William Atack

Referee's whistle

Referee's whistle - William Atack

In 1884, William Harrington Atack was refereeing a game of rugby in Canterbury, New Zealand, using the accepted mode of the time, namely, yelling at the players when they did something wrong. This approach was far from ideal, straining the voice and exhausting the ref. Putting his hand in his pocket he discovered he'd left his dog whistle there, which sparked an idea. The next game he refereed, he sought the players' permission to use one, and the world's first sports game was played 'to the whistle'.


William Atack, second from the left at the back, next to the guy looking in the wrong direction

More Information

Atack's page on NZEdge