Former Ireland rugby international Joy Neville to referee Norway versus Denmark
For the first time ever, Rugby Europe has named two women to referee men’s XV-a-side international games. Limerick's Joy Neville is set to referee Norway and Denmark on October 25, while Alhambra NIEVAS (Spain) will oversee Finland versus Norway on October 14th
After playing rugby for 11 years and winning a Grand Slam title, Joy Neville has taken up the refereeing whistle. Since retiring in 2013, Neville has been making strides up the refereeing ladder.
In October 2016, she became the first female assistant referee to officiate in a European rugby match during the Bath and Bristol's Challenge Cup clash. A month later she broke new ground again when the IRFU selected her as the first woman to referee in Ulster Bank League Division 1A game.
Joy was one of nine referees for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, and named to referee the final between New Zealand and England last August. In September, she made her Guinness PRO14 debut as an assistant referee.
"Joy has proven time and again her ability as a referee," David McHugh, IRFU referee performance manager, said. "She has an astute rugby brain and great empathy for the players and this combination, coupled with a strong work ethic, has enabled her to continue to reach new heights as a referee.
It is a new challenge Rugby Europe will entrust to the Irish referee through the Conference 2 North game between Norway and Denmark next month.
Patrick Robin, the initiator of the project who is also the Rugby Europe Referee Manager said: “Rugby Europe is the first Region to allow female referees to run international games of Men’s rugby Championship. This might open the door to the other international bodies and boost female referee’s development.”