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Ex-Connacht scrum-half among seven referees awarded IRFU contracts

Frank Murphy and Joy Neville are among those rewarded by the union.

THE IRFU HAVE this afternoon announced the appointment of seven referees to professional contracts, including former Connacht scrum-half Frank Murphy and Grand Slam winning captain Joy Neville.

Frank Murphy Former Connacht scrum-half Murphy is now on the Pro14 panel. Source: BackpagePix/Samuel Shivambu/INPHO

The other five officials awarded a full-time contract by the union are Andrew Brace, George Clancy, Sean Gallagher, John Lacey and David Wilkinson.

As well as receiving coaching, all seven referees will have access to the IRFU’s strength and conditioning facilities, a nutritionist and analytical support.

Following his retirement in 2014, Murphy, who had spells with Munster and Leicester Tigers before returning home to play for Connacht, refereed his first professional game in 2016 when he took charge of the Pro12 clash between Dragons and Edinburgh and is now part of the Pro14 panel alongside Brace, Clancy, Lacey and Wilkinson.

The 35-year-old Cork native will this weekend officiate the Challenge Cup meeting of Bordeaux Begles and Newcastle Falcons.

Neville, meanwhile, has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks in recent years and in August refereed the Women’s World Cup final in Belfast as well as being named as assistant referee on the Pro14 and Challenge Cup rosters.

Joy Neville Joy Neville took charge of the WRWC final in August. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Later this month, the former Ireland number eight will make further history when she takes charge of a men’s international match between Norway and Denmark, becoming the first female official to do so alongside Spain’s Alhambra Nievas.

Both Clancy and Lacey are among World Rugby’s elite panel with the latter appointed to take charge of the November international between Italy and Fiji next month while Clancy will run the line at Murrayfield when Scotland host Samoa.

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Ryan Bailey

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