Referee Whistle.

Year. 1884

Creator. William Atack

Where. New Zealand


A referee whistle is used to help in match control and is sometimes needed to stop, start or restart play but should not be used for all stoppages, starts, or restarts. Overuse of the whistle is discouraged since, as stated in the Laws, "A whistle which is used too frequently unnecessarily will have less impact when it is needed." A whistle is an important tool for the referee along with verbal, body, and eye communication.

Before the whistle was invented referees had to raise their voices to control games which strained the referee's voice and exhausted them. Atack put his hand into his pocket and discovered that he had left his dog whistle there which sparked this idea. New Zealand referee William Atack became the first sports referee in the world to use a whistle to stop a rugby game in 1884: The next game he got the players permission to use it and it was known as the world’s first sports game to be played 'to the whistle' - definitely one of the most useful top kiwi inventions!

The referee’s whistle is now the norm for umpiring, but until Atack came out on the ground whistling, referees had to raise their voices to control games.

referee whistle.jpg