‘It’s something special when you prove someone wrong’ – Joy Neville

JOY NEVILLE’S RAPID rise through refereeing continues.

While most eyes were on the Six Nations two weekends ago, Neville was in charge as Russia and Spain clashed in a massive game in the Rugby Europe Championship – essentially the Six Nations B. 

Joy Neville has risen rapidly through the refereeing ranks. Source: Elena Barbini/INPHO

Neville, who took up the whistle after a successful playing career that included the 2013 Grand Slam with Ireland, has a long list of achievements in refereeing.

In December 2017, she became the first woman to referee a professional European rugby union match when she was in charge of Bordeaux’s Challenge Cup meeting with Enisei-STM, while last year saw Neville referee her first Pro14 game.

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Funnily enough, Neville had no interest in refereeing when she first retired from playing, as she told the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

Now a professional referee contracted to the IRFU, Neville was named World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2017.

“It was a massive honour,” said Neville. “I was informed that I’d won the award about a month prior but I actually thought it was in the category of female referees, I didn’t realise it was for both genders.

“It wasn’t until afterwards that I probably realised the magnitude of the award, the amount of people who contact me, even getting a tweet from the President of Ireland to congratulate me. What a gent he is and a role model for supporting women’s sport as well.

“It was a massive honour for me, my family, my wife. It was a great occasion in Monaco, what a place.”

Neville was World Rugby Referee of the Year in 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Having already achieved so much in the world of refereeing, Neville is constantly working hard to improve.

“One of my biggest achievements was refereeing in the AIL because we all get told at some stage that you can’t do something and it’s something special when you prove someone wrong,” said Neville.

“Whilst I’ve done Pro14 and EPCR, I’m still very proud of that moment. 

“I’m very realistic about my goals. People say to me, ‘Oh, you’ll referee a men’s Six Nations game but, for me, I’m nowhere near reffing a Six Nations game at the moment and I won’t be for another couple of years.

“I need to keep the head down and prove my place as a referee in the world and earn my stripes. My next goal would to be on the line as an assistant referee for the Six Nations and if that happens, I’ll be a very proud woman.

“If it doesn’t, I’ve enjoyed everything to date and I’ll certainly keep trying.”

Neville also spoke to The42 Rugby Weekly about the training that goes into being a professional referee, the travel involved and which areas of the game are difficult to referee.

Elsewhere on this week’s podcast, Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne discussed Nico Lee’s 13-week ban, Ireland’s clash with Italy in the Six Nations, Sean O’Brien’s move to London Irish and much more.

You can listen to the episode in full below or on your favourite podcast app.

Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy and discuss the week’s biggest stories in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

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