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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 21 February, 2019

More European rugby history to be made by Neville as she'll ref Challenge Cup clash

The former Ireland international will become the first female referee to take charge of a men’s European professional club fixture.

Joy Neville took charge of the 2017 WRWC final.
Joy Neville took charge of the 2017 WRWC final.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IT FEELS LIKE Ireland’s Joy Neville is making history week after week these days, and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon.

A Grand Slam winner in the green jersey in 2013, her refereeing career has gone from strength to strength since she traded the back row for the whistle.

The most recent of these remarkable achievements came last month as she became one of the first female referees to take charge of a men’s international. Just short of three weeks ago, she was rewarded by the IRFU with a professional contract.

And next month, she’ll become the very first woman to referee a European professional club fixture as she’s set to take charge of a Challenge Cup clash between Bordeaux-Bègles and Enisei-STM.

The Round 4 fixture is fixed for Stade Chaban-Delmas on Friday, 15 December.

Neville has already been appointed as an assistant referee at Champions Cup, Challenge Cup, Continental Shield and Guinness PRO14 levels, and she oversaw the Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRCC) final between New Zealand and England in August.

In the run up to her Challenge Cup debut, Neville will act as an assistant referee at the Barbarians and Tonga game at Thomond Park on Friday evening, as well two internationals later this month where Spain and Canada, and France and Japan go head-to-head.

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Emma Duffy

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