it is a bit different, but also it can bring you lots and lots of positive things.

“The journey I’ve been on, and quite frankly the stubbornness that goes with it, is something I hope other people can engage with and say there is no barrier to anything, no barrier to entry, so let’s just have a go at it and see where we get with it.

One of rugby’s traits is for players to address the referee as sir, something that didn't bother Cox.

“For me, sir is not about gender. It’s about opening a line of communication that is respectful," she added.

“The players had decided between themselves that they were going to call me ref, which negated everything. More often than not it was just ref, then one of them said sir and corrected himself.

“I said: ‘Look I’m really not precious, you are more than welcome to call me sir, it’s no problem at all’.

“When they speak to me it’s to make a point or ask a question. I don’t want them to lose that, I don’t want them to get so tongue-tied over what do I call you? As long as it’s respectful, let’s get the point across so we can answer it.”