One of the best Irish women’s rugby players of the last decade - Joy Neville - has announced her retirement from the international game.
Limerick native Joy won 70 caps for Ireland and was part of the Irish team that achieved the historical Grand Slam title earlier this year.
Looking back on a career which began with her club UL Bohs at the age of 19 Joy said: “I announce my retirement from a sport that has given me endless challenges, great entertainment and amazing achievements none more memorable than our latest grand slam victory which was 11 years in the making.
“Throughout my years involved with the Irish team I can categorically state that I would not have had dedicated the last decade of my life to this sport if it were not for those whom I had the pleasure to play alongside.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone and most importantly past players who laid the foundation. All who fought for the women’s team through thick and thin which provided us with our strong platform that we currently attain. I would also like to thank the current players who I have shared so many emotions with, all the management, medical staff, my wonderful family who were always there to support me both on and off the pitch, my friends who always understood when I could not celebrate their big moments, our wonderful supporters who always stuck in there with the Irish team through good times and hard.”
Ireland’s Ladies Rugby team coach Philip Doyle acknowledged Joy’s outstanding contribution to the sport.
“Joy Neville is an exceptional rugby player and her talent and ability had a huge impact on every game. Her selfless playing style was always for the good of the team. She has left a lasting impression not only to the squad but to women’s rugby in general. She will be sorely missed and we wish her all the best in her career as coach and an incredible ambassador for the sport.”
“While it will take some time to adjust to my new role in the squad as a supporter I would like to wish you all the very best of luck in the coming years,” added Joy.
“So many unternational sides have commented on the great camaraderie, morale and craic that the Irish women’s team portrays. I am proud to have been associated with a team that has achieved so much and attained such a wonderful reputation. Now I look forward to the next chapter of my life which I hope to continue as Director of Rugby in Limerick Institute of Technology and an Ambassador for Irish Ladies Rugby with Euro Rugby tours.
I hope to look back in 10 years’ time and see a vibrant and healthy women’s Rugby Scene, with the ultimate aim of witnessing Irish Women’s Rugby becoming professional.”
Joy will play with her club team UL Bohs next Thursday in UL Bohs RFC Annacotty against Canadian side Red deer Titans in a friendly pre-season game organised by Euro Rugby Tours.