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Irish Referee Joy Neville Will Make Some Rugby History Next Month

Irish Referee Joy Neville Will Make Some Rugby History Next Month
Arthur James O'Dea
By Arthur James O'Dea
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Ireland's Joy Neville will break new ground next month. Alongside Spain's Alhambra Nievas, Neville has been selected to referee a men's rugby international.

With Nievas selected to officiate Finland's clash with Norway on October 14th, Neville will oversee a subsequent fixture between Norway and Denmark on October 28th.

Previously performing as an assistant referee for a European Challenge Cup clash between Bath and Bristol, Neville was also selected by the IRFU in 2016 to oversee an Ulster Bank League game - another first by the Limerick native.

An Irish international for over a decade, Neville was part of Ireland's 2013 Grand Slam winning side. Having officiated this year's Women's Rugby World Cup final between England and New Zealand, her standing in the game is constantly rising.

David McHugh, the referee performance manager for the IRFU has spoken encouragingly of Neville's progress:

Joy has proven time and again her ability as a referee. 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.


Taking up rugby in her late teens, Neville joined Shannon RFC's women's team near her home in north Limerick.


Growing up in a family full of lads, Neville's brother Paul captained Garryowen to a senior treble in 2007. She has no doubt that such an environment influenced her interest in sport:

As the only girl in the family I'd have to credit my four brothers, they toughened me up - although I was always very competitive anyway. Second best? Don't go there!

But my brothers were all big into sport. My father loved rugby, my mother loved tennis, so I couldn't miss - sport was in the family blood.

Possessing the required talent and determination to become a full international, Neville would play for Ireland on 70 occasions; representing her country at the 2006 and 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup.

When her playing career came to a conclusion after Ireland's Grand Slam win in 2013, Neville crossed over to the 'dark side' with little trepidation and uninterrupted success:

If you'd turned around to me three years ago, and told me that I would have got to where I have got to this day, I wouldn't have believed you to be honest.

With another milestone now in sight for Neville next month, there will be no shortage of interest in her astounding ascendancy.

Having already reached the pinnacle of the women's game, who is to say we shall not see an additional Irish contingent in the men's equivalent sooner rather than later?

See Also: Jamie Barron's Club Schedule Since All-Ireland Final Has Been Insane And Unusual

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